Some critics have faulted as “too good” the new Aaron Sorkin film aired on Netflix after a short theater run. To be sure, it can be considered slick. It’s about the trial of the leaders of the unrest in Chicago during the August 1968 Democratic Party’s convention in Chicago by yippies, hippies, Black Panther and generally unkempt many thousands gathered in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. “Chicago 7” may be “too good” but it is mainly stunningly watchable. Beside the trial itself, with the First off, there’s the cast, brilliant actors of different tiers of skills and renown. From Sacha Baron Cohen, impersonating the great Abbie Hoffman so well that one starts believing it’s the real “Steal this Book” author returned from the dead to claim his much-deserved fame to Mark Rylance, Eddie Redmayne, or Joseph Gordon-Levitt and even short screen time ones such as the stunning Michael Keaton as Ramsey Clark.
Above all, there’s the precise, loving reminder of those times which for some reason still feel those of innocence. How could these bawdy, often stoned, half-baked students (or not), given to grandiose statements quoting Marcuse or Trotsky have left such a mark on our history while remaining so eminently likable and yes, remarkable?
If the background subject matter hadn’t been have the death in the jungles of Vietnam, for no justifiable reason, of tens of thousands of young Americans, if the undertow of the unjust, unfair and flawed trial wasn’t the dirty tricks and the lies of Nixon or John Mitchell, “The trial of the Chicago 7” could float by us as a delightful soufflé, like Woodstock, like the elucubrations of Ginsberg or Timothy Leary. As it is, this great film serves as both superb entertainment and a reminder of those more innocent times—unless that’s simply how we generally remember times past, a reflection of a more vibrant and more hopeful youth of yesteryear.