“Your Honor”–Judge Me Not

Unconditional love–are there limits?  In Your Honor, a ShowTime mini-series,  a highly respected recently widowed New Orleans judge, Michael Desiato (Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad”) is known for his fair and impartial sentencing of young criminals. But the judge  gets personal   to protect his teenage son, Adam (newcomer Hunter Doohan)   from the consequences of his reckless actions. At first, the  judge advises his son to turn himself in to the police, and explain how he panicked after hitting another teen. But then he discovers that the boy his son ran over was the son of a notorious mafia don, Jimmy Baxter (Michael Stuhlbarg of “Call Me By My Name” and “The Shape of Water”). The judge knows that the mafia will wreak vengeance. Time after time the judge tries to use some moral principle to justify bad acts, and it all goes horribly wrong.

Adam is a total screw up, a clueless teenager who can’t think straight and is painfully annoying, causing the viewer to lose patience. Who doesn’t know a teenager who acts that way–reckless driving, too much alcohol or drugs, and unintended consequences for bad judgment?

There’s a certain tone reminiscent of “Breaking Bad” because the viewer is  put in the position of sympathizing with a scofflaw, albeit with a higher motive to protect as only a parent can. When it comes to your family, what would you do to save them? Where would you draw the line? And what effect would that have upon your moral code, your relationships with others and your honor?

Kudos to the director for crafting an ending that was totally unexpected. What would I do in similar circumstances?    Judge me not until you’re there.

Availability:  ShowTime streaming.

“Argo”–An Argonaut for Our Time

Although this movie is nominated for eight Academy Awards and won several Golden Globes (including Best Motion Picture in Drama and Best Director), it has not received the traction or box office success that it so richly deserves.  With Ben Affleck’s masterful direction, production and acting in “Argo” the studio and distributor have decided to re-release this film after the Academy Awards.

Based on a 1979 historical event at the  American embassy in Tehran,  six American  employees manage to escape and seek protection at the nearby Canadian embassy immediately prior to the storming of the US embassy by Iranian revolutionaries., “Argo”  kicks into high gear once Affleck lands in Iran. Affleck, on the other hand, is incredibly sympathetic, and it’s  fear for him that drives the emotional energy of the narrative. With few options, CIA technical operations expert Tony Mendez devises a daring plan: to simulate producing a  Canadian sci-fi film –preposterously far-fetched– on location in Tehran  in order to smuggle the Americans out as its production crew. With the help of some Hollywood industry contacts, Mendez flies to Iran as the film’s associate producer. However, time is running out.  Iranian security forces are zeroing in on the truth while both the Americans-in-hiding and the White House have serious doubts about the operation’s viability.

The story is intense and suspenseful, even though the viewer knows the outcome. Crackling with energy and determination to outsmart the Iranian revolutionaries, “Argo” captures the mood of our country. Affleck plays the quintessential American hero, confident to a fault, who will do anything to protect those he is responsible for–and  it is our fear for him that drives the emotional content of the film.