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Posts Tagged ‘The Notorious RBG’

Ruth Bader Ginsberg

“RBG”  My rating: B+

98 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

Even if you fail to notice that the opening credits of “RBG” overwhelmingly feature women’s names, it will take only a few minutes to recognize this doc as possibly the most feminist movie of all time.

It comes with the territory.  At age 84 its subject, Ruth Bader Ginsberg is, for many of us, the voice of open-minded sanity on the U.S. Supreme Court. This diminutive grandmother has become a cultural icon with a funny (but dead serious) rapper nickname: The Notorious RBG.  Her elfin features appear on coffee cups, T-shirts and bumper stickers.

For millions of women, Ginsberg is the ultimate role model. Interviewee Gloria Steinem calls her “the closest thing to a superhero that I know.”

Julie Cohen and Betsy West’s film might be dismissed as hagiography — though the film opens with right-wing talk radio soundbites excoriating Justice Ginsberg, thereafter nary a discouraging word is heard. Apparently to know RBG is to love her.

And that’s pretty much how audiences will leave “RBG”…with love, respect and awe.

The film works on two levels. First there’s the public person, whose  class at Harvard Law featured  more than 500 students, only nine of whom were women. She taught gender law at Rutgers, then got involved in arguing cases (often before the Supreme Court) that changed the legal parameters of female rights.

But if she argued for abortion rights — maintaining that “freedom” was a cruel illusion if women were denied reproductive rights — and represented a woman denied entry to the all-male (and state-funded) Virginia Military Institute, she was also willing to challenge a Louisiana law that allowed women to opt out of jury duty. Equal is equal, after all.

The talking heads  assembled for this film — among them journalist Nina Totenberg, grandchildren and a slew of Ginsberg’s fellow attorneys — credit her with creating a legal landscape that case by case led to greater sexual equality.

And that was before Bill Clinton named her to the Supreme Court. (more…)

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