This Week's Review: "Marshall" and "The Snowman"

On October 21, I had time for two films, “Marshall” and “The Snowman.” I enjoyed both, but “Marshall” is, by far, the better of the two.
I remember first hearing about Thurgood Marshall in 1954, but I had no real understanding of the Brown versus Board of Education case. Even after he joined the Supreme Court, I had no real knowledge of his early life; therefore, I was a bit surprised when “Marshall” opened in a courtroom in Hugo, Oklahoma. I was still in the womb in 1941, so I understand why I was not aware of the case at the time, but I do not remember ever hearing my parents discuss the case. It is painfully obvious that I need to read a good biography of this influential jurist.
The cast is good, particularly Chadwick Boseman (Jackie Robinson in the recent “42”) as Thurgood Marshall, and James Cromwell as a very crusty and racist judge. A major theme is that racism was no more pervasive in Oklahoma than in Connecticut where most of the film takes place. I did see several similarities to 1958’s “Anatomy of a Murder,” and I have to wonder if the novel and script were based upon the case. This one is worth seeing, but you could wait for the DVD.
“The Snowman” is the first film based upon Jo Nesbo’s popular “Harry Hole” series of detective novels. If you liked Henning Mankell’s Kurt “Wallander” books or Kenneth Branagh’s BBC adaptations, you might like Nesbo’s version of “Scandinavian noir.” But be warned: Nesbo goes much further into the darkness of the human soul than Mankell ever did. I need to catch up on the series, but I may not be in much of a rush.
Michael Fassbender does well as Hole; there are cameo appearances by Val Kilmer and J.K. Simmons, but I did not recognize most of the cast. The film was shot in Norway and makes good use of the bleak and snowy landscape. Even though there were some good red herrings, I had little trouble figuring out who the serial killer really was. Several shots of mangled bodies are more than gruesome; this is definitely not for the kids. Noir enthusiasts will enjoy this film more than most people.