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Movie Review: The Lincoln Lawyer (2011) April 6, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Movie Reviews, Reviews.
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Initially, I thought the prospect of watching a movie involving the law and Matthew McConaughey’s acting would be too much for me to swallow.  But somehow, I found myself in the cinema checking out The Lincoln Lawyer, based on Michael Connelly’s bestselling book of the same name.

And I was surprised.  Pleasantly surprised.  The Lincoln Lawyer‘s protagonist Mickey Haller seems to have been tailor made for McConaughey (in what must be the performance of his life), and as legal thrillers go, this one is pretty darn compelling.

McConaughey is Haller, a criminal defense attorney who has no qualms representing and freeing shady characters.  He is driven around in a Lincoln Town car (and hence the lame name) and has an ex-wife (who turns out to be a prosecutor) played by Marisa Tomei.  One day he’s called to represent Louis Roulet, an iffy playboy played by Ryan Phillippe, who has been charged with attempted rape and murder.

That’s all I’ll go into, but The Lincoln Lawyer‘s plot is much more complex than that.  There are the usual twists and turns, the dangerous confrontations and the exciting courtroom drama scenes.  It’s one of those films where all the threads are eventually tied together, so you should pay close attention to or you may risk missing a connection.

Truth be told, this is a formulaic legal thriller.  What makes The Lincoln Lawyer better than most other films of this kind is the strong story and, it pains me to say this, McConaughey’s charming performance.  I’m used to him being a smug douche, but here he exhibits genuine range and carries the film on his back from start to finish.

Marisa Tomei is also excellent, bringing a presence to character who would have otherwise been rather forgettable, as were Ryan Phillippe and one of my favourites, William H Macy, as Haller’s best friend and investigator.

One major complaint I have was the first few scenes of the film, which were inexplicably shot with an extremely shaky handy cam that loved weird close ups.  I started out thinking, if the rest of the film was going to be like this, it’s going to be very difficult to sit through.  Fortunately, director Brad Furman’s style quickly settled down and prevented a disaster.

The Lincoln Lawyer is far from perfect, but it certainly exceeded my expectations.  Genuinely good legal thrillers capable of capturing an audience’s attention for two fours are hard to come by these days, so I’d definitely recommend giving it a go.

4 stars out of 5

The Trouble With Being An Ex-Lawyer April 26, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Novel, On Writing, Study.
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4 comments

You don't need double talk, you need Bob Loblaw!

I thought I had left my legal career behind for good, but apparently not so.

The trouble with people knowing that you once practised law is that they think you love giving legal advice and drafting legal documents for free in your spare time.  Not that I mind helping people — it’s just that I don’t feel like doing anything related to law anymore…why else would I have retreated from the profession like a frightened turtle?

But alas, I am still technically qualified to dish out legal advice until the end of this financial year.  Accordingly, I’ve been spending a lot of time lately reviewing contracts and drafting letters as favours for friends and family friends.  And the thing is, some people tend to think that if you are a lawyer, you know everything about the law.  Not the case.  Even when I was practising I seldom had any idea what I was doing right off the bat.  There’s almost always a lot of research and reading involved, and when all else fails, ask the firm expert, of which there is always one (why do you think lawyers cost so damn much to hire?)

There are also a couple of other complications.  First, when you do stuff for a friend (and especially a family friend), the stakes are a lot higher.  You can’t afford to stuff up, and the consequences of stuffing up are far worse (from a mental and emotional standpoint) than when they happen at work.  You can always look for a new job, but how can you look your parents in the eyes when you have fucked up the lives of their friends?  Second (and this is related), you don’t have a boss/supervisor to review your work and fix it up.  Whatever you do, that’s it.

So it’s strange but it’s true — I am far more careful and meticulous when doing legal stuff for people who don’t pay me.  And I take a hell of a lot longer.

I really should be working on my numerous assessments, and if not, my other writing projects (ie two novels).  And if not that, I should be doing other things to get my writing out there, such as entering competitions and sending works to publications to get credits under my belt.  But unfortunately, I’m still haunted by the career I tried to leave behind.

As Jack Bauer would say, “Dammit!”

Update: Farewell to the Law… February 20, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Blogging, On Writing, Study.
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6 comments

(Big exhale…)

On Friday, 19th of the February 2010, I finally closed the book on my career in law.

I guess it was a long time coming, but it was also one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made.  I’ve studied law for 6 years (including a Masters).  I’ve been employed in it for 4.  I’ve worked with some of the most brilliant minds in this country (and some of the most retarded).  I’ve made friends I hope will still be a part of my life (and run away from some of the most psychotic).  Whichever way I look at it, the last 10 years of my life has been a wild (albeit insanely stressful and dry) time.

However, I suppose I was never really meant to be a lawyer.  I never had a passion for the law that some of my fellow lawyers did.  I never felt the urge to be the alpha dog, to climb the ladder towards partnership and lucrative financial rewards.  I just wanted to protect my neck in this sometimes cut-throat business.

Being an overachiever in law at university was the worst thing that could have happened to me.  People automatically assumed I read cases, legislation and legal articles in my spare time (this actually happened on countless occasions).  People would say, “Remember that case about [blah blah blah]?” and I would pretend to be trying to recall the case until they thought of the answer themselves (this happened at least 10 times, and it may have even been the same case).  There were occasions when I was told I did a great job when I didn’t even really know what I did or what was doing!  I find it amazing that I could be ‘highly regarded’ when I consistently felt like a complete moron.

People ask me why, if I’m so unsuited for the law, I ended up in it in the first place.  The only thing I can say is that it was probably a combination of being totally clueless, not knowing what I wanted to do, expectations, following friends, and pride.  That said, I don’t regret it (much).  I’ve learned a lot, experienced a lot, and made a lot of great friends.  I’d probably do it all over again.

But alas, I’m moving on.  I won’t miss the long hours.  I certainly won’t miss the stress (or the rapid ageing – I’ve been told I looked like a 14-year-old when I joined my old firm in 2005; no one mistakes me for a 19-year-old now).

This blog will also start to undergo some changes shortly.  I still have a few Taiwan food posts remaining which I plan to crunch out soon, but after that, I intend to shift the focus back to writing – following my writing adventures, putting up helpful tips, resources and links – all that crap.  Of course, with more time on my hands, I’ll still be reviewing films and books and dabble in other stuff, but hopefully the focus can be on writing.  Hopefully…

Protected: New book idea! December 19, 2009

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Protected: Apologies and Update and News! December 19, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Blogging, Indiana Pacers, On Writing.
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