Category Archives: The Next Three Days

The Next Three Days

The Next Three Days is one of my favorite Russell Crowe movies, because it showed me a side of Elizabeth Banks I’d never seen before, and because like any story with a good Don Quixote fan reference, it makes you believe in impossible feats, without doubting that they are impossible. It makes you believe that for love, you have to try even if it is impossible, you have to try no matter what.

Russell said that he liked the script because it challenged him to play someone who faces an impossible choice: he could save his wife, but only by becoming someone she could no longer love.

Also worth spotting are co-stars Ty Simpkins (of Jurassic World and Iron Man fame) and Olivia Wilde, an actress best known for lead roles in T.V.’s House and the remake of Tron, who recently directed her first movie, Booksmart, to critical acclaim.

In this scene, pictured above, Russell Crowe’s John Brennan confronts his wife’s attorney about the results of her last appeal. His wife pled innocent to a murder charge, but was convicted on circumstantial evidence because a witness saw her fighting with the victim (her boss) and driving away from the crime scene just before the body was discovered.

John’s last hope is the Supreme Court, but his lawyer warns that even filing an appeal with the high court would be dishonest of him, as their attorney – the Supreme Court hasn’t heard a murder appeal in decades, why would they start now? John hasn’t yet contemplated breaking his wife out of prison, but after this turn of events, that unlikely possibility will be her only way out.

Grant us this one reprieve from an injustice:
take up the lance against the windmills, for love.
From an act of brute indifference, free my wife.
As my friend and as her advocate, appeal –
do not ignore her innocence to decide.
Could you send her to live among criminals?
Just extend your hand – vouch for her honesty.
The light of the truth falls on us all alike.
This hope in the impassive leads me onward.
The law has just one remedy left for us,
and you must take us there, to the highest court.
Let me bring my wife home to bed with our son,
restore our lives together, while she still breathes.
Let me tell the world that she is innocent,
as well you know, as I have always believed.
This separation rends her from her being.
Attest her honesty – the court will hear you.
The law that maligned her must come to her aid.

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Filed under Acting, Directing, The Next Three Days

Elizabeth Banks

Elizabeth Banks won her role in The Next Three Days by auditioning, and knocked my socks off in the movie. Some critics would say it’s not so easy to hold your own opposite Russell Crowe as the leading lady, but she sold me. She also had a very sweet role in Seabiscuit, playing against what has become her type. But one of my favorite roles for her was on 30 Rock. I was afraid she wouldn’t wink but she did. That was crazy. Still, I think I’d jump out of my skin if I met someone like that. The blond ambition archetype, only with a deadpan sense of humor about the rigors of maintaining the A-list body type. Incredible. Almost as crazy as their kid in The Next Three Days acting like a human child, and not a larger than life ham. But enough, or I might not know when to stop gushing about The Next Three Days. I really love that movie.

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Filed under Roll Credits, The Next Three Days

Private knowledge in relationships


If you aren’t watching closely, you might not know what to believe about Lara Brennan. If you question everything, you might not believe the button in the last scene in Pittsburgh is the button she described. How you decide what to believe might say a lot about you. But I will simply say that I believe her husband knows.

I don’t think it’s healthy to abandon the desire to be believed. But for Lara Brennan, being believed has to come from faith, and so far as we know, only one person in her life has faith in her as a human being, her husband. Locked up with women who are either guilty or without that solace for what she believes will be the rest of her life, she tries to undermine his faith to adapt to the helplessness of her situation and set him free of the isolation his belief imposes on him.

Would these conditions matter if belief were truly subjective? Would they have the same motivation if their lives were governed by illusions, empty signs, and contingent cultural conventions? Maybe it’s just them, but their struggle is out of sync with the widely hailed collapse of human existence into solipsistic mind games. Are the Brennans mythical archetypes themselves, champions of a faith in the triumph of the real that survives as a superstition in a world dominated by the surreal? They don’t resemble the real life prison breaks for love described in one of the special features on the DVD.

“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” – Marcus Aurelius

Psychology, philosophy of mind and philosophy of language are deeply rooted in political life. I’m reading a history of the concept of intellectual disability right now that is in many passages fairly arcane, but seems driven by one scholar’s impression that legal competence evaluations are by and large a scandal motivated by sophistry and the posturing of average intellects as a rational elite. I question the notion that postmodernists have given us good reason to set aside any hope of firmly grasping empirical truths in private or public life. I suspect they are positing unanchored signs in language for political purposes, to facilitate flexible interpretations of written laws. But more on that later.

For now I just want to remark on how universal the experience of private observation is, and what that means for us as human beings when our private observations become contentious. Being disbelieved is extraordinarily isolating. It cuts deeper than being misunderstood, to face those who discredit what you have to say for yourself. I think this is why patients are not permitted to obtain copies of mental health professionals’ notes with their medical records. If the person you trust with your most private utterances responds by noting doubt, this is not to be disclosed. Whether they are mistaken or not, the patient’s sense of having been heard is at stake, and at times the best the treatment provider can offer for this need is a placebo. In other cultures I suppose this sort of mediation between patients and ghosts is handled by witchdoctors with ritual and herbal tea.

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Filed under Postmodernism, The Next Three Days