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MU Law Films Guide: Bn-Bz

Body Heat

Title:  Body Heat (1981) 

Director:  Lawrence Kasdan

Location:  MU Law RESERVE PN1997 .B639 2006

Format:  DVD

Rating:  R

Length:  113 minutes

Plot:  A likable, unambitious lawyer and his siren-like lover plot to kill her wealthy husband.

Legal Angles: Criminal Law & Criminal Procedure, Family Law, Professional Ethics, Trusts & Trustees, Torts

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Cast:  William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, Richard Crenna

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The Boondock Saints

Boondock SaintsTitle: The Boondock Saints (1999) 

Director:  Troy Duffy

Location:  MU Law RESERVE PN1997 .B666 2001 

Format:  DVD

Rating:  R

Length:  110 minutes

Plot:  FBI agent Paul Smecker is on the trail of two vigilante brothers whose spiritual sense of right and wrong has turned Boston's streets red with blood. The victims are the villains and mob bosses that the justice system has been powerless to stop. Now, Smecker finds himself torn between whether he should catch the killers ... or join them.

Legal Angles:  Criminal Law & Criminal Procedure, Evidence, Trial Practice, Vigilantism

Genre:  Action, Crime, Drama

Cast:  Willem Dafoe, Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus, David Della Rocco, Billy Connolly

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Title: Boomerang (1947)

Director: Elia Kazan

Location:  MU Law RESERVE PN1997 .B665 2006

Format:  DVD

Length: 88 minutes

Plot: The true story of a prosecutor's fight to prove the innocence of a man accused of a notorious murder.

Legal Angles:  Media, Sports Law, Torts

Genre: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Cast: Dana Andrews, Jane Wyatt, Lee J. Cobb, Cara Williams, Arthur Kennedy

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Title:  Borat (2006)

Director:  Larry Charles

Location:  MU Law RESERVE PN1997 .B6738 2007

Format:  DVD

Rating:  R

Length:  86 minutes

Legal Angle:  Media, Entertainment Law

Genre:  Comedy

Cast:  Sacha Baron Cohen, Ken Davitian, Luenell, Pamela Anderson

Synopsis:  Borat Sagdivey, a Kazakhstani television reporter, heads to the United States to learn and report on American culture. While watching television, Borat falls in love with Pamela Anderson, and decides to make his way from New York to California to marry her. On the way, Borat meets people from all walks of life who teach him about what it is to be an American.

Summary:  Sacha Baron Cohen plays Borat Sagdivey, a popular reporter for Kazakhstan television who claims to be the sixth most famous man in Kazakhstan and the top journalist. He is sent to America to make a documentary on American culture and lifestyles. While in New York, Borat falls in love with Pamela Anderson, who he sees on an episode of Baywatch. Borat is then determined to make his way to California to make Pamela his wife, and have her join him in Kazakhstan.

On his way to California, Borat meets with people all over the country to learn about American culture and the values that they may share with his native Kazakhstan. On his adventure, he winds up singing at the rodeo, being interviewed on television, meeting up with frat boys, learning to drive, attending a yard sale, and many other American traditions. Even when times are tough, Borat never loses sight of the ultimate goal, finding and marrying Pamela Anderson.

Legal Elements:  The movie itself does not really deal with legal issues, but the aftermath of the film involved many lawsuits from people who were portrayed in the film. Most lawsuits involve either false portrayal or claim that the person was deceived as to the purpose of the film. According to, every lawsuit filed to date has been dismissed by either the judge or the plaintiff.

Scenes that could be used in the classroom:

6:45 - Borat arrives in America and takes the subway

11:17 - Borat meets with a comedy coach

15:53 - Borat meets with the Veteran Feminists of America

19:30 - Borat learns to drive

21:45 - Borat buys a car

26:58 - Borat on a morning talk show

30:05 - Borat sings at the rodeo

43:40 - Borat learns etiquette

1:07:00 - Borat gets saved

1:13:35 - Borat meets Pamela Anderson

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Born into Brothels

BrothelsTitle:  Born Into Brothels (2004) 

Director:  Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman

Location:  MU Law RESERVE PN1997 .B676 2004

Format:  DVD

Rating:  R

Length:  83 minutes

Plot:  While living in the red light district of Calcutta, documenting life in the brothels, New York-based photographer Zana Briski embarked on a project by which she gave cameras to the children of prostitutes and taught them photography, awakening within them hidden talent and creativity and giving them a means to transform their lives.

Legal Angles:  Juvenile Law, International Law & Comparative Law

Genre:  Documentary

Cast:  Featuring Zana Briski

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Boston Legal, Seasons 1-5

Boston LegalTitle:  Boston Legal (2004)

Director:  David E. Kelley

Location:  MU Law RESERVE PN1997 .B6786 2006

Format:  DVD

Length:  739 minutes

Plot:  The professional and personal stories of a group of brilliant but often emotionally challenged attorneys. Confronts social and moral issues, while its characters continually stretch the boundaries of the law.

Legal Angles:  Professional Ethics, Civil Law & Civil Procedure, Media, Entertainment Law, Torts, Contracts & Commercial Law, Environmental Law, Property Law, Trusts & Trustees, Estates, Family Law, Civil Rights & Constitutional Law 

Genre:  Comedy, Crime, Drama

Cast:  James Spader, William Shatner, Candice Bergen

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The Bourne Identity

Jason BourneTitle: The Bourne Identity (2002)

Director: Doug Liman

Location: MU Law RESERVE PN1997 .B687 2004

Format: DVD

Rating: PG-13

Length: 119 minutes

Plot:  Bourne, is pulled from the sea suffering from amnesia with a pair of bullet wounds in his back. His only clue to his own identity is a bank account number etched on a capsule implanted in his body. He finds the Zurich bank where money, a gun, and several passports with different names await. He quickly realizes he can trust no one and offers a German gypsy named Maria ten thousand dollars for a ride to Paris. With Maria's reluctant help, Bourne edges closer to the truth, something CIA officials want concealed at all costs.

Legal Angles: National Security, International Law

Genre:  Action, Crime, Mystery

Cast: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, Brian Cox, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Orso Maria-Guerrini, Tim Dutton

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The Bourne Supremacy

   Title:  The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

   Director:  Paul Greengrass

   Location:  MU Law RESERVE  PN1997 .B68 2004 

   Format:  DVD

   Rating:  PG-13

   Length:  108 min.

   Plot:  Action, Adventure

Legal Angles:  Corruption, Criminal Law, International Law, National Security,

Genre:  Action, Thriller

Cast:  Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles, Karl Urban, Gabriel Mann, Joan Allen, Marton Csokas, Tom Gallop, Karel Roden, Oksana Akinshana

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The Bourne Ultimatum

Title:  The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

Director:  Paul Greengrass

Location:  MU Law RESERVE  PN1997 .B6876 2007

Format:  DVD

Rating:  PG-13

Length:  115 min.

Plot:  Bourne is once again brought out of hiding. This time, inadvertently by London-based reporter Simon Ross. Simon is trying to unveil Operation BlackBriar which is an upgrade to Project Treadstone, by writing about it in a series of newspaper columns. Bourne sets up a meeting with Ross and realizes instantly they're being scanned. Information from the reporter stirs a new set of memories, and Bourne must finally, ultimately, uncover his dark past whilst dodging The Company's best efforts in trying to eradicate him.

Legal Angles:  Coverup, Criminal Law, International Law, National Security, Whistleblowing

Genre:  Action, Crime, Thriller

Cast:  Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, David Strathairn, Scott Glenn, Paddy Considine, Edgar Ramirez, Albert Finney, Joan Allen

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Boys Don't Cry

Boys Don't Cry

Title:  Boys Don't Cry (1999) 

Director:  Kimberly Peirce

Location:  MU Law RESERVE PN1997 .B69 2002

Format:  DVD

Rating:  R

Length: 118

Plot:  Teena Brandon alters her appearance to appear as a man, and assumes the name Brandon Teena. She moves to a tiny Nebraska town and begins making new friends under her new identity. All goes well until her new friends discover her secret. Based on a true story about hope, fear, and the courage it takes to be yourself.

Legal Angles: Criminal Law & Criminal Procedure

Genre:  Crime, Drama, Romance

Cast: Hilary Swank, Chloë Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard, Brendan Sexton III

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Breaker Morant

Breaker, BreakerTitle: Breaker Morant (1980)

Director: Bruce Beresford

Location: MU Law RESERVE PN1997 .B74 2008

Format: DVD

Rating: PG

Length: 107 minutes

Plot: Three Australian lieutenants are court martialed for executing prisoners as a way of deflecting attention from war crimes committed by their superior officers. Based on a play and true story.

Legal Angles: Civil Rights & Constitutional Law, International Law & Comparative Law, Genocide, Trial Practice, Military Law, Professional Ethics, Law of War, Terrorism

Genre: Drama, History, War

Cast: Edward Woodward, Jack Thompson, John Waters, Bryan Brown, Rod Mullinar, Charles Tingwell

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Breaking and Entering

B and ETitle: Breaking and Entering (2006)

Director: Anthony Minghella

Location: MU Law RESERVE PN1997 .B743 2007

Format: DVD

Rating: R

Length: 120 minutes

Plot: Anthony Minghella, the director of “Truly Madly Deeply” and “The English Patient,” among other movies, is a romantic and a tenderhearted fellow. His version of North London is more benign than that of “Notes on a Scandal.” As Minghella sees it, the place has turned into a multicultural gathering ground in which thieves and hookers from the Balkan breakup and other diasporas roam the streets. ... They all want to reclaim something denied to them as immigrants, and Minghella lets the scenes play at a leisurely pace, trying for illumination rather than urgency. The movie has a gentle, bemused intelligence, the tone of British liberalism at its most open-minded.

The movie becomes a complex dance of desire and deceit in which people behave badly. (The title refers not only to burglary but to Will’s entering Amira’s life on false pretenses.) But clemency, not judgment, is in Minghella’s heart. Everyone deserves another chance; jumpy, vulnerable children have to be looked after, and loyalty matters more than anything.  "Crime Scenes:  Breaking and Entering" and ... by David Denby Jan. 29, 2007, The New Yorker

Legal Angles: Comparative Law, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Immigration, Features Great Britain's Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) used  for out of court settlements.

Genre: Drama, Romance, Thriller

Cast: Jude Law, Juliette Binoche, Robin Wright Penn

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Title:  Bridesmaids (2011)

Director:  Paul Feig

Location:  MU Law RESERVE  PN1997 .B75 2011

Format:  DVD

Rating:  R

Length:  125 minutes

Plot:  Annie's life is a mess. But when she finds out her lifetime best friend is engaged, she simply must serve as Lillian's maid of honor. Though lovelorn and broke, Annie bluffs her way through the expensive and bizarre rituals. With one chance to get it perfect, she'll show Lillian and her bridesmaids just how far you'll go for someone you love.

Legal Angles: Bankruptcy, Criminal Law

Genre:  Comedy, Romance

Cast:  Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Chris O'Dowd, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Jill Clayburgh, Matt Lucas, Rebel Wilson, Michael Hitchcock

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Brokeback Mountain

BrokebackTitle:  Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Director:  Ang Lee

Location:  MU Law RESERVE PN1997 .B7654 2006

Format:  DVD

Rating:  R

Length:  134

Plot:  It's 1963, a time in the United States when life was simple, straightforward and the lines between the sexes and sex roles were crisply drawn and severely delineated. Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist find themselves thrown together when they are hired to tend sheep in the remote area of Brokeback Mountain, Wyoming. Because of the job, the two are forced to spend many hours together alone in the wild. Ennis and Jack are inexorably drawn to each other through their proximity, loneliness and through a shared lack of tenderness and emotion in their lives and are emotionally, physically and psychically bonded to each other almost from the start.

Legal Angle: Family Law

Genre:  Drama, Romance

Cast:  Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Linda Cardellini, Anna Faris, Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams, Randy Quaid

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The Brothers Karamazov

Title:  The Brothers Karamazov (1958)

Director:  Richard Brooks

Location:  MU Law RESERVE PN1997 .B76 1993

Format:  VHS

Rating:  PG

Length:  145 minutes

Plot:  Tells the story of four wildly disparate brothers in 19th century Czarist Russia, who stand to gain an inheritance from their father, and together they weave a web of intrigue and murder.

Legal Angles: International Law & Comparative Law, Family Law, Trusts & Trustees

Genre:  Drama

Cast:  Yul Brynner, Maria Schell, Claire Bloom, Lee J. Cobb, Albert Salmi, Richard Basehart, William Shatner

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BrunoTitle:  Brüno (2009)

Director:  Larry Charles

Location:  MU Law RESERVE PN1997 .B78 2009

Format:  DVD

Rating:  R

Length:  81 minutes

Genre:  Comedy

Cast:  Sacha Baron Cohen, Gustaf Hammarsten, Clifford Bañagale, Chibundu Orukwowu, Josh Meyers

Legal Angles:  Family law, International Law & Comparative Law, Media, Entertainment Law

Synopsis:  An Austrian television and fashion icon attempts to become famous in America after he falls on hard times in Europe. Bruno is willing to do anything and everything in order to become one of the most famous people in the world.

Summary:  Sacha Baron Cohen plays Bruno, a gay fashion and television personality from Vienna, Austria. After a wardrobe malfunction at a fashion show, Bruno finds himself without a show, or an invitation to events in the fashion world. Deciding he is through with Europe, Bruno heads for Hollywood with his faithful assistant Lutz. Bruno stops at nothing in his quest to become world famous, willing to do whatever it takes to be in the limelight. From interviewing Paula Abdul and Ron Paul to consulting image consultants to getting the latest in accessories to help make him famous, Bruno does not stop in his quest. As Bruno tries to go straight he encounters some of the manliest situations he can imagine in order to become an A-list Hollywood superstar.

Legal Elements:  This movie deals with some issues pertaining to family law and international law:

Family Law:  Bruno adopts an African baby in order to use him as a great “accessory” to help him become famous. The Texas Department of Family Services disapproves of Bruno’s parenting style and removes him from Bruno’s custody. There is also a scene showing how dangerous a parent can be if they believe their actions will help make their child a star.
International Law:  Bruno attempts to solve the problems in “Middle Earth” by bringing together the Palestinians and Israelis in order to bring peace to the world. Bruno also meets with a terrorist leader in order to get kidnapped, thereby becoming famous.

Scenes that could be used in the classroom:

15:23 – Bruno interviews Paula Abdul about her charity work for the pilot of his upcoming show. Unfortunately there is no furniture and Paula and Bruno must sit on unique “chairs.  (Note: there is partial nudity in this scene as sushi is served on a human “table”)
22:20 – Bruno decides that making a sex tape will make him famous, and naturally he attempts to seduce Ron Paul in a hotel room
26:53 – Bruno talks to image consultants Nicole and Suzanne Defosset, who advise Bruno on which type of charity to start to help him become famous. The conversation involves various ideas, with each one more entertaining than the next
29:17 – Bruno brings together various members of Palestinian and Israeli organizations in order to find peace in “Middle Earth”
32:25 – Bruno visits a terrorist leader in the hopes of getting kidnapped
34:39 – Bruno interviews parents for their children’s involvement in a photo shoot; the parents are willing to go to ridiculous lengths to make their children famous
38:10 – Bruno debuts his child on a Dallas morning talk show, much to the shock of the studio audience
55:05 – Bruno attempts to make it through basic training with the National Guard

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The Buffalo Creek Flood: An Act of Man & Buffalo Creek Revisited

Title:  The Buffalo Creek Flood:  An Act of Man & Buffalo Creek Revisited

Director:  Mimi Pickering

Location:  MU Law RESERVE  AV TC557.W42 B84 2006

Format:  DVD

Rating:  NR

Length: 40 min. & 31 min.

Plot:   The Buffalo Creek Flood: An Act of Man:  On February 26, 1972, a coal-waste dam owned by the Pittson Company collapsed at the head of a crowded hollow in southern West Virginia.  A wall of sludge, debris, and water tore through the valley bleow, leaving in its wake125 dead and 4,000 homeless.  Interviews with survivors, representatives of union and citizen's groups, and officials of the Pittston Comapny are juxtaposed with actual footage of the flood and scenes of the ensuing devastation.  As reasons for the disaster are sought out and examined, evidence mounts that company officials knew of the hazard in advance of the flood, and that the dam was in violation of state and federal regulations.  The Pittson Company, however, continued to deny any wrongdoing, maintaining that thedisaster was an 'an act of God.'

Buffalo Creek Revisited: Filmed ten years after the flood, Buffalo Creek Revisited looks at the second disaster on Buffalo Creek, in which the survivors' efforts to rebuild the communties shattered by the the flood are thwarted by government insensitivity and a century-old pattern of corporate control of the region's land and resources.  Through the statements of survivors, planners, politicians, psychologists, and community activists, the film explores the psychology of disaster, the importance of community and the paradox of a poor people living in a rich land.  (From the Appalshop website.)

Legal Angles: Environmental Law, Pretrial, Property Law, Torts

Genre:  Documentary


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The Burning Bed

Title:  The Burning Bed (1984) 

Director:  Robert Greenwald

Location:  MU Law RESERVE PN1997 .B87 2004

Format:  DVD

Rating:  NR

Length:  95 minutes

Plot:  Francine Hughes has gone from homemaker to arsonist; from loving wife to murderess. By her own admission, she set fire to her house and ex-husband. Farrah Fawcett brings out every nuance and detail of a battered woman's torment and shame.

Legal Angles:  Criminal Law & Criminal Procedure, Family Law, Trial Practice

Genre:  Drama

Cast:  Farrah Fawcett, Paul LeMat, Richard Masur, Grace Zabriskie, Penelope Milford, James Callahan

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Lee Daniel's The Butler

Title:  Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013)

Director:  Lee Daniels

Location:  MU Law RESERVE  PN1997 .B885 2013

Format:  DVD

Rating:  PG-13

Length:  132 min.

Plot:  Cecil Gaines tells the story of his personal and professional life.  His career includes thirty years of serving as a White House Butler to eight different president during a span of history when America contends with both the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War.

Legal Angles: Administrative Law, Civil Rights, Executive Branch

Genre:  Biography, Drama

Cast:  Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Yaya Alafia, Mariah Carey, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Terrence Howard, Minka Kelly, Lenny Kravitz, James Marsden,  David Oyelowo, Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Rickman, Liev Schreiber, Olivia Washington, Robin Williams

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