On the Basis of Sex

On the Basis of Sex

2018, PG-13, 120 min. Directed by Mimi Leder. Starring Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Chris Mulkey, Sam Waterston, Kathy Bates.

REVIEWED By Danielle White, Fri., Jan. 4, 2019

The second film about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in less than a year forgoes the traditional biopic formula for a tidy, well-acted courtroom drama centered on the case that kicked off her decades-long career fighting against gender-based discrimination and for equal rights. The film opens to a sea of men marching toward Harvard Law School to the sound of an actual drumroll, establishing the boys’ club atmosphere we are heading into in one single take. It doesn’t bother with any details that pre-date Ginsburg’s enrollment there in 1959; it sets up a few key points – marriage, children, and a move to NYC where she attended Columbia – and then skips ahead to 1970 where it can mine the material it really wants to: Moritz v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue.

Charles Moritz (Mulkey) was a Colorado man who was denied a tax break on his payments to a caretaker for his mother, something he was refused because he was a bachelor and because he was a man. At the time, Ginsburg was working as a professor; she was unable to gain employment as a lawyer (though she finished first in her class) on the basis of her sex. With the help of husband Marty (Hammer), himself a tax attorney, and a friend at the ACLU, Legal Director Mel Wulf, (Theroux) she argued the case before three (white, male) judges, and you can probably guess what the outcome was.

It’s obvious that first-time scriptwriter Daniel Stiepleman is keenly aware of the current #MeToo climate. As Ruth (Jones) is practicing for the courtroom, there’s a knowing wink to audiences as her male cohorts suggest that she smile at the judges. There’s humor in their imagined future as an absurd situation where things are more equal because they are describing our reality. They believe the American family is “at stake,” and then there’s a clever cut to the Ginsburgs happily making dinner together at home. Other scenes are a bit harder to read. As Ginsburg’s male opponents strategize how to destroy her in court, the Washington Monument looms in the background like a giant dick, and I wasn’t sure if that was meant to be outwardly funny (I found it a bit absurd). Jones makes a fine Ginsburg – especially in the mouth, lips pursed expectantly – but something in Hammer’s resigned manner paints a Marty that is more ineffectual than stoic, and the chemistry between them is pretty middle-of-the-road.

On the Basis of Sex is in no way an all-encompassing, timelined portrait. (The documentary RBG provides much more detail while managing to convey the importance of the Ginsburgs’ partnership.) It’s a bit emotionally manipulative – though, to an extent, all cinema is – particularly in the chosen dialogue (which I assume was lifted directly from court transcripts) and a final scene switcheroo. It’s another effort to solidify her sainthood. However, it’s also an easily digestible outline of Ginsburg, her career, and why her work is so important. It’s a biting piece of herstory that we need right now.

Showtimes

Thu., Jan. 17

10:20am, 1:20, 4:25, 7:25, 10:30

Fri., Jan. 18

12:55, 3:25, 6:35, 9:55

Sat., Jan. 19

11:45am, 3:15, 6:35, 9:55

Sun., Jan. 20

10:45am, 1:45, 4:55, 8:10, 11:25

Mon., Jan. 21

10:45am, 1:45, 4:55, 8:10, 11:25

Tue., Jan. 22

4:55, 8:10, 11:25
AFA 10:45am, 1:45

Wed., Jan. 23

11:45am, 2:50, 6:00, 9:25

Thu., Jan. 17

12:20, 3:30, 6:40, 9:40

Fri., Jan. 18

1:15, 4:25, 7:30, 10:35

Sat., Jan. 19

11:50am, 3:00, 6:10, 9:15

Sun., Jan. 20

1:15, 4:25, 7:45, 9:40

Mon., Jan. 21

1:20, 4:25, 6:40, 10:40

Tue., Jan. 22

3:45, 6:15, 10:15
AFA 12:40

Wed., Jan. 23

12:45, 3:55, 7:00, 10:05

Thu., Jan. 17

1:25, 4:25, 7:55, 10:55

Fri., Jan. 18

11:55am, 3:00, 6:05, 9:10

Sat., Jan. 19

12:00, 3:05, 6:30, 9:45

Sun., Jan. 20

11:45am, 2:50, 6:00, 9:10

Mon., Jan. 21

12:50, 3:55, 7:00, 10:15

Tue., Jan. 22

12:50, 3:55, 7:00, 10:15

Wed., Jan. 23

1:20, 4:25, 7:30, 10:35

Arbor Cinema @ Great Hills

9828 Great Hills Trail, 512/231-9742

Discounts daily before 6pm.

Thu., Jan. 17

CC 12:30, 3:45, 6:45, 9:40

Fri., Jan. 18

CC 12:30, 3:45, 6:45, 9:40

Sat., Jan. 19

CC 12:30, 3:45, 6:45, 9:40

Sun., Jan. 20

CC 12:30, 3:45, 6:45, 9:40

Mon., Jan. 21

CC 12:30, 3:45, 6:45, 9:40

Tue., Jan. 22

CC 12:30, 3:45, 6:45, 9:40

Wed., Jan. 23

CC 12:30, 3:45, 6:45, 9:40

Barton Creek Square (AMC)

2901 South Capital of Texas Hwy, 512/306-1991, www.amctheatres.com

Matinee discounts available before 4pm daily. Bring Your Baby matinees the first Tuesday of every month.

Thu., Jan. 17

CC/DVS 1:20, 4:20, 7:10

Cinemark 20 and XD

N. I-35 & FM 1825, 512/989-8535

Cost for 3-D and XD shows is regular ticket price plus a premium.

Thu., Jan. 17

digital 12:45, 3:50, 6:55, 9:55

Fri., Jan. 18

digital 1:50, 4:50, 7:50, 10:50

Sat., Jan. 19

digital 10:50am, 1:50, 4:50, 7:50, 10:50

Sun., Jan. 20

digital 10:50am, 1:50, 4:50, 7:50, 10:50

Mon., Jan. 21

digital 10:50am, 1:50, 4:50, 7:50, 10:50

Tue., Jan. 22

digital 1:50, 4:50, 7:50, 10:50

Wed., Jan. 23

digital 1:50, 4:50, 7:50, 10:50

Cinemark Cedar Park

1335 E. Whitestone, Cedar Park, 800/326-3264

Call theatre for complete list of movies and showtimes.

Thu., Jan. 17

digital 12:50, 3:40, 6:40, 9:40

Fri., Jan. 18

digital 10:20am, 1:10, 4:05, 6:55, 9:45

Sat., Jan. 19

digital 10:20am, 1:10, 4:05, 6:55, 9:45

Sun., Jan. 20

digital 10:20am, 1:10, 4:05, 6:55, 9:45

Mon., Jan. 21

digital 10:20am, 1:10, 4:05, 6:55, 9:45

Tue., Jan. 22

digital 1:10, 4:05, 6:55, 9:45

Wed., Jan. 23

digital 1:10, 4:05, 6:55, 9:45

Thu., Jan. 17

digital 10:15am, 1:10, 4:15, 7:15, 10:15

Fri., Jan. 18

digital 10:15am, 1:10, 4:15, 7:15, 10:15

Sat., Jan. 19

digital 10:15am, 1:10, 4:15, 7:15, 10:15

Sun., Jan. 20

digital 10:15am, 1:10, 4:15, 7:15, 10:15

Mon., Jan. 21

digital 10:15am, 1:10, 4:15, 7:15, 10:15

Tue., Jan. 22

digital 10:15am, 1:10, 4:15, 7:15, 10:15

Wed., Jan. 23

digital 10:15am, 1:10, 4:15, 7:15, 10:15

Cinemark Round Rock

4401 N. I-35, Round Rock, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium. Call theatre for complete March 26-28 showtimes.

Thu., Jan. 17

digital 1:05, 4:05, 7:10, 10:00

Fri., Jan. 18

digital 10:30am, 1:30, 4:20, 7:15, 10:10

Sat., Jan. 19

digital 10:30am, 1:30, 4:20, 7:15, 10:10

Sun., Jan. 20

digital 10:30am, 1:30, 4:20, 7:15, 10:10

Mon., Jan. 21

digital 1:30, 4:20, 7:15, 10:10

Tue., Jan. 22

digital 1:30, 4:20, 7:15, 10:10

Wed., Jan. 23

digital 1:30, 4:20, 7:15, 10:10

Cinemark Southpark Meadows

9900 S. I-35, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Thu., Jan. 17

digital 10:35am, 1:20, 4:05, 6:50, 9:35

Fri., Jan. 18

digital 10:35am, 1:20, 4:05, 6:50, 9:35

Sat., Jan. 19

digital 10:35am, 1:20, 4:05, 6:50, 9:35

Sun., Jan. 20

digital 10:35am, 1:20, 4:05, 6:50, 9:35

Mon., Jan. 21

digital 10:35am, 1:20, 4:05, 6:50, 9:35

Tue., Jan. 22

digital 10:35am, 1:20, 4:05, 6:50, 9:35

Wed., Jan. 23

digital 10:35am, 1:20, 4:05, 6:50, 9:35

City Lights Theatre

420 Wolf Ranch Parkway, Georgetown, 512/868-9922

Thu., Jan. 17

1:25, 4:25, 7:25, 10:15

Fri., Jan. 18

10:25am, 1:25, 4:25, 7:35, 10:20

Sat., Jan. 19

10:25am, 1:25, 4:25, 7:35, 10:20

Sun., Jan. 20

1:25, 4:25, 7:35, 10:20

Mon., Jan. 21

1:25, 4:25, 7:35, 10:20

Tue., Jan. 22

1:25, 4:25, 7:35, 10:20

Wed., Jan. 23

1:25, 4:25, 7:35, 10:20

EVO Entertainment

3200 Kyle Crossing, Kyle, 512/523-9009, www.evo-entertainment.com

Thu., Jan. 17

12:00, 3:50, 6:35, 9:25

Fri., Jan. 18

12:00, 3:50, 6:35, 9:25

Sat., Jan. 19

12:00, 3:50, 6:35, 9:25

Sun., Jan. 20

12:00, 3:50, 6:35, 9:25

Mon., Jan. 21

12:00, 3:50, 6:35, 9:25

Tue., Jan. 22

12:00, 3:50, 6:35, 9:25

Wed., Jan. 23

12:00, 3:50, 6:35, 9:25

iPic Theaters Austin

3225 Amy Donovan Plaza, 512/568-3400, www.ipic.com

Thu., Jan. 17

11:30am, 3:15, 6:45, 10:00

Fri., Jan. 18

11:20am, 2:45, 6:00, 9:15

Sat., Jan. 19

11:20am, 2:45, 6:00, 9:15

Sun., Jan. 20

11:20am, 2:45, 6:00, 9:15

Mon., Jan. 21

11:20am, 2:45, 6:00, 9:15

Tue., Jan. 22

11:20am, 2:45, 6:00, 9:15

Wed., Jan. 23

11:20am, 2:45, 6:00, 9:15

AMC Lakeline 9

11200 Lakeline Mall Dr., Cedar Park, 512/335-4793

Discounts daily before 6pm.

Thu., Jan. 17

CC/DVS 2:00, 5:00

Metropolitan

901 Little Texas, 512/447-0101

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Thu., Jan. 17

CC 1:50, 4:50, 7:50, 9:45

Fri., Jan. 18

CC 12:45, 3:45, 6:45, 9:40

Sat., Jan. 19

CC 12:45, 3:45, 6:45, 9:40

Sun., Jan. 20

CC 12:45, 3:45, 6:45, 9:40

Mon., Jan. 21

CC 12:45, 3:45, 6:45, 9:40

Tue., Jan. 22

CC 12:45, 3:45, 6:45, 9:40

Wed., Jan. 23

CC 12:45, 3:45, 6:45, 9:40

Moviehouse & Eatery

8300 N. FM 620, Bldg. B, 512/501-3520, www.themoviehouse.com/trails/

Thu., Jan. 17

10:00am, 1:10, 4:20, 7:30, 10:45

Fri., Jan. 18

11:10am, 2:45, 6:00, 9:15

Sat., Jan. 19

11:10am, 2:45, 6:00, 9:15

Sun., Jan. 20

11:10am, 2:45, 6:00, 9:15

Mon., Jan. 21

11:10am, 2:45, 6:00, 9:15

Tue., Jan. 22

11:10am, 2:45, 6:00, 9:15

Wed., Jan. 23

11:10am, 2:45, 6:00, 9:15

Moviehouse & Eatery - Lantana Place

7415 Southwest Parkway, Building 7, 512/572-0770, www.themoviehouse.com/lantana/

Thu., Jan. 17

10:25am, 12:30, 3:45, 4:30, 7:45, 8:50, 10:30

Fri., Jan. 18

1:00, 4:15, 7:30, 10:45

Sat., Jan. 19

1:00, 4:15, 7:30, 10:45

Sun., Jan. 20

1:00, 4:15, 7:30, 10:45

Mon., Jan. 21

1:00, 4:15, 7:30, 10:45

Tue., Jan. 22

1:00, 4:15, 7:30, 10:45

Wed., Jan. 23

1:00, 4:15, 7:30, 10:45

Schulman Theatres Lost Pines 8

1600 Chestnut St, Bastrop, 512/321-0123, www.schulmantheatres.com

Thu., Jan. 17

9:50am, 12:50, 3:55, 6:55, 10:00

Fri., Jan. 18

10:05am, 1:05, 4:00, 7:00, 10:20

Sat., Jan. 19

10:05am, 1:05, 4:00, 7:00, 10:20

Sun., Jan. 20

10:05am, 1:05, 4:00, 7:00, 10:20

Mon., Jan. 21

10:05am, 1:05, 4:00, 7:00, 10:20

Tue., Jan. 22

10:05am, 1:05, 4:00, 7:00, 10:20

Wed., Jan. 23

10:05am, 1:05, 4:00, 7:00, 10:20

ShowBiz Cinemas 8 Marble Falls

2600 Hwy 281 North, Marble Falls

Call theatre for August 22-23 showtimes.

Thu., Jan. 17

2:00, 4:40, 7:30

Fri., Jan. 18

11:10am, 2:00, 4:40, 7:30, 10:15

Sat., Jan. 19

11:10am, 2:00, 4:40, 7:30, 10:15

Sun., Jan. 20

11:10am, 2:00, 4:40, 7:30, 10:15

Mon., Jan. 21

11:10am, 2:00, 4:40, 7:30

Tue., Jan. 22

2:00, 4:40, 7:30

Wed., Jan. 23

2:00, 4:40, 7:30

Sky Cinemas

13201 US-290, 512/457-0700, www.skycinemas.com

Thu., Jan. 17

12:00, 2:40, 4:00, 5:25, 8:35

Fri., Jan. 18

10:50am, 1:45, 4:10, 7:00, 9:20

Sat., Jan. 19

10:50am, 1:45, 4:10, 7:00, 9:20

Sun., Jan. 20

10:50am, 1:45, 4:10, 7:00, 9:20

Mon., Jan. 21

10:50am, 1:45, 4:10, 7:00, 9:10

Tue., Jan. 22

11:45am, 1:25, 3:25, 6:15, 9:00

Wed., Jan. 23

11:45am, 1:25, 3:25, 6:15, 9:00

Starplex 12 San Marcos

1250 Wonder World Drive, San Marcos, 512/805-8000

Thu., Jan. 17

12:45, 3:45, 6:45, 9:40

Fri., Jan. 18

11:10am, 1:55, 4:45, 7:20, 10:05

Sat., Jan. 19

11:10am, 1:55, 4:45, 7:20, 10:05

Sun., Jan. 20

11:10am, 1:55, 4:45, 7:40, 10:30

Mon., Jan. 21

12:15, 3:45, 6:45, 9:45

Tue., Jan. 22

12:15, 3:45, 6:45, 9:45

Wed., Jan. 23

12:15, 3:45, 6:45, 9:45

Violet Crown Cinema

434 W. Second, 512/495-9600, www.violetcrowncinema.com

Four-hour parking validation in attached garage with ticket purchase. Reserved seating; bar and cafe on-site.

Thu., Jan. 17

11:15am, 1:30, 4:00, 9:00

Fri., Jan. 18

10:50am, 1:30, 4:00, 7:30, 9:20

Sat., Jan. 19

10:50am, 1:30, 4:00, 7:30, 9:20

Sun., Jan. 20

10:50am, 1:30, 4:00, 7:30, 9:20

Mon., Jan. 21

10:50am, 1:30, 4:00, 8:35

Tue., Jan. 22

10:55am, 1:30, 4:00, 8:35

Wed., Jan. 23

10:50am, 1:30, 4:00, 8:35

Westgate 11

4477 S. Lamar, 512/899-2717

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Thu., Jan. 17

CC 11:00am, 1:15, 4:15, 7:00, 9:45

Fri., Jan. 18

CC 11:10am, 1:55, 4:35, 7:20, 10:05

Sat., Jan. 19

CC 1:15, 4:20, 7:00, 9:45

Sun., Jan. 20

CC 11:10am, 1:55, 4:35, 7:20, 10:05

Mon., Jan. 21

CC 1:40, 4:20, 7:20, 10:00

Tue., Jan. 22

CC 1:15, 4:15, 7:00, 9:45

Wed., Jan. 23

CC 1:15, 4:15, 7:00, 9:45

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

On the Basis of Sex, Mimi Leder, Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Chris Mulkey, Sam Waterston, Kathy Bates

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