Ruth Bader Ginsberg documentary 'RBG' earns favorable verdict

Stirring in all the right ways, "RBG" is much more than just a profile of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the unexpectedly iconi...

Posted: May 2, 2018 12:55 PM
Updated: May 2, 2018 12:55 PM

Stirring in all the right ways, "RBG" is much more than just a profile of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the unexpectedly iconic Supreme Court Justice. The documentary, rather, turns out to be a wonderful love story, with a buddy comedy -- built around Ginsburg's unlikely friendship with her ideological opposite, the late Antonin Scalia -- thrown in for good measure.

Receiving a theatrical release, this CNN Films project dutifully recounts Ginsburg's professional history, including her multiple arguments before the Supreme Court -- championing women's rights and equality -- before her nomination to the high court by Bill Clinton quarter-century ago. The filmmakers also have some fun with the octogenarian's sudden hipness quotient, thanks in part to Kate McKinnon's amusing take on "Saturday Night Live."

These sequences are augmented by audio of Ginsburg's court appearances, as well as an interview conducted by NPR's Nina Totenberg. But the real heart of "RBG" -- and that term isn't used lightly -- involves Ginsburg and her husband, Marty, the gregarious counterweight to his more serious wife, who happily made his professional life subservient to recognizing his spouse's talent, at a time when dealing with such two-career families was more of an issue.

There's also an uplifting spirit of bipartisanship in the fact that Ginsburg was nearly unanimously confirmed by the Senate (Republican Orrin Hatch is among the interviewees praising her), and her playful give and take with Scalia, underscoring that it's possible -- or ought to be -- to respectively disagree when it comes to matters like interpreting the Constitution.

It helps that directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen talk to all the right people, from Ginsburg and Scalia's children to former Harvard classmates to Clinton, who concedes that she wasn't originally his first choice for the bench. "Within 15 minutes, I decided I was going to name her," he recalls of their interview.

Those with a wonky appreciation of constitutional law will also enjoy how Ginsburg reluctantly became the great dissenter, speaking forcefully against the majority as appointments by President George W. Bush shifted the court's makeup to the right.

One of her classmates, professor Arthur R. Miller, notes that Ginsburg won five out of six cases she argued before the Supreme Court as an attorney, choosing them in a manner that deftly established anti-discrimination law "like knitting a sweater."

In similar fashion, "RBG" takes various facets of a fascinating life and stitches them together, as documentaries go, into a genuine beauty.

"RBG" premieres in select theaters on May 4 and on CNN later this year.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 252895

Reported Deaths: 6334
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1078263457
Riverside19450479
Orange16191363
San Diego15696387
San Bernardino13676269
Imperial7039114
Alameda6556140
Fresno585177
Kern513081
Santa Clara5077160
Tulare4627136
San Joaquin447455
Sacramento400469
San Francisco377650
Contra Costa356481
San Mateo3536108
Santa Barbara326129
Ventura324047
Marin271921
Kings260032
Stanislaus253144
Monterey191515
Solano147625
Sonoma135911
Merced127211
Placer82811
San Luis Obispo7012
Yolo61325
Madera5785
Santa Cruz4553
Napa3764
San Benito2652
Sutter2433
Lassen2420
El Dorado2260
Butte2063
Shasta1484
Humboldt1444
Nevada1291
Glenn1220
Yuba1061
Tehama881
Lake870
Mendocino850
Colusa700
Del Norte581
Calaveras530
Mono451
Tuolumne430
Inyo331
Amador310
Siskiyou310
Mariposa271
Plumas110
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 98° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 78°
Oroville
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 98° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 80°
Paradise
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 78°
Chester
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 58°
Red Bluff
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 99° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 79°
Willows
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 101° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 80°
Temperatures return to seasonal averages as we see a dip in the jet stream through the middle of the week but triple digit heat returns by the weekend.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events