Earlier this week there was an update on the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie divorce situation as court papers filed in Los Angeles revealed that Angelina’s lawyer has asked to disqualify the private judge presiding over their case. According to Angelina’s legal team, Brad’s legal team works frequently with the judge and the cases end up being long and drawn out, which means he gets paid more. The Jolie side is suggesting that this is a conflict of interest. At the time, sources favourable to Brad quickly reached out to Page Six, insisting that nothing shady was happening and that this wasn't a “delay tactic” on Angelina’s part because the proceedings weren’t going her way. Now a source favourable to her has also contacted Page Six. In the court documents, Angelina’s team notes that they’re “concerned something untoward was happening” between Brad’s lawyers and the judge and the Jolie source clarifies that:
“Angelina isn’t trying to delay this process. In fact, the court papers state that she wants to get this issue with the judge resolved so there are no further delays [in deciding custody and financial issues like child support].”
So, once again, as it has been through the almost four years that this breakup has dragged out, this is a gossip buffet. Either you believe that she has a right to ask for a judge who’ll be impartial or you believe that she’s not getting her way and is making up excuses so that she can find someone who’ll let her have her way.
Since I last posted about this, I’ve heard from several lawyers in the United States, including a few who work in family law in Los Angeles, who’ve shared some insight. Some think it’s unusual that Angelina’s lawyer is not based in LA. Also, in LA, and probably most places, there aren’t that many private judges working in family law. Since the pool is pretty small, those who practice in LA say that for these kinds of high-profile cases with high net worth individuals, it’s inevitable for counsel to work with the same private judges over and over again. Considering Brad Pitt’s status, he of course went with a legal team experienced in the area and, at least to certain legal insiders in town, it’s not really an eyebrow raise that Brad’s lawyer and the private judge have other cases on the go. If Angelina’s lawyers were LA-based, for example, her lawyer might find themselves in the same position.
On the other hand, there are lawyers who say that that may be what Angelina and her lawyer are pushing up against – a “club” of frequent players running in the same circles each with their own biases and motivations. Which, really, just brings us back to the buffet. Brad’s shady and exploiting insider relationships or all of this is above board and she’s the one nitpicking. It’s a mirror of their professional collaborations, and that’s just my clunky segue to talking about Mr & Mrs Smith.
Angelica Jade Bastién wrote about Mr & Mrs Smith because it’s Vulture’s Friday Night Movie Club selection this week. As she notes, the film is a “straight shot of movie star charisma” and a “defining moment in the history of Hollywood stardom” because, of course, as we all know, these two were already an electrifying presence individually. Together, onscreen, it was explosive. Which is what made the movie so enjoyable. You can’t take your eyes off of them.
But here’s why I love Mr & Mrs Smith: it’s a movie about WORK. It’s a movie about two people who love their jobs, who are great at their jobs, the two best people at the jobs, and they’re married to each other and don’t know that they have the same job. But doing their jobs well, together, is how they find they way back to love. Most of the focus on Mr & Mrs Smith has been about how it was a metaphor for marriage, and that’s for sure, thematically, a big takeaway – but what makes it sexy for people who love work porn is that the foreplay is when they’re both performing their duties, showing off their work skills. That was how they flirted, by matching each other at work.
And this was the beginning of what would become a 12-year gossip obsession, culminating with By The Sea, a film about two people who don’t know each other anymore. I’ll never tire of Angelica Jade Bastién’s piece on “The Venomous Beauty of By The Sea by Angelina Jolie” from 2017 as she is one of the few film critics who consider it a masterpiece because, as she writes, she actually engaged with what Angelina was trying to do with this character study. And perhaps what she was trying to tell us about her real marriage. That this was the work it ended on.