Thursday, January 11, 2018

Tonight's Movie: The Post (2017)

Another day, another new movie!

This time around I went to see the latest collaboration between Tom Hanks and director Steven Spielberg, THE POST (2017). THE POST tells the story of Washington Post publisher Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) and editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) deciding to publish the "Pentagon Papers" stolen by Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys).

I can't claim to know much about this aspect of history, which occurred when I was far too young to take notice of it, and it's not something I've read up on in the years since. Historians including Peggy Noonan have addressed that aspect; Noonan wrote "When you can say you spent two enjoyable hours watching a movie, it’s a good movie. But it’s not an honest one."

I set any questions of historical accuracy aside, along with my increasingly finding Streep's off-camera personality grating, particularly her uninformed maligning of Walt Disney a couple years back. I figure if I let real-life issues get in the way of my movie viewing there are far too many good things I'd miss!

So why did I go see THE POST? In the end, plain and simple, I was there for a "newspaper movie" starring Tom Hanks. I've always loved a good movie about the news business, whether it's HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940), TEACHER'S PET (1958), or so many more...and Hanks surely must be the most dependable and engaging actor of his era. Some have called him a modern-day Jimmy Stewart, and I'm not sure that would be wrong.

THE POST has raked in many outstanding reviews, but frankly I think the plaudits have been a bit excessive, perhaps due to the film's romanticization of the press. It starts out verrrrry slowly with Vietnam War scenes and Ellsberg making off with the infamous papers, finally picking up some speed once the focus shifts to Bradlee and Graham. It could have used some tighter editing and a paring down of its slightly too long hour and 56 minutes.

Once we're in the company of Hanks and Streep the film is good, solid entertainment, if a bit dry and slow moving at times. I'd call it a well-done three-star type film, definitely worth seeing, but probably stop there.

I loved the technical aspects of producing the paper, from the edited paper copy being put in a pneumatic tube to send it to the presses, to seeing some of the typesetting take place. The most exciting sequence in the movie, the publication and delivery of the paper, didn't rely on actors so much as machines and trucks to strike a thrilling chord.

Still, some moments are overly obvious, like the row of admiring young women watching Graham exit the Supreme Court at the end. Laying the "role model" point on just a bit too thick! We get it, we get it.

There are a number of interesting actors in the cast, including Philip Casnoff, who I remember as a villain on TV's NORTH AND SOUTH in the '80s, as reporter Chalmers Roberts. Carrie Coon (TV's FARGO) makes a good Meg Greenfield. Matthew Rhys, who plays Ellsberg, is from TV's BROTHERS AND SISTERS and THE AMERICANS; Bradley Whitford of THE WEST WING and Alison Brie of MAD MEN are also in the film. Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Bruce Greenwood, and Tracy Letts are among the large cast.

THE POST was filmed by Janusz Kaminski. Anyone who watches Spielberg films won't be surprised to know that it was scored by, who else, John Williams.

Parental Advisory: This film is rated PG-13 for language and "brief war violence." It's a very mild PG-13, and I can't imagine that watching it would be problematic for younger viewers who are interested in the subject matter.

A trailer is available on YouTube.


Blogger Brittaney said...

I'm done with Meryl Streep. I really wish actors would get back to doing what they do best -entertaining, and cut back on the political activism. But I do love Tom Hanks.

7:25 AM  
Blogger barrylane said...

I would never watch this picture, more or less, for Brittaney's reason.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Maricatrin said...

Make that three of us. When a performer chooses to be a noxious political activist first, and an entertainer a distant second, they've crossed the line for me. Mark Wahlberg was right... Hollywood really should learn to shut up.

8:13 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

No shortage of opinions here! LOL. And I can understand it...I don't think Streep alone could pull me into a movie anymore.

Where to draw lines separating real life from art is an interesting question, isn't it? For instance, Jane Fonda's past still troubles me...but I'd hate to live without SUNDAY IN NEW YORK (1963) as part of my viewing life. And there are so many more filmmakers who have engaged in problematic behavior.

No real answers here, but interesting to ponder.

Best wishes,

4:21 PM  
Blogger Maricatrin said...

Really feeling the love for Meryl, right? (lol) Yes, the whole off-screen vs on-screen can be a slippery slope. I try to separate the two as much as I can – the scandals, the personalities, the politics. But sometimes I’ll make an exception... I guess we all have our own limits. In addition to my already stated criteria, I’d say part of it depends on whether the loathed one in question is still living, set to reap any monetary reward from my patronage. Not that a millionaire needs my chicken feed, but after all, it’s the (feebly hostile) thought that counts ;-)

Besides, while I’m not an entirely objective critic, I don’t like the way Streep comes across on-screen either. An actor doesn’t have to be onboard with me politically for me to find them likeable, James Garner and Dick Van Dyke being prime examples. Streep the actress has a talent for accents, but IMO suffers from the I-am-a-great-actress, watch-me-act syndrome. Combine this with her non-stop virtue signaling, outrageous hypocrisy, and venomous attacks on a great man like Walt Disney... in short, I’d rather watch a movie starring a sea sick crocodile (gee, Mary, don’t hold back, tell us what you really think!)

Funny you should mention Fonda... I have never seen one of her movies (a habit learned from my dad.) The closest I’ve come is a couple of old, original Password episodes on youtube that she appeared in. They weren’t monetized, and it’s my favorite classic gameshow. But still, don’t let it get around.

9:15 PM  

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