The Post (2017)

The Post

Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) and Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) discussing the possible future of The Post

 

I went into Steven Spielberg’s The Post with one question (well a few, but one that stood above the others): Is it possible for the movie to be watchable without thinking of the politics we are bombarded with 24/7 these days? I guess it depends on where you stand politically. All I am here to do is to say if the film is entertaining or not, and my answer is a resounding yes.

Set as almost a prequel to the king of all newspaper movies All the President’s Men (1976), The Post tells the story of the leaked Pentagon Papers, and how President Nixon (as well as previous ones going back to Truman) lied about the Vietnam War. The pages are delivered to the Washington Post (as well as the New York Times), but the latter publishes it first. Still, more papers are delivered to the desk of Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), who is firm on publishing the documents. Of course, it is up to the owner of the paper, Kay Graham (Meryl Streep).

It is clear that when you have a movie with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, the acting will be rock solid. Hanks does have more of the showier role, but that does not steal any thunder from Streep (to be fair, who could do that to the actress?). They and the rest of the cast (including Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Bradley Whitford, and Alison Brie) have a palpable electricity in the air for the whole run time.

It occurs to me that movies that have to do with news media have to be have more truth than most any other film genre (if not, film critics would tear the film apart). I have never worked at a paper, but there does seem to be a lot of authenticity in the movie (even when Bradlee’s daughter is selling lemonade while everyone is sorting the papers). The film may not have been exactly how it all played out (it is an original script by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer), but it would not surprise me if it did play out that way.

Parents, the film is PG-13. There is about five minutes at the start of the film that shows some action in the war (nothing too graphic) and there is also some swearing (none that stood out to me). I would say any middle schooler would be fine seeing this film.

The film is not completely in the league of Spielberg classics like Jaws, E.T., or Schindler’s List. Still, the film is a wonderful thriller for those tired of mindless action CGI effects that want thought and drama at the core. On that standard alone, The Post is a treasure of a film.

 

Overall: Four and a Half Stars **** 1/2

Lion (2016)

lion

Dev Patel as Saroo, with Rooney Mara as Lucy, in “Lion”

Sometimes, the simple power of the story overtakes your criticism. While Lion has some moments that I would question, there is no doubt that the end result of the narrative is simply engrossing and human.

Directed by Garth Davis, Lion tells the amazing true story of Saroo, a young indian man who was adopted by Australians as a child, only to venture out to find what happened to his family he lost as a five-year old (with much help from the wonders of Google Earth). The film starts with Saroo as a child (played by a wonderful newcomer named Sunny Pawar). He ventures out with his brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) to gather food when circumstance force Saroo to be taken away. Some of these scenes do tend to drag on a bit for me, but Pawar is more than up to the task of carrying it all on his small shoulders. Eventually, he meets his foster parents, played by David Wenham and Nicole Kidman. They also adopt another child, Mantosh.

The second half of the film is showing Saroo as an adult (now played by Dev Patel). He juggles trying to cope with his family problems (his brother Mantosh is rather uncontrollable), he wishes not to tell his parents about his yearning to find his birth mother, and even has trouble expressing himself to his girlfriend Lucy (Rooney Mara). All the actors handle themselves well, especially Patel and Kidman. There is a scene between these two that I felt was a little unneeded at first, but it is affective nonetheless. It reminds us that Nicole Kidman is not a past Oscar winner for nothing.

Parents, the movie does have some rather mature themes, and a bit of sensuality. There is not much swearing I can remember. Basically, middle school and up would be ok.

Again, I mention that there are some parts of the movie that did not work for me and may have dragged on, but by the end (which I won’t give away), I did not care. It is still a heck of a story that is more than worth being told.

(Note: The meaning of the title Lion was something I was questioning, but it does make sense by the end).

Overall: Three and a Half Stars *** 1/2