The Post reviews

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Re: The Post reviews

Postby Sabin » Fri Dec 15, 2017 2:46 am

My fear at the Academy Awards was that I was going to have to sit there all night only to watch 'Dunkirk' win. Now my fear is that it'll be this thing.

This must be what Spielberg haters felt during the 1980s when he kept going after the brass ring. It struck me as phony from early on and never stopped. I can only imagine that Liz Hannah's original screenplay was more about Kay Graham's personal struggle with handling The Washington Post and then Josh Singer was brought on to ratchet up suspense and widen the scope. Either way, the film never decides what it's about and the content of the Pentagon Papers takes a powerful backseat.

'The Post' tries to be both the personal journey of Kay Graham coming into her own AND a process-oriented docudrama. It never comes close to finding a balance. Steven Spielberg tends to tackle unruly films when it comes to structure. Look at 'Bridge of Spies.' It tries to stay true to real life, and so it ended up following a bunch of mini-narratives. Ultimately, it succeeded as a film on the strength of its ideas, its performances, its scenes, and its wit. 'The Post' has none of these things. There's something strange about a movie that purports to be about the First Amendment and then spends so much of the running time hemming and hawing about in gorgeous houses and fine restaurants. Even in the end, it can't settle on what we're supposed to cheer. Their Supreme Court victory launched them into more than a regional paper. So, it's not simply a victory of principle but also capitalism, and ultimately I felt nothing.

It also feels quite rushed. A nomination for Michael Kahn would be a real shame. This is a poorly paced film. We leap into scenes and out of them choppily. This one needed more time in the editing room, and perhaps some reshoots.

The performance I enjoyed the most was Bob Odenkirk's. He's not going to get nominated, but in a film full of canned lines it was a pleasure to see someone who kept his thoughts to himself. Bruce Greenwood is also good as Robert McNamara. Hanks is fine. His accent comes and goes, but his gruffness is fun. As for Streep, I understand why she decided to play Kay Graham this way but I found her singularly unpleasant on-screen. Every scene with her felt as subtle as a wartime soap opera.
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Re: The Post reviews

Postby OscarGuy » Mon Dec 04, 2017 1:01 pm

For me, Streep always conveys confidence, even when she's playing a trepidatious character, there's confidence in her delivery. Here, she seemed thoroughly unconfident. That may be why I liked her so much here. It didn't feel like Streep Acting, but Streep acting.

As to the other scene I'm talking about, it's the security guard segment at the very very end.
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Re: The Post reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Dec 04, 2017 12:37 pm

I agree with you on the effectiveness of the Supreme Court steps scene -- it's a very good example of Spielberg's long-time ability to convey an idea simply using visuals, and I liked the fact that the shot is so busy that its central idea doesn't come across as thuddingly obvious. (Clearly I'm being vague, for the sake of spoilers.)

I'd probably need more specifics to know what you're referring to by "the final segment" -- do you mean the final Hanks/Streep scene?

A little thing that's stuck with me since I saw the movie is Streep's line reading of "...and now I think I'm going to go to bed," the capstone to probably her best scene in the movie (along with the Alison Brie exchange).

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Re: The Post reviews

Postby OscarGuy » Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:33 am

I watched this film yesterday in the screener none of us thought we were getting.

I must say I have an entirely different take on it than BJ. I thought it was a searing rebuke of Trump and thus a very timely film. To me, a film doesn't have to take place in a modern setting to feel timely. Fantastic Beasts was set in the 1920s, yet was an indictment of Brexit and other aspects of the rise of bigotry in the UK and the US.

It may be considered merely competent filmmaking, but it feels so much more than that. I cannot go into details before the review embargo lifts on Wednesday (I'm hoping to have my review written and posted then), but I am reminded of All the President's Men in a great many ways, as well as a bit of Spotlight (Josh Singer also had a hand in that one, thus the similarities). I'm not the biggest Streep fan, but this is the best work I think she's done since Devil Wears Prada. Hanks may be the every man Jimmy Stewart once was, but that's fitting for this particular character and evocation of it.

I also want to reference two scenes (in the vaguest of terms obviously) that I was blown away by. They each gave me chills for different reasons. Without going into spoilers, one is at the end of the film (matter of fact the final segment) and the other is on the steps of the Supreme Court. BJ may know what I'm referring to and may not have gotten the same impression out of them, but those were two points where I truly felt that Spielberg showed the best of his talent.
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Re: The Post reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:37 pm

I think the "this is so timely" reaction is the one that frustrates me the most. Because when I think "timely," I think a movie that taps into the cultural zeitgeist in a way that feels like it could only be a movie of that moment -- the way Get Out and Three Billboards do, by addressing contemporary issues in a complex manner, through the use of exciting filmmaking.

The Post could have been released forty years ago, and even then it wouldn't have come across as edgy -- in that era, it probably would have felt even more like watered-down All the President's Men. The movie is only timely in the most superficial sense, in the way a film that climaxes with the reading of a Supreme Court decision about the importance of the free press has contemporary relevance in this historical moment, even though "the free press is important" isn't really that deep of a take for a two-hour movie.

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Re: The Post reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Nov 28, 2017 1:48 pm

I'll be quite interested to see the reaction of real critics to this. The Twitter response has been, as BJ notes, well more enthusiastic than expected, but there's a lot of "this is so timely/the movie we need/such an Oscar movie", rather than "Wow, great movie". It reminds me just a bit of the response to Gary Oldman's performance -- people are so excited it checks off Oscar boxes they don't so much mention their own feelings about it.

This can be especially pernicious when the Oscar-blogger-verse seems to operate with a model of the Oscars that begins and ends with The King's Speech, thinking that any movie existing within those important/inspiring parameters is going to bowl AMPAS over. The voters who chose No Country for Old Men, The Hurt Locker or Birdman -- or even Argo, in a more trivial direction -- don't cross any of their minds when they're forecasting Academy triumphs.

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Re: The Post reviews

Postby Precious Doll » Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:28 am

But Streep only has to appear on screen these days and the 'critics' go ga-ga. Usually find her entertaining and sometimes very good but I could name 500 others actresses I'd rather watch on the screen.

Saw a trailer of The Post this afternoon (never watch them on-line) and thought it looked OK - certainly nothing special but very serviceable. As did to my surprise the trailer for The Darkest Hour which I had also not previously seen.
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Re: The Post reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:04 am

The embargo has been lifted and it seems general consensus is significantly more enthusiastic than my take, particularly on Streep. (Who, to be fair, is perfectly winning in her key scenes late in the film -- I just don't think it's at the level of the great star turns so many other actresses have given this year.) It can always be perplexing, of course, to know that so many others see greatness in a film you think is simply decent.

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Re: The Post reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Nov 27, 2017 11:42 am

Sabin wrote:Confirming my suspicions.

Humor me. How is the score, cinematography, editing, costumes, and production design?


None of these elements are particularly eye-catching (ear-catching?) — this is among the least technically showy films Spielberg has ever directed. (Though I don’t for a second doubt John Williams places — only a fool would bet against that track record.)

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Re: The Post reviews

Postby Sabin » Mon Nov 27, 2017 11:14 am

Confirming my suspicions.

Humor me. How is the score, cinematography, editing, costumes, and production design?
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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The Post reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Sun Nov 26, 2017 5:30 pm

I rate The Post about at the level of a decent TV movie -- I don't think anyone involved should be embarrassed, but I certainly had hopes that the titanic triumvirate of Spielberg/Streep/Hanks would have produced something that felt like more of an event. It's an engaging enough effort, in the vein of co-writer Josh Singer's earlier Spotlight, but far less complex thematically and not nearly as affecting emotionally.

And it feels weird to say this about the depiction of such a significant historical moment, but simply as a story, it's pretty minor. The film's central conflict -- "Is the Washington Post going to publish the information in the Pentagon Papers?" -- isn't a ton to hang a movie on, when we all know the answer to that question. I also found some of the script's dialogue to be so obviously relevant to current conversations, it felt a lot like pandering to an audience eager to have their political views flattered. There's a degree to which the film's general M.O. is just throwing shade at the Trump administration.

No one in the supporting cast is getting nominated. Hanks is fine, but nothing special, though I guess in a barren Best Actor field he could still be in the conversation. Streep has the most substantial role, but this might be a test case for just how far the default-to-Meryl awards tradition goes. I'm firmly on the record as rooting against a nomination for her -- I doubt she'll even make my top ten list of actresses this year, and when there are more than enough genuinely excellent options, I'd hate to see her take up a freebie spot. (Yet again!)

This is a harmless sit -- it moves along pretty quickly, is thoroughly proficient, and has its amusing and compelling details along the way -- but it's more mid-level a film than I'd hoped for given the pedigree involved.


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