The Post (2017)

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“Streep and Hanks shine in Spielberg’s timely defence of the press and its freedom to expose corruption – even when it implicates or embarrasses those in political power.” Sandie Angulo Chen

The Post tells the story of the Pentagon Papers, choosing to narrow in on the free press and the White House in their struggle to handle the truth of US involvement in the Vietnam War. This all began with Daniel Ellsberg, played by Matthew Rhys, who walked away from his Government job with thousands upon thousands of confidential pages that revealed the pattern of secrets hidden away from the people about the course of the war. A string of US Presidents, despite knowing they would fail, continued to send troops to Vietnam, and now this painful truth was being spread by Ellsberg first to the New York Times then to the Washington Post. The New York Times revealed several documents before they landed in court, leaving the Washington Post to decide whether they would publish hundreds of sensitive documents and risk their business, or to simply move on.

Meryl Streep is the excellent and strong headed Kay Graham, the publisher of The Post, who works tirelessly for the paper to succeed next to men who consider her entirely incapable. Almost all except editor Ben Bradlee, who is Tom Hanks, who surprisingly despite all odds risks it all to never question Grahams’ decisions. Around this powerful team of two of the most beloved actors in screen history, everyone flourishes. Not to mention Streep and Hanks show us some of the most nuanced and striking performances of their career, capturing intense emotions from an often dry script. Thankfully this talent helps pull The Post out of melodrama into an array of fascinating storytelling.

The Post always keeps on moving in a symphony of deadlines and phone calls, on a backdrop of intense storytelling, in one of Spielberg’s less inspiring films, but one for the history books nonetheless. There’s more than enough entertainment to keep you engaged.

★★★★☆

Imdb – 7.4/10  Rotten Tomatoes – 88%

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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)

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In 2001, the twin towers of the World Trade Centre were an unloved New York City landmark that turned into a complex emblem for torment overnight. In the difficulty of conveying a catharsis for 9/11, films rarely centre on the subject, but rather the individuals whose lives have been tampered by its horror. Jonathon Safran Foer’s 2005 novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, adapted by Eric Roth and directed by Stephen Daldry, ambitiously conveys the horror of loss drawn from the event, and the sentimentality of moving on.

Oskar Schell, played by Thomas Horn, is only eleven years old, yet his prodigiously intelligent, remarkably pacific and technically proficient ways draw out an articulate and seriously solemn New Yorker. His father, Tom Hanks, is a scientist turned jeweller, who cast inexplicable joy and understanding into Oskar’s life, as he struggled to cope with Asperges. On the morning of the 11th of September 2001 Oskar has his very last conversation with his dad, before he disappears into the twin towers for a business meeting – as referred to by Oskar as “the worst day”. Driven by his Socratic enquiries, Oskar sets off on a journey to rediscover his father, and to find himself in the process.

“I regret that it takes a life to learn how to live.”

The film’s premise is engaging and mysterious, drawing out one little boy’s grief to create an impacting and unforgettable story of faith, hope and determination. Illustrated as merely a ripple of the 9/11 attack, Stephen Daldry focuses in on the characters as a raw reflection of the grief and turmoil of the event, and draws hope in finding life after loss. This raw honesty of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is confronting and challenging, yet it conveys a deep emotional connection to the screen and the beautiful story of Oskar Schell, who finds his greatest comfort in shaking his trusty tambourine.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a fascinating, mysterious and awe-inspiring film driven by beautiful close ups and striking characters. Nominated for Best Picture and Critics Choice in 2011, this film is a sensational and moving masterpiece for the ages.

★★★★☆

Imdb – 6.9  Rotten Tomatoes – 46%

Catch Me If You Can – Ingenious deception (2002)

Spielberg’s supremely amusing tale of self-invention in the land of opportunity tells the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., a teenager from Rochelle, New York. Spielberg grasped that unique history and turned it into a superbly charming pursuit story precisely set in the sights and sounds of Abagnale’s 1960’s era. The film’s approach is cheerful and fun but maintains firm attention towards the dark side of characters pain and suffering.

Frank Abagnale Jr. was only 16 when he became one of the 1960’s most legendary con artists. The film opens with his home life; everything seems perfect for the teenager, whose parents are seemingly madly in love. But everything changes when Frank Sr. is investigated by the IRS and his dear mother files for divorce only to wed one of her husband’s closest friends. In hope of avoiding the confusion Frank Jr. runs away and begins a three year crime spree in which he successfully impersonates an airline pilot, a doctor, a lawyer and several other professions, and tricks various establishments out of $2.5 million before he is caught and condemned to serve 12 years in prison.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays the young Abagnale with an effortless charm, and we never fail to forget that his character is still a teenager distressed for approval from his father. Tom Hanks is also fantastic as FBI agent Carl Hanratty. The guy is passionate, ambitious and strongly devoted to his profession. Christopher Walken is great as Frank’s father. You really believe the genuine bond between the two characters. Martin Sheen appears as the impending father-in-law for Frank and his reactions to Frank’s giant stories are priceless. Jennifer Garner draws one of the biggest laughs in the movie when she tries to fraud the con man.

Steven Spielberg is a leading storyteller who has a delightful sense of visual design. Though very visually appealing and entertaining, Catch Me If You Can establishes a cheap grace because the soft ending to the movie seems to excuse Frank’s adolescent behavior. The movie, therefore, values love, compassion and sympathy above repentance and responsibility.

Forrest Gump – The Story of a Lifetime (1994)

Forrest Gump is a film heart-breaker of eccentric wit and startling beauty. Gump’s story is an extraordinary virtual-reality tour of the late twentieth century American history. Vietnam, integration, Watergate and other significant events illustrate from the perspective of Hanks’ lovable slow-witted character as he finds himself entangled in situations he can’t seem to understand. The combined everlasting love, dedication, persistence and joy in this film is both refreshing and captivating.

Forrest Gump is gifted with a low IQ and a pure soul, which leads him into a delightfully childlike atmosphere even as he matures. He leads a very charmed life and follows a straight path throughout the world, ever true to the informal advice of his mother. As he grows up he encounters a miraculous incident that eliminates the need for him to have braces on his legs, a childhood girlfriend who constantly remains faithful to him, surviving Vietnam with high awards, and in general, a tendency to transform everything that happens to him into good.

Tom Hanks plays Forrest Gump, a simple Alabama soul who serves his country with dignity and perseverance. Tom Hanks plays the role with a smooth Southern intonation and Evangelic sincerity. Gump is the typical simpleton, his only main characteristic is the passive virtue infused in him by his mama. Overall the performance is a breathtaking balancing act between comedy and sadness, between a story rich in big laughs and quiet truths.

The film effectively follows Forrest on a tour of recent American history. The director, Robert Zemeckis has experience with special effects, previously incorporated in his other feature films such as Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Zemeckis uses computerized visual effects to place Gump in historic situations with real people. Gump teaches Elvis to swivel his hips, becomes a football star, meets John F. Kennedy, speaks at an anti-war rally in Washington, features on the Dick Cavett show with infamous John Lennon and serves with honour in Vietnam.

Forrest Gump is a beautiful illustration of hope and inspires me constantly to strive above and beyond the expectations. Gump is a new male role model, a nice boy with a loving attitude, complete honesty and genuine kindness, which everyone knows is hard to find. The film has many meaningful quotes and inspirational events, for instance my personal favourite; ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know which one you’re going to get’.