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The Post Movie Review (2017) | Serving the Governed Not the Governors

Walks in with yet another engaging spectacle, Steven Spielberg is hands down a master at filmmaking. The extremely gifted man once again proves with The Post Movie that he is peerless at what he does. His work never ceases to paint flairs of extraordinaire. He is the one man who could make a simple conversation stand out. And there is so much inscribed in his frames that you can’t help but wonder how does he manage to pull it all off.

There’s a story he tells even in long winding conversations.  The Post Movie is full of such brilliant masterly koreros. Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep with their Oscar-bait presence, make all those chats stand out. There’s something about his direction that’s instantly uplifting. Even when he is not busy painting fiction like last years The BFG, he is pouring meaning into the mundane, shaping it and moulding into something delectable.

In a world of power that’s run by the corrupt, perches a voice that’s broiling to do the right thing. The Post movie bases itself on that very run, the pointlessness of a war that had edged itself precariously on the parapet of “let down”. The fact “we can’t show the world we lost” smothers the superpower dream and the United States government was finding it difficult to come clean. It was The New York Times who took the first plunge but the victor – The Washington Post who saw it all the way through.

The Post Movie Plot and Theme (Spoilers)

The Post narrates the true story of the Pentagon Papers that shook the very foundation of the US government when they were made public in 1971. It is built around all that took place inside the head of all the decision makers and the turmoil they were in when something as huge as the truth itself came along.

The Post movie kicks off in the year 1966 with a prologue showing Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) accompanying US troops and documenting US military activities led by Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood). When speaking to President Lyndon Johnson he expresses how hopeless the Vietnam war was, and yet publicly speaking McNamara says the exact opposite.

The post movie still tom hanks

There was something about that blunt lie that shakes the very foundation on which Daniel was built. Unable to take it anymore he decides to let all the government secrets out in the open for the public to see. He photocopies classified reports that showcase the progress of Americans on Vietnam soil ever since the time of Harry S. Truman and then leaks it to The New York Times. Later he releases it to The Washington Post where a pissed off Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) was scouring for news.

Quality drives profitability.

It should be well noted the import of the papers. It is worth noticing how the director chose to run the camera literally with the Pentagon papers thus establishing the colossal importance of news. A world was about to go down for some really powerful people. You could literally feel the weight of the papers in that parcel that made its way to Ben’s desk.

Meryl Streep as Kay Graham

Katherine Graham or Kay (Meryl Streep) found a world on her shoulders when she took the reins of The Washington Post in her hands as the publisher and owner after her husband died. She was overpowered by some really strong men, and it was hard for her to cope with those who condescended her at all times. Be it be her advisors or the men who surrounded her.

In the beginning, there was this apparent tension as clouds of doubts hovered over her. It was important to show that owing to the huge decision boiling in the eventuality of the flick. Meryl nails it giving an Oscar-worthy performance yet again.

Meryl Streep in The Post movie

There are some really ingenious shots put in by Steven Spielberg when he chose to show a woman entering a room full of men. It spoke of contradiction. Even though words weren’t spoken, eyes spake ’em. There was an evident air of control that you could sense in that frame when Katherine takes her seat unable to speak herself out due to stress and hesitation.

News is the first rough draft of history.

You could sense her to be this vulnerable woman who was forced out of her way and flung into a room full of responsibilities. What people did not know was the undeniable fact that every person is totally capable of handling things once they get a hang of it.

There was also one scene where all the wives of men at great posts stood outside smoking, waiting and discussing trivial matters while this contrasting lady Kay Graham goes right through them all to meet with the ‘men’ to take a call. It is just truly inspiring for all those who thought there was a said place for women. She literally changed the very perspective people had about women.

Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee

Editor in Chief of The Washington Post is Ben Bradlee portrayed by Tom Hanks. He is rooting for a big news when the biggest of all news hits him in the face. A lot of shots are called by him in the flick but at the end of the day, the decision still stood with Kay.

Tom Hanks, the brilliant actor he is, adds in plenty of heft in the pacing story through his acting. He is still one of the best actors, hands down. Taking a seat like a boss, turning down people who aren’t useful, you could literally feel him turn into the Editor in Chief of The Washington Post.

But it is Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) who is contacted by Daniel Ellsberg who flies to him to see the papers in person. It blows him away when he witnesses a room full of documents.

I always wanted to be part of a small rebellion.

The Challenge

The biggest challenge all the popular newspapers in United States faced was the government itself. When The New York Times had leaked the first received document, the government restricted the papers from publishing further by calling it an act of treason. Now more of those papers fell into the hands of The Washington Post, and it was a suicide mission for them if they still went ahead to publish.

So it all boiled down to the decision, the ultimate decision whether to post or not to. That decision was to be made by none other than Katherine herself. What made matters worse for her was the fact that she was good friends with Robert McNamara. Put in a position that demanded her to be truthful to the country, to be loyal to her friendship, despite being under the crosshair that could have destroyed the paper she had inherited, Katherine had the world spinning. She had to make a call.

The conversation between Ben and his wife Tony Bradlee (Sarah Paulson) about Kay being brave is something to watch out for.

To make this decision, to risk her fortune and the company that’s been her entire life, well I think that’s brave.

Then we had people constantly battling with her, advising her not to publish since it could decimate the company to tatters. People who looked down upon her, for not only being a woman, but for being incapable of taking a decision on her own.

He says we can’t, I say we can. There, you’re caught up.

Despite everything and a mind-numbing thrashing, she finally makes the right call by choosing to print.

My decision stands, and I’m going to bed.

She had just bugled the arrival of truth, and nothing could have put it better than the following dialogue:

The movie ends with a proper epilogue adding fuel to fire by winking at the Watergate scandal which ultimately led to the resignation of Nixon.

You can order The Post from here:

The Final Verdict

The Post movie needs to be celebrated not just for the fact of how convincingly it has been made and produced, but for its ability to be able to break something unbreakable. Even something as gargantuan as a government could be wrong. It is after all made with people. If they are corrupt, that’s what the governance would end up becoming.

The Post movie is a revolt that brims us up with hope that truth beats everything. You just have to take a stand and never back down even though how intimidating the enemy is.

The papers weigh a country’s conscience. If they are rigged or stomped down, nothing will ever be right again. It’s a movie that sets history right.

American Made Review (2017) | The Insane Lavish Life of Barry Seal

Who doesn’t like watching the money flow in? Wads of cash lying around, isn’t that the dream? Good news! American Made lets you live that dream through the eyes of a guy working secretively for the CIA in the 80s. It is the story of Barry Seal whom we saw in Narcos before, making a cameo. He was played by Dylan Bruno.

Barry Seal Narcos….Doesn’t ring a bell? No? This guy right here:

Barry Seal played by Dylan Bruno in Narcos

Javier Pena called him McPickle.

So our McPickle in American Made is played by none other than the dashing Tom Cruise. Morsels of debonair are loud in him even though he is, what, 55 now? His presence gives the character of McPickle a new perspective and slaps a smiling handsome face on a man who “American” made a shit load of money.

Theme of American Made Movie (Spoilers)

American Made is intentionally kept humorous keeping into account the type of work Barry does. The irony lies in Barry Seal being untouchable, since he works for the CIA, which allows him to work even for the bad guys. No matter how ugly it gets, CIA always has his back. Primarily because he is really good at his job. That gives Barry wings for real.

still of Domhnall Gleeson as Monty Schafer in American Made

The absurdity of it all lies in the fact that a character like Barry Seal was created by the CIA in the first place. When things begin to go south, it was CIA only which ends up shredding his files, to wipe themselves clean of any involvement. That stays the highlight of the flick and goes on to paint a wicked picture for a top secret government body, which even though is capable of getting the job done, does things at hideous costs.

Direction and Plot of American Made

The great thing about American Made is its ballsy editing. Doug Liman isn’t afraid to experiment with super fast clips when he chooses to show his frames. Comic oozes out via pickle-situations, and they all beautifully complement his shaky frames. There are stunning bizarre angles from where he chooses to capture his characters, which tell us how good a director he is.

The good thing about American Made is, unlike other biopics, it doesn’t start off from Barry Seal’s past life. Instead within seconds gets directly to the point. A pilot of TWA, who is slowly succumbing to boredom with a stagnant life hits jackpot when he gets contacted by a CIA official Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson).

American Made movie still of Tom Cruise as Barry Seal

Free Lancing Really Pays

His mission initially involves a spy job, taking photographs by flying low over Central America, more like a reconnaissance. As that job progresses Schafer asks him to run errands for him to a certain Manuel Noriega in Panama who had ties with US intelligence. The crunch of money then forces Barry Seal to accept an offer from none other than the infamous Medellin Cartel. The job is to fly cocaine into the States which CIA chooses to overlook.

However, the DEA sniffs his cocaine act. To avoid them, he moves to Mena with his family convincing his wife. The next job is to run guns for Contras. On figuring out that Contras aren’t serious about their mission he starts running guns for the cartel. CIA sets up a Contra base in Mena for training them but many abscond.

JB – the Freeloader

Every crazy happy story has an injurious element. We have JB played by (Caleb Landry Jones), you might have seen him in Get Out before, who plays Barry’s brother-in-law. Offering him a job was a mistake as he gets marked by the cartel for getting caught by Sheriff Downing (Jesse Plemons) while he was running with a suitcase full of cash. Ends up losing his life as his car explodes in flames.

The Wanted Man

Another epic sight in the flick is when CIA decides to wipe its slate clean, shutting down Barry’s program. DEA, FBI and the state police and other agencies show up at his gate trying to get a piece of him, but he walks out unharmed nevertheless.

American Made movie still of Tom CruiseHowever, Barry figures out it isn’t the CIA who had his back this time, but the big Daddy White House itself. He is offered a mission to frame the Sandinistas to get their photos alongside the cartel. But White House releases those photos clearly showing Barry Seal’s face in it. It ends up putting him on the cartel’s cross-hairs.

He is convicted for a really light sentence requiring him to do 1000 hours of community service. Unfortunately, eventually the cartel gets him and kills him for ratting them out. CIA collects the remaining pieces of evidence thereafter to avoid their names from getting stained. The events later give rise to the Iran-Contra affair.

You can order American Made movie from here:

Issues with American Made

One apparent issue with the movie is that it inadvertently aggrandizes a villain. Despite how fun Barry seems, and the fact that he was just trying to make the most of a situation, he still was in the wrong to support the drug inflow. He wasn’t a hero. Period.

With the movie skimming the comic genre, it somehow sends the wrong message to the mass, a tad opposed to Narcos where you could tell the good guys and the bad guys apart. One might wish to live the lavish life of Barry Seal that wasn’t totally loyal to anybody but himself. There were twists and turns and close calls that saved his ass on a lot of occasions, that had him alive and breathing.

Barry got lucky on a lot of occasions, and with his slate shouting out loud (his conscience not so much) for all the good and the bad things that he did, because he was a talented opportunist, living a life so grand might seem like a good idea to many. That’s where the flick misconstrues its message unknowingly.

Dangerous characters of the Medellin gang like Pablo and Jorge Ochoa are shown in a fun light. You can’t take them seriously with all the killing.

Apart from that, even the screenplay isn’t that intriguing. The movie uses the following one-liner for comical effect, but using it more than once makes it less funny:

I am the gringo that always delivers.

The Final Verdict

The great thing about American Made is that it constantly narrates a story. Despite booking things for fun, there is a plot that is worth all the attention. The shortcomings of CIA, the government and the Reagan rule, it all comes out in the open. The way things were dealt back then, and how things will always remain the authority’s prerogative, are all things that will make you feel really puny and insignificant.

At the end of the day, you will remember American Made movie for all the cash you see. Barry makes so much money that it will literally hurt your eyes. There is cash everywhere. It is all really satisfying to watch since we all like to see heroes earning tons and living a prodigious life.

Enjoy this flick for its theme, its humour, and all the things that you feel when you see someone’s gaudy life flash on the big screen.

You can check out the trailer of American Made movie here: