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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.

Inferno Movie Review (2016) | Robert Langdon Burns in Inferno’s Mediocrity

Skipping The Lost Symbol altogether Ron Howard was asked to do the Inferno movie instead. Unfortunately, Ron’s Robert Langdon franchise isn’t really doing so great when you take into account the colossal success of Dan Brown’s books. Do you wonder – is it because of Ron Howard’s direction? Or whether is it because it takes away almost everything from a book when a director is trying to give us a gist through his frames. The latter, right?

Well that’s an enclave we cannot help moving towards, given the limited time frame allotted to directors. But then of course there are things that we could definitely furbish so that the end result doesn’t look all impoverished in sheer adequacy at least.

INFERNO MOVIE PLOT

Inferno finds Tom Hanks reprise his role as the renowned professor Robert Langdon yet again. This time however he is shaken and messed up by what looks like a probable head injury. He wakes up in a hospital with Dr. Sienna Brooks played by Felicity Jones tending to him. Soon bullets ensue coming from a stout Vayentha. What follows is a quest to figure out what, who and why someone had him drugged whilst trying to decode Dante’s morphed map of hell that he found in a Faraday pointer in his belongings.

still of Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones in Inferno movie

The attempt is then to foil a deadly plan of mass killing that Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), a billionaire debatable visionary has hidden in an unknown place. Inferno movie retains a great culminating point (which was terribly shown) which basically helps it to fight the franchise’s redundancy. But alas! It’s not enough!

DOZENS OF ISSUES (SPOILERS AHEAD)

The beauty of a Dan Brown novel lies in the fact that you are constantly decrypting codes alongside protagonists. That’s where the thrill lies. Figuring everything out by yourself, that makes you feel kind of intelligible. Au contraire, a movie however gambols on leaving you with a distasteful serum. You are trying to figure out something, but you realize the actor has already figured it out. That’s where the blame to ‘movie editing’ should really flare toward.

Glimpses that Robert Langdon see of Inferno, though abounding with theatrics vex you too much with their flickering lights. It doesn’t let you garb frames in a proper focus. Sometimes you can’t help but wonder where did Howard’s tranquility go?

Then the worst one is how Ron Howard decides to mess with the story. We find Elizabeth Sinskey portrayed by Sidse Babett Knudsen as Robert Langdon’s former love interest. In an attempt to slow down a bit, Ron keeps stretching their absent chemistry beyond limit. It is almost as if he rushed in towards the ending just to reach a dead end. That’s where the movie actually slows down a bit, and lets you swallow focus. But really! We could have lived without that cheap twist Ron.

Even though the betrayal and it’s follow up was brilliantly shot, Ron Howard went as far as to change the ending. According to Ron, Sienna ends up becoming the ‘immature’ girl in the Inferno movie, which wasn’t really the case.

CONTRASTING ACTORS

One of those actors who seemed to be acting extraordinarily well for a highly paced movie was Irrfan Khan. His flair for dialogues as he broods for a while before delivering his lines brings along all the experience he has garnered over the years as an actor. His portrayal of Harry Sims The Provost though limited was beautifully carved.

still of irrfan khan as Harry Sims The Provost in inferno movie

Then there was the worst one too. Christoph Bouchard, portrayed by Omar Sy ladies and gentleman! even though he is a good actor, he seems a tad out of place. As if it wasn’t supposed to be his timeline at all. There is no subtlety when he assigns his agents to follow up a feigned lead, and then goes to contact Langdon and Brooks.

So now you know Dan Brown books are way better than the movies, you can order the illustrative Inferno book from here:

THE FINAL VERDICT

As the old maxim goes, “Read the book!”, I wouldn’t recommend anyone to watch Robert Langdon movies. All that Dan Brown knowledge that slithers on to cryptic leaflets go poof, if you choose to watch its movie instead. Ron Howard has never really done Dan’s books justice, like ever. It is time someone else gets into his shoes, or even better try to helm a slow paced pensive thrilling TV series. Now that would do him justice!

You can check out the Inferno movie trailer here:

Bridge of Spies Review (2015)

Brige of Spies is an exquisite political biopic!

Steven Spielberg comes up with a biography of a guy caught up in the jaws of political torture as he endeavours to negotiate the rescuing of two people in a cold war struck world. However, the movie isn’t limited to that. There are melodramatic bits strewn all across in the gravy of one helluva screenplay which is brilliantly topped by a stellar cast.

Bridge of Spies is an exceptional movie that has been helmed slowly, delicately and powerfully. There was a war going on, a colder one: a constant mental war of superiority between the two superpowers on the globe. In a twisted world like that, Rudolf Abel, a Soviet spy ends up becoming a victim to the US-Russia distress claws. To save his ass, a lawyer by profession, James B. Donovan, played marvellously by Tom Hanks, is hired with hopes of giving a fair trial yet a subdued one to cover up the hoopla. What ignites as an unfair trial gradually tangles him up further into an even bigger commotion wherein CIA approaches Donovan to make a barter of Abel for a fellow American spy pilot caught in Russia.

Scaling back a bit further, the thing that might strike you as a pleasant surprise is its beginning. We witness an old guy painting himself with the aid of a mirror. His acts are quite mundane, natural and harmless. Spielberg spends enough time on the character for us to relate to him, a normal guy who loves to paint, who is calm and couldn’t possibly mean trouble. On the contrary, we see a troupe of psyched CIA crowd bent on catching him. They bag him at an odd hour and bring chaos to his house, breaking all hell lose, without a search warrant. That’s where Donovan comes in with his propositions. But unfortunately chaos swallows him up. It becomes James v/s America, as every guy starts hating him for fighting a case for the Russian spy.

What was also great to watch was how people change their perspective. At one point it was manifested how the world leered at James when he was defending Abel, but then at a later stage when he saves two Americans, all that hatred ends up metamorphosing into sheer love.

Mark Rylance is outstanding as Rudolf Abel. At times his expressionless face belies his indifference towards the political muck he ends up in. Even when he is aware of an imminent danger, serenity rarely leaves him. He carries his knack for painting and wears it even at direst moments. For example, he calmly answers, “Would it help?” when asked “Are you not worried?” One of the most brilliant scenes in the movie is when Abel compares Donovan to ‘The Standing Man’ in his story. The music grows suddenly and imparts extra gravity to the bit.

It is always a delight to watch Tom Hanks act. His face carries the right kind of emotions. Always lost in thought, he makes Bridge of Spies a dramatic hoot. There are top-notch dramatic frames that Spielberg slides in for emphasis. Like the one where Donovan’s son gets influenced by a war video, and fills up his tub with water for safety. It is a sad reflection of how war changes everything. Also, at one point Donovan had the misfortune of witnessing people being fired at whilst trying to sneak through the border. At a later stage, James sees children leaping over fences, which reminds him of the same troubled scene which then again throws him into the pits of gloom.

What is a tad sad is how long the movie runs. The movie could have survived some cuts. There are frames that we could have lived without. However, it is comprehensible and justified to show crucial bits of the horror and mental torture Donovan had to go through in order to get the job done. When he returns home in the end, he dozes off at once owing to exhaustion whilst in the backdrop his family gets to know his greatness. Quite endearing to watch actually!

A highly recommended movie.