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Tag Archive: Alison Brie


Review by C.J. Bunce

When the worst of us does its best to silence the rest of us, you get a story like 1971’s Pentagon Papers bombshell.  When a voluminous, decades-in-the-making, confidential government report that demonstrated unconstitutional behavior by a succession of presidents from Truman through Johnson is leaked to the press, The New York Times first reported on it, and the Nixon administration sought and was granted an injunction preventing the Times from publishing further articles on the subject.  Director Steven Spielberg focuses his new expertly crafted biopic The Post on The Washington Post as it decided whether to publish excerpts of the Pentagon Papers in the face of the Times injunction, primarily through the eyes of newspaper owner Katherine Graham, played by Meryl Streep, and managing editor Ben Bradlee, played by Tom Hanks. For the average moviegoer, Spielberg takes a rather mundane footnote in American history and makes it completely engaging and entertaining.  Carefully re-creating the early 1970s more than 45 years later with everything from the annoying mishandling of coins as you tried to make a payphone call, to the rotary phones we all used, to the weekly ritual of the family newspaper strewn across the living room, to costume designer Ann Roth’s hand-sewn vintage wardrobe re-creations, eyeglasses, jewelry, and hairdos of the era, to old technology and random items on shelves (that might prompt you to think it’s time to get a new iced tea pitcher), to the thankfully bygone days of women sitting in one room at a party and the men in another, to board rooms completely devoid of women (although today there is still rarely more than one or two), Spielberg makes the best use of the film medium, sharing a timely and important story for a new generation of moviegoers.

Filmed in the same 1970s noir style as Alan J. Pakula’s All the President’s Men (and using a newsroom set that is almost as accurate as that film’s 1975 California movie set version of the real thing), The Post might as well be a prequel.  It’s almost as good, lacking some of the more heart-pounding, real-life thrills of Watergate, like the mysterious informant Deep Throat, the uncertainty of whether someone in the government was going to think The Washington Post’s press coverage was worth killing over, and the perceived nature of the stakes (the executive branch vs. the Fourth Estate).  To his credit Spielberg had the more difficult task of re-creating an era and a newsroom in 2017, when Redford was filming his movie only three years after the events took place (and Spielberg is also certain to illustrate the stakes to both the players and the nation of this earlier event).  From the opening scene Spielberg traverses familiar territory, opening with an embedded government wonk in a warzone in Vietnam, as believable as his earliest team-up with Hanks, in Saving Private Ryan.  Seamlessly composer John Williams rejoins his long partnership with Spielberg in this scene, offering one of his best scores in years, alternating within the film an intensity that rivals his Raider of the Lost Ark compositions with the contemplative import of the moment realized in his Schindler’s List soundtrack.

Yesterday is today, as scene after scene attests to the same corporate deal making, the same roadshow investors, the same IPO efforts, the same boardroom antics, the same misogyny, the same shuffling of blame, and the same indifference to the public good permeates the nation and the news.   Convincingly selling us on the gravity of the story is the best ensemble cast put together in the past year.  Streep plays a surprisingly layered Katherine Graham, a socialite who would become the first woman Fortune 500 CEO and first woman to helm a major newspaper, best known for her role in the Pentagon Papers and Watergate.  Streep never ceases to amaze as she creates yet another character as believable and authentic as any of her past award-winning performances.  The Tom Hanks that won best actor Oscars for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump is also back, playing the strident editor Bradlee for all it’s worth, complete with the editor’s accent, brusque language and bravado, equal to Jason Robards’ Oscar-winning take on the same man in All the President’s Men.  The rest of the cast is a virtual Who’s Who of the current top genre actor scene.

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Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.  And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.

— United States Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, NY Times v United States

The Post is the next in a prestigious line of the drama sub-genre of motion pictures focusing on journalism, a group featuring great films like Citizen Kane, Meet John Doe, The China Syndrome, Call Northside 777, and Zodiac.  The Post could be seen as a sequel of sorts to another film classic from this group, the Academy Award-winning 1976 film All the President’s Men.  That film, which told the story of The Washington Post coverage of the break-in at the Watergate Hotel that led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation, co-starred Jason Robards as executive editor Ben Bradlee.  The Washington Post is again front and center in The Post, this time with Tom Hanks as Bradlee and Meryl Streep as publisher Katherine Graham (who was an active player in the events in All the President’s Men, but the character did not appear in the film).

With director Steven Spielberg, Streep, and Hanks attached to the film, it’s likely The Post will be a big Oscar contender next March.  The Post tells the story of The Washington Post’s decision to disclose The Pentagon Papers over the course of a few weeks in June 1971, an extensive government study that would show that the government had hidden from the public and media the true extent of U.S. activity in the Vietnam War.  The decision of the Supreme Court would stifle the media for 15 days before finally providing some guidance on when the government may restrict the press from certain disclosures.

The film features plenty of familiar faces, including Alison Brie as Graham’s daughter Lally Weymouth, Carrie Coon as Meg Greenfield (Post editorial writer and confidante of Graham), David Cross as Post editor Philip Geyelin, Bruce Greenwood as Robert McNamara (President Johnson’s secretary of defense), Tracy Letts as Paul Ignatius (President Johnson’s assistant secretary of defense), Bob Odenkirk as Ben Bagdikian (the reporter for The Post at the center of the Pentagon Papers coverage), Michael Stuhlbarg as Post managing editor Eugene Patterson, and Zach Woods as Daniel Ellsberg, the military analyst who disclosed the Pentagon Papers and was charged with espionage.

Check out this trailer for The Post:

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the-lego-batman-movie-trailer-4-ride

Somewhere along the way, our review of The LEGO Movie got gobbled up by trolls.  But here’s what you need to know if you haven’t seen it yet: Everything is awesome in The LEGO Movie.  If you’re a fan of all the previous video games, animated direct-to-video and TV iterations of animated LEGO characters then you will be pleased with the big-screen version of the film, which hit theaters back in 2014 and is streaming nearly everywhere you look these days.  Great world-building (literally), characters, laugh-out-loud humor, and songs make for great fun for all ages.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller directed The LEGO Movie.  They are the duo behind 21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street, the coming Men in Black/Jump Street crossover movie, and–wait for it–the 2019 Star Wars movie featuring Han Solo.  So if you figure guys with that much humor and someone good enough to take the reins on Star Wars created it, maybe you’ll see why checking out The LEGO Movie is worth your time.  Oh, and it stars fan favorites Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, and Alison Brie, Anthony Daniels, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, Jonah Hill, Will Arnett, Cobie Smulders, Keegan-Michael Key, Billy Dee Williams, Liam Neeson, and Channing Tatum.

lego-poster    batman-lego-poster

Which brings us to The LEGO Batman Movie.  If everything was awesome for the little blocky people of LEGOLAND in the first film, everything is not awesome in Gotham for Batman in The LEGO Batman Movie.  The trailers for the follow-on film that was hinted at in The LEGO Movie looks to be very different with more piled-on humor.  If you’re one of the Batman or comic book movie fans wanting Batman to get less dark and gritty and more fun, the trailers released so far seem to be targeting you.

Just check out this superb volley of four trailers for The LEGO Batman Movie:

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Free Birds preview

Four new previews for animated movies coming out in the next 8 months are out this week.  Each has genre actors that might get you to go to the theater for your animated viewing fix.

First up is Free Birds, which is about a Thanksgiving turkey pardoned by the president (who appears to be President Clinton) who partners with another bird to use the White House time machine to go back and prevent the first turkey from being the subject of Thanksgiving–thereby saving all turkeys from a Thanksgiving fate from then on.  The story looks good and the cast and animation do, too.

Check out the trailer for Free Birds:

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Community cast

It may be a sign that fans of much-loved TV series are finally having a say in determining what stays on TV.  With fans voting with their wallets last month to bring Veronica Mars to the silver screen via an unprecedented Kickstarter campaign, someone savvy at NBC programming must have realized the loyal fan following of Community was worth keeping by saving the half-hour comedy series.   Last night NBC announced Community will be back for a fifth season, moving it ever closer to the series not-so secret mantra “six seasons and a movie”.

The roars of thousands of series fans who chanted along with the montage of key scenes from the past three seasons at Comic-Con last summer said it all.  And it didn’t matter that Chevy Chase wasn’t returning to the series or the much liked show creator Dan Harmon was cast away, as show regulars Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, and Donald Glover continued to provide all the fans want and more over the past 84 episodes.

Community McHale

Why do fans like the show?  The humor?  The characters?  The actors?  All of the above?  Watch the series cast talk about the show last year at Comic-Con:

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