One Popped Corn, REVIEWS

I Just Watched This Movie; “The Post”

Casting. A cast can make or break a film. While it’s important that the actors fit the roles that they play, it is even more important that they deliver on the acting ability that got them the role in the first place. Meryl Streep. Tom Hanks. These are the names of two of the most talented actors of all time, but they aren’t always the best, as the new film “The Post” proves. It seems that the casting directors, with a Spielberg blank cheque, decided to just grab the first actors that came to mind. They should have known these overworked actors were due to phone one in. Meryl seemed to have no idea what the blocking was, opting to simply follow other actors around during scenes. Additionally, she was especially clumsy, dropping books, knocking over chairs, and stumbling over lines as if her character would be that nervous taking on the responsibilities of running a newspaper at a time when women were significantly less respected. Tom Hanks on the other hand, just seemed to have not learned the script. Often, he would improvise or just repeat the same first amendment preaching. And when he just couldn’t remember his lines, he would stare (as if a reporter would ever take a moment to contemplate whether to publish a significant but controversial, and potentially costly, article). In regards of the rest of the cast, there were several mistakes made. One, Bruce Greenwood was cast as former Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara. Greenwood’s a great actor. The issue, though, is that he played McNamara’ s boss, John F Kennedy, in the film “JFK.” How can anyone separate his two performances to believe he’s either one of those people. Two, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross appear in the film together as fellow reporters. But they aren’t funny. Why cast the stars of the HBO sketch comedy “Mr. Show with Bob and David” if you don’t intend to let them perform sketches. And lastly, another reporter was played by Jessie Mueller (Broadway: “Beautiful: the Carole King Musical,” “Waitress”) but she was not given any musical numbers. So disappointing. This paragraph was too long- it’s the movies fault for having so much high profile talent.

Media. Thanks to the digital media age, we consume information in so many ways and at a rapid pace. This movie made me want to buy a newspaper though. You may be able to get a constant stream of news through Twitter, but can you feel a tweet? Can you hand a tweet to your friend? Can you cut out a Twitter clipping and post it on your wall (I mean a physical wall, not Facebook)? The answers are no. Online news just isn’t represented in it’s own physical form. Though, we do have personal printers so I guess we could print them to paper ourselves. Actually, newspapers seem to be useless nowadays. But this was still an interesting movie to see how journalists and publishers interact. Though, I guess that’s probably outdated too. I get all my news from random clever people, friends, and celebrities who post on social media. They all have different takes that are much more exciting than what journalists and publishers are willing to print. I mean, I learned this week that the U.S. President is, like, really smart. You aren’t gonna see any journalist writing that. Anyway, while I find the movie and it’s newspaper plotline to be outdated, maybe some people will find something relevant in the film.

Expectations. A great film matches the audiences expectations perfectly. It is jarring when a movie manipulates an audiences’ assumptions by presenting new and different information. When I see a trailer for a movie about the Pentagon Papers being published by the Washington Post, I want to see that happen in the movie. Thankfully, “The Post” is about just that. While they make some attempts to tease the audience that maybe the post won’t publish the top secret information, the movie never manipulates the audience to believe that the story will go any other way than the way it happened in real life. Thus, the stakes and suspense remain low, and the audience doesn’t have to worry or get invested too much. A nice and easy viewing experience.

While the acting and directing was as expected with the talented people involved, the straightforwardness and familiarity of the story prevented the film from going much deeper than a timely statement on the importance of the first amendment. I give the film one popped corn.

REVIEWS, Zero Popped Corns

I Just Watched This Movie; “Darkest Hour”

Fresh Talent. Every great movie star had their start somewhere. Directors are always taking chances, casting relative unknowns with the hope that they will be the next big thing. The new film “Darkest Hour” takes the ultimate chance by choosing a total neophyte to play the lead role of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The actor, Mr. Oldman, an obvious stage name reflecting his advanced age, may not have been recognizable to audiences, but he still brought a tremendous presence to the role. As an older, unattractive, heavy man it seems that Gary hit the jackpot with a role that fit his physical features perfectly. His performance was astounding as well, though he mumbled a bit too many of his lines. Another first time actor, Kristin Scott Thomas, proved herself to be just as, if not more talented than her notable twin brother Daniel Day Lewis. In a supporting yet significant role, veteran actress Lily James (“Cinderella”, “Baby Driver”, “Downton Abbey”) delivered a strong performance as well.

Duration. It’s important that movies are a reasonable length. It’s scientifically proven that humans cannot sit in a chair for longer that two hours and thirty minutes without either falling asleep or having to urinate, so movies are kept within this limit. However, some directors look to push their captive human audience to the limits. Christopher Nolan is one such director. His films have progressively increased in length through the Batman series up to “Interstellar.” He ultimately reached a breaking point, though, last year when his epic film about Dunkirk hit the mark of three and a half hours. At such a length, the theaters declined to show it, and he was forced to split the film into two separate movies. The 2nd Unit crew, led by Assistant Director Joe Wright, took on the responsibility of refining the fourth parallel plot about Dunkirk, the one focused on Churchill, into its own full feature. After seeing the 90 minute “Dunkirk” and this 120 minute “Darkest Hour,” I am beyond excited to watch the original “Nolan Director’s cut” once released on DVD.

Historical Accuracy. Often the biggest controversies surrounding historical dramas is the accuracy of the events and people shown. The film, “Darkest Hour,” deals with an extremely important event in world history; The Second World War. During the movie it struck me as odd that the United States was only mentioned once, and really had no role. Here the British Prime Minister was dealing with the end of Western Europe and the threat of invasion at the hands of the Nazis, and not a single American was there to help. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers from the allied forces were dying, and even more civilians were being killed, captured, and thrown in concentration camps, and yet the movie refused to show any American assistance. This made no sense to me. I mean, didn’t the USA win World War II? So we must have been involved from the beginning of the war, right? Oh well, the Brits rewriting history I guess. On a side note, I will say that the film was accurate in it’s depiction of the British parlement. They have a much better system than the American congress. We should have our two parties sit on separate sides in stadium seating and let them yell and throw blank sheets of paper at each other.

While “Darkest Hour” was filled with a lot of talking and speeches, the film kept up its energy not just with clever dialogue and engrossing performances, but also with adept editing and deft camera work. I give it zero popped corns.

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