The Post (2017): Eerily Relevant (Review)

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The Post is a biopic that deals with a governmental coverup and a president who bans reporters from the Washington Post from the White House and it seems eerily relevant. Despite being set in the early 1970’s, the film feels all too familiar. With the current climate in America and a POTUS that screams about fake news at the drop of the proverbial hat, the film seems almost prophetic.

Co-written by Liz Hannah  and Josh Singer and directed by repeat Oscar winner Steven Spielberg (owner of no less than three golden statues) The Post covers a time period of American history where scandal erupted within a tight window, encapsulating the Vietnam war as well as Watergate. The country was reeling from student protests and ever increasing numbers of young men were being sent into a war that was unpopular with the public. 

Spielberg’s biopic drama takes a leaf from other films dealing with this time period in America like “All the President’s Men” and has more than a little in common with the 2015 “newspaper film” Spotlight. All these films deal with coverups and a government, or powerful agency, trying to keep the truth from the public.

At its base, The Post is about Kay Graham (played by Meryl Streep), the first female publisher of a huge brand name newspaper. It is also about freedom of the press, the right to protect sources and how the press serve the people and not the government. (Something the current POTUS seems to have either forgotten or never learned.)

Apart from the story itself, the film benefits from two masters interacting seamlessly in their scenes together. Streep and co-star Tom Hanks work brilliantly as examples of just how actors should work with one another. Their characters mesh perfectly and it is not too much to say that one could watch these two read their laundry list and still be enthralled.

There are a number of familiar faces in this film: Bob Odenkirk and Alison Brie from “The Disaster Artist” and Michael Stuhlbarg (from “The Shape of Water“). Pat Healy, Carrie Coon and Sarah Paulson are part of a cast that includes “Hostiles” actor Jesse Plemons. Spielberg has gathered a group of highly capable artists to deliver his take on the 1970’s threat to the American press. 

The Post is trotted out like a thriller, all tense music and heightened emotions, and one does feel the tension behind the “true” storyline. Hanks and Streep prove that “less is more” with their wonderfully restrained performances, as does Odenkirk.

Everyone plays their parts perfectly and the sets, along with the costumes, throws one right back into the late 1960’s and early ’70’s. This is a film that works brilliantly on many different levels.

Spielberg’s direction, the performances of his cast and the story itself literally come together for a perfect Oscar sweep: Best Film, Screenplay and performance can almost be seen as fait accompli. Streep and Hanks for the top award and Odenkirk for best supporting actor seems likely with a few nods to the rest of a more than capable cast.

The Post may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is a solid 5 star effort that keeps the audience glued to the screen. At just under two hours the movie cracks on with a pace that may not be adrenaline charged throughout but it definitely does not drag or bore.

The film will hit cinemas with a limited release on 22 December and a broader run 12 January 2018. Check this one out, it is an obvious Oscar contender and it manages to tick all the right boxes.

Dr Ken: Ken’s Big Audition – Cameo Cornucopia for Season End (Review)

DAN HARMON

The season finale of Dr. Ken “Ken’s Big Audition” offers up some great cameos, some life changing events and a lot of laughs. As we said in our preview of this episode (which was a tad secretive, we admit) there “is a positive cornucopia of performers from Ken Jeong’s career and there are a few surprise cameo’s thrown in for good measure.” At the time of publication, there was a slight problem with revealing too much of who would be appearing on the last episode of season two.

Now, however, we can gleefully point out the blink and you’ll miss him cameos of not just Seth Rogen but his producing partner Evan Goldburg. We can also sing the praises of the oh so beautiful (and wildly talented) Alison Brie, Nia Vardalos – who pops up at the very end as Pat’s wife who suddenly wants to reunite with her ex.

“Ken’s Big Audition” spells change and leaves the audience with a bit of a cliffhanger. (Will John Cho take the call?) Ken’s life changes when he gets a call from Dan Harmon. Harmon wants Ken to audition for a new television pilot and the wannabe performer is over the moon.

Before that bit of excitement, Molly reveals that she has gotten into Stanford.  (This was a brilliant bit of comedy. The eldest Park child bursts into the kitchen announcing that “I got in!” D.K. responds “Congratulations! You can use a swinging door.”)

Dana Lee
Congratulations…

Dana Lee managed, once again, to bring some brilliant bits to this packed episode. His short, and loudly delivered, line about not using stereotypical accents was perfectly timed and very funny. Kudos to the actor and the writers for that one.

While Allison has to deal with her first born moving away from home, Dave and D.K. both vying for Molly’s room and Ken’s new change of fortune, Pat and Damona almost take their new relationship to the next level; matrimony. Clark talks Pat into possibly popping the question and he seriously considers it.

The episode itself, however, belongs to Ken Jeong and his cast of many cameos. (See what we did there?) Some of the highlights included Ken enlisting Damona and Clark to help him learn his lines for the audition. Later, when he meets with Alison Brie to read with her, she apes Clark’s “baby voiced” deliver of “I have a tummy ache.”

Dr. Ken reacts just as badly to Brie’s interpretation of the line as he did when Clark did it. Ken’s over the top audition leaves him feeling very uncertain and ready to turn his back on the whole thing. As he calls Allison to complain about Hollywood and to grumble about the business, Rogen and Goldberg appear just long enough to Seth to insult the depressed doctor.

Ken’s distress is uncalled for though as Harmon actually casts the doctor as a Spanish teacher with an attitude (a riff on a character Jeong played in Community.) and it looks like Dr. Ken’s new career is off and running.

KRISTA MARIE YU, SUZY NAKAMURA
Molly and Allison share a touching moment.

At the end of the episode Ken looks to be dangerously close to being replaced by John Cho because he cannot stop laughing at Alison Brie and spoiling take after take.  Molly and Alison become even closer with their upcoming separation and Pat gets the surprise of his life when Tiffany turns up to ask for another chance.

There are a number of obvious funny moments in the show. There are also  some bits that one has to look at closely to find the humor. For instance: Just before Ken bumps into Seth and Evan, he is on a stereotypical Hollywood “lot.”

There are actors, makeup artists and so on scattered throughout the scene. What almost slips past the viewer are the external sets themselves. Each building facade is “Ken” sized. Just as funny is Ken’s “mark” (where the actor must stand in order to be in the shot). It is clearly visible and it is a big yellow square; a clear indication that Ken Park is afraid that he has blown his big chance.

KEN JEONG
Ken Jeong

Ken’s concerns are groundless though as Harmon, who apparently likes to punish his fans, hires Ken even though the audition was horrendous. Ken gets the part and then spends his first shooting day blowing the scene because he cannot stop corpsing at Brie’s character.

The kicker of the episode though is Tiffany returning to get Pat back into her life. This leaves things hanging with his new relationship with Damona and we wonder if he loves her enough to turn Tiffany down.

A lot of things could be different in a third season of Dr. Ken. Molly could well be absent (and we would be heartbroken if this were the case as Krista Marie Yu is a personal favorite) Pat and Damona could break up and last but not least, Ken could leave Welltopia all together.

While there would still be room for the delightful brand of comedy that Dr. Ken brings to the table each Friday night, it would be…different.

Questions and musings about season three aside, this was a brilliant end to the season. Dave getting one up on D.K. and Pat’s dilemma were all part and parcel of the overall storyline and that familiar feel of comedy done just right.

If you have not seen the season two finale, catch it later via Hulu or On Demand. Tune in and see why this is a topnotch comedy offering from Ken Jeong and his brilliant ensemble cast. Or stop by to catch the always watchable Alison Brie…

DAN HARMON, ALISON BRIE

Cast:

Ken Jeong – Ken
Albert Tsai – Dave
Suzy Nakamura – Allison Park
Krista Marie Yu – Molly
Tisha Campbell-Martin – Damona
Jonathan Slavin – Clark
Dave Foley – Pat
Dana Lee – D.K.
Justin Chon – Jae
Stephen Guarino – Connor

Guest starring Dan Harmon, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Alison Brie and Nia Vardalos