The Post (2017): Eerily Relevant (Review)

maxresdefault

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.

SNL: Tom Hanks and Lady Gaga Kill It (Review)

 Saturday Night Live - Season 42

It says a lot about Tom Hanks that, after guest hosting SNL for the ninth time, he was allowed to do the opening monologue all by himself.  While America’s favorite actor was not in every skit, he killed it in each one that he appeared in.  Musical guest Lady Gaga effortlessly reminded the world that she is one hell of a performer…Twice.

Hanks put on a cardigan and spoke to his “imaginary” son about the state of the country and the elections. It was not hysterically funny but was geared more to the “favorite dad” tag given the two time Oscar winning performer.

The show’s cold open feature Hanks as moderator of the last presidential debate. Alec Baldwin reprized his Donald Trump and Kate McKinnon made her Hilary the best one of the season. Baldwin, a favorite on SNL who could almost be classed a regular, came back to work with Hanks on the Cockpit sketch.

The skits this week were a mixed bag. Black Jeopardy was a stand out as Hanks play the only white contestant. Wearing a “Make America Great Again” ball cap and a goatee, Tom worked well with Leslie Jones and Sasheer Zamata, and “emcee” Kenan Thompson.

At one point Hanks had Jones breaking character as she struggled to stop laughing. The sketch was also memorable  for giving Zamata, one of the most underused cast members on the show, quite a lot of screen time.

Haunted Elevator “with 100 floors of frights” was a close second to the Jeopardy skit. Hanks played “David Pumpkins” a annoying and oddly fright-less stop on several floors. Kate McKinnon and Beck Bennett are confused about this inclusion to the ride.

The punch line is like an overly long “knock-knock” joke when Pumpkins’ promise to “scare the hell out of you,” is eventually delivered.

The rest of the skits, and even Weekend Update, were a tad weak. Leslie Jones was the highlight of the Update segment, with Cecily Strong come in a close second with her “Drunk Girl” act. The jokes by Che and Jost were all aimed at the political candidates. Both Trump and Clinton got their fair share of digs from the hosts.

A Girl’s Halloween and America’s Funniest Pets were the weakest skits this week. Cecily Strong, Aidy Bryant and Vanessa Bayer played three girls whose night out ends up in a drunken mess. The highlight of that skit was a green Ken Davidson appearing twice as the Incredible Hulk. Once in the pizza place where one of the girls vomits on their pizza and later in Bryant’s character’s bed.

One of the funnier, and spot on, sketches dealt with CBS. The pre-recorded bit poked fun at the network for losing its award winning comedy shows. Hanks took part in this segment, sadly not available for viewing outside of on-demand or Hulu, and it is slyly funny.

Saturday Night Live - Season 42
CBS depressing comedy.

Lady Gaga performed two songs from her new album and they both marked a change to the performers style.  “Mommy Monster” lost the overly outlandish costumes and instead focused on her singing and songwriting skills.

Both numbers featured Gaga in a ’60’s style pink hat and more clothes that she usually wears on stage. Whether this was a concession to appearing on television, albeit late night television, or just a move to “tone it down” in deference to the songs, it fit both musical numbers like a Gaga glove.

Saturday Night Live - Season 42
Lady Gaga a superb number in a subdued fashion.

It is always interesting to watch the cast and guests mingle at the show’s conclusion. Tom Hanks and Lady Gaga were clearly excited to be sharing the show. Hanks’ infectious enthusiasm made the hugs and end of show caring and sharing time a tad more genuine.

Alec Baldwin appeared in the final moments and,  above all else, Gaga proved her devotion to fellow musicians.

While both Hanks and Lady Gaga killed it in this episode, as well as Baldwin who showed he can give excellent “straight man,” the writers dropped the high level of comedy that the season started with. There were less “laughs per minute” than there should have been.

SNL continues to air Saturdays on NBC.

Jimmy Kimmel Live: Tom Hanks and Sully Sullenberger (Review)

TOM HANKS, JIMMY KIMMEL

Jimmy Kimmel Live had only two guests, Tom Hanks, as the main point of focus and the man he plays in Sully.  Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger, the man who saved all 154 people by landing a passenger jet in the Hudson River in 2009. Kaleo was the musical guest, but the show belonged to Hanks and Sully.

Kimmel’s monologue was spot on as he poked fun at Donald Trump and the presidential hopeful’s stance on Vladimir Putin. (Trump is afraid to be too harsh incase Putin stops supplying Russian wives for Donald.)

Part  of the monologue featured an iPhone with the new “sarcastic Siri.” It was an excellent bit of comedy.

There was a brief montage featuring almost every major news anchor using the same gag about the new iPhone 7. The news that Apple has discontinued the earphone jack on their next phone caused a slew of newscasters to say, “Hit the road Jack.”

The subject of parents using marijuana more than their kids lead to a public service message where kids talk to their drug taking parents. Another funny bit of business that was a twist on the old drug adverts.

Another prank on the  “man on the street” came up next which was all about the new iPhone.  People had their current iPhone taken, cleaned and  were given a new case. They were then told it was the new iPhone 7. A couple of them  even paid $50 to make the switch.

Tom Hanks came out and talked about his early days on the Paramount studio lot back when he was starring on Bosom Buddies. He talked about visiting the Star Trek: Wrath of Kahn set and how he and Peter Scolari kept expecting to be told off. 

Another thing he and Jimmy talked about was how people treat him on airplanes now. Hanks told the host that everyone feels “safe” with him on board.

Packing for travel was discussed and he talked about what not to wear when traveling.

He spoke of what it was like working with Clint Eastwood, who directed Sully. “He treats actors like horses,” Hanks said. He also said having Eastwood as a director was like a Mount Rushmore likeness coming to life.

Tom mentioned meeting Sully Sullenberger and being starstruck.  As a surprise Jimmy brought the former pilot out after the break as a special guest. The hero was calm poised and amusing.

Sullenberger’s appearance was not the only surprise, the show did a spoof biopic of Tom Hanks starring “Chelsey Sullenberger” as Hanks. The short film featured bits from Cast Away, Bosom Buddies and Forrest Gump.

While Sullenberger was on the stage he talked about his co-pilot during the 2009 save of the aircraft; Jeff Skiles, played by Aaron Eckhart in the film. The experience bonded the two for life apparently.

Kaleo performed a single from their new album; “A/B.” The song, “Way Down We Go” was a crowd pleaser that sounded bluesy and tough. A brilliant new band with a great presence.

Once again, there was no time for Matt Damon.

Jimmy Kimmel Live airs Monday through Friday on ABC.

Sandra Bullock Gets Musical on Jonathan Ross Show (Video)

Sandra Bullock Gets Musical on Jonathan Ross Show (Video)

Sandra Bullock got all musical on the Jonathan Ross Show Saturday night on English television. The ITV talk show, featured Sandra; Tom Hanks; Cilla Black; and James Arthur. The 49 year-old actress was on the show to promote her latest film Gravity, which costars George Clooney.

 

Captain Phillips Based on a True Lie

Captain Phillips Based on a True Lie

Despite the fact that the film Captain Phillips has received good reviews and that Tom Hanks is said to be superlative in the leading role; there have been some voices raised against the movie. The real crew of the Maersk Alabama have stated that the film in cinemas at the moment is based on a true lie.