Tag Archives: Steven Spielberg

The Post (2017) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

THE POST

Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Liz Hannah, Josh Singer
Stars: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Bruce Greenwood

The much anticipated Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” starring for the first time together Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks is about a cover-up that spanned four US Presidents pushing the country’s first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between Journalist and Government. The tail end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 saw a good handful of films that I couldn’t wait to see and with the Academy Awards just round the corner you knew to expect some crackers in there. “The Post” being one of them.

Surprisingly this is the first time Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks have appeared in a movie together and that itself sold this film on me. The subject in this day and age is becoming more common with instant access on the internet to scandal after scandal, but you have to take yourself out of the present day and remember a time when Newspapers were more relevant and informative (whether true or not) and basically the only medium that kept the public informed of the current affairs.

As well as Streep and Hanks as the main characters in the film, it’s supporting cast of Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford and Bruce Greenwood were impressive. Hey even David Cross makes an appearance. The supporting performances in “The Post” were solid and tight throughout and I was particularly impressed by Bob Odenkirk portraying Ben Bagdikian. I felt they filmmakers gave him justified screen time without  it appearing forced or unnecessary. Odenkirk to me is the stand out amongst the supporting cast and the actor justifies his involvement in this project.

On the other hand, Meryl Streep takes her time to shine and came through as Kay Graham (Washington Post) and what appeared to be constant bickering and prodding by her fellow directors in trying to manipulate Graham in deciding not to go ahead and publish the classified information, I was relieved to see the actress do what she does best and in this case put the sniffling little toads in their place and remind them of who is running the paper.

Hanks as Ben Bradlee is okay I guess. To be honest, I’ve seen the actor in better films and in better roles but I’ve always been a fan of the actor and here he does the job, that’s really all I can say on the performance. I think the role of Bradlee in the film is essentially supportive to Graham and means well. I have to admit at the beginning of the movie I didn’t really care for him as he came across as a bit of a douchebag but as the story moved along he grew on me.

The film itself is a mixed bag. Yes there are folk out there who think the timing of this movies release is deliberate in today’s times politically and historically. While at times it has neither the high emotional stakes and dramatic tension it should have had, the actors are good and in particular the supporting roles. The plot is interesting to a point and I think Director Steven Spielberg does well to present the audience with the story of the turbulent politics of the Vietnam era that leads to the controversies surrounding the Pentagon Papers.

My only gripe is that the movies pacing is a little off at times and I don’t mean interspersed throughout. The first 90 minutes or so is the build up to what decision Kay Graham and The Washington Post take in regards to releasing the information to the public. The problem with the build up is 90 minutes is a long time and believe me it feels longer. The final 15 -20 minutes of the film is where finally we can pigeon hole the film into the “Drama” category and believe me it is tense and this is where we finally get to see Streep and Hanks excel. The film contains a few moments that feel a bit underwhelming and at times very clichéd rather than powerful.

Overall “The Post” is a watchable movie that could have been better structured. The look and feel of the movie represents the era these events took place in from cinematography to costume design very well and takes you back to a time before computers were main stream and the information wasn’t so accessible as it is today. The cover-up that spanned four US Presidents is handled from the Washington Post’s point of view and part of me is curious to see how Spielberg might have used it from the perspective of The New York Times who published articles and quoting from it in summer 1971.

Would that have made a more intense drama? Who knows? “The Post” is what it is and my expectations for this movie is what probably has hindered my view on it. Decent and I do recommend watching it.

Back in Time (2015) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

BACK IN TIME

Director: Jason Aron
Stars: Bob Gale, Steven Spielberg, Michael J. Fox, Robert Zemeckis, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Alan Silvestre

Back to the Future isn’t just my favourite Time Travel movie. It is one of my favourite movies of all time. The movie itself has inspired movie makers and fans for over 30 years now (Yes we are in the Future) and continues to entertain new generations to the original movie made back in 1985 and it’s two sequels (1989 & 1990)

The Documentary “Back in Time” reminds us of a time when writer Bob Gale and Filmmaker Robert Zemekis tried pitching the story to all the big studios with non of them interested in making a movie about “Time Travel” it’s very hard to sell a story about a mother who falls in love with her own son in 1955’s Hill Valley (Disney wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole) infact “The Bobs” only had one supporter of the project and that was Steven Spielberg who in his words said the movie and it’s story was “lightening in a bottle”

Back in Time really pulls all the stops as arguably the definitive documentary of the time travel series with just about everyone involved. (Well apart from Crispin Glover who played George McFly and Tom Wilson who portrayed Biff Tannen in the original movie and Eric Stoltz, who we’ll get to in a moment)

Bob Gale on countless interviews and documentaries has explained the inspiration for the story coming across one of his dads old college yearbooks and discovering his dad was class president and this made Gale think if he would have been friends with his dad if they went to the same school at the same time. Gale would then let us know there was previous and numerous versions of the time machine before he and Zemekis settled on a Delorean.

There is also interviews from the cast from Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Claudia Wells, James Tolkan and Donald Fullilove who explain their experiences in making the movie and how it had changed their lives forever and when posed the question whether or not they would do a part four, well lets just say some of the answers to that question where surprising.

When Universal came calling to take the project Robert Zemekis was 6 weeks into filming when he sensed the humour in some key scenes weren’t working with the actor playing Marty McFly at this point the one and only Eric Stoltz. Robert Zemekis stated Stoltz was a fine actor and admitted it was one of the hardest decisions of his life to replace him with Family Ties actor Michael J Fox (Who was the original choice to play Marty, but due to scheduling conflicts at the time couldn’t get their man)

The first half of this documentary was really interesting and in-depth if you haven’t seen any of the other documentaries on the franchise (The 2003 DVD Release documentary covered all 3 movies in the same fashion) then you will enjoy this. The 2nd half of the documentary focuses on the effect the Movie has had on fans, filmmakers and charity organisations. The segment of the doc was humbling at times when you see how much time a devotion some fans invest in to have their own time traveling delorean and I have to admit and admire these people who have nailed the details of the car right down to the time circuits and flux capacitor.

Director Jason Aron puts together a really interesting documentary on one of the most iconic movies made in the history of film and even though if you are a fan of the movies and you have watched countless “making ofs” you will still enjoy the up to date instalment and to be honest its always nice to see Fox and Lloyd reunited in some fashion and I have to admire their enthusiasm even 30 years on and appreciate what that movie did for their careers.

From a music point of view we get to see Huey Lewis interviewed and he explains how the big hit of 85 was written specifically for the movie “The Power of Love” and you can sense his excitement even to this day to be involved in the soundtrack to the movie. I have always been a fan of Alan Silvestre’s work and even more so in Zemekis films. The score to Back to the Future is as important as any of the characters and it was interesting to hear from the composers point of view on how he put the music together for his audition in such a short space of time (pun intended)….and as they say the rest is history (pun intended…again)

Don’t get me wrong, if you haven’t watched Back to the Future (GREAT SCOTS!) this isn’t the documentary for you as this is a fan fest of everyones favourite time travel movie. But if you are a fan of the franchise you will enjoy and perhaps pick up some little nuggets of information in there you may not have been aware of. Highly recommendable.