Thursday, March 1, 2018

Quick Thoughts on "The Post" and "Phantom Thread"

The 90th Annual Academy Awards are Sunday.

I will be spending the weekend re-watching some movies up for the big awards and I will also post my predictions Saturday night or so. This is always the time of year I consider my own personal "Super Bowl" time. I don't care who wins or not, but this is film history. So that alone makes me want to tune in.

I was lucky this year, I was able to see pretty much all the movies up for the big awards this year! I never do as good as I did last year, I guess distributors were just generous this year! No matter what, I ain't complaining! There were some that I had to wait for January in order to see. Two of those films were "The Post" and "Phantom Thread." One film was the third (roughly) collaboration between Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. The other was the second collaboration between P.T. Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis as well as Daniel's last film. So, these were big deals. Movies I would have to see no matter what.

So here are some quick thoughts on both films.

This movie seemed more significant now than if it got released a few years ago. Now more than ever, there is a huge divide between the press and the public. It almost seems like "fake news," "alternative fakes" and "facts" have become so unchangeable, so overused, so abused in the English language that its hard to really distinguished which end is up. Its good to remind us that no matter what, the press is in our corner to give the best, honest, most factual news they can. In that nobody in any seat of power is infallible.

Meryl Streep plays the Katherine Graham, the first female publisher on a major American newspaper AKA The Washington Post. She along with her editor Ben Bradlee, played by Tom Hanks, race to catch up with The New York Times on exposing massive government cover-ups spanning three decades, as well as four United States Presidents. The two make sacrifices in order to get these secrets exposed. This is the type of movie that Spielberg can do in his sleep. I know he's known as a science fiction guy, but I think the very best Spielberg is when he's doing historical stuff, when he's doing period pieces. I love "Schindler's List," "Munich," "Catch Me If You Can" "Saving Private Ryan," "Empire of the Sun," and "Lincoln" much more compared to "E.T." and "Minority Report." Heck, even "Bridge of Spies," "Amistad" and "The Color Purple" are better than average. When Spielberg works in history, wonderful things happen in his work. "The Post" is no different, another insightful, tense, tight little drama put together by an amazing cast.

When I say amazing cast, I mean he once again fills his movie with the right actors, not necessarily the "best" actors. Sure, A-listers Streep and Hanks lead the way, and they both rock it. But he fills the movie in with great recognizable-but-not-superstars. Like "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul?" Look for Bob Odenkirk. Did you like "The Leftovers" on HBO? Look for Carrie Coon. Look for Alison Brie and Sarah Paulson and Matthew Rhys and Bruce Greenwood. All of whom do excellent work. Anybody can have a A-list fetish, but Spielberg is interested in matching the right actor with the right role and he excels mightily here.

If you liked any of the movies I listed above, this is classic Spielberg! Check it out if you haven't yet.

The last time Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson worked together, it was 2007. The film in question was "There Will Be Blood." I will let you in on a little secret, I don't think I really got what Anderson and Lewis were trying to do with that movie. It was a film I had to watch a few times, and in each new viewing I got more out of it. It's a movie I love now. I don't think I've ended hating any of P.T. Anderson's films. He makes very dense and ambitious films, and sometimes that can make them tricky to like and even trickier to review.

"Phantom Thread" is different. It doesn't really feel like Anderson's other films. It doesn't feel like his typical sprawling, playful film. Daniel Day-Lewis plays Reynolds Woodcock, a fashion designer from the 1950's. This is a movie about him, his love life, the fashion scene of 50's London and his habits. Woodcock has one of the most desired brands in the city, but what people don't know is that the sudden death of his mother affected him in a raw, primal way. So much so that he sews pieces of his past into the garments he makes.

Women come and go in his life, except one breaks that barrier that Woodcock has kept so dear. That woman is Alma, played by Vicky Kriepes. The relationship between Kriepes and Day-Lewis IS the movie. This is the most delicate, most elegant, most lovable P.T. Anderson movie ever. Totally unlike anything he's ever made before, even "Punch-Drunk Love" which also dealt in romance. We are usually prone to seeing Daniel Day-Lewis playing villainous roles, but he's never quite had a role like this before. But he brings the same emotional power we've come to expect from him. He's very good here, but I will say Gary Oldman still deserves the Oscar over him.

I loved both films very much, but I still think "The Shape of Water" still wins Best Picture.

No comments:

Post a Comment