The Post (2017)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Liz Hannah, Josh Singer (Screenplay)

Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood, Matthew Rhys, Alison Brie

 

Plot: A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country’s first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between the press and the government.


Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Historical Thriller

 

Story: The Post starts as we learn how the Presidents have been involved in Vietnam war, either trying to control the country or sending troops there. With one man Daniel Ellberg (Rhys) taking the top secret pages to expose the truth. When the New York Times start publishing these secrets the President starts to panic.

In Washington the Post owner Kay Graham (Streep) is about to turn her paper over to the stock exchange, her editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) is always up for taking a risk and when he learns of the papers he will stop at nothing to get the story to the people even if the government halts the publishing of the story.

 

Thoughts on The Post

 

Characters – Kay Graham inherits the role of owner of the paper, she takes over after her husband’s death with her position being questioned by the male board as she tries to turn the paper public as the biggest story unfolds. This is a perfect example of a person needing to take a role they are not prepared for. Ben Bradlee is the editor of the Post, he will push to get any story out believing the press should be able to report a story. He was also friends with the Kennedy’s putting him the elite of society. We do meet plenty of other members of the paper and the families of the people involved.

PerformancesMeryl Streep and Tom Hanks in the leading roles, do we need to talk about the performances anymore, we know they are two of the greatest actors in history and they show us just how good they are. The rest of the cast are fantastic too showing that Spielberg can get performances out of any actor.

StoryThe story follows the days before the Watergate scandal which shock America to its knees when it came learning the truth about Vietnam. We focus on just one paper as they were deciding if they should expose the truth which could find them going to jail. We get to see the balance between which is the right or the wrong side of the story which makes this a captivating story to see unfold.

Biopic/History/ThrillerThe people we follow took a massive risk to expose the truth because they new it was the right thing to do as they helped show a moment of history which people will never forget. We are kept on edge of our seat as we see how the story could bring down parts of American history.

SettingsThe film does use the settings well making us feel like we are in the time the movie takes place, we see the different classes involved in the story.


Scene of the Movie –
Deciding whether to publish is not.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Moments of the camerawork feel unnecessarily shaky.

Final ThoughtsThis is a brilliant thriller that helps expose the biggest scandal that hit America and how the press were trying to find a way to expose the truth.

 

Overall: Thriller that brings us in to a biggest secret.

Rating

 

 

 

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Crime Thriller Weekend – Zodiac (2007)

Director: David Fincher

Writer: James Vanderbilt (Screenplay) Robert Graysmith (Book)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, John Carroll Lynch

 

Plot: In the late 1960s/early 1970s, a San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac Killer, an unidentified individual who terrorizes Northern California with a killing spree.


Tagline – There’s more than one way to lose your life to a killer

Runtime: 2 Hours 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great But Too Long of a Thriller

 

Story: Zodiac starts as the infamous Zodiac killer strikes in San Francisco before demanding his code be printed in the newspaper, the Chronicle, where Paul Avery (Downey Jr) is getting the letters and works with cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Gyllenhaal) who has a knack for cracking codes. As the body count continues to grow Inspector David Toschi (Ruffalo) and Inspector William Armstrong (Edwards) investigate the crimes as the people of San Francisco start to panic throughout the spree.

With time passing by Avery uses the press the play with the Zodiac, making David’s job difficult as it draws out all the people who want to be known as the Zodiac, while Robert becomes obsessed with cracking the codes being left in letters and solving the case.

 

Thoughts on Zodiac

 

Characters – When looking at the characters you must remember these are based on real people, Robert Graysmith is a cartoonist working for the Chronicle newspaper that becomes obsessed with cracking the Zodiac codes while working with writer Paul Avery. Paul Avery is the writer at the Chronicle that is receiving the letters from the Zodiac killer, he is willing to take a risk to get the story and potentially making himself famous. Inspector David Toschi is the lead investigator working on the Zodiac case, he must overcome derestriction nightmares while tracking any clues, suspects or letters that come his way.

PerformancesJake Gyllenhaal is brilliant in this leading role showing how a man out of his field can become a conspiracy driven man. Mark Ruffalo shows here that he will always be a shining light in an ensembled cast. Robert Downey Jr was always skilled enough to be a great character actor and this one started to show he could return to the top of the industry. The supporting cast through the film are also great with their roles.

StoryThe mystery of the Zodiac killer is one of the most famous unsolved serial killings in history. Most of the film follows Robert’s spiral into conspiracy theorist that is searching for the Zodiac killer, which does work and become the most interesting part of the film. the problem I am facing looking at this movie is that the first half seems to mix who the main character is trying to solve the case while the enjoyable part is all Robert and of course we don’t know the complete truth on these murders either.

Crime/Mystery/ThrillerThe crime is one of the most famous in modern history, one that is unsolved which does play into the mystery side to everything we are watching too.

SettingsThe timelines we follow give us authentic settings for everything as the film does span over two decades.


Scene of the Movie –
Robert’s face to face with a potential suspect.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The film itself is too long.

Budget: $65 Million

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting look at one of the most interesting unsolved murder mysteries, it gives us a detailed look at three main men involved in investigating the crime all with different motives from different backgrounds.

 

Overall: Detailed but overly long look at the Zodiac case.

Rating

 

 

12 Strong (2018)

Director: Nicolai Fuglsig

Writer: Ted Tally, Peter Craig (Screenplay) Doug Stanton (Book)

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Pena, Navid Negahban, Trevante Rhodes, Geoff Stults, Thad Luckinbill

 

Plot: 12 Strong tells the story of the first Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11; under the leadership of a new captain, the team must work with an Afghan warlord to take down for the Taliban.


Tagline – The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Pulse Pounding Action Film

 

Story: 12 Strong starts on the day of 9/11, Captain Mitch Nelson (Hemsworth) witnesses the horrors of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, returning to his military base, he wants to lead her unit into battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Once receiving permission and earning the right, Mitch is joined by Hal Spencer (Shannon) and his 10 other trusted soldiers that head into Afghanistan to work with the Afghan Warlord General Dostum (Negahban) as they unleashes the first attack in retaliation after the 9/11 attack.

 

Thoughts on 12 Strong

 

Characters – These soldiers are real people, Mitch Nelson is the unexperienced combat Captain that takes his driven man into battle, he must use his own smarts to be given the opportunity to be the first in the retaliation, he uses his knowledge to work with General Dostum as the two different cultures and ideas must come together for the battle. Hal Spencer is the second in command of the unit, he is older and offers the advice he soldier needs to get himself to the right answers. The rest of the unit all have their moments through the story and by the end you will believe you are watching a real unit.

PerformancesChris Hemsworth in the leading role is fantastic, he keeps himself looking like the star even though he needs to work with a unit to get the right answers, showing he can handle the serious roles once again. Michael Shannon in the supporting role shines even though it is strange seeing him in a good guy role after his recent run as a villain. The rest of the cast are great, they all have wonderful chemistry which the unit needs to pull this off.

StoryThe day of 9/11 shocked the world, America the most and this shows the plan to retaliate after the attacks, the first men to go into combat against the Taliban as they risked everything to get a strike back and prevent what was believed to be another big attack. This is a true story, this could easily have been a fictional story because after the mission starts, you are pulled into seeing just what the men will do to get the job done and of course it is an against the odd style mission.

Action/History/WarThe action sequences are shot in a brutal style that doesn’t hold back with what happens, we are left shocked by certain moments and on the edge of our seats the next because of the war time battle sequences.

SettingsThe settings look the part, we are mostly just in and around caves and canyons which is where the Taliban would be hiding and preparing.

Special EffectsThe effects for the battle sequences are flawless, looking brutal and the stunt team need praise for the work they have put into this movie.


Scene of the Movie –
The final surge, wonderfully shot moment.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is ‘we are America, we are great’

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best war movies or recent years, it shows the brutally of the war, the thin line between good and evil between the Afghan units and just how bringing together two cultures can unit for a same enemy.

 

Overall: Must watch action movie.

Rating

 

 

 

Darkest Hour (2017)

Director: Joe Wright

Writer: Anthony McCarten (Screenplay)

Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily James, Ronald Pickup, Stephen Dillane, Nicholas Jones

 

Plot: During the early days of World War II, the fate of Western Europe hangs on the newly-appointed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler, or fight on against incredible odds.


Tagline – Never give up. Never give in.

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful Historical Drama

 

Story: Darkest Hour starts as we come to London in 1940, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Pickup) is forced into resignation to help unit the divided parties as they faced in impending Nazi invasion. Who to turn to next is the question, they turned to Winston Churchill (Oldman) a formerly disgraced government member who is known for never backing down.

Churchill takes the reigns in Britain’s darkest hour as they faced certain defeat or peace talks with Hitler, but Churchill isn’t taking into lying down as he comes up with a plan to rescue the stranded troops on the beaches in Dunkirk, even with fellow members of his office trying to push him into peace talks.

 

Thoughts on Darkest Hour

 

Characters – These are all based on real people, in a rea time of crisis, which would have changed Britain as we know it today. Winston Churchill is considered one of the greatest world leaders the Earth has ever seen, he we only follow around two weeks of his career, as people are using his past mistakes against him even after picking him to be the leader, he has always been honest, he doesn’t care if you didn’t like him and he will listen to the people when searching for answers in one of the most difficult times Britain ever faced. Cemmie is Winston’s wife and one of the few people that could control him and bring out his nice side, she proves an important part of his life during this tough time because she knows how long and hard he has worked to be Prime Minister. King George VI admits to Churchill he is scared of him, he didn’t want him, but will support him decisions if they are best for the country, he gives us the most important scene in the movie. Elizabeth Layton is the new typist for Churchill, she represents the everyday person that is concerned about what might be coming and her fear helps Churchill make the decisions he does.

PerformancesIt would be fair to say that Gary Oldman has the Oscar in the bag this year, any actor that can make you not realize it is him after 2 hours of watching him deserves all the praise in the world. Jumping into the supporting cast we have wonderful performances throughout, Kristin Scott Thomas, ben Mendelsohn and Lily James take their characters and make them shine.

StoryThe story focuses on two weeks of Winston Churchill’s life, starting the day Neville Chamberlain resigned to the moment Britain refused to surrender to the Nazi invasion heading our way. This is a huge moment in history and seeing the political divide between the people in office shows the terror, fear and panic the minds would have been going through during this horrendous time. The story does shine a spotlight on the idea that the public were not completely sure what was going on and had to trust the government to make the right decision too.

Biopic/History/WarChurchill was an inspiring leader, we have seen three versions of him in the last 12 months too, to show of him in this time is important too and a moment in history that will never be forgotten during our time of need World War II.

SettingsThe settings are well constructed, but at times the military view points seem added because no one knew how to describe the situations or didn’t trust the audience to understand the terms.


Scene of the Movie –
A Royal visit.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The look up moments.

Final ThoughtsThis is a brilliant look at how Churchill help guide Britain to victory during World War II, he stood up when no one else would to be the leader Britain needed to win.

 

Overall: Brilliant, Masterclass performance from Oldman.

Rating

 

 

Mississippi Burning (1988)

Director: Alan Parker

Writer: Chris Gerolmo (Screenplay)

Starring: Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand, Brad Dourif, R Lee Ermey, Gailard Sartain, Michael Rooker

 

Plot: Two FBI agents with wildly different styles arrive in Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of some civil rights activists.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Difficult to Watch but Brilliant Thriller

 

Story: Mississippi Burning starts by taking us to 1964 Mississippi where we see a group of civil rights activates executed on the road. Agent Rupert Anderson (Hackman) and Agent Alan Ward (Dafoe) get assigned to the case where they must work with local Sheriff Ray Stuckey (Sartain).

In the middle of the racial tension the colour divide is still strong here with the Ku Klux Klan ruling the neighbourhood, Agent Ward is open to anyone for information, race isn’t an issue for him, Agent Anderson is similar but also knows how to handle the tension by being more discreet. When the agents find themselves targeted the inexperience Ward calls for more agents starting a full task force in the town as they search for the missing civil rights activists.

The case becomes difficult to investigate for the agents as they find themselves being shunned by both races but also needing to investigate the law in the town as they look for the answers to this case.

 

Thoughts on Mississippi Burning

 

Characters/PerformanceAgent Rupert Anderson is an experienced FBI agent that knows how to deal with racial tension in towns and knows how to get people to talk. He gets frustrated having to work under Ward as he feels like he knows how to work this case better. Agent Alan Ward comes into this case with no experience in the field, he is used to everyone being treated equal and takes time to learn that his by the book methods aren’t going to get the answers required. He does learn from Anderson as the case continues and the two make a brilliant team. Mrs Pell is one of the most important witnesses in the case but it is whether she can be honest about her husband’s Deputy Pell’s where about. Nearly all of the white authority characters are suspects in this film, we literally just don’t know who is the leader but they are all single minded in their cause.

Performance wise, Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe are fantastic together in this film, you can see in their performances the difference in characters but not in motives. Frances McDormand is also great through the supporting role and the cast is filled with stars that show their skills.

StoryThe story is based on a real event that happened, so you would have to be sensitive when considering this story too much. The truth is shown to us what the biggest problem in American modern history, the failure of certain states to give up the racial divide. The story is driven by the racial tension which keeps the story on edge from start to finish which makes the story fly by.

Crime/History/MysteryThe crime side of this film is full of all the tension need as we know early on just what has happened but we are left to wonder just how long until the mystery if fully solved. It also shows us the history of these cases that show us just how backwards people’s mindsets were.

SettingsThe film is set in Mississippi which gives us a look at the locations the crimes would have taken place.

Final ThoughtsThis is difficult to watch in places but is also one of the tensest thrillers you will see.

 

Overall: This is a must watch for all thriller fans.

Rating