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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Cindy Prascik's Reviews of The Post & Proud Mary

Dearest Blog: Today it was off to Marquee Cinemas for The Post and Proud Mary.

It was supposed to be The Post and Paddington 2, but the schedule wants what the schedule wants.

Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't have seen in a trailer or remember from the news.

First up: The Post.

The press goes head-to-head with the President.

The Post is one of those Awards Season pictures that's so awardsey they don't have to put "Academy Award Winner" and "Academy Award Nominee" above the names of the stars in the trailer. You don't need any hints to get it: This is a contender.

The Post tells a timely tale of the importance of a free press, with a healthy (and no less timely) undercurrent of girl power. A quick check of Wikipedia will tell you how the story ends if you don't remember, but that doesn't make getting there any less tense. Steven Spielberg masterfully uses framing and camera angles to leave the audience feeling as the principals must have felt, as if someone were creeping up behind them the entire time. While the story is big, the movie manages to make it personal as well, as the timing of these events coincides with the Washington Post's owner fretting over taking her family's legacy public. A quick-witted and wordy script is the perfect showcase for a superb cast, headed by the incomparable Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. If The Post feels a bit preachy at times, it's only in service to its critical reminder of the ramifications of a press unable to hold the powerful to account. Without giving away THE ending to those who may not know it, I will say that the film's final stopping point sets it up as a literal prequel to All the President's Men, one of the finest films of all time, giving it even bigger shoes to fill.

The Post clocks in at 116 minutes and is rated PG13 for "language and brief war violence."

For all its pedigree, The Post feels a bit un-buzzy as awards season kicks into high gear. The blame for that likely can be laid squarely at the feet of a world that is exhausted by divisive and antagonistic politics. Trust me, dear reader(s), I'm right with anyone who just wants to tune out these days, but it's a shame if this extraordinary picture pays the price.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, The Post gets eight.

Fangirl points: Michael Stuhlbarg! Bruce Greenwood!

Next up: Proud Mary.

A hitwoman for a Boston organized crime family attempts to make amends for a past mistake.

A predictable but unrepentant action flick, Proud Mary has all the earmarks of those quick, cheap films TV stars make when they're on hiatus; it's basically a better-dressed and less-motorcycley Sons of Anarchy episode. Taraji P. Hensen, as glorious and gifted as any actress working today, elevates the material beyond what it deserves, but, ultimately, even she can only do so much to save something so unimaginative. The usually reliable Danny Glover is inexplicably awful, every line sounding like he's reading from a card he's only just seen for the first time. Sadly, Billy Brown remains clothed for the entire movie (spoiler alert!), and, with just a few minutes' screen time, the picture is a pitiful waste of the great Neal McDonough.

Proud Mary runs a quick 89 minutes and is rated R for violence.

Proud Mary is a by-the-numbers action flick that's redeemed mostly by the wattage of its star.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, Proud Mary gets five.

Until next time...

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