The Post

20th Ct. Fox/DreamWorks/Amblin (2017) 116 min. PG-13

Director: Steven Spielberg

Screenplay: Liz Hannah & Josh Singer; Cinematography: Janusz Kaminski; Editing: Sarah Broshar & Michael Kahn; Production Design: Rick Carter; Art Decoration: Kim Jennings & Deborah Jensen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo; Costumes: Ann Roth; Score: John Williams

Stars: Meryl Streep (Katharine Graham), Tom Hanks (Ben Bradlee), Sarah Paulson (Tony Bradlee), Bob Odenkirk (Ben Bagdikian), Tracy Letts (Fritz Beebe), Bradley Whitford (Arthur Parsons), Bruce Greenwood (Robert McNamara), Matthew Rhys (Daniel Ellsberg), Carrie Coon (Meg Greenfield), Jesse Plemons (Roger Clark), Jessie Mueller (Judith Martin), Michael Stuhlbarg (Abe Rosenthal)

Some movies are so timely they seem to have their finger on the political pulse of the republic. Haskell Wexler’s Medium Cool was like that back in the ‘60s, The Conversation in the ‘70s, Wag the Dog in the ‘90s. But I’m surprised to be discussing Steven Spielberg, who has become one of the screen’s most reserved classicists of late, in the same breath with these other films. Irradiated by some Industrial Light & Magic effect, he seems to have hologrammed into the prescient screen prophet of our times, a clear-sighted Nostradamus, predicting Russiagate several years before the fact with his Bridge of SpiesThat movie may have seemed a tad musty at the time of release, a Cold War artifact, but little did we know.

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IT

New Line Cinema (2017) 135 min. R

Director: Andrés Muschietti

Screenplay: Gary Dauberman, Cary Fukunaga & Chase Palmer; Based on the novel by Stephen King

Cinematography: Chung-hoon Chung; Editing: Jason Ballantine; Production Design: Claude Paré; Set Decoration: Rosalie Board; Costumes: Janie Bryant; Score: Benjamin Wallfisch

Stars: Jaeden Lieberher (Bill Denbrough), Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ben Hanscom), Sophia Lillia (Beverly Marsh), Finn Wolfhard (Richie Tozier), Jack Dylan Grazer (Eddie Kaspbrak), Wyatt Oleff (Stanley Uris), Chosen Jacobs (Mike Hanlon), Bill Skarsgård (Pennywise), Nicholas Hamilton (Henry Bowers), Jackson Robert Scott (Georgie Denbrough)

Consisting largely of extended flashbacks to the Eisenhower era, Stephen King’s novel IT was such a colorfully jumbled calliope of atomic age sci-fi (It! The Terror from Beyond Space, It Came from Outer Space, It Came from Beneath the Sea, It Conquered the World), and ‘50s creature features (like Them!, Tarantula, The Creature from the Black Lagoon), there’s poetic justice in the author’s hair-raising tale having wormed its way back into the sort of summer movie popcorn fare that originally inspired it, courtesy of director Andrés Muschietti’s big screen adaptation. 

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Bridge of Spies

bos-posterDreamWorks/20th Ct. Fox/Participant (2015) 142 min. PG-13

Director: Steven Spielberg

Screenplay: Matt Charman, Joel & Ethan Coen; Cinematography: Janusz Kaminski; Editing: Michael Kahn; Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo & Bernhard Henrich; Costumes: Kasia Walicka-Maimone; Score: Thomas Newman

Stars: Tom Hanks (James B. Donovan), Mark Rylance (Rudolf Abel), Amy Ryan (Mary Donovan), Sebastian Koch (Wolfgang Vogel), Alan Alda (Thomas Watters), Austin Stowell (Francis Gary Powers), Scott Shepherd (Hoffman), Dakin Matthews (Judge Byers), Billy Magnussen (Doug Forrester), Will Rogers (Frederic Pryor), Mikhail Gorevoy (Ivan Schischkin), Jesse Plemons (Joe Murphy)

At the height of the Cold War, insurance lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks) is assigned the case of Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), a Soviet spy apprehended in the act of espionage. Though he’s pressured not to put together much of a defense, Donovan believes not to do so would be unethical. Arguing for imprisonment rather than execution, he convinces the feds Abel could be used as a bargaining chip with the USSR at some point in the future. Not long after, U-2 spy Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) is shot down and another American, college student Frederic Pryor (Will Rogers) apprehended on the East German side of the Berlin Wall. Asked by his country to intercede on America’s behalf, Donovan attempts to negotiate an exchange of prisoners.

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Super 8

Super 8_1346636e90ca50501897f7ad29e66518Paramount/Amblin Ent. (2011) 112 min. PG-13

Director: J.J. Abrams

Screenplay: J.J. Abrams

Cinematography: Larry Fong; Editing: Maryann Brandon & Mary Jo Markey

Production Design: Martin Whist; Set Decoration: Fainche MacCarthy & Dave Kann; Costumes: Ha Nguyen; Score: Michael Giacchino

Stars: Joel Courtney (Joe Lamb), Elle Fanning (Alice Dainard), Kyle Chandler (Jack Lamb), Ron Eldard (Louis Dainard), Riley Griffiths (Charles Kaznyk), Ryan Lee (Cary), Gabriel Basso (Martin), Zach Mills (Preston), A.J. Michalka (Jen Kaznyk), Glynn Turman (Dr. Woodward), David Gallagher (Donny), Noah Emmerich (Col. Nelec), Jessica Tuck (Mrs. Kaznyk) 

Super 8 is period pop Americana set in the heartland, sleepy little Lillian, Ohio in the summer of ’79. Still grieving the recent loss of his mother, monster makeup hobbyist Joe Lamb and his school friends are trying to complete a zombie movie in time to enter a film festival. While shooting a big scene at the deserted railway station outside town, an out of control car driven by a local science teacher purposely jumps the tracks, forcing a military transport to derail. Soon people and pets begin to disappear and electrical appliances go haywire. As an occupying army moves in and the town is evacuated, Joe realizes his super 8 camera captured something escaping the cargo hold that night that might help explain all the strange occurrences, if the air force doesn’t confiscate his footage in the interest of national security first.

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Let Me In

Overture/Hammer (2010) 116 min. R

Director: Matt Reeves

Screenplay: Matt Reeves; based on screenplay & novel Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Cinematography: Greig Fraser; Editing: Stan Salfas

Production Design: Ford Wheeler; Set Decoration: Wendy Barnes

Costumes: Melissa Bruning; Score: Michael Giacchino

Stars: Kodi Smit-McPhee (Owen), Chloё Grace Moretz (Abby), Richard Jenkins (The Father), Elias Koteas (The Policeman), Dylan Minnette (Kenny), Ritchie Coster (Mr. Zoric), Cara Buono (Owen’s Mother)

Just when you think every last twist has been teased out of the vampire theme along comes an unexpected little sleeper like Let Me In, one of the most haunting horror films Hollywood has given us since The Ring. Only a derivative studio film could seem this original, so it’s no surprise to learn that like that movie, Let Me In is also a remake of a foreign film, Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In of 2008, based on John Ajvide Lindqvist’s bestselling Swedish novel of the same name. Continue reading