Movie Reviews: “The Post” and “Call Me By Your Name”

By | January 4, 2018

Two of the biggest Oscar contenders of 2017 didn’t get a wide release until the new year, but now you can find out what all the fuss is about. Although, for Alabama Liberal, it may be a bit overdone…

Call Me By Your Name…The film inspiring critics to practically orgasm in their seats is both refreshing and slightly numbing. And that’s because the very things that make it refreshing—a period gay romance where no one utters the words “gay” or “confused” or “does that mean your gay?” which is not even mentioning the ultra-supportive parents of the 17-year-old boy in the equation—also sort-of rob it of dramatic tension or stakes. We’re essentially watching Armie Hammer and Timothy Chalamet hang out for 2 hours plus (the film is at least 30 minutes too long), and even if that culminates in a pair of great moments (Michael Stuhlbarg’s tender speech to his heartbroken son and Chalamet’s final shot played out over the closing credits), it’s worth noting that Hammer is not on-screen for either of those. Maybe some of my anti-Hammer bias is shining through, but the best moments in the movie seem to be Chalamet reacting to the idea or desolution of a romance with him, rather than the actual relationship. As a film that captures the delirium of early infatuation, “Name” works, but as a totally believable romance between the jocularly patrician, quarterback-esque Hammer and the rail-thin, bird-like, nearly emaciated Chalamet? I don’t know…Grade: B

The Post…Everything you would think it would be and a message about freedom of the press that is both allegorically-prescient but also a little tiresome for those ready to be done with allegories and confront our messy present–Russia and all. Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks lead an all-star cast that shines with nice moments from character actors (everyone from Bruce Greenwood as a surprisingly nuanced Robert McNamara to Bob Odenkirk as a journalist practicing low-key espionage to the great Carrie Coons). The big stars are generous in not hogging the stage, and Spielberg’s love of newspapers can be felt in sequences like the exhausting setting of type (my God what a process compared to me just typing this and hitting “publish”), but the movie is a little too “just the facts ma’am” meat-and-potatoes to really stay with you long after you watch it. Enjoyable in the moment, but sooner or later the boomer-stranglehold on Hollywood has to, has to, has to give way to a new era. Some pretty interesting things have happened since the 1970’s, but you wouldn’t know it by Hollywood’s never-ending fascination with 60’s race riots, the Manson murders, and Goddamn Vietnam. The “historical allegories” need to end—although, of course, Nixon bares a striking resemblance to Trump—and it’s time to confront our current era head-on. Grade: B+

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