MOVIES & BOOZE: Going to the cinema this weekend?

Sarina Bellissimo reviews The Post and The Communter

The Post

For the first time ever, Hollywood heavyweights, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg come together on the big screen to tell the story that shook America to its core – the discovery of the Pentagon papers. The Papers that exposed a massive cover up by four US Presidents over three decades.

Streep, Hanks, Spielberg – when those names come together there is no doubt that a great cinematic experience awaits you. They could be reading articles from the newspaper and you would watch in awe. That said, they don’t rest on the laurels in this film. They deliver.

In true Spielberg style, it is the small things, and attention to detail, that build the drama and sense of urgency.

An angry Nixon appears in the film via the use of actual telephone recordings; Daniel Ellsberg’s original documents, that blew open the scandal, were used as props. 

Spielberg has us on the edge of our seats as we are watching phone calls being made, with coins, on old style phone boxes; he manages to make the printing of a newspaper the most beautiful and exciting thing you will watch in a long time.

Add to that great dialogue and of course, the brilliant performances that Spielberg elicits from all of his actors and, even though it will be no big surprise how this film ends, Spielberg still manages to keep up the suspense and intrigue throughout the whole film.

It goes without saying that Streep and Hanks give remarkable performances. They embody the characters they play. Streep and Hanks are Katherine Graham and Ben Bradlee. They are wonderful to watch independently of each other but when they appear on screen together, they light it up (you can check out my interview with these Hollywood legends at www.thebellissimofiles.com).

It is not just the lead cast that are outstanding though. Under Spielberg’s direction, every single person who appears on screen brings their A game. Magnificent performances are delivered by the likes of the always amazing Sarah Paulson, “Better Call Saul’s” Bob Odenkirk, “The American’s” Matthew Rhys and “Glow’s” Alison Brie, to name but a few.

 “The Post” could not be more relevant to today if it tried. It highlights, and continues, the conversations we’re having at the moment about the power of the press, presidential abuse and a woman’s fight to use her voice and to be heard.

The film also reminds you that you don’t need visual effects and high action for an entertaining film. At the heart of it all, cinema is about having a great story, telling it in an exceptional way and having the film stay with the audience long after they have left the cinema. “The Post” delivers all of that and more.

The Commuter

Stop the train – I want to get off. Not because something sinister is happening on the train but because I can’t believe what I am watching!

We all loved the fact that in his mid 50s, Liam Neeson reinvented himself as an action hero, thanks to his role in “Taken”. Thanks to that film, if you are ever in danger, Liam Neeson is the one you want to come and rescue you.

It looks like Liam has a ball playing these roles – he has said that he loves being the action hero because he feels like a “kid in a toy shop” (you can watch my interview with Neeson over on www.thebellissimofiles.com). The problem is, just because he is having fun, it doesn’t mean the audience is.

Of late his choices of action films have been bad – “Taken 2”, “Taken 3” and now we can add “The Commuter” to the list.

It is the most ridiculous concept. Michael (Neeson), just having been fired from his job, takes his usual train home to break the news to his family. On his way home, he is confronted by a mystery woman (Vera Farmiga). She poses the question “If you could do something, not know about the consequences and get $100,000 would you do it?”

The answer to this question has a domino effect. In trying to find the person, there are many casualties along the way – including the audience.

The story line is ridiculous. Not even the action will keep the action fans entertained.

It is sad that this is the case because there is a great cast supporting Neeson - Jonathan Banks (Mike from “Breaking Bad”), Patrick Wilson, Sam Neill, Vera Farmiga and our very own Killian Scott makes an appearance. Seeing Killian on the screen was the only highlight for me. Sorry I lie, that and seeing the credits roll – signifying that I no longer had to endure this film.

“The Commuter” is like the worst commute you have had to endure. Stay away from this and choose another (cinema) line instead.