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Posts Tagged ‘Alison Brie’

Meryl Streep, Tracy Letts, Tom Hanks

“THE POST” My rating: B+ 

115 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Steven Spielberg’s powers as a storyteller are so secure that not even the miscasting of one of “The Post’s” two leads can do much damage to the narrative.

This sprawling effort — it begins with a firefight in Vietnam and winds down with a firestorm over the Second Amendment — hits the ground running and rarely slows down for a breath. It’s like a Spielberg master class in taking a complicated story and telling it cleanly and efficiently.

And like other major movies about real-world journalism — “All the President’s Men” and “Spotlight” especially — “The Post” could hardly be more timely.  With a president who shows every indication that he’d love to roll back freedom of the press, this film is so relevant it hurts.

The subject, of course, is the 1971 scandal over the Pentagon Papers.  That massive study, commissioned by LBJ’s Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, looked at American involvement in Vietnam going back to the Truman administration. It revealed that the experts had always known a land war in Vietnam was unwinnable — but had plowed ahead anyway, sacrificing billions of dollars and countless lives on what amounted to political face-saving.

The papers showed that the Johnson administration had systematically lied to the public and to Congress so as to continue the war.

McNamara suppressed the study; the public only learned of its existence when one of its authors, Rand Corporation analyst Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys), made an illegal copy of the top secret document and passed it on to The New York Times.

Today  The Washington Post sits at or near the top of American newspapers (thanks to its reporting on the Watergate Scandal in 1972-’73).  But in 1971 The Post was at best a regional paper…and not a very good one.

Its new editor, Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), was pushing it toward greatness, but still felt himself outclassed by the journalistic aces at The Times. He was particularly concerned about rumors that The Times was about to scoop The Post (and every other news outlet) with a major story.

That big story was the Pentagon Papers. No sooner had the first in a series of articles been published than a federal judge — at the behest of the Nixon administration — enjoined The Times from printing additional material.

Bradley’s Post, however, was under no gag order. Working back channels Bradley got his hands on another copy of the papers and prepared to publish even more revelations on the pages of The Post.

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Kate Micucci, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza

THE LITTLE HOURS” My rating: C+ 

90 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Set in rural Italy in 1347, “The Little Hours” strives for historical accuracy, from the costumes and settings to the musical score beneath the action.

Except, that is, when it comes to dialogue. These 14th-century characters — nuns, priests, noblemen, servants — converse in the most modern of idioms.

They swear like drunken sailors. They employ 20th-century phrases.

It’s the contrast between the visual authenticity and the film’s aural outrageousness that gives “Little Hours” — based on a raunchy story by Boccaccio — its comic oomph.

That and a handful of wickedly funny performances from a remarkably deep roster of players.

Mostly the yarn — written and directed by Jeff Baena, maker of the zombie comedy “Life After Beth” — is set in a convent where the fundamentally decent Mother Superior (Molly Shannon) has her hands full keeping peace among her brood of black-habited and foul- tempered nuns.

The snippiest of the bunch is Sister Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza), a explosively nasty woman with an unblinking death stare and a vocabulary capable of peeling paint.

Her cohort is the clumsy Sister Geneva (Kate Micucci), the convent’s gnomish tattletale, a snoop always eager to inform on her sisters.

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Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie

Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie

“SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE” My rating: B

101 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Writer/director Leslye Headland describes her new movie as ” ‘When Harry Met Sally’ with assholes.”

That’s accurate as far as it goes.  But I have to admit…I fell in love with these assholes.

The sorta familiar plot is about a guy and a girl — both of whose love lives are, well, challenged — who make a pact to remain platonic best friends.  They will be able to confide to each other the stuff they can tell no one else. But they will not get physical. That would screw up the chemistry.

Jake is a serial  womanizer.  No sooner does he establish a physical intimacy with a new woman than he starts looking for ways to cheat on her. Thing is, he’s so funny and charming that many of Jake’s wronged ladies let the infidelity slide.

Lainey, on the other hand, has been engaged in a long affair with a OB-GYN who uses her for quick, unsentimental sex before returning to his wife. Normally a pretty tough cookie, she’s hopelessly infatuated with this creep. Though she swears she’ll break it off, she keeps drifting back into his orbit.

Jake and Lainey are seriously flawed.  Thank heavens they are portrayed by Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie, who somehow manage to make their characters amusing, entertaining, vulnerable and, ultimately, very romantic.

In a prologue we see Jake and Lainey — college students — losing their virginity to one another. It’s a one night stand, no big deal, and both go their separate ways.

Twelve years later they run into each other at a meeting of sex addicts. (How’s that for a deliciously perverse twist on the old rom-com meet-cute scenario?)

He’s curious about his inability to maintain a monogamous relationship — though hardly committed to changing his ways. She’s dealing with her perennial sexual obsession with the good doctor (Adam Scott, who seems to be everywhere these days).

They agree to be each other’s emotional backboard, someone against whom they can bounce their innermost thoughts about sex and love. When they’re together, Jake and Lainey don’t have to pretend to be anything other than what they are.

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