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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Stuhlbarg’

Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer

“CALL ME BY YOUR NAME” My rating: A-

132 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Call Me By Your Name” could be categorized as a coming-out story, but that’s oversimplifying things… like saying “Citizen Kane” is a movie about the newspaper business.

Director Luca Guadagnino (“I Am Love,” “A Bigger Splash”) and screenwriter  James Ivory (yes, the director of “Howards End,” “A Room with a View” and the Kansas City-lensed “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge”) are painting on an intimate canvas here, yet their adaptation of Andre Caiman’s novel is an epic of mood and emotion.

It’s about youth, sexual awakening, family love and the warm glow of summers past. It’s enough to make you swoon.

Set in the summer of 1983, “Call Me…” chronicles a lazy but significant six weeks for 17-year-old Elio (an unbelievably good Timothee Chalamet).  The son of an American father and an Italian mother, he’s been raised in Italy with all the intellectual stimulation he can handle. He’s smart, multilingual and maybe some sort of musical prodigy.

Enter Oliver (Armie Hammer), the American grad student hired by Elio’s professor father (Michael Stuhlbarg) for a summer of research on Roman statuary. Oozing a big grin, Yankee self-confidence and nonchalant studliness, Oliver makes a big wave among the town’s young women.

Initially this visitor strikes Elio as arrogant. But Oliver also stirs something else in Elio. Not that Oliver seems at all receptive…if anything he appears oblivious.

Interestingly enough, it’s Elio’s father and mother (Amira Casar) who first notice the slow-burn sexual sizzle that’s been introduced to their household…not that they comment on it directly. But their sidelong looks speak volumes. (They must be the most understanding movie parents of all time. Atticus Finch could take lessons from them.)

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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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