Monday, January 15, 2018


(No, I'm not off for the holiday, but I did want to tell you good people the Voice column will be delayed till tomorrow because of it, and to file in recompense some short bits as time permits.)

•  Saw The Post. It’s a big old parfait of received opinion — but good, as the old joke goes. Many of the complaints I’ve heard about it have to do with the characters, such as they are, announcing the nature of their conflicts and the messages of their scenes, baldly and without shame; it’s only a little cheap when editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), half a movie after publisher Katherine Graham (Meryl Streep) chides him for keeping the Kennedys' secrets, comes back tell her “those days have to be over”; but when the first injunction against the New York Times is greeted by a little Greek chorus of Postmen talking about the First Amendment In Peril, it’s a big pot of fondue, and when Meg Greenfield (Carrie Coon), phone pressed to her ear, sings out to the hushed newsroom Hugo Black’s “press was to serve the governed, not the governors” line, it’s the whole fromagerie. But good! I loved it like I love Oliver Stone’s hallucinogenic JFK, and the old “message pictures” that I think are Spielberg’s real inspiration here; he has intuited that when a message pic gets off on being righteous, if you do it right it won’t turn audiences off — it will rather invite them to join in, and let the righteousness lift them up too. In such an exercise underdeveloped characters and aw-c’mon exposition fall far beside the point. I won’t go as far as Gandhi on that, but I’ll go pretty far and The Post is within my limit; if you too thrill to the scene in Sam Fuller's Park Row when Gene Evans drags a malefactor to the statue of Ben Franklin and smashes his head repeatedly against its base, it may be within yours, too. I will add that while Hanks, hard as he works on his gruffness, does little to disturb the shade of the great Robards, Meryl Streep, whom I never really liked, finally made a believer out of me. She usually strikes me as fussy, but her small, almost furtive emotional turns as she struggles against, then awakens to the full meaning of her duty struck me as completely appropriate to a great lady who is unafraid to be embarrassed but terrified to be wrong.

•  Department of Who's "We," Buddy: "We’re Becoming Like Him," reads the National Review headline over a picture of Trump, but no, it's not the erstwhile NeverTrumpers finally admitting the obvious, it's Michael Brendan Dougherty, as is his passive-aggressive wont, using "we" to mean liberals; instead of lamenting that top Republicans are currently trying to cover for Trump's obviously racist remarks, he tells us, "Kirsten Gillibrand now tentatively tries on a potty-mouth'; instead of criticizing Trump for using his cat's-paws to indulge his Clinton fetish with endless investigations, Dougherty tells us "loads of Russia-related stories blew up in reporters’ faces." The nadir is his implication that a federal judge restraining Trump's DACA directive was also "becoming like" Trump: "There is little chance a justice would have ventured to look so ridiculous, until Trump became our president." Judges blocked Obama sometimes, of course, but that was just Constitutional, see -- when you do it to Trump, you're becoming just like him!  I swear, if these people didn't have double standards they'd have no standards at all.

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