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Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Went to my usual double-bill this weekend.  I don't do normal movie reviews, so if you don't want to know what happened, click off now.  I saw:

                               Rotten Tomatoes        MOJO  My Rating
                           Reviewers Audiences

Shape of Water         92            81                15         A-

The Post                   88            74                  2          A-

I might add that Box Office Mojo had Jumanji 2 (The Rock in Hawaii) at #1 and The Commuter (Liam Neeson) at #3.

The Shape of Water was a well-produced film with excellent acting, especially Sally Hawkins as a mute (can hear, but not speak) janitor in a secret 1962 military laboratory, and Michael Shannon as the cruel government official who caught an amphibian man (played by Doug Jones) in a South American river and attempts to extract information from the creature.  

At the recent Golden Globes, Hawkins won for Best Actress, co-producer, director and co-writer Guillermo del Toro won for Best Director, while Octavia Spencer (buddy custodian of Hawkins) and and Richard Jenkins (gay neighbor artist of Hawkins) were nominated for supporting roles.  The film won the Golden Lion best film award at the 74th Venice International Film Festival and Best Original Score at the Globes.

If you haven't seen del Toro's two Hellboy films (2004 and 2008), then you don't know that the monster is Abe Sapien from those releases.  The timing is contorted, but The Shape of Water is sort of a prequel to Hellboy, then again, maybe sequel.  I'm confused.

Anyway, the Hawkins role learns about the humanoid amphibian, and forms a bond.  This is getting complicated, but it is 1962 and a USSR spy in the lab is the chief scientist for this project.  Both (separately) the Americans and Soviets decide to terminate the beast, but this scientist decides to help Hawkins and her friends sneak aqua man away from the high security center.  They succeed, placing the river monster in Hawkins' bathtub with salts provided by the scientist.

The leviathan and Hawkins fall in love and have regular sex.  This is an R-movie, and Hawkins explains to her work friend how.  The amphibian is a special being, for he can cure people by touch.  However, in these apartment conditions, he begins to decline.  He is in the wrong kind of fluid.

Here is where, I'm afraid there is a fatal flaw.  The beastie is caught in a river, which is probably freshwater.  However, he needs saltwater to live.  Ah, give del Toro a bread, that's not a major blunder.

The group delays a few days to weeks (not sure of the timing), for there was this nearby canal, which opened up to the ocean (which they can see) after the rains came.  Rather than have the Americans and Soviets catch up with them, why don't they just immediately drive to the sea and release him?  Makes absolutely no sense.

In any case, Hawkins was found along a river as a small child already not able to speak with those scar marks on the side of her neck that makes you wonder if they were once gills.  A lot of people are shot, including the creature, Hawkins and the scientist, but amphibian man grabs Hawkins and jumps into the canal.  He is able to immediately cure her and himself from those shots, touches her neck to convert them into gills and they live happily ever after.  Yes, there will be a Hellboy 3, and the beast will be back...but with Eliza (Hawkins' character)?

The Post was better than I expected it to be.  I also got educated, for I did not realize that the Pentagon Papers were so significant in our history.  The Watergate incident was an attempt by President Nixon to discredit Daniel Ellsberg, the military analyst who leaked those documents.  He got all his degrees from Harvard up to the PhD, was a commissioned officer with the Marines and today supports Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.  

This secret study (never even told to President Lyndon Johnson) was created by Department of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara in 1967, involving 36 analysts, resulting in 4,000 pages in 47 volumes.  Turns out that every White House Administration beginning with Harry Truman lied about Vietnam, and Ellsberg felt that these actions demonstrated unconstitutional behavior by all those Presidents.

So he surreptitiously absconds with the complete set and initially passed most of these documents on to The New York Times.  They began publishing on 13 June 1971, then two more, but President Richard Nixon served an injunction prohibiting further disclosures for something weak, like classified sensitivities. 

Here is where The Washington Post intervened.  This newspaper was just a family operation and not particularly respected.  During their involvement, the paper was in the final stages of going public.  So faced with a decision to further publish these papers at the expense of probably scuttling the financial deal, Katherine Graham (daughter of original owner and wife of former publisher, who had recently passed away, played by Meryl Streep) somehow (she was totally out of her league and a friend of Bob McNamara, who she knew would be devastated) made a command decision to go to press.  I thought her role was weak, but that only underscores her fabulous acting ability.  Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee was also terrific, dynamic, yet carefully understated.  Above, the real Bradlee and Graham.

Steven Spielberg directed and John Williams did the score.  All four, plus the film itself, were nominated for the Golden Globes.  None won.  In the mix was Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), who did well.  Bruce Greenwood looked like and played a fine Robert McNamara.

The Dow Jones Industrials jumped 322 points to close at 26,116, another all-time high.  Yes, there most definitely is an inverse correlation to the travails of President Donald Trump.  This could well be some early signs of Trump's removal.
The Indian Ocean storm, now a Category 2, turned south, and according to the Daily and Sunday Express:  Tropical Cyclone Berguitta PATH LIVE:  Storm to DESTROY Mauritius and La Reunion:


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