Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Music Reviews
The Greatest Showman (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
****

The Greatest Showman is a very entertaining and well-made musical inspired by the life of P.T. Barnum, featuring excellent new songs by the Oscar winning lyricists from La La Land. The film includes eleven new songs written by Oscar (La La Land) and Tony (Dear Evan Hansen) Award winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

Below are a few comments on each song:

The Greatest Show – The film opens with the title song performed in a big song and dance production number. Jackman, with his Broadway experience, is excellent in his portrayal of Barnum. He is joined on this song by Zac Efron, Zendaya and Keala Settle.

A Million Dreams – This song is initially sung by Ziv Zaifman as a young Barnum and then shifts to the adult Barnum with Jackman and Michelle Williams singing.  In the film, the song is sung as we see a flashback in which Barnum, a young and impoverished tailor’s son, played by Ellis Rubin, first meets the privileged but sweet Charity, played by Skylar Dunn. We see them fall in love, but Charity’s father tells P.T. to stay away from his daughter, who is then sent away to a boarding school. But we see them stay in touch through letters. The film moves forward a dozen or so years, with Jackman portraying Barnum and Michelle Williams portraying his now wife Charity.

A Million Dreams (Reprise) – This short song is sung by Barnum’s daughters Caroline (Austyn Johnson) and Helen (Caroline Barnum) and Jackman.

Come Alive – This upbeat song is sung by Jackman, Keala Settle, Zendaya, Daniel Everidge.

The Other Side – In this song Jackman as Barnum convinces the socialite playwright Phillip Carlyle, played by Zac Efron to become his business partner.

Never Enough – This powerful song is performed in the film by Jenny Lind “The Swedish Nightingale”, the best singer in the world.  While Lind is played in the film by Rebecca Ferguson, her singing is actually performed by Loren Allred.

This is Me – This powerful song has received an Oscar nomination. It is performed by Tony nominee Keala Settle, who plays the bearded lady in the film.

Rewrite the Stars – This song is performed by Zac Efron and Zendaya. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll remember their powerful scene in the circus ring about their love that has so many obstacles.

Tightrope – This beautiful song is sung by Michelle Williams as Barnum’s wife as she sings that she risks it all to be with Barnum and the life they’ve chosen.

Never Enough (Reprise) – This is a short reprise of Loren Allred’s powerful rendition of “Never Enough”

From Now On – This song starts slowly with Jackman’s vocal over piano and builds powerfully as the celebratory closing song of the film.

I’m not usually a fan of movie musicals, but I really enjoyed The Greatest Showman. It is a film that the entire family can enjoy. If you’ve seen the film, you’re most likely going to want to check out the movie soundtrack.

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Ruth (Food for the Journey Keswick Devotionals) by Alistair Begg with Elizabeth McQuoid. IVP UK. 72 pages. 2017 
**** 

The Food for the Journey series is a new series of 30-day undated devotionals, which takes messages by well-loved Bible teachers from the Keswick Convention and reformats them into accessible daily devotionals and in a size that will fit into your jacket pocket or handbook. This particular edition features devotionals from respected pastor Alistair Begg on the Old Testament book of Ruth.  Each day of the devotional from Begg ends with a newly written section (perhaps by the co-author Elizabeth McQuoid), designed to help the reader apply the passage from Ruth to their own life and situation.
We are told that it was into a whirl of social, religious and moral chaos that the book of Ruth was written, reminding the children of God that there was hope; that a remnant of true faith remained; that God was continuing to work in the lives of ordinary people as they went about their daily chores.  Begg tells us that this is the only book in the Bible entirely devoted to the domestic story of a woman. He states that the book shows the amazing compassion and empathy of God for the back streets and side alleys and the people who feel themselves to be last, lost and left out. He encourages us by stating that God is still preoccupied with people like Naomi, telling us that God sets his love and affection on unlikely people, in unlikely contexts, doing routine things. He states that quite surprisingly, God chooses to work his eternal purposes out in the ordinariness of the lives of ordinary people.
I’m encouraged to see this new series of books. Consider adding this book on Ruth to your devotional reading. Continue reading


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My Review of 12 STRONG

My Review of 12 Strong, rated R
***

12 Strong is based on the true story of a military operation in Afghanistan shortly after the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. This intense film shows the courage of the “Horse Soldiers”, a Special Forces team against incredible odds in very difficult conditions.
The film is directed by Nicolai Fuglsig, in his feature film debut. The screenplay is written by Oscar winner Ted Tally (The Silence of the Lambs) and Peter Craig (The Town) based on Doug Stanton’s 2009 book Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan. The film had a budget of $35 million.
Captain Mitch Nelson, played by Chris Hemsworth (Thor), had recently accepted a desk job at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. However, after the attack on the World Trade Center, he pleads with his superiors to reassemble his 12-man Special Forces team, which includes chief warrant officer Hal Spencer, played by two-time Oscar nominee Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals, Revolutionary Road), Sam Diller, played by Michael Pena (American Hustle, Crash), and weapons expert Ben Milo, played by William Fichtner (Moonlight). Nelson’s orders are given by Colonel Mulholland, played by William Fichtner (Crash, Black Hawk Down), and Lieutenant Colonel Bowers, played by Emmy nominee Rob Riggle (Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice). Told that the mission could be completed in six weeks, Mitch tells his superiors that due to the upcoming winter weather, it will need to be completed in half that time. Their mission is to partner with the Uzbek warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum, played by David Negahban, to capture the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, a Taliban stronghold, to prevent another attack on U.S. soil. General Dostum has his own reason for taking on the Taliban. They will be taking on an enemy that has many more men and resources than they do.
When Operational Detachment-Alpha 595 (ODA 595 for short), gets to the base of operations, called the Alamo, the war lord gives them just six horses.  Mitch’s team has to get close enough to the enemy to give the U.S. bombers accurate coordinates to drop bombs from 35,000 feet. We see several of these bombs dropped throughout the film and many battles until the final battle which takes place in a large valley, in which Mitch, General Dostum and their men on horseback take on the enemy equipped with tanks and rocket launchers.
The dry mountainous region of Afghanistan is captured well by the cinematography work of Rasmus Videbaek, and the Emmy nominated Lorne Balfe (Genius, Restless) provides a powerful musical score.
Themes in the film include courage, teamwork and patriotism. Content concerns include a significant amount of war violence. In addition to several intense battles, we see a suicide bombing and a woman executed in front of her family. The film also contains a significant amount of adult language, including many abuses of both God’s and Jesus’s names.
12 Strong tells the incredible true story of the Horse Soldiers, one of the first groups sent into action to retaliate after the bombing of the World Trade Center. They go into battle against incredible odds, including having to travel on horseback over the difficult terrain, the number of enemy combatants, a lack of resources, etc. The war violence depicted in the film is to be expected. Unfortunately, the film is marred by many abuses of God’s and Jesus’s names. In addition, the film is too long at 2 hours and 10 minutes.  The film does a good job of personalizing the characters, and we see the Captain with the weight of the lives of 12 men on his shoulders.  He shows leadership courage, strategic decision-making and wisdom under intense pressure.


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My Review of HOSTILES

Hostiles, rated R
**

Hostiles is a well-acted and beautifully filmed western about two enemies who unexpectedly find themselves on a long, dangerous and uncomfortable journey. Unfortunately, the film is painfully slow, overly long at 134 minutes, and features politically correct messages.
The film is directed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart, Black Mass, Out of the Furnace). Cooper wrote the screenplay based on a manuscript by the late Oscar winner Donald E. Stewart (Missing). The landscapes of the west are beautifully captured in the cinematography of Masanobu Takayanagi. The film features a powerful musical score from Emmy nominee Max Richter (Taboo).
The film is set in 1892. United States Cavalry Captain Joseph J. Blocker, played by Oscar winner Christian Bale (The Fighter) has been fighting Comanche, Apache and Cheyenne natives for more than twenty years, and he has a deep hatred for them. But then he is ordered to escort one of his most despised enemies, Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hawk, played by Wes Studi (The Last of the Mohicans), and his family from New Mexico back to the Chief’s home territory, Valley of the Bears, in Montana. Chief Yellow Hawk is dying of cancer. The President of the United States has determined that he is to return to Montana to be buried, and then his family will be released to a nearby Indian reservation. Blocker initially refuses, but at the threat of a court martial and the loss of his Army pension, he reluctantly agrees.
Blocker sets off on the long journey with Chief Yellow Hawk and his family, as well as his longtime friends Master Sgt. Thomas Metz, played by Rory Cochrane (Argo), Corporal Henry Woodson, played by Jonathan Majors, and a few others. They soon come upon a farmhouse in New Mexico that has been raided by the Comanche, which we had seen in the film’s opening scene. The only survivor is mother/wife Rosalie Quaid, played by Oscar nominee Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl). Rosalie joins the group on their journey. On the way, they are attacked numerous times by various enemies.
The film shows how Captain Blocker, Chief Yellow Hawk and the others have to work together to fend off the attacks. Along the way, the group receives a new assignment to pick up Sgt. Charles Wills, played by Ben Foster (Hell or High Water), and transport him to another town where he will be tried for murder.
Content concerns include extreme violence and bloodshed, and some adult language, including a few abuses of God’s and Jesus’ names. Themes include hatred, reconciliation, faith and injustice. Three of the characters in the film are shown to be Christians.
Bale, one of today’s best actors, is excellent as Blocker. Studi solidly portrays the ailing Chief Yellow Hawk and Rosamund Pike is superb as the surviving widow.
Hostiles is a well-acted and beautifully filmed movie that moves along at a painfully slow pace (think of the movie Nebraska). It serves as a “message movie” about how the Native Americans were mistreated.


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My Review of GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN 

Goodbye Christopher Robin, rated PG 

**1/2   

Goodbye Christopher Robin tells the heart-breaking story of the relationship between Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin. The film is well directed and written, beautifully filmed and features some solid performances, particularly from the adorable Will Tilston, who plays the young Christopher.  

The film is directed by Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn, Women in Gold), and written by Frank Cottrell Boyce (The Railway Man, Millions) and Simon Vaughan. The film was released forty years after Disney’s 1977 film The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. 

The film is set in three different time periods. A.A. (Alan) Milne is portrayed by Domnhall Gleeson (Brooklyn, Star Wars, Bill Weasley in Harry Potter). Milne, referred to as Blue, is a writer, and returns from World War I with what we would call today post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. He is married to Daphne, played by Oscar nominee Margot Robbie (I, Tonya). Daphne is not portrayed as a very likeable character at all.  

In an attempt to improve their marriage, the couple has a boy in 1920, named Christopher Robin; however, they are not good parents at all. They hire Olive, a nanny played by three-time Golden Globe nominee Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire, The Girl in the Café), to look after Christopher. Olive is a Christian who teaches Christopher to pray. Christopher grows closer to Olive, who he calls Nou, than he does his own parents, as she seems the only one to truly love him.  

The second section of the film will most likely be viewer’s favorite.  

***SPOILER ALERT*** 

We see the family move to the country. A.A. is still having trouble writing. Daphne, a socialite, leaves for London, and Olive leaves to care for her mother who is ill. Christopher, who was called by his family Billy Moon and nicknamed C.R., and his father finally bond over long walks through the woods. We see how Christopher’s toys become those familiar characters (Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, etc.), in Milne’s children’s stories. Christopher asks his father to write a book for him, but, when Milne publishes Winnie the Pooh in 1926, and it becomes wildly popular, Christopher’s childhood is turned upside down as he becomes a celebrity and exploited by his parents.  

The third section of the film has Alex Lawther (The Imitation Game) portraying the 18-year-old Christopher Robin. His fame has made him a target for bullying at a boarding school. He desires to serve in World War II. 

****************** 

The film was beautifully shot on location in Oxfordshire, Surrey, East Sussex, and London by cinematographer Ben Smithard (The Man Who Invented Christmas). I enjoyed the costumes in the film and the musical score provided by two-time Oscar nominee Carter Burwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Carol).  The film is about the author and inspiration for the most popular childrens’ books of all time, but  it is certainly not a film for children. It is emotional, nostalgic, touching and heart-breaking.

Themes in the film include parenting, father-son relationships, childhood, family, and fame.  

Goodbye Christopher Robin is a well-made film, but it is one that is often painful to watch.  


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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

  • Body Aches, Heart Longings, and Growth in Compassion. Scotty Smith prays “An eternity of perfect health is looking better and better, Father. Our healing will be complete, and never again will we experience sickness and pain in any form. No more cancer or flu, joint replacements or even runny noses; no more addictions or heart disease; no more memory loss or even hiccups. Hallelujah, and hasten the Day!”
  • A Calvinist Evangelist? Keith Mathison writes “If I have heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: “A Calvinist evangelist? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Calvinism undermines evangelism.”
  • What Value is the Old Testament to the Christian Life? In this episode of the “Ask Pastor John” podcast, John Piper answers the question “What are the best uses of the Old Testament for giving shape to our Christian lives today?”
  • When Our Heroes Don’t Live Up to Their Theology. Thomas Kidd writes “Even the Bible tells of no perfect heroes, at least among those who were merely human. David, Peter, and Paul are examples of godly people who committed terrible sins. So hopefully we can be honest about our historical heroes’ failings, and yet maintain appreciation for the good that God did through them, by his grace.”
  • R.C.Sproul’s Final Sermon: A Great Salvation. R.C. Sproul preached his final sermon on November 26, 2017. The title of the sermon was “A Great Salvation” from Hebrews 2: 1-4. He concluded that sermon with these words: “I pray with all my heart that God will awaken each one of us today to the sweetness, the loveliness, the glory of the gospel declared by Christ.” Listen to the sermon here.
  • A Catechism on the Heart. Sinclair Ferguson writes “Sometimes people ask authors, “Which of your books is your favorite?” The first time the question is asked, the response is likely to be “I am not sure; I have never really thought about it.” But forced to think about it, my own standard response has become, “I am not sure what my favorite book is; but my favorite title is A Heart for God.” I am rarely asked, “Why?” but (in case you ask) the title simply expresses what I want to be: a Christian with a heart for God.”
  • What Is It Like to Enjoy God?Watch this message that John Piper delivered at the recent Passion Conference in Atlanta.

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

REST & MANAGING YOUR ENERGY:

  • The Power of Deep Rest. Tim Keller writes “To understand this deep rest we need to look at the biblical meaning of the Sabbath—to understand what it is a sign of, and what it points to.”
  • Burnout Is Not a Calling. Scotty Smith prays “Being poured out is a gospel thing; being burned out is a foolish thing.”
  • 7 Secrets to Being a High Achiever. Ron Edmondson writes “I get asked frequently how I am able to get so much done and still take care of myself and my family.”

CHARACTER MATTERS:

  • Impacting Your Workplace Starts with Your Character. Art Lindsley writes “If we want to cultivate character in ourselves that is a blessing to our workplaces, families, and communities, we have to start with our thoughts and resolve to act in a different manner.”
  • Why Curiosity Matters So Much in the Workplace. Barnabas Piper writes “When you think of curiosity –if you think of curiosity – you might picture exploring the mountaintops or reading books or exploring new places. But how does curiosity fit and, more importantly, why does it matter in the workplace? In productivity? In business and commerce and trade? Since most of us spend the bulk of our waking hours in these contexts it is worth considering.”
  • Turning the Tide on the Rudeness in the Workplace. John Kyle writes “Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is a guide to how we are to love at work—love is patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not arrogant, not rude, etc.”
  • The Biggest Hindrance in a Leader’s Growth. Eric Geiger writes that a lack of self-awareness is the biggest hindrance to a leader’s development.
  • How Do You Show Patience at Work and Still Be Productive? John Kyle writes “Even with the harsh realities of the workplace, we are called to love with a genuine love. Ultimately, Jesus showed us how to love. We can’t love perfectly as he did, but we can follow him and learn his moves.”
  • The Humble Leader. Eric Geiger writes “Leadership is often very humbling, and leadership is most dangerous when it ceases to be.”

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9 Ways You Can Help Those in Your Churches to Integrate Their Faith with Their Work ~ Part 2


Recently, I shared 4 suggestions for church leaders on how they can help those within their churches to see the value of their work and callings, whether it is in a paid or non-paid vocation.  Here are 5 additional suggestions:

  1. Get involved in the Made to Flourish organization, a pastor’s network for the common good. The mission of Made to Flourish is “To equip pastors with a more integral connection between Sunday faith and Monday work, in order to empower them to lead churches that produce human flourishing for the common good.” Made to Flourish helps pastors learn how to connect faith, work, and economics so they can disciple their people better to live for Christ in all areas of life and advance the common good.
  2. Attend Faith and Work Conferences or learning events and share with your church what you’ve learned. Recommended conferences are the Faith & Work conference sponsored by the Center for Faith and Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, Made to Flourish’s Common Good conference and the Faith @ Work Summit conference at the Center for Faith and Work at LeTourneau University.
  3. Teach your congregation about work and the Lord’s Day. The workplace has changed significantly since I joined it, primarily due to technology. There was no email, no smartphones and there were standard beginning and endings to the workday when I began my career at State Farm. They even had chimes to start and end the day and for lunch break. Now, workers are always connected. And many believers use Sunday to catch up on work that has built up from the previous week. What can we teach those under our care about work on the Lord’s Day? The Shorter Catechism states that the Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting from unnecessary labors. The concept of rest, in our always connected world, is a subject that I’ve been reading a lot about recently, and would also be a good one for us to teach about in our churches.  My pastor, Bob Smart, tells us that until we learn to deeply rest and separate ourselves from our work, we won’t work effectively.
  4. Regularly engage with your church members at work. Amy Sherman writes that “We must do a better job of inspiring our members about the role they can play in the mission of God and equipping them to live missionally through their vocation.” Tim Chester offers these helpful suggestions in his book Gospel-Centered Work: Becoming the Worker God Wants You to Be:
  • Visit people in their workplace to see where they work, meet their colleagues, and pray for them in context.
  • Send a regular email to workers in their workplace with a brief “thought for the day”.
  • Have a regular “window on the workplace” when you gather as a church, in which someone talks about their work and shares prayer needs.
  • Routinely include application to the workplace in sermons and Bible studies.
  1. Helpful suggestions from the new book Discipleship with Monday in Mind: How Churches Across the Country Are Helping Their People Connect Faith and Work from Made to Flourish. I recently read this new book and wanted to share a few takeaways from interviews the authors conducted with pastors about what they were doing in their churches to help their people connect their faith and work:
  • To communicate the sacredness of work, many churches have “Faith at Work” interviews during the worship service. One church has also incorporated a version of this in their children’s ministry. The aim is to get children thinking about faith and work at an early age.
  • Commission people to specific vocations in the same way you would pray for pastors or foreign missionaries. One church has commissioned those in finance, law, the arts, and the health industry, so far. Commissioning services have a powerful ability to affirm people in their work.
  • Instead of a traditional adult Sunday School, one church hosted a seminar series called Vocare. The purpose of the seminar was to explore the intersection between the gospel culture and vocation, thinking through how we live out our call as God’s people in the world in light of the challenges and opportunities of our cultural moment.
  • One church, in place of Vacation Bible School, started an “All of Life” camp. The church takes children who attend the camp to various workplaces where adults are working, and they talk about their work. The goal is to give these students a rich experience within that particular work context.
  • Some churches have started vocational affinity groups. The idea is to place Christians who serve in the same industry in a small group for mutual encouragement and instruction.
  • One church launched industry roundtables, which were organized around vocations. These were mid-size communities, organized around a particular industry. The purpose of the groups was to explore “theology, ethics, best practices, tensions, and networking.”

What others suggestions do you have for church leaders to help those within their churches to see the value of their work and callings?


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My Review of PHANTOM THREAD

Phantom Thread, rated R
** ½

Phantom Thread is a very well-acted film about a British dressmaker and the women in his life, starring acclaimed actor Daniel Day-Lewis. The movie is beautifully filmed and is supported by a very good musical score. Unfortunately, none of the main characters in the film are very unlikeable and thus I didn’t find myself caring about them. In addition, there is significant content concern which discerning viewers will want to make note of.
The film is directed and written by six-time Oscar nominee Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice, There Will Be Blood, Magnolia), who also served as cinematographer for the film. It was nominated for two Golden Globe awards (Best Actor and Best Original Music Score), and will most likely receive some Oscar nominations in the near future.
There are three primary characters in the film which is set in postwar 1950’s Britain. Three-time Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln, There Will Be Blood, My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown) announced that this would be his last
film as he will be retiring from acting. He portrays the renowned and self-obsessed fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock. The character is rumored to be based on both Cristóbal Balenciaga and Charles James.
Woodcock, a confirmed bachelor, can be demanding and cruel. He and his sister Cyril, who he refers to as his “so and so”, played by Lesley Manville (Another Year), run the House of Woodcock and are the top choice of the British elite for fashion. Many of the staff at the House of Woodcock are played by real seamstresses and are persons connected with the fashion world.
We see that there are love interests that come in and out of Reynolds’ life, but he soon tires of all of them. Sister and business partner Cyril is his only lasting relationship.

***SPOILER ALERT***
One day we see Reynolds meet Alma, a waitress at a hotel restaurant, played by Vickie Krieps. She is much younger than Reynolds. They make an instant connection, and Woodcock asks her out to dinner that evening.  Reynolds tells Alma about his late mother, but doesn’t ask Alma anything about herself. Reynolds had a very close relationship with his mother, and continues to feel her presence. Later that evening, Reynolds and Alma go to his country home where he measures her for a dress. She is the ideal size as a model for him.
Soon Alma moves into the home of Reynolds and Cyril, which also serves as the location of their dressmaking business. This doesn’t please Cyril, who is loyal to her brother and their business, and we see a competition of sorts between the two women for Reynolds’ affections and attention. A theme throughout the film is the shifting of power between the two women.
Reynolds has very established routines and doesn’t react well to any changes to them. More than just a dress designer, he’s an artist. He’s also a narcissist, and can be mean and rude. We don’t see a lot of affection between he and Alma.  She’s not really sure why she is there.  Is she just a model, or Reynolds’ lover? Then we see Alma take a shocking action aimed to draw Reynolds to her.  Keep an eye out for the themes of being needed and being in control.
**************************

Music plays a large role in this film through the score of Jonny Greenwood and other classical music. The movie is beautifully filmed, with an excellent use of color and precise details as we see Reynolds and the seamstresses work on the dresses. But key to the film is the juxtaposition between the beauty of the film (color, dressmaking, homes and landscape, people and music), and the darkness of the nature of the relationships between the three main characters.
Phantom Thread is beautifully filmed and superbly acted by all three of the main characters, though a bit slow moving. Daniel Day-Lewis may very well earn another Oscar nomination for his work here. The film receives an “R” rating for some adult language, primarily from Reynolds, and the perverse and twisted manner in which the relationship between Reynolds and Alma plays out. Because of the latter, we cannot recommend this film for people of faith.


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My Review of THE POST

The Post, rated PG-13
*** ½

The Post is a well-acted and directed film based on true events and intended to deliver a message about the freedom of the press.  It is the first acting collaboration of Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks and the first major collaboration between Streep and acclaimed director Steven Spielberg, who rushed the film into theatres just ten months after initially reading the script. The film received six Golden Globe nominations (Best film, director, screenplay, actor, actress and musical score). The film is directed by three-time Oscar winner Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List), and written by Liz Hannah and Oscar winner Josh Singer (Spotlight). For the purposes of this review, I will assume that Hannah’s and Singer’s script is historically accurate, though Ted Baehr of MovieGuide.org in his review of the film calls it “very one-sided, false, superficial left-leaning”.
The film tells the story of Daniel Ellsberg (Mathew Rhys) and his theft of thousands of pages of classified and confidential documents about Vietnam. The papers were the result of a study commissioned by Robert McNamara, portrayed by Bruce Greenwood.
We are told that the U.S. government, spanning four presidential administrations, has been lying to the American people about our involvement in Vietnam. At first, the “Pentagon Papers” were given to Neil Sheehan of the New York Times, who published them before a temporary injunction stopped them from doing so. However, during the injunction, Ellsberg gives the papers to The Washington Post as well.
Three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady, Sophie’s Choice, Kramer vs. Kramer) portrays Katharine Graham, who assumed the role of publisher of The Washington Post after her husband’s suicide. Sadly, Katharine Graham’s son shot himself to death just two days before the national release of this movie— and in a manner eerily reminiscent of his dad’s suicide more than 50 years ago.  Graham was the first woman to run a major daily newspaper in the U.S. and the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company.   Two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Philadelphia) portrays the paper’s editor Ben Bradlee. This is Hank’s fifth collaboration with Spielberg.
In possession of the documents that the courts have ruled couldn’t be published, Graham and Bradlee have a decision to make. If they run a story using the information, they could go out of business, as the paper had just gone public and their financing could be pulled from them. Or worse yet, Graham and Bradlee could be arrested. Five- time Oscar winner John Williams (Fiddler on the Roof, Schindler’s List, Jaws, Star Wars and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial), does the musical score.
Streep is superb as the under-appreciated female publisher. The film does a good job to show how little she was thought of and almost invisible at times. Hanks was also excellent as the paper’s editor, Ben Bradlee, who later oversaw the publication of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s stories documenting the Watergate scandal. There is also a solid supporting cast, including three-time Golden Globe nominee Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) as Ben Bagdikian and Sarah Paulson (American Crime Story) as Tony Bradlee.  
Content concerns include a significant amount of adult language, including several abuses of God’s and Jesus’ names. In addition, there is some brief war violence at the beginning of the film. Of course, we need to also take into account that the actual “Pentagon Papers” were stolen by Ellsberg in the first place.  We have the moral dilemma of potentially putting people in harm’s way by revealing government and military secrets.
The Post is a well-acted and directed film based on true events that is intended to deliver a message for today. It was interesting to see the social connections and friendships between political figures and the press at that time.  We hear Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee state that the press must hold government officials accountable. In this time of “fake news”, Edward Snowden and Wikileaks, however, some viewers might also want to ask who will hold the press accountable.