The Hubs and I have had a longstanding tradition on New Years Eve of seeing two movies in one afternoon, usually popular big budget soon to be nominated for awards films, then going home, eating lobster and drinking champagne and going to bed by 10. I think it’s been at least a decade since I saw the clock strike 12 midnite, it might have even been Y2K. This year, however, the New England Patriots had their final game of the season and with best record, a bye week and home field advantage on the table we felt we needed to see them through. Besides the movies we wanted to see hadn’t been released yet…
Fast forward to this weekend when again, the mercury is back at the bottom of the the thermometer outside, and outside activities are a little curtailed. We indulged in late brunch at our favorite little divey diner and then took ourselves off to the multiplex.
I decided to share my thoughts about both of these messages not because of the terrific acting, writing and storytelling that both of them entail, but because of the messages from history that come through loud and clear.
Spoiler alert: Liberal political leanings will be displayed here.
Darkest Hour is the backstory behind Winston Churchill’s rise to power as prime minister in the truly dark days in 1940 as the world watched Hitler invade most of Europe. In May, almost all of the British army has their back against the sea at Dunkirk and Churchill is trying to pull off a rescue by sending another garrison, stationed up the road in Calais, to almost certain death by intercepting the Nazis. He has come to power on the heels of Neville Chamberlain, who is still engineering a possible peace deal with Hitler , “on favorable terms” behind the scenes. In an almost certainly fabricated scene on the Underground, Churchill decides that the country must stand firm in the face of looming invasion by Hitler and the Axis. He is urged on by the ordinary Joe on the subway line going to Westminster. “Fight” is the word heard again and again. Fight against the despot, fight against invasion, fight against everything that Hitler stands for and preserve the United Kingdom and its’ territories. Gary Oldman is transformed into Churchill, but it is the message more than the man that is important here.
After a short break for popcorn and a bevvie, we saw Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in “The Post”. I am old enough to remember the Pentagon Papers, when the Fourth Estate stood strong against a president bent on hiding the truth. More than the performance again, is the message that comes through as the Washington Post , on the verge of being publicly traded, with a newly widowed Katherine Graham at its helm, transforms from a “regional” newspaper to a journalistic titanic that in less than two years after the Pentagon Papers story breaks will break the story to the world of the Watergate break ins and will bring down a president. The message again is clear and came directly from the Supreme Court, the power of the press exists for the governed, not the governing body.
I would urge certain members of certain branches of the US government to take note, however I fear it will fall on deaf ears. I can only hope that like the two historical examples depicted on the screen, the outcome is for the citizens. That together, all will be made right.
A sidenote about Spielberg’s treatment of “The Post”. Like a spectre of what the US could have had, a dead ringer for a young Hilary Rodham ( Clinton) can be seen in the scenes at the Supreme Court. She is in a long shot of the security line and again outside on the steps when Katherine Graham breaks away from the gang of men and walks away on her own…through a crowd of young, diverse women.