New Movies Will Inundate Theaters Over The Next Couple Of Weeks

Dec 21, 2017
Originally published on December 21, 2017 8:15 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And, you know, if I were to try to list all of the movies coming out over the next week or so, well, it would go something like this - "The Post," "The Greatest Showman," "Jumanji," "Downsizing," "All The Money In The World," "Phantom Thread," "Hostiles," "Molly's Game," "Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool" and "Bright." There you have it.

Well, it's a good thing we have two film critics with us here at NPR West this morning. Claudia Puig is president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. And Kenneth Turan reviews movies for us and for the LA Times. Welcome to you both.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: Good to be here.

CLAUDIA PUIG: Thank you.

GREENE: You both agree on everything, right? There's going to be no disagreement here.

PUIG: Absolutely, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: OK. Good. I just wanted to make sure.

TURAN: That's the way it always is with critics.

GREENE: Yeah, of course.

PUIG: (Laughter) Yes.

GREENE: Where should we begin? Kenny, let me start with you and "The Post," the new Steven Spielberg movie, because you kind of have a personal connection to this, right?

TURAN: Yes. I mean, I was there. I worked for the Post while this happened.

GREENE: The Washington Post, yeah.

TURAN: Yeah. And I knew all the people who are in the film. It's very spooky. I mean, that's my own personal connection with it.

GREENE: So remind us of the story and tell us what you thought of the movie.

TURAN: Well, the story - it's 1971. And what happens - it's about the printing of the Pentagon Papers. This is - it was a New York Times story. This was a top-secret document. And the Times was running with it. And the Post was feeling very left out. And then the Times had an injunction, couldn't publish. And the Post stepped in. And this is really about Katharine Graham, played by Meryl Streep, and about whether she should risk the Post's financial future because they were going public at the same time.

GREENE: And then Ben Bradlee played by Tom Hanks. I mean, these are heavy hitters.

TURAN: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, Steven Spielberg felt this was an important film to do right now. This is about the value of newspapers, why we need to have them. And he pushed this film. It happened extraordinarily fast. I think it's - you know, within this year, he decided to do it, shot it, got it ready for Christmas. Hollywood doesn't work this fast.

GREENE: Huh. Did it feel rushed? Or he pulled it off well?

TURAN: It doesn't feel rushed. He's such a good filmmaker. It feels very timely. It feels urgent. You can feel his urgency.

PUIG: There's something else that feels urgent about it. And it's interesting. It was, of course, 1971. But Katharine Graham comes into her own as a serious newswoman because she's - you know, she inherited the paper. And so she is not taken seriously. Men talk over her. And she comes into her own as, you know, making these decisions that you can tell are difficult for her.

And, of course, Meryl Streep plays that so beautifully. In the interplay between her and Ben Bradlee, you know, played by Tom Hanks, it's - you know, watching two people at the top of their game is just so amazing.

GREENE: Oh, cool. As a former newspaper person myself, I'm excited to see a really powerful newspaper movie.

PUIG: Absolutely. Makes you proud to be one.

GREENE: Yeah. Well, this is a weird transition, I guess. But, Claudia, "Jumanji."

PUIG: (Laughter).

GREENE: When I first heard about this, I was wondering if it was, like, almost blasphemous because the late Robin Williams starred in the original. Did we need a remake of this?

PUIG: It's not so much a remake as kind of a reimagining, I suppose. Four kids who are in high school are transformed into this board game. They're actually thrown into this world.

GREENE: Sucked into it, right?

PUIG: Sucked into it. And I hate to say this because I know it sounds like heresy. But it's kind of an improvement over the '95 one.

GREENE: Really?

PUIG: Yeah. And I think, mostly, that's due to the charismatic and funny performances of the leads. I mean, when you have Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart and Jack Black together, it's so much more fun than I expected it to be.

GREENE: It's funny. It's one of those movies - you see all the billboards and all the advertising. You think that serious film critics are going to not love it so much.

PUIG: (Laughter).

GREENE: It's fun when you guys like a movie like that. Kenny, what's next for you?

TURAN: Well, there's a film called "Hostiles" I really enjoyed. I'm a big Western fan from way back. And the Western is having kind of a revival. It stars Christian Bale as an Army cavalry officer who has to escort his dread enemy, a Native American chief played by Wes Studi, who people will remember from "Last Of The Mohicans" years ago.

GREENE: Yeah.

TURAN: And, you know, there's a lot of real strong characters, a lot of really great action, psychology, intensity. I mean, I'm feeling at the edge of my seat just talking about it.

GREENE: Good. Well, that's a good sign.

PUIG: Yes. It's really beautifully shot, too.

TURAN: Yes. Yes.

PUIG: Yeah.

TURAN: Claudia, "Phantom Thread," the new Daniel Day-Lewis movie - how is it? And is Daniel Day-Lewis really done acting after this movie?

PUIG: I sure hope not.

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: He said that, right?

PUIG: Yes, he has said that. I remember, years ago, he said he was going to go off and be a cobbler in Italy. And I think he may have done it.

GREENE: Doesn't everyone...

PUIG: Yeah, of course.

GREENE: ...Want to go off and be a cobbler in Italy?

TURAN: (Laughter).

PUIG: Yes. But I'm a huge fan of Paul Thomas Anderson. This is not my favorite Paul Thomas Anderson movie. I admire it on many levels. And it's mesmerizing. But I guess maybe I was a little too distracted by the thought this was his last performance. He's amazing in it.

GREENE: Yeah. What's the story?

PUIG: Well, the story is he plays this dressmaker. And he and his sister are at the kind of core of British fashion. They dress royalty and movie stars and all kinds of socialites. And then he meets this very strong-willed young woman who's a waitress. And they have this very intense love affair. And it kind of has to upend his very ordered life.

GREENE: Kenny, did you like it?

TURAN: You know, I was intrigued by it. You know, I started thinking of things like "Rebecca," you know, Daphne du Maurier. It's a dark, weird love story. But it's so well-made that I went with it.

GREENE: You're saying you don't normally like twisted love stories. But this one you did.

PUIG: (Laughter).

TURAN: Outside my personal life, no.

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: I don't know what to say after that.

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: So there's been all the talk in the world about "All The Money In The World" because one of the stars this movie, Kevin Spacey - the allegations of sexual misconduct - means that this movie had to be reshot by Ridley Scott, right?

TURAN: It's quite astonishing. I mean, this is almost unprecedented as far as I can remember. He just said, we're taking Kevin Spacey out of the movie. We're replacing him with Christopher Plummer. We're going to reshoot all his scenes - 22 scenes - and we're going to have it ready the same day it was going to be ready without this.

GREENE: Remind us the story before I ask if he pulled it off.

TURAN: This is a story based on fact. This is John Paul Getty III, kidnapped in Italy and held for ransom. And, you know, this is about what happened. His grandfather, the wealthiest man in the world, who Christopher Plummer plays, refused to pay the ransom.

GREENE: Wow.

TURAN: And this is about - really, it's about a battle of wills between J. Paul Getty, played by Plummer, and the boy's mother, played by Michelle Williams. She represents humanity. She wants the right thing to be done. He represents wealth. He says, you know, my money is not for this. I'm not going to do this. The film is so good, you forget the whole Kevin Spacey-Christopher Plummer thing.

GREENE: Really? So the movie, you don't feel, like, suffered from this late change?

TURAN: No. In some ways, I think it's really - Christopher Plummer is way old. He's, I think, 88. And he looks the way you imagine J. Paul Getty looked. And that really must have helped a lot.

GREENE: You want to pick a favorite movie from 2017 before we say goodbye?

PUIG: I have a tie - "Get Out" and "Lady Bird."

GREENE: OK.

PUIG: I'd say "Lady Bird" is just a wonderful, you know, mother-daughter love story. But "Get Out" - it's about racial paranoia. It's satirical. It captures the zeitgeist. And for Jordan Peele to have done this as his first film is so impressive to me.

GREENE: Some of the images from that movie still stay with me...

PUIG: Yes.

GREENE: ...After seeing it months ago. It's really...

PUIG: Yes.

GREENE: Yeah. Kenny?

TURAN: I also have a tie, you know...

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: OK. You guys are just trying to fit in four movies. I see what you're doing.

TURAN: You know, our job is to plug movies. We love movies. We want to tell people, go see these. They're good.

PUIG: Exactly.

TURAN: You know, "Shape Of Water" - Guillermo del Toro, which is a kind of science fiction fantasy romance. It's a one-of-a-kind film. My other film was a very small film. It's a documentary called "Dawson City: Frozen Time." It's beautiful. It's provocative. It's different. It works on a number of different levels. I mean, just - if you hear the sound of my voice, go see it.

GREENE: All right. You sold me. Kenneth Turan of the LA Times and Claudia Puig, president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, thank you both.

PUIG: Thank you.

TURAN: Thank you, David.

GREENE: This was fun. Let's do this soon again.

PUIG: Yeah. Let's do it all the time.

GREENE: I like it.

(LAUGHTER) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.