Calendar Letters: Don’t stop the presses
All the hype and reviews of “The Post” led me to believe we were about to receive the Second Coming of great newspaper films. [“It’s Hot Off the Presses: Steven Spielberg’s Movie About the Past Speaks to Our Times,” Kenneth Turan, Dec. 22]. But this was not “All the President’s Men,” nor was it even “The Paper.”
It was really the story of Katharine Graham and her grit and resolve as she transitioned from a society matron to the commander of a great newspaper.
I don’t think too many critics have lauded Tom Hanks’ performance as Ben Bradlee [“A Man for All Reason: With ‘The Post,’ Tom Hanks Indulges His Passion for History,” Josh Rottenberg, Dec. 31].
Hanks is a very fine actor, but he does not have the old-school-journalistic gravitas that Jason Robards gave to the role as Bradlee in “All the President’s Men.”
Your article about “The Post” mentions President Nixon five times and President Trump twice but refers only indirectly to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, who were responsible for the “years of deception at the highest levels of the government” that the Pentagon Papers describe.
The papers were a history of the conduct of the Vietnam War up to 1967, before Nixon was elected. Fake news? No, ?but certainly agenda journalism.
Rancho Palso Verdes
Critic’s insights are first-rate
My thanks to film critic Kenneth Turan, who was a Washington Post reporter during its Pentagon Papers saga, for his unique insights [“When ‘The Post’ Is Your Past: Newspaper’s Alum Says Reality Can’t Match the Film’s Dramatic Heft,” Dec. 27].
I found his essay more intriguing than most movies I’ve seen lately.
For myself, Turan’s closing lines speak to many of those films: “[M]ovies... write everything large. Characters must make clear, focused points every time they speak and drama must be created around them... Real life muddles on without those advantages, and when life and art connect, it’s bound to be a bit of a bumpy landing.”
Might Turan’s artful conclusion intimate that some superb acting in “The Post” doesn’t redeem its flaws?
Starring role in our culture
Thank you for your beautifully written piece in Sunday’s paper [“Challenging Time for the Stage: It’s Tempting to Respond to Trump, but There Are More Effective Ways for Theater to Convey Its Message,” Charles McNulty, Dec. 31]. You both outlined the challenges theater artists face in our current environment and highlighted the important role that the arts (as a whole) play in our culture.
At its best, theater speaks most directly (in my opinion) to our condition: When it’s “working,” there is no better way of boring into? the heart of the human existence.
A musical state of confusion
As a kid, I spent a lot of time with my grandfather while he worked or played solitaire in his shop, with country music playing in the background. Listening to “Folsom Prison Blues” in the shop one day, he said, “The only thing I don’t get is how someone who commits a murder in Nevada winds up in prison in California. He’d do his time in Nevada.” I don’t think I have ever heard or read anyone else make that observation, but I think about it just about every time I hear the song.
Rick de la Sota
Editor’s note: Robert Hilburn, The Times’ former pop music critic and author of the 2013 biography “Johnny Cash: The Life,” said: “I did ask John that question ... and he laughed and said, ‘I never said I was any good at geography.’ He just liked the sound of ‘Reno.’ Didn’t realize it wasn’t in California, I guess.”