The Phantom Thread stars Daniel-Day Lewis in what he claims will be his last role. It's also his perfect role, because he's a fussy auteur who plays a fussy auteur. His character is a high-class English dress designer who caters to the wealthy and royalty. They are demanding clients, but he is equally demanding of himself and his staff. He's so fussy that the sound of someone buttering toast a little too briskly can ruin his whole day. Into this passive-aggressive environment he brings a hotel waitress who soon becomes his favorite model and assistant. Then things take a bitter turn. The acting, art direction, costuming, and cinematography in this period piece are superb, but the story is stupid. By the abrupt climax, the characters seem out of character. Maybe it's an allegory, like the fable of the emperor's new clothes. Or maybe this auteur film is wearing those clothes.
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The Post dramatizes the 1971 publication of the Pentagon Papers in The Washington Post. Although The New York Times first broke the story, the Post soon followed. Their exposé of a classified history of the Vietnam War compiled for the Defense Department sparked a showdown before the U.S. Supreme Court. Meryl Streep plays an uncomfortable Katherine Graham, a D.C. socialite who became publisher of the Post after her husband's suicide. Tom Hanks plays hard-nosed editor Ben Bradlee, bringing a softer edge to the character than is perhaps justified. Matthew Rhys portrays Daniel Ellsberg, the former intelligence analyst who leaked the papers, but his role is relatively minor in this film. Instead, it focuses on the journalists' efforts to report the story, President Nixon's attempts to quash it, and the publisher's fear that the government will drive her newspaper out of business. For its historical drama and relevance to current events, The Post is one of the best movies of 2017.
All the Money in the World recounts the kidnapping of oil heir John Paul Getty III by Italian gangsters in 1973. Most of the story is true: his filthy rich grandfather refused to pay the $17 million ransom, so the 16-year-old boy remained captive for months, prompting the kidnappers to resort to drastic measures. Michelle Williams delivers a standout performance as the boy's devoted but agonized mother. Christopher Plummer plays the tycoon in a nuanced performance that is both stoic and playful. (Plummer was a last-minute substitute for disgraced actor Kevin Spacey, requiring director Ridley Scott to reshoot 22 scenes and recut the film in only one month.) Mark Wahlberg plays Getty's security expert, adding some heft to repeated scenes of the mother's agony. Charlie Plummer (no relation to Christopher) portrays the young Getty but adds little. Overall, it's a good suspense tale which shows that wisdom doesn't necessarily follow wealth.
Lady Bird is an outstanding coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in Sacramento, California. Feeling stifled by an overbearing mother and the local social scene, she yearns to attend a liberal East Coast college, but her descending middle-class family can't begin to afford it. Meanwhile, her high-school social life is stagnant, and she's wrestling with her blooming sexuality. Although this comedy/drama sounds like many others, it's brought to life by Saoirse Ronan, a U.S.-born actress who was raised in Ireland and has revealed her talents in Brooklyn (2015) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), among other films. Laurie Metcalf is equally good as her strict mother, and the whole cast is praiseworthy. Lady Bird is one of the best pictures of 2017.
>> See more mini-reviews, including Star Wars: The Last Jedi ... Get Out ... Darkest Hour ... Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri ... Blade Runner 2049 ... Dunkirk ... Baby Driver ... Wonder Woman ... Alien: Covenant ... The Circle ... and many more!
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Tom's Inflation Calculator is now updated with the latest data for 2017!
My calculator includes the latest U.S. government inflation data plus alternative data sets. It's free and should run automatically in your web browser after clicking on the link above. By using historical data and forecasts, it can adjust U.S. dollar amounts for retail price inflation either forward or backward in time for any years between 1665 and 2100. (The alternative data sets have narrower ranges.)
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Here is an index to more than 180 of Tom's computer articles from BYTE Magazine published from 1992 to 1998. (BYTE ceased publication in June 1998.) Most articles are still available online and include the original photographs, figures, and screen shots.
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- The Death of BYTE Magazine. In 1998, after 23 years of operation, BYTE Magazine was shut down by its new owner, CMP Media. A year later, CMP launched BYTE.com as a very different web-only publication. To learn the inside story about what happened to the world's second personal computer magazine, see Tom's Unofficial BYTE FAQ: The Death of BYTE Magazine.
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