Friday, January 12, 2018

The Post: Movie Review


Enthralling timeliness about the fight for the freedom of press.
The timeliness of The Post, set in 1971, is distressing and eye-opening to say the least. The President (Nixon, but not a visible character in the movie) is throwing the 1st Amendment out the window as he’s trying to stop newspapers from publishing the Pentagon papers and banning reporters from covering his daughter’s wedding. Meanwhile the female president of The Washington Post was facing significant gender discrimination where none of the (all male) board members thought she was capable of leading the paper and would say so to her face. 2017

Directed by: Steven Speilberg

Screenplay by: Liz Hannah, Josh Singer

Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts and Bradley Whitford

The Post handles both issues, gender equality and freedom of the press, superbly while also telling an interesting story about the uncovering of the government’s (four administrations) handling of the Vietnam War. First, thank you Mr. Spielberg for giving Matthew Rhys a pivotal role. He plays Daniel Ellsberg who worked for the Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and saw first-hand the hopeless war that Americans were fighting in Vietnam and then the government lying about it. While it is a pivotal role, it’s also an unfortunately small role, he returns later for one more scene.

Tom Hanks (as Ben Bradlee) and Meryl Streep (as Kay Graham) star in Twentieth Century Fox’s THE POST.
Photo Credit: Niko Tavernise. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and Storyteller Distribution Co. LLC. All rights reserved.
The leads are Tom Hanks as Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and Meryl Streep as publisher Kay Graham. Both were born into wealthy families and had the luxury of hanging out with presidents and other luminaries. It takes a talented screenwriter (Liz Hannah) to turn characters of such high privilege into people we still care about. That’s done through the points of their struggle to separate personal friendships and work. Ben accuses of Kay of not being objective about Lyndon Johnson, meanwhile Ben had been accused of only caring about Kennedy’s death for the story. Through these emotionally-charged anecdotes, The Post touches on the importance of fact-based and neutral reporting – which of course Nixon is trying to derail completely.

The New York Times broke the huge story – the publishing of the Pentagon Papers and the government’s inept handling of the Vietnam War. The Washington Post at the time was a small family paper. The board of directors hated a woman being in charge, Kay was just trying to hold onto her sanity and keep her family’s paper solvent, and Ben wanted anything to steal The New York Times’ secrets. Then they also get the Pentagon Papers and the meat of the movie is the decision making – do we publish something that The New York Times are currently indicted for publishing? Or do we hold on to them and report the other real story – that the United States government is trying to stifle a newspaper from reporting the truth? These are important questions as relevant today as they were in 1971, and Speilberg’s handling of them is very enthralling.
Best of 2017