Critics Laud The Post As 2018's Best Movie!

'The Post' has fun being relevant

'The Post' has fun being relevant

Although it is set in the 1970s, Steven Spielberg's new film "The Post" grapples with themes that could not be more relevant today - press freedom, trust in government and sexism in the work place.

That sounds awfully didactic, but "The Post" isn't preaching.

There is a typewriter in nearly every scene - Tom Hanks collects typewriters, so perhaps some of them are his - and at one point Meryl Streep's character briefly forgets the main reason she's asked to speak to her editor and says "oh, I buried the lede".

Graham, the first female Fortune 500 chief executive, risked financial ruin - the Washington Post was in the process of becoming a public company when Graham made the decision to publish - and potentially even prison by defying Nixon's attempts to gag the press. Those top-secret documents detailed how the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations had lied to the public about the Vietnam War and the chances our troops could win.

You love movies about Robert McNamara. Graham wasn't even a character in All the President's Men, it's worth noting, and it is right and just that she be properly restored to history via the cinema. That's an understatement, of course. The decision of The Washington Post to risk the government's wrath and publish the documents, which detailed how the USA continued the war in Vietnam despite knowing how badly it was going, had a lot to do with its woman publisher, Katharine Graham.

For journalism historians, this can be viewed as an odd way to talk about the Pentagon Papers.

The Post isn't a courtroom drama: It's not about the two newspapers fighting this clearly unconstitutional injunction with lawyers.

The Post is as close to a masterpiece as Spielberg has had in a long time. But this is more about the growth of the Post from an essentially regional newspaper into a national powerhouse. Streep's Graham evolves subtly without overdoing it. Now that it's all hers, she has to push through her own insecurities and the stridency and condescension of her board of directors, in order to find herself. She seeks advice and suffers such advice when it's obvious that she's facing condescension. Hanks, as the Post's legendary editor Ben Bradlee, is memorably growly. But there finally might be a turning point when someone begins leaking secrets on the war to both papers. And it's clear that Spielberg is aware of these parallels. While Ellsberg is the traditional hero of this story (in an interesting footnote, he avoided jail time largely only because Nixon's moronic attempts at a cover-up backfired), The Post makes a case for Graham. And Streep is so good with subtleties that Graham's growing strength and personal empowerment are hardly perceptible until, at once, her transformation into an engaged leader who not only commands but demands equal respect among her peers in the evolving days of feminism is complete.

Comparisons to ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN is inevitable, and this is a worthy film to pair with that classic, but this is the story that preceded Watergate, and without which Watergate would not have happened.

The movie was shot in spring 2017, and its arrival on the big screen so soon is a minor miracle in Hollywood, where such projects usually take at least two years. And, in doing so, she became a feminist icon for the ages - the hard way (which is always the most remarkable and influential). Which is why The Post needs to be seen.

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