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The Post is Steven Spielberg's Ode to the Adversarial Press
12 January 2018, 12:28 | Max Haynes
Still from The Post
Despite the events in the film taking place almost five decades ago, it would be irrelevant to go through a full discussion around it without mentioning its relevance and more so its poignancy in relation to the present state of the world and the leaders that are in power who utilise their authority for personal gain and favourable poll numbers rather than in the interest of world peace.
Meryl Streep plays Kay Graham, the Washington Post's owner and publisher. Plenty of people involved in the company's day to day financial decisions don't trust her judgment.
One thing that most insiders, critics, pundits and casual movie fans can agree on, though, is that five-time victor and 50-time nominee John Williams will once again be in the mix come Oscar time for his latest sure to be majestic film score. At the ceremony at Cipriani's on 42nd Street, Hanks picked up a Best Actor award for his work playing legendary editor Ben Bradlee in "The Post". Then The New York Times comes out with their first story about the damning Vietnam report and, well, everything changes. You can't help but be moved when seeing those rows of newspapers coming off the presses, loaded onto delivery trucks and thrown in stacks out to the newsstands, bringing the truth to the public.
The movie takes place in 1971.
The publication of the papers, which had already occurred in the New York Times, was fraught with peril because the government had threatened to sue the paper. In fact, its 47-year-old story couldn't be more relevant, as our current government wages an all-out war on the champion of the people by callously labeling what we do as "fake news". Wait, what? The White House has gone to court to stop a newspaper from publishing?
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Set in 1971 in Washington, D.C., Spielberg's "The Post" is based on the fascinating true story of the Pentagon Papers, a revealing and extensive series of documents that exposed backroom US involvement in Vietnam stretching back to the Truman administration.
The Post may have gotten shut out of awards at the Golden Globes last week, but I don't expect that result will repeat at the Oscars. But Streep consistently finds a way, clearly relishing the chance to portray a pioneer in the struggle to break the glass ceiling; and watching her do it by butting heads with no less than POTUS is exhilarating. But since this is 1971, and since this is near the beginning of one of the biggest political crises in our nation's history, it's unlikely that Graham can stay in her comfort zone for long.
Streep has been a prominent voice regarding gender equality in Hollywood following the fallout of disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein, who distributed numerous films of Streep's. The newspaper, in a sense, was part of her dowry, and she took it for granted that her husband should be in charge. She is just having trouble with navigating the business world and what being good at that means in her personal life.
As for Hanks' favorite Streep performances, he had a few as well. Maybe you've heard of him? Since that time, he has thrown himself into historical dramas like Bridge of Spies and sweeping epics like War Horse and Lincoln.
Spielberg saw an opportunity to comment on our unusual American moment and committed himself to realizing his vision in record time. Yes, we get the parallels to the present, underlined here with actual audio recordings of President Richard Nixon plotting and complaining about press leaks while a Nixon double, seen from behind, holds a telephone and gestures.
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