The Post: The Presses Roll
The Post is the latest period drama film from Steven Spielberg, following in the tradition of Lincoln (2012), and Bridge of Spies (2015). It is a retelling of the Pentagon Papers, a newspaper scandal, and cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents, and pushed the country’s first female newspaper publisher, Katherine Graham (Meryl Streep) and her hard-driving editor (Tom Hanks) of The Washington Post to join in a battle between journalism and the government. A very relevant film, The Post is a terrifically told period piece featuring some outstanding performances and moments of dramatic flare. It’s a politically charged film that may get some people up in arms, but I very much enjoyed it. In short, it’s great.
For the first ten minutes, it’s a war film about soldiers in Vietnam. Then, it turns into a political espionage styled, thriller film after a group of journalists uncover the Pentagon Papers, and then, it develops into an even more serious drama. Once you’ve watched the film, it becomes apparent why the movie goes through these different thematic shifts, and it’s in the film’s dramatic, quieter, and personal moments where we see it really shine. In that regard, it’s a remarkable achievement.
The cast is, from top to bottom, great to excellent. Meryl Streep is, predictably, once again, superb in the role of a woman in a field dominated by men. Streep plays a publisher with a lot of conviction and doubt. She gets several big moments in the film. My favorite being when she says, “I don’t want to let people down”, during an emotionally charged scene. Tom Hanks is as good as usual, playing Ben Bradlee. Surprisingly though, Hanks plays his role a little low-key. He does deliver some very good lines, and it’s cool to see him acting with Streep.
The rest of the supporting cast is good and notable, particularly, Bruce Greenwood, as former Secretary of State, Robert McNamara, who served under both JFK and LBJ. McNamara was responsible for helping to push the country to stay in the Vietnam War. A private discussion with Graham leads the story into a theme of fallen heroes, that plays out well in the film.
The Post’s production design, set in the 1970’s, also details what it takes to put out a newspaper back then. The look of the film is glossy, and in typical fashion, Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography is, what I would call, the “milky white light” variety look. Most surprisingly, John Williams’ musical score is both subdued and short. It’s also much darker than his previous Spielberg dramas. The highlight of the film being the score cue title, The Presses Roll, which features a march that rises until it truly builds into something that sounds amazing.
The Post is a film I greatly enjoyed. At the same time, it made me angry about the state of modern journalism, and how the press has always been under attack by the “powers that be”. The film deserves all the acclaim it's getting, but it reminds us that nothing is ever safe, and even the people we respect can turn out to be wrongdoers. It’s a powerful film, generally appeals to an older audience, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Now playing in Hanover at The Nugget Theater at Monday thru Friday at 1:40, 4:15, 6:50 PM, Saturday and Sunday at 1:40, 4:20, and 6:00 PM