THE POST review by Mark Walters – Spielberg directs Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and a killer cast

THE POST review by Mark Walters – Spielberg directs Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and a killer cast

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There was a time when The Washington Post was considered more of a local newspaper, nothing the entire Nation would pay attention to or would ever need to. The paper lived in the shadow of larger publications like The New York Times, and because of the legacy behind it, being left to Katherine Graham after her husband died, some assumed the paper would never really reach its true potential. With the addition of new editor Ben Bradlee in 1968, the staff tried to find ways to elevate the paper’s status. During the late Vietnam war era, The New York Times had received considerable attention after publishing classified documents about some of the U.S. Government cover ups, but they were shut down from future reveals by President Richard Nixon himself under threat of jail time. When those same documents found their way into the hands of The Washington Post, the journalists there and heads of the paper had to make a major decision – do they publish them for the world to see and risk the jobs and lives of everyone working at the publication, or do they do nothing and keep everything quiet. This was a monumentally important moment for the press, and despite happening several decades ago is quite topical even today.

In the film THE POST, directed by Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks plays Ben Bradlee and Meryl Streep is Katherine Graham, faced with the difficult decision on what to do with such sensitive information. They watch as the New York Times is neutered, and feel pressure to keep things quiet even from personal acquaintances. This is a more subdued performance for Streep, who plays the put upon Graham as a woman not knowing which way to turn, and unsure of her own feelings even when things seem obvious. There are no big scenes for her to emote with, no giant speeches or tear-filled monologues, save for one with her daughter Lally (Alison Brie)… but despite that she is excellent in the role. Even Hanks plays Bradlee rather even and quiet, capturing the respectful journalist leader archetype without becoming a caricature of it. These two leads help balance the narrative and keep the film feeling powerful when needed while never feeling over-dramatic.

The rest of the cast is peppered with talented faces like Carrie Coon, David Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson, Jesse Plemons, Matthew Rhys, Michael Stuhlbarg, Bradley Whitford, and Zach Woods. Half that list would be impressive for any movie, but it’s notable that some of those names are actually appearing in multiple films this year already being considered Best Picture potentials. Greenwood gets some great face time with Streep and holds his own as an intended voice of caution to the conflicted publisher. Odenkirk also gets some great scenes as one of Bradlee’s more aggressive men on the street, one who uncovered the primary lead to those very important documents. With this many recognizable actors sharing the screen, there’s bound to be some who seem underused, or perhaps used a little too insignificantly, but overall the powerful ensemble compliments the story quite well, and by the end really helps elevate the film to a pretty epic-feeling level.

THE POST was shot and finished relatively fast (rumored to be done within five months, start to finish), and it’s actually quite incredible that the studio was able to release it in time for voting purposes, but it was clearly a smart choice as it’s already taking the top spot on several critic’s lists. As a Spielberg movie, it may not be one of the flashiest entries, but it’s definitely one of his more important productions if only for historical value. This is a story everyone should be aware of, and feels particularly topical in today’s political climate. There was a time when the media and newspapers had very daunting obligations to keep the American people informed, and to know our own government went to great lengths to stop that from happening… well, it’s enough to give you pause. These days newspapers aren’t as widely read and there’s definitely an overabundance of “news” outlets claiming to have the real story, but this was a time where the real story almost never saw the light of day, and that’s pretty frightening to ponder.

THE POST will be released in select theaters on December 22, 2017 and in theaters everywhere on January 12, 2018

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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started, which has become one of the Dallas film community's leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.