The Post (2017)
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Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, Bruce Greenwood, Sarah Paulson
Given the current political scenario in America where free press is harassed, there couldn’t have been a movie timelier than The Post. It is a movie which tells you how to do journalism right, how true and principled journalism can better the public and political discourse rather than fake news and false propaganda and the fact that the responsibility of the news lies with the governed and not the governor, it should be unbiased.
The Post is set in 1971 when the Richard Nixon is the president of the United States and the country is at war in Vietnam. The entire country is rocked by the publication of classified documents by the New York Times claiming that the government has lied to its people about the Vietnam War and that four presidents have covered it up. After Nixon bars the paper to publish further, Washington Post reporter Ben Bagdikian (Ben Odenkirk) gets hold of some of those documents. The big question now before Katherine Graham (Meryl Streep) is whether to publish and do her duty to the public or to hold on and save the future of the newspaper. The Washington post was a small publication at the time aspiring to be among the big league and the decision could either act as an inspiration for the crowd or scare away the investors’ right before its going public.
Two time Oscar winner Steven Spielberg directs two time Oscar winner Tom Hanks and three time Oscar winner Meryl Streep. This trio and the fact that Hanks and Streep share the screen for the first time was enough for me to run to the theaters.
Tom Hanks has played the role of Ben Bradlee the editor in chief of The Post and he has brought his own version of Bradlee to the movie. Though in reality Bradlee was a very aggressive and pushy guy but with Hanks he is a little mellowed or one could say respectfully pushy. Ben Bradlee is a very famous person and considering that Jason Robards won an Oscar playing him in All the Presidents Men, Hanks is good if not exceptional.
Meryl Streep is playing Kay Graham, America’s first female newspaper publisher. Thus she is the only woman in the publishing and banking circles. She is surrounded by men who are dismissive of her and is constantly being given advice (or rather being mansplained!) by the same men on business. Streep is wonderful as usual, playing a woman who has been undermined her whole life and whose decisions are made by her advisers and on the face doesn’t come on as a strong leader. Her fight with herself to make a name is a beautiful subplot which becomes a major turning point in the movie. The screen presence of both the legendary actors is of epic proportions and the scene where Hanks confronts Streep to make a decision is captivating.
Spielberg is 71 but still has not lost his craft, the movie is a fast paced and thrilling ride. There is an anticipation in every scene and it slowly builds up your involvement so much that when a protagonist is taking out coins from his pockets or slowly dialing a number you would just want to get out of your seat and shout at him to do it fast. The movie delivers its message subliminally. He uses the actual Richard Nixon’s voice to give the movie a little bit a feel of the 70’s and all that has been woven seamlessly.
Its a must watch given that it is relevant in today’s political scenario- a parallel can been drawn between the most controversial president in the history of America- Nixon and the current president Donald Trump and his ramblings against the media. Also the recent campaign of equal pay finds a parallel with Meryl Streep taking charge of The Post and taking it from being a local newspaper and making it a beacon of inspiration. She is a woman trying to make it in a man’s world- this resonates with women today as much as it did then.
So watch it in theaters, as the Oscars are just around the corner.