Speilberg makes journalism story feel urgently timely
As I am writing this, we are still awaiting the announcement of Donald Trump's completely made-up, stupid and dangerous Fake News Awards.
I don't know if he's intending to promote this weekend's wide release of “The Post,” but he's a pretty good advertisement for it. Oh, to be a fly on the wall for the screening of “The Post” he's requested at the White House!
Despite its period setting, Steven Spielberg's latest movie is bitingly timely, and I don't think anyone would even pretend it's a coincidence.
Set in the early '70s, Spielberg recreates a portrait of the newspaper life that's somehow both accurate and glowingly romanticized.
This telling of the story behind The Washington Post's release of The Pentagon Papers (excerpts of which were first published by The New York Times) is a love letter to journalism.
The publicizing of decades of political and military actions that led to the Vietnam War is a perfect example of the role of the media in a functioning democracy. Read into that what you will for the present day.
The key focus is on the relationship between Post editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) and publisher Kay Graham (Meryl Streep).
The narrative is a pretty good cross-section of the work and decision-making that goes into investigative journalism. And while wealthy publishers like Graham are seldom seen as the heroes in these stories, “The Post” shows the role they play in the face of consequences.
While I realize not everyone will be quite as enthralled with the nuts and bolts of journalism as I am as a journalist, “The Post” is still a Steven Spielberg film through and through. In other words, it's not a civics lesson, it's entertaining throughout.
Of course, that Oscar-baiting cast is going to help. Hanks is, well, Tom Hanks. It's not his flashiest performance, but he's an anchor here, and the kind of advocate editor that every reporter loves.
Streep is perfection as Graham. Balancing the family business and the insider politics of D.C. is a minefield, but Streep makes her both vulnerable and a strong leader. It's hard to imagine another actress in the role.
Talent is evident throughout the cast, with standout support from the likes of Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson and more.
I'd rank “The Post” a tick behind “Spotlight,” but it's a great weekend to celebrate the importance of the press, right? And I can't wait for a certain someone's Twitter review.