The Post (2017)
This falls into the category of serious mainstream drama. Many things make a good film, writing, direction, score, editing of course. Yet a lot of the time the focus is on the cast and their performance alone. This I is suppose is inevitable and certainly when the cast includes Streep and Hanks, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is merely a vehicle. Centred around The Vietnam War and it’s coverage back home in the American press, it’s a dramatised account of newspaper scoops, covert information and institutionalised sexism. Kay Graham (Streep) is the owner and in charge of The Washington Post, but to the rest of the newspaper business, this is only because she’s inherited it. There’s a wide held belief that she doesn’t have what it takes. She might believe this too and with her paper in financial trouble, looks to the men around her for advice. At the same time The New York Times leads with a series of explosive stories exposing the inner workings of the war spanning the last 4 presidents, their poor choices that extended the war and cost thousands of lives. Lies upon lies, disregarding human life in favour of saving face. When Nixon silences The Times, Kay has a choice to make, but it’s far from easy. Ben Bradlee (Hanks) her determined editor, gets access to the same classified papers that The Times had and is hell bent on making The Times leaks look like a drop in the ocean. In those turbulent times though of war, of protests, the voices and opinions are varied. Although Streep and Hanks are the focus, the supporting cast is ridiculously solid at conveying the magnitude of events, in the time period, with society as it is. Bob Odenkirk as the wiley news crusader, Bruce Greenwood as the slimy beurocrat looking out for his own skin. Arthur Parsons, Matthew Rhys, Jesse Plemons, the list goes on. All men of course... it’s that world. Men making decisions, but there’s only one voice that matters. When all the men are advising to surpress the story or worrying about the consequences of being indicted for contempt, Graham shows some real balls and opts for the truth. Fuck the consequences, fuck Nixon, fuck the war. This I suspect was why Streep was cast, when asked to deliver a powerful monologue, she thrives and it lights this film up. It’s not really a feel good piece, or even that extraordinary sadly in the times we live, but also because of the times it’s perhaps as relevant as ever. With a US President that’s coined one of the most notable phrases in decades ‘Fake News’ and all his idiotic rhetoric around it, a story that hammers home the importance of freedom of speech and the right to fight against corrupt administrations should be heard as much as possible. It is slick, it is showy, lots of dramatic underscore, crafted dialogue, but then this is directed by Spielberg so that’s what you get... attention to all the details and for better or worse, this is his best film in years.