Thursday, December 21, 2017

Movie with Abe: The Post

The Post
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Released December 22, 2017

The newspaper business really isn’t the same anymore. In an age where smartphones are at everyone’s fingertips, citizen journalism is rampant and it’s near impossible to keep a lid on a story for more than a few minutes. A retraction following improper reporting is also practically useless and meaningless since anything can be immortalized electronically with a screenshot. Revisiting a time when editors and publishers needed to decide whether or not to print a story and could debate it as they poured over printed pages of highly classified material is an appealing exercise that spotlights journalism at its most cutting-edge and boundary-pushing.

During and before the Vietnam War, Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) submits reports to his higher-ups in the United States government, only to see his findings ignored. Determined to tell the American public the truth and bring an end to the war, Ellsberg copies his research and sends it to newspapers. After The New York Times publishes part of what he sends and receives a court order to stop, editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) and publisher Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) navigate whether to play it safe and bend to the pressure of censorship or to go ahead and print what they believe to be breaking news that must be reported to their readers.

Steven Spielberg is a renowned filmmaker who has been making acclaimed films for over four decades. His last big film, “Lincoln,” earned much praise, and his latest effort is sure to do the same. Pairing Oscar winners Hanks and Streep on screen is a clear success, with Hanks playing a more aggressive and fearless character than he often does and Streep employing her signature bold charm to this role. It’s not the most memorable performance for either of them, but they are clearly having fun together.

This film’s leads may get top billing, but its ensemble deserves a lot of the credit. In particular, Bob Odenkirk and Carrie Coon shine as reporters, Bruce Greenwood contributes well as the representative face of the government, and Tracy Letts is superb as Kay’s top advisor. Though it has its highs and finishes in emphatic, sweeping fashion, this film doesn’t hold a candle to “Spotlight” in terms of its effectiveness in telling a similar story of journalism that blows open a segment of society that previously wasn’t discussed. Given its story’s relevance today in regards to the White House trying to stifle the free press and news agents trying to reveal corruption at the highest level, it’s likely that this relatively ordinary film’s reception will be bolstered by its timeliness.


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