Spielberg, Streep and Hanks deliver in 'The Post'

Doris Richards
January 14, 2018

Now in wide release, it is every American's duty to see this film. Inside her living room, Washington Post publisher Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) and daughter Lally (Alison Brie) spend their morning with lamps lit and curtains half-drawn, straining to read the early edition.

The Washington Post's publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 has always been a debated decision because of all of the top-secret information that these documents contained, but this film explores that decision and brings it to life for the viewer to see and dissect. Ben is aghast but can not do anything about it except carry excerpts from the NYT's stories until three days later, the Court bars the publication from carrying any of the research papers, and at the same time, The Post gets the story and the rest of the research papers. The project fell together very quickly previous year, when fledgling screenwriter Liz Hannah's script attracted the interest of Steven Spielberg's longtime producing partner Amy Pascal, along with Spielberg and Meryl Streep (who plays Katharine Graham, The Washington Post's publisher and company president).

Bradlee is pushing to publish the remainder of these papers so as to take The Post from being a local Daily to a National Daily.

It wasn't even the No. 1 newspaper in Washington, D.C., at the time.

Besides being publisher of the influential newspaper, Graham was well connected with leading political figures, and luminaries regularly attended dinner parties at her Georgetown home. Her father had given the paper to her husband and when he committed suicide, she took control. Streep plays Katherine Graham, the first-ever female publisher to be appointed at the Post, who is constantly submerged in a forest of sexist men.

As Streep, who was at the screening, observes, "That's the way she thought it should be, and that's the way things were then". The statement suit featured a stylish twist, with a waterfall frill falling from just underneath the faux pocket at her hip to her knee. "She wasn't raised to have an opinion".

Working her blonde-hued coif off her face into a chignon, the age-defying star let her glittering drop-earrings take front and centre while sporting a pair of cat-eyed silver-framed glasses.

Bradlee, on the other hand, was ambitious. Known as the Pentagon Papers, the disclosure that the war could have never happened and should have ended 6 years earlier with the USA pulling out of Vietnam.

While his instinct is to publish the documents, the fact that he and his boss may go to jail and the Post may cease publication in the process is a real possibility. Kay is sitting at the head of the dining table, with all the men who want the decision to go in their favour surrounding her, suffocating her like a pack of hungry wolves.

Oscar-winning film director Spielberg promised to back Winfrey if she was to throw her hat in the ring.

The Post is all set to bring the powerful trio of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep for the first time on celluloid.

Taking on the controversial story of the Pentagon Papers is her debut, her coming out, her grand entrance into what is clearly a man's world. Screenplay by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer. He had also written the script for "The Fifth Estate", about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and worked on "The West Wing". She had often deferred to her editor, but in the end, the choice fell squarely on her shoulders. Both got Golden Globe and other nominations, as did the movie. It's hard to disagree when Ben randomly turns to his secretary and says, "My God, the fun!" "He's so interested in everything and is curious about everything".

Streep and Spielberg are joined by Tom Hanks, the sort of lineup that veritably defines the notion of Prestige Film.

While there is an interesting tick tock of will-they-won't-they publish the papers, at the heart of the story is Graham, an obviously smart and capable woman who is full of doubt, and is doubted by almost everyone around her. At worst, the paper ceases to exist and they spend the rest of their lives in federal prison. He saw firsthand that the optimistic picture of the Vietnam War painted by sequential White House administrations was a lie served intentionally to the American people.

Nixon even used his infamous Watergate "plumbers" to try to get dirt on Daniel Ellsberg, the Rand Corp. employee who had leaked the documents. It's become routine to see her perform flawlessly, but here she quietly gives one of her best, and most perfectly calibrated, performances. By then, the public was much more skeptical about the presidency.

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