The Egalitarian

Spielberg’s ‘The Post’ revives the thrill in political thrillers

Fabian Brims

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While everyone is waiting for Steven Spielberg’s next movie, ‘Ready Player One,’ he used the time spent in post-production  to quickly shoot a movie that is nothing less than a statement for a free press and its importance for democracy in America: ‘The Post.’

After compiling a report for the State Department on the war in Vietnam, Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) begins to realize that America can’t win this conflict, a fact the government covered up for years. Disillusioned, he makes copies of his report and eventually leaks it to the press. After the New York Times publishes the first excerpts, Washington Post’s editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) tries to get his investigative journalists to acquire the complete report. Meanwhile, the Post’s publisher Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) is in the middle of going public and fighting off misogynistic attacks from within because she is America’s first female newspaper publisher. Also  that her personal friend, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood), is the initiator of the report, eventually named ‘The Pentagon Papers,’ doesn’t make her life less complicated. President Richard Nixon is obviously not amused.

When Spielberg calls, everyone shows up: ‘The Post’ features an outstanding ensemble featuring Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood, Matthew Rhys, Alison Brie, Carrie Coon, Jesse Plemons, David Cross, Zach Woods, and Michael Stuhlbarg. As usual, old-hand Spielberg is in total control and delivered a masterfully crafted movie in the vein of masterpieces like ‘All the President’s Men,’ ‘Good Night and Good Luck,’ or ‘Spotlight.’ He also profits from a very lively script; writers Liz Hannah and Josh Singer took a rather dry topic and turned it into a suspenseful thriller despite the historic events being well-known. He made this movie, including pre- and post-production in only nine months, which is quite remarkable for a film of this size.

Cinematographer and Spielberg’s long-time collaborator Janusz Kaminski delivers interesting visuals, and the camera is always in the middle of what’s going on in this dialogue-based picture. Also, the way the costume and set designers bring the 70s back to life is simply stunning, and all those old-school newsrooms full of typewriters and paper stacks invoke nostalgia. Another long-time collaborator of Spielberg’s is composer John Williams, who is responsible for the wonderful score that accentuates the movie.

The timing of ‘The Post’ couldn’t be better: Ever since Donald Trump got elected, the free press in America has been under attack again. When Nixon calls the New York Times “our enemy” in the movie (which, by the way, is taken from an original audio file recorded at The White House and part of the infamous Nixon-tapes revealed through the Watergate investigation) it immediately pulls one back into the current daily news cycle. When elected-officials call established and serious news outlets “fake,” freedom is under attack, and just like back in the 70s, it is now up to honest and truthful people to set the record straight. Steven Spielberg surely did his part with this fantastic movie.

10/10

You’ll like ‘The Post’ if you liked these movies: ‘All the President’s Men,’ ‘Good Night and Good Luck,’ ‘Spotlight,’ ‘Frost/Nixon,’ ‘The Insider,’ ‘State of Play’

The Post (2017)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Written by Liz Hannah & Josh Singer

Cinematography by Janusz Kaminski

Music by John Williams

With Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood, Matthew Rhys, Allison Brie, Carrie Coon, Jesse Plemons, David Cross, Zach Woods, Michael Stuhlbarg

Produced by Steven Spielberg, Kristie Macosco Krieger, Amy Pascal

Distributed by 20th Century Fox

116 min, PG-13

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Spielberg’s ‘The Post’ revives the thrill in political thrillers