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January 19, 2018

The Post (2018) --- "Newspaper Uncovers Government Conspiracies That Span Decades. How They Handel It Is Interesting."

Plot Summary
Katharine Graham is the first female publisher of a major American newspaper -- The Washington Post. With help from editor Ben Bradlee, Graham races to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spans three decades and four U.S. presidents. Together, they must overcome their differences as they risk their careers -- and very freedom -- to help bring long-buried truths to light. (1)

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     Oscar-winning director, Steven Spielberg (Bridge of Spies; Lincoln) reaches an all-new height to his career with his latest film, The Post (2018) starring Tom HanksMeryl Streep, Bruce Greenwood, David Cross, and many more. The Post is about the real controversial publication of the Pentagon Papers1,2 - thousands of pages of top-secret reports that proved a mass-government cover-up spanning at least four presidents – by The Washington Post and The New York Times in 1970’s. The publication of these papers resulted in a U.S Supreme Court battle between the government and the journalists. One thing that Spielberg does very well with his films is that he knows how to let a specific tone gradually manifest throughout the film. Although The Post’s emotional stakes and dramatic tension are not as high as that of Spielberg’s 2015 film Bridge of Spies nor is this film made with that same consistency than that of his 2012 film Lincoln, Spielberg still commands this film with a sense of urgency that makes the story’s retelling brilliant and showcases the actors’ talents.
     The main premise of the story takes place in 1971, weeks before The Washington Post's – which at the time has been more or less a small community newspaper unlike The New York Times, otherwise considered the golden child of newspapers – initial public offering on the American Stock Exchange. The Pentagon Papers were leaked by the Times in July of 1971 as part one of a four-part spread that took over three months to thoroughly investigate and carefully prepare the biggest story of the decade. Once again the Post found themselves on the outside looking in and that was not acceptable. They wanted a part of the action even if it meant risking their freedom and their futures. The only issue I have with the story is that the pace is slightly clumsy due to its omission of legal and ideological controversies surrounding the Pentagon Papers.
     Although this film is titled the Post and it centers on a mass-government cover-up, the film is really Katherine Graham’s (Meryl StreepThe Iron Lady) story. Meryl Streep plays a shy and insecure woman who is faced with a decision that will impact her future and could shatter her father’s legacy. Streep’s intimate portal of Kay is relatable and real. Although Kay was an heiress to her father’s newspaper, the company instead went to her husband, Phillip but after he dies she has to run the company herself. This a woman who has never held a job and has spent the majority of her life in the background but now she is the center of attention chauvinistic world, despite being in power. Streep clearly demonstrates how overwhelming it must have been for her. Tom Hanks gives a thorough and human performance of Post editor Ben Bradlee, a man on the hunt for the truth and who must convince Kay Graham to risk her freedom and her newspaper in order to expose the truth about consecutive Presidential cover-ups. The supporting characters are terrific the most noteworthy being Bob Odenkirk as Ben Bagdikian, Post editor and Armenian Holocaust survivor, and Sarah Paulson as Bradlee's wife, Toni.  Odenkirk has a few solo scenes here and there, which make his presences just as profound as the Hanks and Streep. Paulson is only on screen briefly but within that time she manages to give a key speech wherein she articulates for Bradlee just how heroic Graham is being with her decision to publish the Papers. The Post depicts these characters as day-to-day people with imperfections and rough edges, which allows for the audience to better understand these people and what they did. However, I do wish that there was a better introduction of the main supporting cast because then you would be able to focus more on what’s going on rather than who’s who.
     Visually The Post is a rich recreation of 1970’s America through the cars, clothes, technology, music, hairstyle, and even in the dialogue. Every character has a place, every moment of action has an accurate reaction, and every word has a purpose to overall endgame. For instance, the film shows the workings of a 70’s-era copy machine, that it took Daniel Ellsberg and two friends multiple all-nighters to copy around 4,000 and 7,000 pages. The score is one of John Williams’ finest as it gets the message across. 
     Overall, The Post (2018) is aanentertaining and thought-provoking film. Although most will say that this film celebrates the search for truth and the freedom of the press, I believe that it is a story about the heroism of a woman. A woman, who became the owner of the company she never expected to run but now must learn how to navigate a chauvinistic world and grow a backbone that will not bend for anyone. Not for a board member, not for a lawyer and certainly not for an old friend who was once a former U.S Secretary. The cast is amazing and the visuals, both in cinematography and in the art department, are beautiful. This is one of Spielberg’s finest films to date and if you enjoyed Bridge of Spies, Lincoln, and/or Spotlight (2015) then I strongly recommend this film.

"We can't hold them accountable if we don't have a Paper."
- Kay Graham

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  8.6 of 10 stars
Worth Buying:  8.6 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar 
All the President's Men (1976)
Allied (2016)
Argo (2011)
Big Miracle (2012)
Birdman (2014)
Bridge of Spies (2015)
Broadcast News (1987)
Debt, The (2011)
Flight (2012)
Frost/Nixon (2008)
Green Zone (2010)
Ides of March, The (2011)
Imitation Game, The (2014)
Insider, The (1999)
J. Edgar (2011)
Judge, The (2014)
L.A. Story (1991)
Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013)
Lincoln (2012)
Man of the Century (1999)
Monuments Men, The (2014)
Munich (2005)
Network (1976)
Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times (2011)
Paper, The (1994)
Private Parts (1997)
Public Eye, The (1992)
Rendition (2007)
Selma (2014)
Spotlight (2015)
State of Play (2009)
Sully (2016)
Truth (2015)
Unbroken (2014)
Valkyrie (2008)
Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

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