The Post is a reference to the Washington Post, one of the world’s most famous newspapers, which you may have seen recently being attacked by the current President of the United States for spreading what he calls “fake news”. The film with its subject matter feels rather timely and Steven Spielberg either saw the writing on the wall of what was going to be happening, or he just got very lucky with his timing. Yes, this is a Spielberg production, another film he has done when I really wish he would just get around to doing another Tin Tin film. Please Steven, I am waiting, I want to see another Tin Tin movie, I loved the last one.
Whatever you think of Spielberg, his name certainly commands respect and he has done an excellent job with many films. He does have a few stinkers to his name, off the top of my head I would say his weaker films are films like Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Artificial Intelligence: AI. But, when he is on form, he is great, I’m not just talking about films like Jurassic Park, I have already mentioned Tin Tin, which seemed like a real return to Blockbuster form, which he unfortunately he hasn’t gone back to much in recent memory, but even some of his more poignant films seem to be working quite well. I really enjoyed 2015’s Bridge of Spies and I am really much excited for him going back to that Blockbuster form for the upcoming Ready Player One, which will be out at the end of March.
The Post, however, felt like a very interesting project. I was happy to be doing something similar to Bridge of Spies and the way it was structured and the trailer definitely gave off that impression. It also helped that one of the co-writers on this film is Josh Singer who wrote screenplays for Spotlight and the Fifth Estate, yes I know the latter wasn’t that good a movie, but he kind of redeemed himself a bit with Spotlight, which I did review. Plus, we have the talents of Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, who seem to be memorable even in terrible films, in Tom Hanks case see Cloud Atlas for that alone. The very thing I was wondering was, how did the film turn out overall?
Normally this is where I would go into the plot detail, but it’s very simple and it is so marred in history, it almost feels like a dramatised documentary. The long and short of it is; During the latter years of the Nixon era, the New York Times managed to get hold of a report that had been made Top Secret that showed that the United States government had actively misled the US public about the Vietnam War, but had kept going to save face. It was a bid deal, however an embargo was put on the New York Times, who were going to have to go towards the Supreme Court. The Washington Post, however, managed to get hold of several other documents and since they weren’t part of this embargo, they could publish. There is an awful lot in the film about sources, then the legal ramifications of several factors of making sure the articles were worded in the correct way, but this really was the moment that turned the Washington Post into the big Global organisation it is. It’s mainly about the conflict in the process of whether they would publish or wouldn’t and the various back and forths between the head of the paper Kay Graham, played by Meryl Streep, whose husband and father previously ran the paper and the paper’s editor, Ben Bradlee, played by Tom Hanks. Now that sounds very interesting and you are probably thinking I am describing most of the first half of the film. Well, this is rather annoying because to talk about this film, I basically have to talk mostly about the second half. Yes, NO JOKE, I am having to talk about the second half of the film. The Post has to have one of the most boring introduction first half’s that I have ever seen. The film really meanders for quite some time and as a result it is a drolled mess.
Luckily, things pick back up in the second half of the movie, where the most interesting aspect of the film is. I think the film does a good job of actively talking about the idea of bouncing between government secrecy and the freedom of the press. It also weighs the gravity of what an absolute disaster the Vietnam War was and actively goes with how history would see the Vietnam War. That’s really is. This is a very middling film in my opinion. The one thing I was thinking when I watched this film was, you know when at half time you hear some Jackass on Television or the radio of whatever from some alternative upright group say that Hollywood has a liberal media bias. I think this is the film they are picturing. I don’t say that as a negative stance, I agree with most of the points put into this film, but that is the thing that bugs me the most. This film is like a film that is made more to make a statement, not tell a story. It certainly feels very compelling and very interesting, but it feels like there are tons of symbolism put in place for things like feminism, the freedom of the press over government or privacy. All good point, which I firmly agree with. But, by doing it in this sense, it almost makes it seem like the subject matter of the actual events which led to this are not the first things on the director and writer’s minds and that they don’t really care that much about the subject matter. Most films based on true stories like this, tend to after the credits, tend to explain what happened to all the various people after the events of the film. The Post doesn’t have that. I stayed around for most of the credits just to make sure. In fact, the film has a rather baffling ending, which I won’t spoil, but felt rather unnecessary in my head. That’s my biggest point complaint with it. It’s boring and at times doesn’t care about its story, but cares more about its subject matter.
Ok, that’s my big complaint. Because the rest of the time I think it’s a pretty decent film. It does a really good job of conveying this story. You realise what a big deal this was. It makes you angry that the Washington Post has been labelled as a fake news organisation because they say things that an American administration does not like. That’s just it. The film does good parallels, aided by the fact that they used actual recordings of Richard Nixon, since the guy seemed to like to record virtually everything he did. Yes, one thing that Nixon and Trump seem to have in common is that they are both paranoid nutcases!!! On some points. I don’t feel the film goes far enough. Certain scenes are added in that don’t really add much. I have already mentioned that the first half of the film is loaded with padding, this feels more like it should have been a one hour TV special than a two hour film. As a result, I was kind of watching my watch (figuratively speaking, I don’t actually have a watch)! This is definitely the sort of film that you think of when you hear Oscar bation, in fact I suspect that by the time this review goes out and the Oscar nominations have been announced it will have received several nominations to go with its six Golden Globe nominations and its BAFTA nominations. This, however, does not change the fact that this is actually kind of a dull film for the most part and by the time it picks up it’s almost feels “too little too late”.
The reason it does work, however, is the acting. The actors are actually fantastic in their roles and try to make the most of what they have. Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep are on top form as usual, in fact Meryl Streep really proves why she is a top class actress and there’s no guessing for why she took the role on. Tom Hanks and Spielberg work together for the fifth time and once again, they do an excellent job together, but I would also like to give special mention to the performance of Bod Odenkirk, which is probably one of the best performances of the film. Not to mention the other actors, including, Alison Brie, Sarah Paulson, Matthew Rhys, Bruce Greenwood and Bradley Whitford, to name just a few. We also have an excellent performance from David Cross, who I actually didn’t recognise initially when he was in the film, I only realised when I saw the credits.
The Post is also an excellent period piece. They don’t skimp on the 70’s look and aesthetics of the time period. I will say, the costume and props department did an excellent job. The cinematography is pretty good for what it is worth too.
I am sorry if this review is a bit shorter than usual, but I really don’t have much to say about The Post. It is the most middling film I have seen in quite a while. The film is aided by excellent performances and good direction, but it suffers from a really dull first half and it feels very disconnected from its subject matter and feels like the film should have been much shorter than it really was. I think this will make an interesting complimentary piece with a documentary on the subject, however, I am unaware how accurate this was to the actual story so if you are aware of the story because I suspect some facts have been changed to fit the story matter, which, for some reason people really care really desperately about with a true story aspect. My own personal view being, that if you stick to the heart and spirit of the story and don’s misrepresent the person too much, you’ll do fine. It’s not one of Spielberg’s worst, but it’s not one of his better ones either.
Next week, I am looking into Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park’s latest stop motion animated film Early Man.
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