The Post is Steven Spielberg's Ode to the Adversarial Press

Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep team-up for the Steven Spielberg-directed The Post

Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep team-up for the Steven Spielberg-directed The Post

The biggest, most obvious theme is that the free press exists for the benefit of the people, not the benefit of the President, and that restrictions must not be placed on their ability to inform and educate.

Steven Spielberg has made movies about dinosaurs and sharks and aliens and adventurin' archeologists and war horses and crime-predicting psychics and big friendly giants. It is Liz Hannah's first screenplay.

If Steven Spielberg thinks print is dead, then he's certainly given it a loving eulogy. Seeing those two threads intertwine in such a gripping and energetic movie, with a large cast so good that it's nearly unfair, really, is a blast.

Graham, Post editor Ben Bradlee and their counterparts at the Times weren't the only heroes.

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The Post, set in the 1970s, talks about the tense times when The Washington Post chose to publish the Pentagon Papers, the United States government's secret history of the Vietnam War.

Their report exposed what the U.S. government knew about the viability of the Vietnam war and its dire prospects. The report commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood) revealed that five administrations had lied about US prospects for victory in Vietnam. Yet, it "sent boys to die" - this they did largely to avoid the humiliation of the American defeat.

Yes, I know the scene that shows staffers descending on Bradlee's home in Georgetown to prepare the story is historically accurate, down to her daughter selling the staffers lemonade and his wife serving sandwiches.

The former (Meryl Streep) was the first female publisher of a major American newspaper.

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Not only does the film display the editorial and legal difficulties Kay faced, but also how unusual it was to be a woman in such a high position at a company, with Meryl attracted to the idea of playing a groundbreaking figure for women in both business and the media. This is such a common occurrence that Bradlee brandishes a copy of the Times and asks his reporters "anyone else exhausted of reading the news?" Hanks is always enigmatic, but his portrayal of Ben Bradlee, Executive Editor of The Washington Post, feels removed from his comfort zone and his performance is marvelous. He pursues the story with the purest, strongest force known to journalism - that of the scooped trying to scoop their scooper.

Regardless of what you take from its message, though, "The Post" stands as a tribute to Spielberg's skill as a storyteller, imbuing his backroom story with generous suspense and tension without needing the spectacular action scenes of so many of his celebrated past films. Graham, the boss, is caught in the middle. 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. Rhys plays the whistleblower who leaked the infamous Pentagon Papers.

You have already seen Star Wars.

"That speech spoke to so many people, and roused so many people because we realise how starved we are for a person who speaks, a leader who speaks and raises the best in us and asks us to live by the principles upon which our country is based", said Streep.

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While "The Post" isn't as revolutionary as "All the President's Men", it is a good reminder of the role journalism plays. The supporting cast is just as strong, with fine turns by Odenkirk, Carrie Coon, Sarah Paulson, Jesse Plemons and Tracy Letts. "Show" partner David Cross.

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