reflection

'The Post' is a great film to critique as the direction and acting save a mundane script. Tom Hanks puts on an acting clinic as Ben Bradlee executive editor of 'The Post,' and will deserve every nomination he gets.
Story
Acting
Direction
Cinematography

Review: THE POST Steven Spielberg Crafts a Great Film From a Dreary Script

Steven Spielberg’s The Post tells the true story of The Washington Post and The New York Times journalists who, in the early 1970s, published the Pentagon Papers, detailing the involvement of the United States government during the Vietnam War. Then, they subsequently went to battle with President Richard Nixon over government censorship.

That synopsis sounds like an Oscar-worthy drama. Add in Tom Hanks as Post editor Ben Bradlee and Meryl Streep as trailblazer Kay Graham, and every bit of the formula is in place. Except the writers (Liz Hannah, Josh Singer) don’t give the actors much to work with. Under any other director, this would be an incredibly dull film, but Spielberg can make a printing press look sexy, powerful, and inject even the most routine elements of a story with a little tension.

Spielberg also knows how to frame a scene, giving an actor a chance to break through the screen and grab the audience. This is the case with Bob Odenkirk’s character, Ben Bagdikian, as he tries to track down a source. Spielberg also gives Carrie Coon, who plays editorial writer Meg Greenfield, a moment to shine as she relays the Supreme Court ruling to the rest of the staff at the paper.

It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall and listen to the conversations with Spielberg and the writers on how much dramatic liberties to inject into the story to give it a little extra juice. But in this time of “Fake News,” this is Spielberg’s anti-Trump film, and he probably thought sticking to the facts as close as possible would most admirably serve his message.

Tom Hanks turns in a spectacular performance as Bradlee, pulling off the gruffness of a man in power in the 70s, but one who always, by all accounts, remained a polite gentleman. But all of Hank’s best lines feel like they’re off camera. Streep’s Graham is subdued, reserved, but Streep is not to blame for the lack drama in her character; this isn’t an Aaron Sorkin film, but one existing on quiet moments more than punchy banter.

Can we talk about the printing press for a moment? In the age of digital, as newspapers crumble left and right, Spielberg manages to capture the power of print media. There are two scenes of just setting print that are beautiful to watch; the journey of a printing press is enthralling in The Post. As a Gen-Xer, I remember the days only a few entertainment choices and the local newspaper dominating the kitchen table during breakfast. The newspaper will never be what it once was, but handing someone a phone to show them breaking news just doesn’t have the same impact.

Matthew Sardo
Matthew Sardo
As the founder of Monkeys Fighting Robots, I'm currently training for my next job as an astronaut cowboy. Reformed hockey goon, comic book store owner, video store clerk, an extra in 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon,' 'Welcome Back Freshman,' and for one special day, I was a Ghostbuster.
Review: THE POST Steven Spielberg Crafts a Great Film From a Dreary Script'The Post' is a great film to critique as the direction and acting save a mundane script. Tom Hanks puts on an acting clinic as Ben Bradlee executive editor of 'The Post,' and will deserve every nomination he gets.