Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Streep shines in timely political tale 'The Post'

A WOMAN’S PLACE Streep stars as Washington Post owner Katharine Graham the country’s first female newspaper publisher Streep shines in timely political tale 'The Post'
Freda Brock | 13 January, 2018, 11:07

It is Liz Hannah's first screenplay.

Steven Spielberg read a draft of the screenplay in February and decided to make the movie-if he could finish it in time for a 2017 release. And few filmmakers tell and direct a story better than Spielberg, particularly when he's as engaged and passionate about a project as he clearly is with The Post. 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.

Yes, the Times. The film goes to great lengths to explain that the Times broke the story, and the Washington Post and editor Ben Bradlee are going to great lengths to "get back in the game", as Tom Hanks tells us in his hard-bitten newsman voice as a competitive Bradlee. But she must choose between her longtime friendship with the Washington elite's Robert McNamara, who created the Vietnam Study Task Force in 1967 - which ultimately created the Pentagon Papers - and her role as a representative of the free press. But years later the government was still sending soldiers to Vietnam, not to win, but to forestall a humiliating defeat.

The three-time Academy Award victor, speaking in London alongside director Steven Spielberg and co-star Tom Hanks, said the 63-year-old has shown presidential qualities.

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. Ben is aghast but can not do anything about it except carry excerpts from the NYT's stories until three days later, the Court bars the publication from carrying any of the research papers, and at the same time, The Post gets the story and the rest of the research papers.

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When the Times is slapped with a temporary court order preventing further disclosures, it's up to Graham and the Post, which has gotten a batch of the papers, too, to decide whether to support the Times and publish its own information. That's especially true when you recall the more bombastic and imposing Jason Robards as Bradlee in "All the President's Men", which can be seen as the "Part Two" to this film. He pursues the story with the purest, strongest force known to journalism - that of the scooped trying to scoop their scooper. His camera lingers on typewriters, on the massive Washington Post printing press, on ugly-ass pastel-coloured rotary phones and dirty phone booths. Graham, the boss, is caught in the middle. The scenes set in the newsroom have an authentic feel.

Even though anyone who knows the history knows what happens, the suspense is palpable. Modern audiences may be taken aback at the easy sexism that Streep's Graham faces in almost every scene, and impressed with the easy grace with which she handles it.

"No-one can speak in less lofty terms and adhere to principle and passion in a political campaign, because we've seen that it's possible", she said. 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.

All the President's Men is the gold standard for films based on journalism.

Bradlee, the editor, leads a team of driven, hard-nosed journalists and is rightfully a thorough believer of journalistic integrity and freedom of the press.

This, of course, drives Bradlee nuts. And a reminder that everyone needs to be welcomed, and listened to, in the fight.

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