Watched: 19 February
The first of this year’s two Steven Spielberg films is perhaps more typical of the director’s later period than his other big release, Ready Player One: like 2015’s Bridge Of Spies, The Post is the kind of movie you probably won’t love, but it’s serious and forthright and concerned with historic events and it feels important as a result, so basically it’s both asking for and worthy of your admiration… if not your heart. And, as such, The Post has elicited all kinds of vague phrases from people keen to point out that it is ‘solidly crafted’, ‘well-made’ and ‘superbly put-together’, which are also things that dads say while admiring the coffee tables at OakFurnitureLand. And even though I like the film very much, there’s no doubt that The Post is very coffee table.
I’m being a little disingenuous. The acting in this film – which tells the story of the Washington Post’s reporting of the Pentagon Papers (um… five days later than the New York Times) – is very good indeed, with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks doing most of the legwork as the Post’s Publisher Katharine Graham and Editor Ben Bradlee respectively. This is a film that initially concerns itself with the furrowed brows of a small-ish number of people as they weigh up the potential impact of what they’re about to do, but as they and their New York counterparts seek counsel and eventually publish articles many more organisations and people become involved, not least the Nixon administration, who try to stop the papers from publishing their articles (and indeed there’s a superb ensemble here in addition to Streep and Hanks, including Bob Odenkirk, Tracey Letts, Sarah Paulson, Alison Brie and Michael Stuhlbarg). Let’s be honest, montages of printing presses aside, if your film is going to include lots of meetings in rooms and late night conferences over the phone, you’re very much reliant on the quality of acting to make it cinematic enough, and worthwhile – and this is very much a film to enjoy on account of its acting, and its script. So, lower-key Spielberg, timely and worthy given the attacks on the free press that are being carried out by Trump and his cronies, and solidly-crafted, well-made, superbly put-together, etc. etc. (***½)