Movie Title: The Post
First Watch / Repeat Viewing
Running Time: 1 hr. and 56 min.
Who did I watch with?: Stephie
Where did I watch it?: Regal Stadium 12 – Swansea, MA
The Post opens with 50 minutes of plodding drudgery. After opening with Daniel Ellsberg’s (Matthew Rhys) disillusionment with the Vietnam War the plot shifts to the newsroom. Steven Spielberg establishes Kay Graham’s (Meryl Streep) attempts to make the Washington Post a publicly traded company and Ben Bradlee’s (Tom Hanks) navigation of a failing newspaper. There are a lot of talking heads and ribbon cutting and talking. None of it is very interesting and I began to wonder why this earned an Oscar nomination.
The second act features a dramatic decision. The Washington Post needs to decide whether or not to publish The Pentagon Papers after the censure of the New York Times. This poses significant personal risks for those at the paper. The Post needs to decide whether to play it safe or expose the attacks on civil liberties attempted by Richard Nixon. Nixon was notorious for using the power of the presidency in ways that others had not before including leveraging the justice department to attack his political enemies. There was no doubt that Nixon would do the same while attacking the Post. Some of this was rather underwhelming for me as I am well versed on the topic and I have a copy of The Pentagon Papers sitting on my bookshelf. I knew how this ended before walking into the theater. However, the second half was very well put together and interesting.
After having just watched Spotlight, a similar genre film, The Post is not nearly as good. Specifically, the pacing and performances are not as good. Meryl Streep is adequate in her role, but doesn’t do anything very remarkable until close to the end of the film. During the first act she is extraordinarily meek and tepid. After emerging from her chrysalis there is a scene close to the end where young woman literally look up to her while descending the steps of the Supreme Court and I found many of the feminist touches in the movie very heavy handed. Tom Hanks is not riveting either. He is brash and has a high opinion of himself, but doesn’t seem to be doing much to earn it. Bob Odenkirk is interesting in a small role as Ben Bagdikian and Bruce Greenwood is great in a small role as Robert McNamara.
The Post is a good movie if you aren’t familiar with The Pentagon Papers and a decent movie if you are. If you can survive the drudgery of the first half I would say see it. But, I’d rather recommend The Fog of War, a documentary featuring McNamara that is far more interesting.
Tomorrow’s Movie: Winchester (2018)