What's it like to work with Spielberg? "Terrifying!" says 'Post' actor

Still from The Post

At the time of the Pentagon Papers controversy, the Post had just become a publicly traded company, and Graham anxious that the defiant move, putting the newspaper at odds with the federal government, would give investors the jitters. He found her somewhat reserved and "very businesslike" in her dealings, but said she became more open over time.

With The Post, Spielberg's skills are put to a goal: Tom Hanks plays Ben Bradlee, the chain-smoking, gray-suited editor of the Washington Post.

The Post arrives in cinemas in the same week that Donald Trump announces his Fake News Awards, which are aimed at discrediting the papers that Richard Nixon failed to gag. McNamara ordered an in depth study of the nation's strategy in Vietnam that concluded no matter what is done the USA will fail.

For journalism historians, this can be viewed as an odd way to talk about the Pentagon Papers. When the documents come to Graham and Bradlee, they are faced with the choice: publish and risk the paper, maybe even jail, or let the President silence the free press and hide the facts from the American people.

The Post is getting nods and nominations. But good institutional journalism got to the bottom of that story in the way that good institutional journalism usually does. But in recent years, the 71-year-old director has grown more contemplative, using his gifts behind the camera to tell stories about how America can be the best possible America, from the complex legislative sausage-making of Lincoln to the defense of civil liberties in Bridge of Spies. Which is why Steven Spielberg's drama resonates so strongly. It is Liz Hannah's first screenplay.

Co-screenwriter Josh Singer also co-wrote the exemplary newspaper-driven story "Spotlight". "That was the voice of a leader".

The Post isn't a great movie, but it is a timely one, and sometimes that's even better.

Every day in every way, Spielberg gets better and better and better. Early on, Graham's unsure of herself. The film explores that in depth. He didn't really think that deeply about his connections to powerful posts or how his personal beliefs impact the editing and focus of the newspaper.

One thing that most insiders, critics, pundits and casual movie fans can agree on, though, is that five-time victor and 50-time nominee John Williams will once again be in the mix come Oscar time for his latest sure to be majestic film score. Slowly, Graham becomes more secure in her role and Streep allows the audience to see her blossom.

The film was nominated for six Golden Globes but failed to win any prizes at the first. Their work is always exemplary, and the two could probably just stand and smile at the screen for two hours and get rave notices. Steven Spielberg not only gives the publisher her due but also strikes a far different tone.

When it comes to newspaper movies, I will admit I am biased. There is a reek of quality and refinement here that at times threatens to undermine the bustle and urgency of the script and the events, but Spielberg and his editors keep their foot mostly on the gas, where it needs to be. "Yeah, I know it's the year of the woman and everything, but oh my god".

The writing, as you would expect, never misses an opportunity to draw a parallel between Nixon and the current occasional occupant of the Oval Office, but it's not overdone or intrusive.

"The Post" is rated PG-13 for language and brief war violence; running time: 115 minutes.

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.



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