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Awesome: 6.67%
Worth A Look: 40%
Just Average53.33%
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2 reviews, 3 user ratings

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Post, The
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by Jay Seaver

"Traditional, valuable."
4 stars

Traditional narratives can be undervalued because it's easy to get more obviously excited about the thing that does something one has never seen or does something familiar in a new way, and it can make one undervalue movies like Steven Spielberg's latest. "The Post" doesn't break new ground, and it doesn't necessarily reveal a hidden story, although its real-life plot would in many ways be usurped by events that happened later. It hits certain things with a heavier touch than it might, although that directness is arguably both part of the setting and part of the point. But execution is nearly flawless, and a good story well told is always welcome.

That it is a good story well told is to be expected - this is a Steven Spielberg film starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, with Spielberg's usual core group of composer John Williams, cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, and editor Michael Kahn in tow. It's a group of people who are very good at their jobs, and who know how to make movies that entertain an audience but have the sort of experience that the end result doesn't feel like it's reducing a complex situation to a simple one. This movie is focused, covering about a week where the leadership of The Washington Post, not yet considered a journalistic powerhouse, must choose whether or not to report on a massive leak about the past twenty-five years of American involvement in Vietnam, with the twin factors of the Nixon White House insisting the New York Times cease and desist publishing the same Pentagon Papers and the paper being in the middle of an initial public offering making it especially perilous. It's decorated with enjoyable details that never distract, communicating its ideas of how crucial transparency and freedom of the press are clearly while giving the audience easy entry.

It's got a few very nice performances. Streep could have easily pushed publisher Kay Graham toward being an ignorant dilettante, but she's much more interesting as a socialite who has principles but can be fuzzy on specifics at first. It's a performance of incredible warmth, and Streep does a tremendously impressive job of showing Kay creeping out of her comfort zone without making her look foolish, and confronting hard questions without losing her congenial, maternal air. There could be more friction between her and Hanks's editor Ben Bradlee, but there's a familiarity that makes them only so adversarial but ultimately closer in attitude than they may think. Bradlee himself is a role that fits Hanks like a glove; quick-witted, personable, and just prone enough to exasperation that he can occasionally break out the voice-cracking sarcasm. There's a terrific cadre of supporting cast members that almost invisibly bolster the film - the likes of Bob Odenkirk, Bruce Greenwood, Bradley Whitford, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Sarah Paulson (among several others) create a solidly believably world for Graham and Bradlee to inhabit, playing against them without opposing them.

It's also one of the most impressively edited films that doesn't really flaunt its cutting, especially in the second half. Spielberg's film eases into is main story in deliberate but efficient manner, laying a strong foundation before it even introduces Graham and Bradlee but not playing things out so long that one winds up forgetting the main thrust or getting distracted. It cuts between the two main characters in a way that lets their tracks reinforce each other without repeating, and gets just choppy enough when men are trying to pressure Kay to let the audience feel a little buffeted. A conference call using extensions in multiple rooms of two different houses always chooses the right person to focus on and the right ones to have speak offscreen.

The filmmakers' hands are not actually invisible; it's easy to note how Spielberg and Kaminski have the cameras dash down halls at full-speed on the way to the initial story breaking in the Times only to slow down as the action shifts to the then-smaller, more local Post, or how Graham exits a building into a crowd of hopeful-looking women after she's been vindicated for going against the overwhelming consensus of her male advisers. But there's a sort of value to being very straightforward here - the lies being exposed are so simple and basic that it's important to speak plainly lest cleverness give way to arrogance or an ill-chosen metaphor causes someone to oppose the message out of spite. Sometimes, the filmmakers will pointedly allow the same arguments to be made twice - with sharp, righteous certainty from Bradlee and with sad, stumbling empathy from Graham - in hopes that the message may reach different parts of the audience.

"The Post" is seldom flashy, and while some may argue that it gets some power from its connection to present-day situations, is themes are evergreen. It's just a well-put-together film, and sometimes just making something that communicates clearly as it seizes attention is the accomplishment a filmmaker needs.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=31253&reviewer=371
originally posted: 01/06/18 13:33:51
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User Comments

10/11/18 Anne needed more passion, too sanitized! 3 stars
1/21/18 Jack Terrific film. One of the best movies of the year. By far. 5 stars
1/18/18 Nancy N It was OK. Streep chewed a LOT of scenery, IMHO. 3 stars
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  22-Dec-2017 (PG-13)
  DVD: 17-Apr-2018

  19-Jan-2018 (12A)

  22-Dec-2017 (M)
  DVD: 17-Apr-2018

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