Friday, January 05, 2018

The Post

This morning I saw The Post, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks.

It's hard not to anticipate liking a movie when Streep and Hanks are its two biggest stars and Spielberg is the director. You know they'll never let you down and this film was no exception.

In 1971, The New York Times revealed the first secrets contained within The Pentagon Papers, a classified commissioned study about the Vietnam War. It was leaked to them by a military analyst who also sent the same pages to various media outlets. When Nixon's White House imposed an injunction on the newspaper for printing "secrets," The Washington Post was faced with the tough decision whether or not to proceed with what they had from the same analyst.

Ben Bradlee (Hanks), the Executive Editor of the newspaper, was greatly in favor of publishing the scoop because he wanted to get in the game as a national publication; Katherine Graham (Streep), the publisher, had reservations because they had just taken the company public and the action could cause investors to flee, which ultimately meant risking the health of the newspaper.

Of course, there's also the matter of women (even those in charge) not getting their due respect from (most of) the men in the room. Ms. Graham was an absolute professional who believed in maintaining decorum, despite the chauvinistic actions of her colleagues and board members, but she also knew the decision was hers and went with her instincts.

Whether or not you know the outcome of the real events, this movie will have you gripping your seat in suspense, right up to the end. Perhaps because I saw the first public showing in Seattle today, I was in the most amped-up company, but the energy in the room was palpable.

Every time Ms. Graham shut a man down, people clapped. When key elements of the outcome were revealed, everyone cheered. An elderly woman stood up after the final scene, screamed an obscenity to our current Commander-in-Chief and the crowd went wild. It was the type of moviegoing experience that makes putting up with all the other theater nonsense worth it.

The acting is so good here that I got goosebumps several times over, just the way they delivered their lines. I heard recent replays of interviews with the real Graham and Bradlee and I'd swear they dubbed in their voices if I didn't know better (plus, Graham passed away many years ago, so that would be impossible).

Just go see it. It's painfully timely, but just what the doctor ordered.


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