Thursday, February 15, 2018

Catching up with Steven Spielberg's THE POST -- yet another of last year's "bests"

Why did it take TrustMovies so long to finally go see THE POST -- the Steven Spielberg-directed and Liz Hannah/Josh Singer-written movie about the release of the Pentagon Papers and the ensuing freedom-of-press fight between the then-current Nixon administration and The New York Times and The Washington Post? I'm not sure, but when I finally got around to it yesterday at a local Boca Raton theater, I was riveted from first scene to last. This is mainstream movie-making at its very best. 

Some study (if not any actual memory) of history will be a big help to younger audiences viewing the film, but what is most impressive -- outside of Mr,. Spielberg's crack direction which, thankfully, goes over the top only once (the unnecessary soaring of John Williams' music at the film's climax) -- is its incredibly adept screenplay by Ms Hannah (above, left) and Mr. Singer (above, right) that compresses events so well that we follow the entire story easily and delightedly, but also with unexpected trepidation -- due to what is going on in our country today.

Even if many of us will remember the outcome of what happened here, we certainly did not know the details -- nor could we imagine how well and how fully the screenwriters, director and magnificent cast bring these all to fine life.

Not only do Singer and Hannah get the big details right, they manage to insert some lovely small ones, too (that lemonade stand!), that bring the movie additional heft, while providing just the right touch of humor and savvy. Leaving this pair out of the Oscar nominees seems especially stupid. Ditto the absence of Mr. Spielberg in the Best Director category.

And, while we're on the subject: Tom Hanks' omission as Best Actor, too. His performance here as Ben Bradlee (above, right) is as good as he has ever given us, letting us see sides of this actor that have so far been kept under wraps. Meryl Streep's performance as Katherine Graham (above, left) is as on-the-mark as this actress always manages, and she once again garners another nomination to add to her many.

What may surprise you most among the crack cast assembled here, is how good (and how extraordinarily different from what they so often are asked to do) are actors like Bruce Greenwood (above, right, playing Robert McNamara) and Bob Odenkirk (as Ben Bagdikian).

Aside from the skill with which the movie has been made, what makes it so important just now is the chance to see and understand what freedom of the press means to America and why we are in danger of losing it to our present Republican-led executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. What The Pentagon Papers proved was how several administrations -- Democratic and Republican -- had consistently lied to the American people about the war that was currently being waged. Now we are seeing and hearing these kinds of lies again, along with those concerning almost everything else. The change that has now occurred is that too many Americans can no longer differentiate a fact from a fib. Suddenly, just about anything can be labeled "fake news."

Put The Post on your must-see list, either now or once it hits home video. From 20th Century Fox and running just under two hours, the movie, which appears to have pretty remarkable "legs," is undoubtedly still playing in a theater near you. Click here to find those closest to your particular neighborhood.

No comments: