Saturday, 13 January 2018

Film Review: "The Post" (2017).

"'In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors.'" This is at the heart of The Post. This political thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer. The film explores the unlikely partnership between The Washington Post’s Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, and editor Ben Bradlee, as they race to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spanned three decades and four U.S. Presidents. The two must overcome their differences as they risk their careers – and their very freedom – to help bring long-buried truths to light.

In October 2016, Amy Pascal won a bid for the rights to Liz Hannah's first produced screenplay, which featured on the 2016 Black List of the most-liked scripts of the year. In March 2017, it was announced that Spielberg was in negotiations to direct and produce the film after halting pre-production of The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks to star. Spielberg wanted to make and release the film as quickly as possible given the parallels between its theme and the burgeoning political 'fake news' climate in the U.S. The film would mark the first collaboration between, Spielberg, Streep, and Hanks. Spielberg worked on the film while post-production work continued on the visual effects-heavy Ready Player One (2018), a method he had previously used during the concurrent productions of Jurassic Park and Schindler's List in 1993. Josh Singer was hired to re-write the screenplay ten weeks before filming. Principal photography on the film began in late May in New York. In early June, it was announced that the project, retitled The Papers. In addition, Alison Brie, Carrie Coon, David Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson, Jesse Plemons, Matthew Rhys, Michael Stuhlbarg, Bradley Whitford, and Zach Woods were cast. Filming concluded and post-production began in late July. In late August, the film's title reverted to The Post. Spielberg finished the final cut of the film in early November 2017, with the final sound mix also completed with the musical score a week later, in mid November. The gestation from script to final cut lasted a modest 9 months.

The film stars Streep and Hanks, with Paulson, Odenkirk, Letts, Whitford, Greenwood, Coon, Rhys, Brie, Cross, Letts, Plemons, Stuhlbarg, and Woods. The cast proved to be the best ensemble in any Spielberg film, even though their characterizations were razor-thin. Streep and Hanks proved to be solid leads together, and magnetic whenever they were in the scenes. 

The Post is a taut, solidly acted paean to the benefits of a free press and the dangers of unchecked power, made all the more effective by its origins in real-life events. A superbly crafted and engrossingly detailed account of The Washington Post journalists and their attempts to publish the Pentagon Papers.

Simon says The Post receives:

Also, see my review for The BFG.

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