To be sure, the nuts-and-bolts details (reporters and editors smoking in the newsroom, the typewriters and landline phones, the cylinders of pneumatic tubes used to propel copy to the printers) are historically precise, but we also get that unique Spielbergian light, that gorgeous and magical and dazzling light, to remind us something special is going on here.
She and Hanks have great chemistry, with Hanks acknowledging Jason Robards' iconic performance as Bradlee in "All the President's Men" while making the role his irascible own.
I'm talking about Nixon. Graham said. "I don't think the intent has been proven".
It's a crackling thriller, no matter what the headlines have to say. As noted, it's set mostly in the early 1970s, but it has the spirit and energy of a 1930s studio classic.
The Post is Spielberg's clear and passionate ode to the adversarial press, and not only is it a refreshing departure from his past work, it also turns out to be a good fit for his slick storytelling style.
Streep plays Katharine Graham, the new publisher of The Washington Post, who is taking her family's paper public in an effort to save it. Hanks is the editor Ben Bradlee, who is trying to elevate it from hometown rag to national necessity on par with The New York Times.
This, of course, drives Bradlee nuts. A lot of people would argue until they're blue in the face that she is the one and only actress worth of winning one Oscar after another in consecutive years, but that's an argument we don't need to get into right now. At the time, she was unsure of her abilities to run the company, and she often grew flustered in the presence of the all-male board of directors (led by Bradley Whitford's smug Arthur Parsons), who didn't even bother to contain their desire to push her aside. But there finally might be a turning point when someone begins leaking secrets on the war to both papers.
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Bradlee is beside himself.
The existence of the papers was originally discovered by The New York Times when they published excerpts in June 1971 under the headline Vietnam Archive: Pentagon Study Traces Three Decades Of US Involvement.
"I don't know if the movie was made for the moment, or the moment was made for the movie", Mr.
"The Post" doesn't sugarcoat some major conflicts of interest. Mrs. Bradlee is a no-nonsense journalist.
Streep immediately backed her for president, and while promoting her latest film The Post, told press: "Oprah showed what a presidential candidate should talk like, and to what language and passion and principle they should adhere".
Hanks, too, reminds us he can do just about anything with a character. Whether this depiction is true or not - and the real-life Graham indeed confessed to a lack of self-confidence fostered by the sexism surrounding her - the screenwriters clearly see it as a dramatic necessity to tee up an eventual heroic climax of fearless conviction on Graham's part. He's admirable, all right, but he's a sharp and nearly slick operator who isn't interested in making friends on his way to burnishing his legacy.
But the standout is Bob Odenkirk as Ben Bagdikian, the kind of old-school reporter who wears out the soles of his shoes tracking down a scoop.
Like a reporter working on deadline, Steven Spielberg banged out "The Post" as quickly as possible, taking just nine months from reading the script to its first screenings late previous year - about half the time it takes to bring the average picture to the screen. She thanks her naysayers "for their frankness" as they tell her time and again that she is destroying the legacy of The Post.