Spielberg’s ‘The Post’ feels ripped from the headlines

You wouldn’t expect a movie that relies on pay phones, typewriters and Linotype — a method of printing only slightly more sophisticated than chiseling words into stone — to be the timeliest entry of the awards season.

It’s certainly the Time’s Up-iest.

Despite being set in 1971, “The Post” manages to feel ripped from the headlines, thanks to its president waging an unprecedented war against the media and its female protagonist finally standing up for herself after years of being told she didn’t belong.

The only way director Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” could be any more 2018 would be if Meryl Streep had stepped aside from portraying Washington Post Publisher Katharine “Kay” Graham in favor of Alyssa Milano or Rose McGowan.

When we first meet Graham and her legendary editor, Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), their biggest concern is that the White House has banned one of their reporters from attending Tricia Nixon’s wedding. The Post eventually plasters coverage of the nuptials across its front page on the same day the rival New York Times blows the doors off newsrooms nationwide by publishing its first account of the stolen, classified documents — detailing how the government has spent decades lying about Vietnam — that would come to be known as the Pentagon Papers.

That may seem quaint in a post-WikiLeaks world, but it was a sensational, near-treasonous gamble on the part of the Times. The White House was so enraged that two days later, citing national security concerns, the paper was hit with a temporary injunction against publishing any further stories about those documents.

Since the injunction only covered the Times, Bradlee and his team finally had an opening. So when the Post gets a copy of more than half of the report — officially titled “History of U.S. Decision-making in Vietnam, 1945-66” — it’s up to Bradlee’s editors and reporters to comb through 4,000 pages, unnumbered and in no particular order, and craft a story. The Times had three months. In order to scoop the rest of the country, the Post has 10 hours.

Other than time, the only thing standing between Bradlee and his goal of transforming the Post from a local paper to a national powerhouse is the timid, indecisive Graham, who held her position only because her husband, who inherited the newspaper from her father, killed himself. The men in the boardrooms where she’s always been the only woman rarely let her forget that.

The decision to publish is ultimately hers, and it couldn’t come at a worse time. The Post is about to issue a public offering to raise enough money to stay in business, and the bankers behind the sale could cancel the sale in the case of a “catastrophic event” — such as, say, the paper’s publisher and editor being thrown in jail.

By balancing the high stakes of Bradlee’s quest to publish with Graham’s evolution into a leader, newcomer Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, an Oscar winner for “Spotlight,” have found a way to put a human face on this historic battle for freedom of the press.

When Bradlee talks about his bravery, he’s dismissed by his wife (Sarah Paulson) with an “Oh, Ben, please.”

“When you’re told time and time again that you’re not good enough, that your opinion doesn’t matter as much,” she says. “When they don’t just look past you, when to them you’re not even there. When that’s been your reality for so long, it’s hard not to let yourself think it’s true. So to make this decision, to risk her fortune and the company that’s been her entire life, well, I think that’s brave.”

Speaking of Paulson, a regular nominee for “American Horror Story” and a winner for “American Crime Story,” it’s as though Spielberg placed copies of the script in gift bags at the Emmys. The massively talented supporting cast includes nominees Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”), Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”), Carrie Coon and Jesse Plemons (“Fargo”) and two-time winner Bradley Whitford (“The West Wing”).

Then there’s Tracy Letts, who also stars in the awards-season darling “Lady Bird,” as Frederick “Fritz” Beebe, chairman of the board of The Washington Post Company.

If they publish, Fritz warns Graham, The Washington Post as they know it could cease to exist.

If they didn’t, The Washington Post as we know it never would have existed.

Review

Movie: “The Post”

Running time: 115 minutes

Rating: PG-13; language and brief war violence

Grade: B

Now playing: At multiple locations

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

Entertainment
Celebrate Margarita Day with the Hot Damn Margarita
Celebrate Margarita Day With The Hot Damn Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Yard House margarita changes color in the glass
The cocktail, as made by lead bartender Taylor Cole at Town Square in Las Vegas, changes from deep blue to magenta because of a chemical reaction between its butterfly pea flowers and citrus agave. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Black History Month Festival
Las Vegas residents gathered on Saturday, February 16, 2019, at Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd, to celebrate Black History Month. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
You Can Design With 3D Printers, Laser Cutters And Ceramics At Discovery Children's Museum
You Can Design With 3d Printers, Laser Cutters And Ceramics At Discovery Children's Museum (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Champagne vending machine at Waldorf Astoria in Las Vegas
One of only a few in the country, the Moët & Chandon machine at the Waldorf Astoria in Las Vegas is stocked with Imperial Rose for Valentine’s Day. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Las Vegas Valentine’s Day desserts
Mio Ogasawara of Sweets Raku and Rebecca Bills of Gen3 Hospitality in Las Vegas create elaborate Valentine’s Day desserts. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal
One Night For One Drop
Cirque du Soleil cast and crew donate their time and talent to this year's "One Night For One Drop" performance at the "O" Theatre in the Bellagio. The event takes place March 8, 2019, and benefits the One Drop organization. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Chinese New Year Parade
Chinese New Year parade takes place on Fremont Street. (Bill Hughes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Manzo restaurant a key part of Eataly
Nicole Brisson, executive chef of Eataly, at Park MGM in Las Vegas, talks about new restaurant.
Designer Makes Festival-style Crowns
Designer at MAGIC trade show Makes Festival-style Crowns (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Excalibur Raises tent that will house "Fuerza Bruta" show
Workers at Excalibur raised a tent, which will be the home of "Fuerza Bruta," a temporary show that will run from March 7 to September 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Roc Boots Make For Glittery Festival Wear
With 3-inch-tall chunky heels, cleated platforms, and sparkly glitter, you’ll want to wear these to dance the night away. Sally Cull, product and development for Roc Boots Australia, assures you that you can. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Get A Custom-painted Jacket At Las Vegas Fashion Event
On the first of the two-night Commotion event, clothing brands connected with consumers, offering shopping, giveaways and customization opportunities. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Venetian Celebrates The "Year Of The Pig"
The Venetian hosted dancers to celebrate the Chinese New Year and "Year of the Pig." The dancers performed a traditional eye-dotting ceremony and lion dance. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Pepe the truffle-hunting dog
Jose Andres knows that quality black truffles can also be found in his native Spain. He’ll be sharing some with the world for a week, starting Monday. From Feb. 11-17, his Cosmopolitan restaurant Jaleo will be showcasing four special dishes made with Spanish truffles discovered by the truffle-hunting dogs of his friend Nacho Ramírez Monfort. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tony Abou-Ganim mixes drink at Libertine Social
Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist, helped change the cocktail culture in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Masaharu Morimoto talks ramen in Las Vegas
Masaharu Morimoto talks about bringing a ramen restaurant to Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morimoto considering full-time Las Vegas ramen spot
Morimoto talks about a full-time ramen spot in Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign moves to new home at Neon Museum Boneyard
The famous and newly restored, Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign is working it's way to a permanent home at the Neon Museum Boneyard in downtown Las Vegas. It will be moved in six pieces and take five days for reconstruction. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign moves to Neon Museum Boneyard
The famous and newly restored, Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign has been moved to its permanent home at the Neon Museum Boneyard in downtown Las Vegas. It will be moved in six pieces and take five days for reconstruction. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign moves to new Las Vegas home
The famous and newly restored Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign has moved to a permanent home at the Neon Museum Boneyard in downtown Las Vegas. It will be moved in six pieces and take five days for reconstruction. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas band Otherwise release song and video in tribute to slain cousin
Adrian and Ryan Patrick, brothers in the band Otherwise with drummer Brian Medeiros, talk about the release of a tribute song to their deceased cousin Ivan. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Artist Joshua Vides created a "White Wedding" chapel for Billy Idol's Las Vegas residency
Artist Joshua Vides created a "White Wedding" chapel for Billy Idol's Vegas residency (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Try the Burning History cocktail at Zuma In Las Vegas
Try the Burning History cocktail at Zuma In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES final night showcases Drake at XS Nightclub
Drake performed for CES attendees and club-goers at XS Nightclub in Encore at Wynn Las Vegas in the early morning hours of Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (John Katsilometes Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Happy Hour party at Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace
Conventioneers mingled during the Hardware Massive CES 2019 Happy Hour Bash at The Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
CES 2019 Has A Cordless Hair Dryer
CES Has A Cordless Hair Dryer (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Panel talks Impossible Burger 2.0
Panel talks Impossible Burger at CES during launch at Border Grill on Monday, Jan. 7. (Ben Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing