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The Post  : A Headline-blazer
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Friday, January 12, 2018
Steven Spielberg
Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk

In times when media houses look more at the balance sheet than at newsworthiness, Steven Spielberg puts out an important reminder. That the media’s primary function is the collection ofgood, outstanding news and to hold authorities accountable for their decisions.Itcannot compromise with the freedom of speech enshrined in the constitution of a vibrant democracy.


One such story was the McNamara study on the Vietnam War. The secret papers that documented the lies told to the public about a war that the US government knew it was not winning, even as the body count of Americans went up.


Despite the intrinsic heaviness of the plot, writers Liz Hannah and Josh Singer help Spielberg document The Washington Post story with a bustling breeziness that isn’t preachy. There’s room for wit in places, especially in the respectfully cheerful equation between editor Ben Bradley and publisher Katherine Graham.Like the time Ben turns up at her place unannounced for the umpteenth time and she dryly comments, ‘Perhaps I should give you a key to the house.’


When the editor of The Washington Post stays firm and won’t bow before a ban from the White House on one of his staffers, he exemplifies the spine and spirit of old world journalism. Katherine Graham who unwittingly inherited the paper after her husband’s suicide stands at the classic crossroads: continue socialising with the upper crust including Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara or go with her team, publish the papers and build the profile of The Post?


Katherine has to make crucial choices on many levels. Listen to the financial institutions that’ll help her go public or face the Nixon administration’s legal wrangling over the publication of the damning papers? In other words, publish what’s right or be ready for prosecution and forget about profit?


She’s also in a position that she didn’t ask for with enough condescending men around her, skittish about a woman in charge. Until she finally reminds them that she’s not filling in for father or husband, she is the owner of The Washington Post.A very brave woman at that, as the editor’s wife rightly points out.


It is an all-too-familiar scenario at anytime, anywhere. I’m not sure why critics in the US call this timely. I personally think it’s timeless, relevant at any time to any administration in any democracy.


Since Spielberg films the 1971 event five decades later, there is a retro feel to it. It was a different time with no email, no computer graphics, only the click-clack of typewriters and lino typesetting machines. It actually adds to the charm with a splash of nostalgia.


Meryl Streep as Katherine will feature in a bunch of nominations and perhaps walk away with a few trophiesas she is outstanding. Tom Hanks is as good and solid as Bradley is scripted to be.


For an always-relevant slice of cinema, The Post gets a 4* rating.


Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author

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