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POST, THE

SYNOPSIS:
A cover up that spanned four US Presidents pushed the country's first female newspaper publisher Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) and a hard-driving editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) to join an unprecedented battle between journalist and government.

Review by Louise Keller:
The Post is a potent, important story and Steven Spielberg has pieced together all the elements: government secrets & lies - set on a backdrop of a bustling print newsroom with relentless deadlines. Spielberg's direction is unquestionably polished and the production handsome as the exposition plays out. If I have a quibble, it is how the dramatic arc is handled: the film delivers bombshells, yet we hardly feel the blast.

Liz Hannah and Josh Singer's screenplay is meticulous in its detail as it canvasses the lead up to the publication of the explosive Pentagon Papers in the Washington Post in 1971. The damning revelation of the US Government's knowledge that the war could not be won (in the precursor to Watergate) is powerful stuff and our views are coloured by the information provided about the administrations involved. It's a fascinating look at critical times when the mistakes and denials of the past are brought to light. We watch the cat and mouse games first hand as the film canvasses issues relating to freedom of the press and its practices.

Central to the action is the newsroom at the Washington Post, where Tom Hanks' hands-on, feet-on-desk editor Ben Bradlee is proactive in finding his story. Much of the film concentrates on the professional relationship between Bradlee and the paper's widowed socialite publisher Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) who is struggling to be accepted in the top job. This works exceedingly well, especially as the events take place at a sensitive time when the paper is going public on the stock exchange.

Streep excels as the one who has everything to lose, while a miscast Hanks is too likeable as the editor with strong ideals. (A vastly different portrayal to that of Jason Robards’ in the excellent All the President’s Men in 1976.) However, there is a nice push-pull vibe between Streep and Hanks as they strive to achieve the same end, albeit from different viewpoints and through different means. The fact that we get to meet them in their personal lives adds greatly to our perceptions.

Most of all, I love the scenes in the newsroom, where we can almost smell the ink of the printing press and feel the buzz and tension of the deadlines that define everything. But in the final analysis, I was disappointed. I was not sitting on the edge of my seat. Nor was I biting my nails as these monumental events played out. It felt as though Hollywood had steamrolled the grit and the crescendo was neutered. The film’s exposition is too perfunctory and gets in the way of the natural flow of good storytelling, leaving this sizzling powderkeg on display but failing to scald.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

POST, THE (M)
(US, 2017)

CAST: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks,Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood

PRODUCER: Amy Pascal, Steven Spielberg

DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg

SCRIPT: Liz Hannah, Josh Singer

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Janusz Kaminski

EDITOR: Sarah Broshar, Michael Kahn

MUSIC: John Williams

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Rick Carter

RUNNING TIME: 116 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: EOne Entertainment

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 11, 2018







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