The Post


The Post ★★★ 

Steven Spielberg takes a crack at staging a star-driven, newspaper yarn like His Girl Friday, setting it mostly during 1971 and populating it with actors like Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. Streep plays Washington Post owner and publisher Katharine Graham as she prepares the paper for a public offering she hopes will strengthen the publication in its quest for national prominence; the Watergate scandal that made the paper’s reputation had yet to break, but executive editor Bill Bradlee (Hanks, who’s good, but not as good as Jason Robards in All the President’s Men) sensed a big story was cooking at The New York Times. And indeed, the Grey Lady was about to break the Pentagon Papers: 7,000 unnumbered documents commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood) exposing a massive government cover-up. The papers had been smuggled out of the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica by defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys of FX’s The Americans), an old friend of Post editor Ben Bagdikian (Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk), who’s able to get a copy of the papers after the Times is blocked by a federal court injunction from continuing its own reports. Risking their careers—as well as potential jail time—Graham and Bradlee have to decide whether to push ahead and publish their own version of the biggest story in the nation. Ever the showman, Spielberg’s not working in a subtle gear here—and he’s not helped by a script that could use a few more drafts—but it’s hard to think of a movie that’s more of the moment than this one. (At Assembly Row, Boston Common, Fenway, Kendall Square, Seaport, South Bay and in the suburbs.)         

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