Randall Beach: A timely movie about truth comes to our theaters

The Post Movie Review

EntertainmentHollywoodReviews The Post Movie Review Steven Spielberg crafts a riveting watch! By Sreeparna Sengupta

Graham played a vital role in history, not just because she was the first female publisher in the country, but because of making this hard decision to publish the papers and the information they contained about the Vietnam War, despite government officials and lawyers trying to deter her from doing so. President after president knew the war was unwinnable but continued sending young Americans to die. In September, it was reported that the three-time Oscar victor would be joining J.J. Abrams's new mini-series adaptation of novel The Nix. Despite Jason Robards immortalising Ben Bradlee in All the President's Men (1971) and winning the Academy Award for it, Hanks carves a distinct identity for the journalist. The clip of Nixon speaking about the Pentagon Papers is Nixon's actual voice, which adds to the drama and realism. Though you can - at times - nearly smell the ink on the freshly printed newspapers, Spielberg does this one in a more paint-by-numbers fashion than director Tom McCarthy did with the nail-biting Spotlight or Alan Pakula did with the now classic Watergate thriller All the President's Men.

With The Post, Spielberg's skills are put to a goal: Tom Hanks plays Ben Bradlee, the chain-smoking, gray-suited editor of the Washington Post.

The Post is as close to a masterpiece as Spielberg has had in a long time. While The Washington Post is trying to figure out how to cover Tricia Nixon's wedding, famed New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan is breaking major news about the Vietnam War. Even though I was familiar with the actual events, the film kept me on the edge of my seat, amazed at the threats newspapers had to endure. "I would go with Sophie's Choice".

When it comes to newspaper movies, I will admit I am biased.

The country was rattled when the Times published a series of massive stories based on what came to be called the Pentagon Papers.

Yes, it was inspiring, a reminder to those of us who have remained in the newspaper business, amid all its changes and cutbacks, about why we keep on.

In the Supreme Court's response to the Pentagon Papers, Justice Hugo Black wrote that America's founders affirmed freedom of the press "to serve the governed, not the governors". You can't help but be moved when seeing those rows of newspapers coming off the presses, loaded onto delivery trucks and thrown in stacks out to the newsstands, bringing the truth to the public. The report, leaked to the Times by a former Pentagon analyst, Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys), details how top officials in the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations knew the war was impossible to win, but lied to the public to keep it going at an added cost of thousands of USA service members' lives. And part of that plan involves going head to head with the "paper of record", the New York Times. Indeed, Ellsberg was prosecuted under the Espionage Act and faced the possibility of a 115-year sentence. "So I think in order to get people to cry, you gotta get them to laugh".

"I'm very fortunate to be able to play the incredible individual Daniel Ellsberg".

The papers were commissioned and compiled by Robert McNamara, the US Secretary of Defense from 1961 to '68, who hoped they might one day allow academics and leaders to learn from the mistakes of the four consecutive American administrations who had persisted with what they mostly knew was a doomed war in Vietnam and South East Asia.

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