Spielberg’s ‘The Post’ is a stirring drama made for this moment

Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee and Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham in “The Post”

HOLLY: We’re not going to waste your time with another review of “The Post.” There are plenty, and besides if you know anything about us, you’d expect us to love the movie.  We did.

So did the audience in the Emagine theater where we watched it Sunday. Many stood and broke into applause at the film’s end – some even shed a few tears.

People cheering for journalists? It felt so career-affirming.

In homage to the fact that “The Post” is so obviously also a feminist story, we asked three exceptional women – with very close ties to journalism – for their takes.

Erin Ben-Moche, OU senior journalism major, WXOU news director and ‘hungry journalist’:

The Pentagon Papers are so widely recognized that journalists will revise it into a children’s bedtime story and read to their own. It’s why I was excited yet hesitant to see “The Post.” I wondered how the star-studded creative team would reinvent the details. Of course, they did not disappoint. It was as if I had forgotten everything and saw the events through the eyes of socialite publisher, Katharine “Kay” Graham. I was frustrated for her, the head shark without a voice, then sobbed — yes sobbed — when she found the courage to approve the story for the budding Washington Post knowing the consequences.

“The Post” was about much more than exposing the truth of the government’s role in Vietnam. It championed the protection of the First Amendment with tasteful undertones of feminism and bravery amongst hard-working reporters.

We are living in a world where fighting for our First Amendment rights is more crucial than it was in 1971, and the film’s timing is impeccable.

Diane Deacon, ESL Specialist at Saginaw Valley State University, and a lifelong journalism devotee:

Who doesn’t love a good movie with drama, intrigue and excitement?
A fascinating look at a history that some of us lived through, “The Post” made me think about why the Founding Fathers made freedom of the press the FIRST AMENDMENT.  Perhaps because it is the most important, and the one upon which all the others are built.

I, like so many others, have taken our freedoms for granted, but seeing these freedoms threatened again — as they were in 1971 — awakened a new generation of activists.

My favorite line from “The Post”:  “The press is to serve the governed, not the governors.”

Lindsey Wojcik, managing editor at Pet Product News (NYC), OU journalism alum, and former editor of The Oakland Post:

It’s been nearly a year since I’ve heard an audience in Astoria, N.Y., applaud after a feature film at the UA Kaufman Astoria Cinemas but I was not surprised to hear the crowd cheer as the credits to “The Post” rolled.

The film, set in the early ‘70s, touched on topics relevant to the country’s current conversation about the role of the watchdog media, the First Amendment and a president who challenges what it means, as well as women’s roles in positions of power. While it served as a melancholy reminder that the needle has only slowly moved in relation to some of these topics, overall, “The Post” left me feeling hopeful and reminded me why I wanted to be a journalist.

Unsurprisingly, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks owned their roles as Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee, and delivered magnificent, compelling performances that evoked strong emotions. My body tensed during some scenes, I know what it’s like to try to make deadlines under excruciating circumstances and beat the competition; my heart pounded as Katherine grappled with tough decisions as the first female owner of The Washington Post; and I openly wept near the film’s end when a crowd of women admired Katharine as she made her way out the Supreme Court. To borrow a line from “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” theme song – “Females are strong as hell!”

Shout out to the strong cast of supporting actors — hello, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, David Cross, Alison Brie, Bradley Whitford, and Zach Woods, it was so nice to see you. They balanced the cast of newsroom characters and offered perfectly timed comic relief, brilliantly crafted by screenwriters Liz Hannah and Josh Singer.

The film’s impeccable cinematography captured the innate beauty of the printing press in such a way that I immediately wanted to run to the nearest newsstand to buy every single newspaper available. And based on the applause, I surmise everyone else in that theater with me wanted to do the same.

Hey, it’s not just us. “The Post” was largely lauded by top critics — 88 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.  Even the New York Times — which scored the Pentagon Papers scoop before The Post but didn’t earn a Steven Spielberg movie — published a glowing review.

Despite its few moments of preachiness and cliche, “The Post” provides the kind of big screen exhilaration only Spielberg can stir. If you’re still not ready to let that feeling go, here are a few backgrounder goodies to munch on:

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