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The Post

Once in a while, I see a movie of which my opinion bucks the prevailing one; this is one of those films. Meryl Streep plays Katharine Graham, who became head of the Washington Post (and first female head of a major newspaper) after the suicide of her husband. Tom Hanks plays Ben Bradlee, one of the Post’s leading editors. The New York Times, main Post competitor, has already broken the story of the Vietnam War cover-up, and this film is the story of how the Post continued to expand on the story that ultimately brought the NYT and the Post together in a Supreme Court fight to preserve freedom of the press. I found the movie excruciating to watch. I read that Spielberg rushed to get it released, and it looked to me to be just what he did. There are two storied buried in the movie, neither of which succeed – one about how the Post broke the story and the court battle that ensued, and the other a biopic about Katherine Graham. The characters annoyed me – they felt more like caricatures of stereotypes of how we think a high-power reporter would or an unconfident female editor trying to establish herself in a publishing world ruled by men would act. The writing was very loose; there are some distracting side stories. The music was weird. In some places, the music combined with close-up headshots made the movie feel like a soap opera, and toward the end, the music sounded adapted from a Star Wars soundtrack. I truly wanted to like this film; the topic of freedom and role of the press as a check on government power is so important. In the end, however, I just kept resisting the temptation to walk out. This movie gets a thumbs-down from me; it doesn’t even come close to the razor-sharp investigation portrayed in a similar genre movie such as Spotlight. I don’t think it is a terrible movie, but it was a disappointment. The topic deserved much better treatment, and unfortunately, the performances didn’t move me, and these are two actors I admire deeply; the material they had to work with was just sub-par.

About Gary Burkholder

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