Kubrick, Scorsese, Hitchcock, Tarantino, Coppola, Griffith, Scott, Nolan; there’s little argument that Spielberg should be on the list of greatest directors of all time, but is he number one? While that debate should keep cinema-scholars busy for many more decades, I’ll give my two-cents and proclaim him as the most persistently successful. For the past forty years, he’s gifted us with classic after classic (be sure to read my Top Ten Steven Spielberg Films). While his sole 2017 picture may not garner the acclaim, accolades, nor appreciation as his prior efforts, even with instances of dullness, it’s undeniable to declare it as anything other than another grand slam from the master himself. The Post may be more important than successful at entertaining a mass audience, but that doesn’t mean that Steven Spielberg didn’t direct the hell out of this above average thriller.
The Post recalls the literal trials and tribulations of the editor and owner of The Washington Post. When The Pentagon Papers, a classified briefing about the war in Vietnam, leaks to the press the men and woman of the paper must decide whether to publish the damning documents after legal and commercial threats arise.
A blend of veteran and novice actors comprised Spielberg’s cast; the two leads may be prominent on all the marketing, but that shouldn’t take away from the incredible work of supporting actors Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood, Matthew Rhys, Allison Brie, Carrie Coon, Jessi Plemons, David Cross, Zach Woods, and Pat Healy. It’s rare you’ll see a more talented list of thespians, especially when taking into account that the film is headed by America’s dad, Tom Hanks, and the greatest living actress, Meryl Streep. Not only do Hanks and Streep give praiseworthy performances, but defying expectations and playing against their usual typecast will surely bring them deserved accolades.
The story is at times riveting and at others tedious. Arguably, one of the tensest scenes of the year is half a dozen people on one call weighing in on an immensely significant and potentially catastrophic decision, while the two leads speculating stock prices over breakfast may be one of the least. Ultimately, the story was great, but I think I’m not sure if the story was begging to get the motion picture treatment; I may have been just as riveted had I learned about it in my U.S. History class junior year. The highs are high and the lows are low, but one thing for certain is Spielberg’s fingerprints are littered in every shot, and oh what perfect fingerprints they are. Had this film had been directed by a lesser filmmaker, I wouldn’t be so forgiving of its shortcomings.
In comparison to his last political thriller, Bridge of Spies, I think the film falls extremely short. The simplicity of that film allowed for fat to be trimmed; The Post maybe has too many characters that we aren’t able to really hold onto and care for any of them, maybe the story is so soiled because of the state of our nation and media today that it would only resonate with those who lived it, but this film feels very flat, as if the stakes are apparent but not real.
“The Post may be more important than successful at entertaining a mass audience, but that doesn’t mean that Steven Spielberg didn’t direct the hell out of this above average thriller.”
As the score below states, I did very much enjoy this film- I just don’t know how passionate I am about enjoying it. I’m sure come awards season it’ll be up there for most awards, some of them very deserved, I just don’t think I’ll be cheering for it all that much. Many will brand The Post as “your dad’s favorite movie of the year,” a humorous yet potentially accurate phrase. Spielberg, Hanks, Streep, Journalism, Nixon, Scandals, and Treason; I wanted so much to love this film beyond explanation. But, alas, I’m confident in saying that I’m happy I got to experience it, but when someone asks for my advice on seeing it my response will be, “Eh, take it or leave it.”
Cinema 35 Rating: 6/10