The birth of real ‘fake-news’ (The Post review)

While watching the recent documentary ‘Spielberg’ (2017), it was explained to me that Steven Spielberg often portrays what is occurring in his own life at the time in his films. During E.T., he lost contact with his Dad, hence the fatherless family in E.T; in Indiana Jones 3, he re-connected with his father, and before production of Schindler’s List, he re-found his pride for his Jewish Heritage. Spielberg’s habit of portraying his own feelings in his current films is the best explanation for why ‘The Post’ has been made so hastily this year (pre-production started in March 2017, with filming starting in May 2017). It is clear that this is a statement about Trumps administration, and Spielberg’s own contempt at the ‘fake-news’ scandal currently sweeping across the globe.

The Post reports the true events of The Washington Post choosing to publish classified documents about the involvement of the United States government in the Vietnam War. Fortunately, for someone (like me) who is not too knowledgeable on 1970’s US politics, the film is much more driven by character. While Hanks and Streep are phenomenal (as always), the film really is an ensemble piece, with many great actors portraying various reporters, board executives and government officials.

The drama and tension of the film is remarkable for one that basically tells the story of people reading newspapers and making phone-calls. It takes a master to make a scene about the sorting of 4000 un-numbered pages from a document interesting, but Spielberg manages it. Armed with his trusted collaborators John Williams (composer), Michael Kahn (editor) and Janusz Kaminski (cinematographer), Spielberg has created yet another film that showcases that he is a master director not to be reckoned with. A pleasingly soft colour pallet, smart notes of humour and gorgeous visuals of the old printing press in action all create a great period piece.

The only major let down for me was that the script was very predictable and didn’t offer many twists or interesting plot points. Though fairly well written, much of the dialogue was very on the nose at times, and this unfortunately meant that no amount of great directing, acting or music could quite save it.

Clearly, this film is one with major contemporary relevance, and its social comments about feminism, freedom of the press and political justice are clear. Carrie Coons final line perhaps delivers the best message, and sums up the aims of the film: “the founding fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfil its essential role… to serve the governed, not the governors”

7 Stars

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