BY RYAN MACKETT
ONE OF the most remarkable things about my idol Steven Spielberg is that he has this ability to make extremely successful blockbuster popcorn flicks at the same time as making incredible dramas that usually go on to nab Oscars and nominations. He made Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List in the same year. This year, Spielberg’s drama The Post comes a few months before his hugely anticipated sci-fi adventure Ready Player One. If that film is half as good as The Post, audiences are in for a great ride.
The Post was written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, the latter an Oscar-winning co-writer of Spotlight. It tells the story of Washington Post publisher Kay Graham and executive editor Ben Bradlee as they navigate the Post’s transition to a publicly-traded company while wrestling with whether or not to publish condemning reports regarding the Vietnam War.
The film was masterfully crafted and, as usual, Spielberg’s many talents are on screen at all times. I found the film to be an exceptionally tight, efficient exercise in storytelling. This is the type of film that could have ballooned into a three-and-a-half hour long drag, but I found it to be well-paced. Spielberg utilizes the fantastic script and trusts his actors and his considerable filmmaking instincts to deliver the narrative. It’s always fascinating how Spielberg is able to balance this type of storytelling with his signature visual style.
The film looked gorgeous, and was shot by long-time Spielberg collaborator Janusz Kaminski. Legendary composer John Williams is another staple of Spielberg films; with The Post he was incredibly subdued and took a surprising back-seat to the visuals. When needed, however, Williams’ score emerges to the forefront.
The performances were all astounding. This is Tom Hanks’ fifth time collaborating with Spielberg; It’s also his first time working with Meryl Streep. The idea of Hanks, Streep and Spielberg working together is the equivalent of a cinematic all-star team, and I am so glad that the content of the film was worthy of such a collaboration. The rest of the cast was terrific as well.
Not only was the story of the publishing of the papers an enthralling narrative, it was remarkable to watch Streep in this film. This was by far my favourite Meryl Streep performance. Watching her characterization of Kay Graham go from a somewhat meek fish-out-of-water battling through a sea of misogynistic “mansplaining” and “hepeating” to a confident, respected force of nature by the end of the film was simply amazing.
On top of the performances and the directing and the terrific script, there remains the fact that this film is so incredibly timely and needed at the moment. While some may criticize the film for being heavy-handed at times with its feminist themes and commentary on the war on the press, I would consider the film more of an allegory and cautionary tale.
Ryan Mackett is an artist and film enthusiast who resides in Thunder Bay. Email questions or comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.