The Post – 8

A skillfully made film that affirms one great value after another: the First Amendment, women’s equality, art over commerce, truth to power and on and on. The trouble is the movie is continually running up against history we know well, raising questions: wasn’t the Post’s story merely a sideshow to the New York Times’s? Not to mention Daniel Ellsberg’s? What did it matter if the Supreme Court was going to let the Times continue publishing in three more days, anyway? Did the Pentagon Papers really change many minds about the Vietnam War? What, really, was the legal threat facing the Post? (As a lawyer – and I could envision myself in my Time Inc. days playing the role of “Roger Black” – I don’t see how the Post could be deemed an “agent” of the New York Times, thus falling within the ambit of Judge Gurfein’s injunction, by relying upon the same source.) To the extent the movie’s core was about Kay Graham’s growth, I felt a bit cheated there, as well. I couldn’t see what led up to her sudden decisive direction to publish in the face of warnings from all her advisers and the uncharacteristic uncertainty of her formerly adamant editor. I suppose her conversation with McNamara was intended to provide this justification, but the way she asked, “What do you think, Fritz?” made me doubt that a newly backboned publisher had been born. I thought Streep was fine (no more, no less), Hanks was no Jason Robards and the fun was seeing how much the bit players were made to resemble the actual historical figures (Art Buchwald, Meg Greenfield, even Floyd Abrams). Then there were the Spielbergian touches – Graham descending the court steps through a phalanx of worshipful young females – that were corny and artificial but still made me cry.

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