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Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks discuss #MeToo, fake news, Trump and more

12 January 2018

The Pentagon Papers, it shows, were hastily copied in an advertiser's office adorned with movie posters, then debated over plates of spaghetti and sandwiches, tossed from cardboard boxes to opportunistic hands, and pondered over by wealthy, politically-connected people with excellent posture and a vague sense of duty.

As with Apollo 13, The Post can't make a secret out of what they decided; it can only tell the inside story and provide the emotional impact of being in the room when it was happening. Change, Spielberg indicates, is coming-and it's a result of journalists' work.

Following "Lincoln" and "Bridge of Spies" as the third part of a loose constitutional trilogy, "The Post" finds Spielberg once again rolling up his sleeves and digging into what it means to be an American, exploring how the truths we hold to be self-evident are often the result of dogged negotiations and mule-headed tenacity. Now the most-attention-getting news passes first through web servers, not printing presses.

In October he suggested he had coined the term "fake news". Would similarly news-breaking coverage today change the minds of anyone who wasn't already predisposed to believe it?

The script, which draws upon Graham's Pulitzer Prize-winning 2016 memoir, "Personal History", concentrates on the risky road traveled by Graham and Bradlee, sets itself up as a Watergate precursor, dramatizes the transformation of the titular newspaper from a regional publication to a national one, and ends up representing itself as a virtual prequel to All the President's Men. But in their moment, it was evidently risky: Graham, seeking to be a steward of her family's media business, is forced to contend with the negative business implications of controversy as she decides what she can allow. Here, Bradlee yaks and goads and feels most motivated by resentment, and Graham's storyline is dominated by her emotional allegiances and the caged experience of inheritance she feels.

The 1970s-era drama chronicles the legal battle The Washington Post waged with the Nixon administration, which attempted to stop the paper from publishing highly secretive documents exposing decades of government cover-ups and deceit during the Vietnam War.

In terms of setting, The Post portrays the past, specifically a prosperous age in which newsrooms were fully staffed, typewriters were clicking, presses were humming, and front-page stories were required daily reading. But journalism's victory was short-lived.

In 1971, Katharine Graham had been running The Washington Post Company for eight years, having assumed control when her husband, Philip, took his own life in 1963. But few will be immune to the romance that lies at the center of a movie that takes as much delight in pneumatic tubes, linotype machines and telexes trailing like bridal veils as it does in temperamental opposites finding common objective in the institution to which they're both truly, madly and deeply devoted. Her best scenes come opposite the terrific Greenwood, who's playing Graham's close friend and confidant McNamara (and helps to nod at some of the conspiracy theories surrounding Graham's government ties), as she's pretty much forced to betray him in order to do what she thinks is right.

In "The Post", Bradlee is played by Tom Hanks, but he is appropriately sidelined by Streep's Graham, because of course Ben Bradlee would put it all on the line to get a story - that's literally his job.

While none of the Hollywood trio mentioned Mr Trump by name, they all said current events made filming of The Post particularly timely. "I don't care who's president".

He draws out Graham's uncertainty about risking Nixon's wrath to the point that it nearly becomes counterproductive, risking making her appear as a victim of history rather a catalyst for it.

Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks discuss #MeToo, fake news, Trump and more