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Steven Spielberg
Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk
Writing Credits:
Liz Hannah, Josh Singer

A cover-up that spanned four US Presidents pushed the country's first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between the press and the government.

Box Office:
$50 Million.
Opening Weekend
$19,361,968 on 2819 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Descriptive Audio 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 116 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 4/17/2018
• “Layout” Featurette
• “Editorial” Featurettes
• “The Style Section” Featurette
• “Stop the Presses” Featurette
• “Arts and Entertainment” Featurette
• DVD Copy


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The Post [Blu-Ray] (2017)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 15, 2018)

A timely look at a conflict between journalists and the White House, 2017’s The Post initially takes us back to 1966. Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) works as an assistant to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood), and he files a report that indicates progress in the Vietnam War remains stagnant and the conflict seems unwinnable.

Though he accepts these findings, McNamara lies to the press about the war’s status, a decision that eventually prompts Ellsberg to take action. A few years later, he smuggles out these classified “Pentagon Papers” and in 1971, he delivers them to reporters at the New York Times.

As the Times runs excerpts, this upsets the Nixon administration and they attempt to stop additional releases. When courts shut down the Times, the Washington Post gets access to the classified material.

This sets up an internal battle to decide what to do with the “Papers”. Executive editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) wants to run the information despite legal threats, whereas publisher Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) seems less certain what to do, a difference of opinion that sets up potential conflict.

Would The Post exist without the Trump administration’s exceptionally hostile attitude toward many news outlets? Undoubtedly no – or at least it wouldn’t have emerged in December 2017.

Director Steven Spielberg put the film on the fast track due to its connection to “Trump era” events. For that, I give Spielberg credit, as he does his part to remind audiences of our need for an active, involved press.

This doesn’t mean Spielberg creates a truly great film, though. The annals of cinema don’t boast a slew of excellent works in this genre, but at least two leave big shoes to fill: 1976’s All the President’s Men and 2015’s Spotlight.

I draw comparisons to Spotlight due to subject matter and release era, as it hit screens only two years prior to The Post. However, the more obvious link connects to President’s Men, a movie that involves many of the same characters and a similar connection to the Nixon White House.

More than four decades after its release, President’s Men remains a master class in how to make a film of this sort. Director Alan J. Pakula created a project that mixed a documentary feel with drama to epitomize its genre.

At times, Spielberg seems to channel his inner Pakula, but his natural semi-melodramatic tendencies won’t allow this tone to dominate. Don’t interpret that to mean Spielberg delivers a gooey, sentimental piece, as he keeps things reasonably cool most of the time.

Still, I think he finds it too hard to resist the urge to push the audience one way or another. While the subject matter needs a largely unbiased approach, Post tends to play a little too close to the vest.

Much of this comes from a surprising source: Spielberg’s emphasis on the evolution of female power. One goes into The Post with the expectation of a hard-hitting film about journalism, and much of the movie goes down that path, but it also editorializes about the treatment of women in the era – with hints to push toward the future as well.

I respect this message, and even though I grew up in the period depicted, it can feel shocking to see reminders of how marginalized women tended to be. Not that 2018 provides fully shattered glass ceilings, of course, but whatever obstacles remain, women have clearly made a lot of progress since the early 1970s.

If treated as context, some of this makes sense, but I think Spielberg overdoes it at times, as some of the scenes feel a little heavy-handed. I like the gentle hints – such as the way men walk ahead of Graham during a conference – but a few too many shots hit us over the head with the message, and the film occasionally veers into territory that feels pedantic.

These themes would probably fare worse without Streep’s stellar performance as Graham. Given the longevity and impact of her career, it can be easy to view her as “Meryl Streep” when she appears onscreen, but miraculously, Streep still manages to lose herself in parts, and that proves true here.

Arguably her best work in years, Streep fully engulfs herself in her role. She gives Graham a true evolution, as the publisher gains confidence and strength as the film progresses but without cheap moves along that path.

Instead, Streep brings inner life to Graham and creates a remarkably three-dimensional character. She makes Graham slightly dithering at times but not a dummy, and her evolution feels utterly natural.

Anyone who thinks Streep doesn’t fully invest in her roles should compare her work as Graham to her turn as Miranda Priestly in 2006’s Devil Wears Prade. Miranda acts as Katharine’s polar opposite, but Streep executes both flawlessly.

On the other hand, Hanks plays Bradlee as a crustier version of “The Tom Hanks Character”. I don’t mean that as an insult – I’ve been a Hanks fan since 1980 – but I can’t claim the man shows range that vaguely approaches what Streep has displayed over her career.

Ala Cary Grant or Gary Cooper, Hanks tends to provide a variant on the same performance – and he does so exceedingly well, as his immense success and acclaim show. But can one imagine Hanks in roles as different as those done by Streep? I can’t, and Bradlee becomes another in that line.

To be fair, Hanks gets more of a challenge in some ways because like Spielberg, he needs to fill those President’s Men shoes. Bradlee played a major role in the 1976 film and via his Oscar-winning performance, Jason Robards came to embody Ben.

This means movie fans will directly compare Hanks’ Bradlee to Robards’, and Hanks comes up short, as he lacks the same kind of bite Robards brought to the role. Still, he holds his own – he may not live up to his predecessor’s work and he remains a little too “Tom Hanks”, but he manages to ensure the part functions in a positive manner.

Post boasts an excellent supporting cast, and all do fine. Mr. Show fans will enjoy the apparently coincidental casting of Bob Odenkirk and David Cross as Post employees.

All of these factors make The Post a professional and enjoyable affair, but it never quite makes the leap to greatness. It functions reasonably well in its own way but it fails to rise to the level of an All the President’s Men.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

The Post appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a satisfactory presentation.

Overall sharpness seemed solid. Any softness remained negligible, so the vast majority of the flick was accurate and detailed.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge haloes. Source flaws were absent, as the movie looked consistently clean.

The Post gave us a teal-tinted palette. Some amber appeared as well, but the blue-green feel dominated. Within those parameters, the hues were positive.

Blacks seemed deep and dark, while shadows showed good smoothness and clarity. I felt happy with the transfer.

Given the movie’s scope, I didn’t expect much from its DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack, but the end result fared better than anticipated. Actually, the mix started with a literal bang, as the opening scenes in Vietnam placed in the combat well, with helicopters and warfare from all around the spectrum.

The rest of the movie lacked the same sonic intensity, but Post still managed a surprisingly active soundscape. It used sequences in newsrooms and on the street to positive effect, as those moments created a lively, involving sense of place.

Audio quality was strong. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other issues.

Music offered good clarity and range, and effects worked well. These boasted nice accuracy and showed deep, full low-end when necessary. All of this ended up as a surprisingly impactful soundtrack for this sort of movie.

Five featurettes appear here, and these start with Layout: Katharine Graham, Ben Bradlee and the Washington Post. It runs 21 minutes, 51 seconds and involves comments from director Steven Spielberg, producers Amy Pascal and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Katharine Graham’s grandson Will Graham, former Washington Post Managing Editor/consultant Steve Coll, former Post publisher/Katharine’s son Don Graham, Washington Post Senior Associate Editor/Katharine’s daughter Lally Graham Weymouth, former Washington Post Executive Editor/consultant Len Downie Jr., journalist/author/Ben Bradlee’s wife Sally Quinn, former New York Times editorial page editor/current op-ed columnist/son of Abe Rosenthal Andrew Rosenthal, author/former US military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, former Washington Post Metro Editor/consultant RB Brenner, executive producer Tim White, screenwriter/co-producer Liz Hannah, editor/researcher archivist Evelyn J. Small and actors Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks.

“Layout” looks at some of the facts behind the movie’s story. It delivers a pretty tight overview and sheds a lot of light on these background areas.

During the 15-minute, 56-second Editorial: The Cast and Characters of The Post, we get info from Spielberg, Hannah, Streep, Hanks, Krieger, co-writer/executive producer Josh Hannah, casting director Ellen Lewis, director of photography Janusz Kaminski, and actors Carrie Coon, David Cross, Alison Brie, Sarah Paulson, Bruce Greenwood, Bob Odenkirk, Jesse Plemons, Bradley Whitford, Tracy Letts, Jessie Mueller, Stark Sands, and Michael Stuhlbarg.

As indicated by the title, this one examines the actors and their roles. Though it occasionally devolves into happy talk, it delivers enough useful information to become worth a look.

Next comes The Style Section: Re-Creating an Era. It goes for 17 minutes, two seconds and delivers material from Krieger, Spielberg, Coll, Downie, Brenner, Kaminski, Hanks, Letts, Streep, Coon, Odenkirk, Pascal, Greenwood, Paulson, production designer Rick Carter, property master Diana Burton, set decorator Rena DeAngelo, and executive producer Trevor White.

“Style” discusses various elements used to replicate period details circa the early 1970s. It boasts solid details about these aspects of the production to turn into another solid featurette.

Stop the Presses: Filming The Post lasts 25 minutes, 34 seconds and presents notes from Spielberg, White, Hannah, Pascal, Hanks, Streep, Singer, Paulson, Mueller, Sands, Brie, Greenwood, Coon, Kaminski, Krieger, Odenkirk, Plemons, Rhys, and stunt coordinator Mark Fichera.

Via “Presses”, we get a general production overview that touches on a mix of relevant topics. It can veer into a little too much praise for Spielberg and the leads, but it still throws out a nice selection of thoughts.

Finally, Arts and Entertainment: Music for The Post spans six minutes, 45 seconds and features Spielberg, Krieger, and composer John Williams. Unsurprisingly, we get notes about the movie’s score. It’s a short but efficient piece.

A second disc provides a DVD copy of The Post. It includes three of the five featurettes: “Style”, “Presses” and “Arts”.

As much as I admire the goals and ambitions of The Post, I can’t claim it turns into a classic. While it offers a professional, engaging affair, it lacks the punch it needs to become a great film. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals as well as surprisingly impressive audio and an informative collection of featurettes. I think The Post offers a “B+” movie, which makes it a minor disappointment due to “A+” hopes and expectations.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.4285 Stars Number of Votes: 14
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