Specifically, it takes place in 1971, after disgruntled former state department contractor Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) begins leaking the classified Pentagon Papers to major news outlets. Stars Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks are critics of the commander-in-chief, while Spielberg says he rushed to make the movie to remind people of the importance of the First Amendment amid the current political climate and Trump's repeated attacks on the media.
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. Spielberg, to an extent, has always been in the business of nostalgia, but his pining has always been for the innocence of childhood and its particulars- adventure serials, broad comedy, the Twilight Zone - but those have slowly evacuated his work over the course of his career.
Accordingly, "The Post" is grand, thoughtful entertainment and it happily sells us a message - a free press is necessary to the healthy functioning of any democracy - that is never not relevant and never so much as now, when the holder of the highest office in the land throws down daily Twitterbolts against the Fourth Estate. Now the most-attention-getting news passes first through web servers, not printing presses. Would similarly news-breaking coverage today change the minds of anyone who wasn't already predisposed to believe it?
But while The Post is the most engaging and hopeful movie of the year, it is also one of the saddest.
Those tense couple of weeks in June form the spine of "The Post", a fleet, stirring, thoroughly entertaining movie in which Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks play Graham and Bradlee with just the right balance of modesty, gusto and expertly deployed star power. 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 movie, which screens in New Zealand from Thursday, dramatises the 1971 battle by U.S. newspapers, led by The New York Times, to publish the leaked Pentagon Papers. But journalism's victory was short-lived.
"I don't think I would", the 61-year-old actor said.
Other cast standouts are Bob Odenkirk playing reporter Ben Bagdikian, a classic shoe-leather newsman who tracks down the secretive Ellsberg and Greenwood, playing McNamara, whose longtime friendship with Graham adds to the agony of her decision to publish. (There's a lovely shot near the end where Spielberg silently shows what she meant to women that works far better than it should thanks to the talent on both sides of the camera.) She grounds the role and plays into the themes with a grace that only Streep can muster. There are more than a few on-the-nose testimonials to the virtues of fearless newspapering. We know good journalism is still happening; The Post makes you realize, though, that there was a time when citizens really cared about journalism. Not only that, but that the characters you've tried to create will then be brought to life by people who care about them and who take them to the next level. Some of the costumes for Katharine Graham are based on clothes she was photographed in, but a lot of those photos were in black and white, so Ann came up with independent color choices.