The Post (2017)

Reviewed
Wed. 6/20/18
The Post (2017)
3.0833333333333
Acting
3.5
3.5/5
Morality
4
4/5
Music
3
3/5
Story
3
3/5
Visuals
3
3/5
Kernel Factor
2
2/5
It was like watching a 1970's tabloid.
Reviewed By: Steven Siwek
Viewing Environment:
DVD or Streaming <27in
Viewing Crew:
Myself
Times Watched:
1
Genre:
Epics/Historical
Payment Method:
Rental/Redbox
Review:

Let me start by saying "Spotlight" is seriously one of my all-time favorite movies - top 10 for sure. So I really wanted to see "The Post" because I knew it was in this "freedom/press/mystery/true-story/drama" genre that I liked so much from "Spotlight". As ridiculous as that made-up "genre" just sounded, I realized that probably the main reason I liked "Spotlight" so much was because of its "religious" sub-genre. This is important because there is no religious component to "The Post". Because of that (and for many other reasons) the film feels more vindictive than victorious, which wasn't my favorite feeling in the end. It's hard to explain. I guess you'll have to watch it...or, maybe just read my review.

Acting
What a cast! Only Spielberg can fill this kind of lineup. Even some of the "extras" were at least B-list stars. Although Tom Hanks' "accent" doesn't work for me, he and Meryl Streep do a fine job. It's the script that smudges their performances. Simply put, there is WAY TOO much dialogue. I don't care how much you may know about this Vietnam/Pentagon Papers, it just loses you. Typically, I would put dialogue under the "Story" criteria, but there's so much that it greatly influenced the performances, so I chose to put it under "Acting". One of the reasons I sensed a nauseating amount of talking was partly because of the "Visuals". The filmmakers chose to do lots of lock-off shots on extended talking scenes. This meant we were relying on extras blocking (which was great) and the leads' gestures and fiddling with objects to keep our attention. To me, this was a bad strategy. There were times where I felt like I was watching (more like listening to) a tabloid magazine. Just too much gossip and blah blah blah. Some scenes feel overly rehearsed, almost play-like, but I don't dock them for this, it just comes across as actors hitting their exact mark rather than any sort of improvising with a steadicam around the performances.
Morality
The morality of freedom of the press is great, doing what's right no matter the cost. BUT, I find each character's lack of acknowledgement of their own flaws to be inconsistent with how much they judge the institution. It's like saying "I want everyone to follow the rules, and I'll do my best to follow those rules unless I think I can make better rules as I go along." In many ways, the film's black and white approach annoys me because it simply doesn't even look at "the other side" - the side of the government. Not sure what that would've looked like, but I think a more fierce back and forth between government and press would've ironically made the Morality feel more believable and provided a more clear black and white. The amount of cursing - almost solely by using the Lord's name in vain - was disappointing. 
Music
I couldn't believe John Williams did this track. Obviously music comes after a locked movie, meaning the soundtrack should stem from the film's sequences, but it was surprising that the music didn't add to the momentum of this film. Could it have been because of so much talking? Very possible. 
Story
Look, if you don't know what this movie is about (i.e. you didn't watch the trailer) then what I'm about to say won't make sense. But if you do know the premise of this movie - whether or not to publish government secrets - then you are probably like the other 99% of us who know that they will in fact publish. That's not really a mystery to me in this film. That being said, when they actually make the decision to publish (about 1hr 10min into the film), there is a whole 45min left! This is brutal! They completely lost my interest. Once you choose to publish, I want to almost immediately see the aftermath, which ironically the film gives only a brief snippet of the aftermath. Once the premise is solved (which, in this case it was 60% of the way in), there is little reason to continue on. Now, because the story is true and obviously very important to our country's history, I acknowledge its goodness as a 3-kernel, but nothing more. Lastly, I feel like they threw on top of a "freedom of the press" film "equality for woman" (in a political way). We are blatantly told and reminded, at several turns, that "Kay Graham" (Meryl Streep) was really the hero of this saga. In the end, this didn't help bolster her character for me - it felt like they were trying to tell me something. She didn't need a political agenda of then or now to make her character great.
Visuals
Who am I to give "edits" to Spielberg? Welp, here it goes. What's up with the lighting in this movie? There is absolutely no subtlety about it. Spielberg taught filmmakers how to use light to guide/build a scene. That being said, I can't tell if this was a different crew who didn't understand the lighting nuance or the locations that didn't offer the best set-ups, but it rarely worked for me. I think this is all about personal taste, but for me the lighting placement/temperature/usage was just so obvious and almost distracting. More on personal taste...camera angles. I don't understand 360 camera circles around characters. I don't understand lofted angles looking down on characters. I'm sure they had a reason for the two aforementioned angles/movements, but for me it wasn't necessary. That being said, I did love the one-take shots - where the camera seems to effortlessly go from dolly to steadicam as a reporter walks through the newsroom into another room. The locations were good and the art department did great.
Kernel Factor
There's not much more for me to say. I think for me this film had too much dialogue, solved its obvious riddle too quickly, didn't build enough tension, overtly lit scenes, and really had no subtlety about it in anyway. I wanted to figure out some things for myself, I wanted to wrestle with ideas/opinions for myself. This movie told me what to think and how to think about it. It was more documentary than drama in that regard. Very "Store Bought" for me.