The Post (Spielberg movie, Pentagon Papers)

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by jamesmaya, Dec 25, 2017.

  1. jamesmaya

    jamesmaya Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Mudwest, CA
    I'm looking forward to this movie about the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 by the Washington Post. The top secret study on the U. S. involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967 was first leaked by RAND Corp. analyst Daniel Ellsberg to the New York Times in February 1971.

    It's a Steven Speilberg film, staring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. Has anyone had the opportunity to catch some of the limited release screenings? The wide release date is 1/18/18.

     
  2. vince

    vince Stan Ricker's son-in-law

    Kevin Smith said he saw this.... not only is Odenkirk in it, but, David Cross shows up, too!
    He also said, it's set up so you can watch "All The President's Men" immediatly afterwards, like a 'double-feature'!
     
    longdist01 and jamesmaya like this.
  3. PhilBorder

    PhilBorder Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sheboygan, WI
    I hope at least some viewers know who owns the Washington Post these days, and why that is so problematic. I only bring this up because Mr.Hanks (who does his best acting these days during press interviews - he's really got the gee whiz modern day Jimmy Stewart thing down) talks about how 'relevant' the movie is for today. OK then. Let's not think too deeply about a correlation such as, if GE or GM owned the Post during the time of the Pentagon Papers. No problem, right? You too Meryl? It's all o.k.?
     
    arley, ohnothimagen and jamesmaya like this.
  4. rjp

    rjp Forum Resident

    Location:
    ohio
    the wonderful carrie coon is also in 'the post'.
     
    jamesmaya likes this.
  5. Mirrorblade.1

    Mirrorblade.1 Forum Resident

    I agree with Phil Border there is time and place for everything..
    If this was made in 90's it would be okay..
    But now? the movie audience really doesn't care for movies
    from another era from 70's watergate etc.. that
    type thing is not the trend now..
     
  6. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    I'm looking forward to this - mainly because I'm tired of seeing the trailer. I have no doubts as to the veracity of the storytelling, mostly because it's well established history, and it's about journalism - and they will eviscerate the filmmakers if they get it wrong.
     
  7. Splungeworthy

    Splungeworthy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Jersey Shore
    That reminds me I've got to order a couple of movies from Amazon-Forrest Gump and Sophie's Choice :rolleyes:.
     
  8. PhilBorder

    PhilBorder Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sheboygan, WI
    Maybe, maybe not. Woodward and Berstein enjoyed a burnished reputation for quite some time in the wake of Watergate. But it turns out the story wasn't so simple, at least there was one huge element missing from both the book and movie of All the President Men, which was their reliance on leaked Grand Jury testimony. It is indeed indictative of a robust and healthy democracy that there is an unresolved tension between the sancrosanct secrecy of a Grand Jury and a Press that should shine a bright light. But one can't arbitrarily choose one over the other, and some time after the fact either reporter could have set the record straight. IMO, that was disingenuous. It also casts the book and movie in a new light that is a bit grayer. If you're interested, this is one of the more balanced analysis: Watergate mythology invites pushback, ignores journalism's messy nature .

    and: The De-Watergating of American Journalism

    Or consider what LBJ Biographer knew before and after 2003. An L.B.J. Feud Finally Ends; Johnson's Library and Robert Caro Make Up

    History is always being written, rewritten, refined, reshaped. Often by 'current' perceptions. The Post promises to be an enjoyable movie. A more interesting and 'relevant' one might be how the media's current failings has created the vacuum that has been in part responsible for the rise of fake news. Journalists are really adept at proclaiming their guardianship of a free society as the Fourth Estate. But I've noticed their corrections are usually on page 4, or 16, or 25. Maybe they should pair the Post with 'Absence of Malice' Absence of Malice (1981)

    More fun stuff: A Stacked Deck: Getting Justice for Grand Jury Leaks
     
    arley likes this.
  9. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    Ok, although the two main characters in this, Katherine Graham and Ben Bradlee are safely dead, and the filmmakers don't have to worry about wounding their egos. It will be an interesting companion piece to the recent Mark Felt film.

    Bobby Cannavale has a hilarious cameo in I, Tonya as a sleezeball Hard Copy producer gleefully pointing out how his style of "news" (which included slashing Tonya's tires and having her truck towed to get footage of her) is the default today.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2017
  10. Danby Delight

    Danby Delight Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston
    You know that Amazon doesn't own the Post, right? So your comparison to GM or GE is off the mark unless you're just into insinuating things that aren't true, in which case be my guest.
     
  11. PhilBorder

    PhilBorder Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sheboygan, WI
    I see your point, though I did not mean to insinuate anything. So, clarity: Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post. He also owns 18.5% of Amazon, making him by far the single largest shareholder. Amazon does not own the Washington Post, but its founder and, by every practical criteria, leader and key decision maker owns one of the key media outlets in the center of power in this country. Which is I think is interesting, and 'relevant.'

    I'll make my mind up about the movie after I see it, but already have some questions based on the trailer. Among them - When 'Ben Bradlee' says "... how the White House been lying about the Vietnam war for 30 years." It was 1968 - did the Vietnam War began in 1938, and did every administration beginning with FDR's lie about it? And secondly, does anyone really think that Ben Bradlee, much less Katherine Graham, was in danger of going to prison, as the trailer suggests?
     
  12. Danby Delight

    Danby Delight Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston
    The first skirmishes between the Vietnamese and the French happened in the late '30s, and Ho Chi Min became the leader of the Viet Minh around 1940. Even though the US didn't get officially involved until the '50s, that certainly would have been on government intelligence radar, so yeah, they could have been lying about it for 30 years in 1968.
     
  13. Gary7704

    Gary7704 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Basking Ridge, NJ
    I agree, its not like we are experiencing anything worse than watergate right now. No need to remind anyone of the lessons from another era....good point.
     
    Henryflowr likes this.
  14. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    jamesmaya and Deesky like this.
  15. longdist01

    longdist01 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL USA
    If you want some early look at roots of Vietnam origin you can probably pick up the Ken Burn's miniseries or check at your library

    The Vietnam War - Ken Burns

     
    benjaminhuf likes this.
  16. PhilBorder

    PhilBorder Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sheboygan, WI
    I thought Spielberg was upfront about the dramatic license he took in "Munich", ostensibly a more morally complex story. That doesn't seem to be the case here, so I suspect this movie subtly short changes reality and nudges it into the realm of propaganda. As much as she'd like to pretend she's a populist these days, I think Peggy Noonan has an unfortunate tendency to romanticize everyone who lives outside of Washington. That this film alarms her, from her view inside the fishbowl, is telling.
    The Lies of ‘The Crown’ and ‘The Post’

    I still contend that no Federal Judge was ever going to imprison Katherine Graham or Ben Bradlee. And even if they did - so what? If you're going to own and run a newspaper and part of your business is printing leaked Grand Jury testimony, maybe that's just the risk you have to accept. The number of reporters in the U.S who have actually been jailed for, for instance, not revealing their sources is very small. I suspect the number of error - riddled stories and wrongfully damaged reputations is much larger.
     
  17. jamesmaya

    jamesmaya Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Mudwest, CA
    Wasn’t a large portion of the “Pentagon Papers” study already leaked/published prior to the grand jury investigation?
     
    Chris DeVoe likes this.
  18. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    Just saw the film tonight and I have a mixed reaction. I thought the first half hour was boring as hell, but it picks up real fast once Bob Odenkirk makes contact with the guy who has the papers, and it moves at a fast clip from then on. I felt like they kind of shoehorned Meryl Streep's part too much into the story, perhaps because Katherine Graham was not seen in All the President's Men, so perhaps this was intended to make up for it.

    There were some weird flaws that made me crazy: I think they did a lot of glamor work on Streep to make her look better, but it was inconsistent and she looked her real age (68) in some shots, and looked about 20 years younger in other shots, often within the same sequence. Tom Hanks' bizarre accent went all over the place: the real Ben Bradlee was born and raised in Boston, but this is like no Boston accent I ever heard. The wigs and toupees were out of control. And I think John Williams' entire score is mainly recycled bits from JFK, more than 20 years ago. Finally, I was a little put off from seeing about a dozen major TV actors in fairly significant roles, to the point where I was thinking, "oh, yeah, that's that guy from such-and-such" every five minutes (like "Todd" from Breaking Bad).

    But aside from these (mostly-technical) quibbles: the film looks great, I think it makes some important points about the freedom of the press and the checks and balances against the White House, and I think it was terrifically entertaining where it needed to be. I also think it's good to see a "serious" adult drama that tackles major issues, and doesn't have explosions, car chases, or anything like that. It's also great to see a master director like Spielberg take what's essentially a very talky stage play and open it up and do a lot of very intricate camera moves and transitions to make the story more visual. I'd recommend it, but with reservations.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
  19. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    If somebody has this story not behind a paywall, I'd love to read it.
     
  20. PhilBorder

    PhilBorder Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sheboygan, WI
    Noonans' Piece with the Crown part edited out.

    "We often write of the urgent need for more truth in politics. A hope for 2018 is more truth in art and entertainment, too.

    The past week I watched the Netflix series “The Crown” and Steven Spielberg’s movie “The Post.” Each is enjoyable, yet fails in the same significant way.

    There’s dramatic license, which is necessary or nothing’s fun, and historical truth, which is necessary or nothing’s understood. Ideally in any work they more or less coexist, however imperfectly. But in “The Crown” and “The Post” the balance is far off. A cheap historical mindlessness marks much of the first, and there’s a lie at the heart of the second....
    (Crown)
    Now to “The Post.” When you can say you spent two enjoyable hours watching a movie, it’s a good movie. But it’s not an honest one.

    Others have noted flaws. The movie is a celebration of the Washington Post for printing the top-secret Pentagon Papers, which revealed U.S. government lies about the Vietnam War. But it was the New York Times that showed the greater enterprise—it got the story first—and the greater valor, because its editors could not fully guess the legal repercussions and would presumably have to handle them on their own.

    But what the heck: It’s still a good story, and the Post did show style.

    What is bad is the lie at the movie’s heart. President Nixon is portrayed as the villain of the story. And that is the opposite of the truth.

    Nixon did not start the Vietnam War, he ended it. His administration was not even mentioned in the Pentagon Papers, which were finished before he took office.

    When that dark, sad man tried to halt publication of the document, he was protecting not his own reputation but in effect those of others. Those others were his political adversaries—Lyndon Johnson and Ben Bradlee’s friend JFK—who the papers revealed had misled the public. If Nixon had been merely self-interested, he would have faked umbrage and done nothing to stop their publication. Even cleverer, he could have decried the leaking of government secrets while declaring and bowing to the public’s right to know.

    Instead, he did what he thought was the right thing—went to court to prevent the publication of secrets that might harm America’s diplomatic standing while it attempted to extricate itself from a war.

    Being Nixon, of course, he had to crow, in a way that became public, that he was sticking it to those liberals in the press. His attempt to stop publication was wrong—the public did have a right to know. But he did what he thought was the responsible thing, and of course pays for it to this day.

    Were the makers of “The Post” ignorant of all this? You might think so if it weren’t for the little coda they tag on to the end. Suddenly a movie about the Pentagon Papers is depicting the Watergate break-in, which would take place a year later. As if to say: OK, Nixon isn’t really the villain of our story, but he became a villain soon enough. It struck me not as a failed attempt at resolving a drama but an admission of a perpetrated injustice.

    Why does all this matter? Because we are losing history. It is not the fault of Hollywood, as they used to call it, but Hollywood is a contributor to it.

    When people care enough about history to study and read it, it’s a small sin to lie and mislead in dramas. But when people get their history through entertainment, when they absorb the story of their times only through screens, then the tendency to fabricate is more damaging.

    Those who make movies and television dramas should start caring about this.

    It is wrong in an age of lies to add to their sum total. It’s not right. It will do harm."
     
    hbbfam and Vidiot like this.
  21. nojmplease

    nojmplease Forum Resident

    Location:
    DC
    Of course Noonan has an ax to grind against liberal Hollywood, but her defense of Nixon is just revisionist dribble.

    Nixon was paranoid and vindictive, and he actually didn't care about the Papers at first because it made Kennedy and Johnson look really bad - and that was a win, in Nixon's mind.

    Once his inner circle reminded him that this would likely re-ignite the antiwar movement (and threaten Nixon's re-election chances), then it became an issue. It was motivated purely out of self-interest and self-protection, as always with Nixon.

    As for the film drawing a narrative link between the Pentagon Papers and Watergate, that's absolutely a fair connection to make. After all, the Pentagon Papers introduced the idea in the American public mind that all the president's men could not necessarily be trusted. And that idea was proven to be accurate a year later.

    Admittedly, the film did get a bit heavy-handed and Spielberg-ian at times, but overall it's one of the better period pieces I've seen in awhile. If there's a flaw in the storytelling, it's that the NY Times (which really deserves credit for the Papers) gets upstaged by the Post, whose role was definitely secondary. Still, superb ensemble performances. And highly relevant.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
  22. jamesmaya

    jamesmaya Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Mudwest, CA
    Agree on all points. And the movie linking the Pentagon Papers to Watergate is a historically accurate one, imo, as Watergate was not the first illegal break-in attempted by the Nixon White House. Fearing that Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg might have possessed information on Nixon’s and Kissinger’s then secret plans to escalate the war, they had the offices of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist broken into in an attempt to obtain medical records that might be used to question Ellsberg’s mental state and discredit him.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
    nojmplease, Chris DeVoe and tmtomh like this.
  23. townsend

    townsend Forum Resident

    Location:
    Plano, Texas U.S.
    I enjoyed the Post. My only reservation is that the movie portrayed Meryl Strep's character as the hero who took all the risk, and surely risk was involved on the publishing side of the issue. But the real hero was Daniel Ellsberg, who is still politically active today against government propaganda (AKA fake news). To leak these papers took a staggering amount of courage.
     
    Vidiot, jamesmaya and Chris DeVoe like this.
  24. jamesmaya

    jamesmaya Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Mudwest, CA
    Absolutely. The Ellsberg story itself is quite an interesting one, actually, and involved other individuals including Beat poet Gary Snyder. It would make a great “prequel” to The Post. As regards the timeliness of this movie: “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” - Richard Nixon
     
    Chris DeVoe, townsend and Vidiot like this.
  25. PhilBorder

    PhilBorder Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sheboygan, WI
    Sure, Nixon was a dark and venial character, and Noonan's defense isn't all that stirring, and is somewhat wrongheaded. But that's an inside Washington perspective, from someone who is sensitive enough to be troubled but lacks the perspective to see the real problem. Which brings me to the 'inside Washington' issues - there's beaucoup fawning memoirs of Ms. Graham. And I guess her lobster was delicious, and her parties were swell. But after reading something like this, do you really think she was in danger of jail? Do you really think Ben Bradlee was? Summering with Katharine Graham, the Washington Post Legend and Doyenne of Martha’s Vineyard

    Do you really think a Federal Judge or two might not have enjoyed the Doyenne's gracious hospitality?
    Do you really think the Post would have been shut down? They were part of a symbiotic system and in reality very very few U.S reporters have ever gone to jail, and fewer still have spent as much time as, say Judith Miller. The Post seems to be, drawing on the current venacular, a false narrative.

    If you want to talk about Watergate, let's reflect on how St. Woodward and St. Berstein have been less than forthcoming about their sources. OK dishonest. They did breach the Grand Jury when investigating Watergate. Good 'ol Feet up on the desk Ben seemed to be aware of this too. Now, I'm not even suggesting that was completely wrong. But before the amplified hosannas begin let's discuss if a Grand Jury's secrecy (yes even one involving Nixon) is sancrosanct. Because if it's not, a pillar of our judicial system has just crumbled in deference to journalistic enterprise that has, as we've seen in the last year, increasingly gotten stories wrong. An enterprise that has become increasingly irresponsible. A movie about that debate might have been far more relevant and timely than the Post's parade of platitudes. And if you think I'm speculating about the foibles of Federanl Judges, read about John Sirica in Geoff Shephard's "The Real Watergate Scandal". That's the movie Speilberg should have made if he was sincerely interested in the Press' responsibilities. Or he should have at least tempered the hagiography.
     
    arley likes this.

Share This Page