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The Post

One of my favorite Steven Spielberg films is his powerful recreation of history in "Munich". A globe trotting depiction of the Olympic attacks and the Israeli revenge for the murders, it's suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat film making.

Who knew that Spielberg could bring the same excitement to a part of history that basically takes place in newsrooms and homes?

THE POST is a detailed, superb recreation of the drama around the release of The Pentagon Papers, secret government documents that detailed America's undying commitment to the war in Vietnam. The documents revealed that four Presidents kept the war going just to save face. Thousands of young men were sent to die an unwinnable war rather that having the US admit defeat.

When embedded reporter Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys of "The Americans") realizes what he's writing will never be reported and the lies that are being fed to the public, he steals a copy of a massive, decades long report on the truth behind the war.

Ellsberg delivers explosive excerpts of that report to the press, beginning a historic battle between the government's right to secrecy and the freedom of the press.

Meryl Streep is Kay Graham, the still new owner of the Washington Post, a position she inherited when her husband died. We watch Kay trying to find her footing as a very rare woman owner in the early seventies. Mostly pushed aside or flatly ignored, Kay struggles to find her voice of power.

When her brash, legendary editor Bill Bradlee (perfectly embodied by Tom Hanks in another great performance) finds himself holding a copy of the Pentagon Papers, the intrigue and legal battles begin over when and if they can publish them.

What a cast Spielberg's assembled on both sides of the camera.

Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) is great as a reporter with excellent sources, Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek: Into Darkness) is excellent as Bob MacNamara, the man at the center of the report, Carrie Coon (Fargo) and comedian David Cross are great as seasoned reporters building the story and Sarah Paulson (American Crime Story) is good as Bradlee's wife, unwavering in her support as Bradlee's living home becomes a secret second newsroom.

John Williams music score is every bit the equal of his great music for "Munich", mostly playing behind the scenes to build tension throughout before busting into full WIlliams scale during the final moments and end titles.

Spielberg's longtime partner behind the camera Janusz Kaminski (Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln) makes every paper coming off the line and strike of the typewriter feel like a car chase, while also capturing the seventies in all its awkward glory.

Streep is always good, but she's very good here. You feel Kay gain confidence and her own voice in a boardroom and an industry where she is the ONLY woman in the room.

As Kay realizes that some of the people who are her best friends for many years are deeply involved in an incredible cover-up, you can see the truth hit her well before she speaks. It's one of Streep's best performances. She's nominated for Best Actress, but up against Sally Hawkins for "The Shape of Water" and Frances McDormand for "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" it's doubtful she'll win this year.

Hanks turns in so many great performances at this point in his career it's easy to take them for granted. Bradlee is a complicated man. Loud, brash and bold in balance to Kay/Streep's reserve, Hanks is terrific.

Spielberg creates another fantastic film. I loved his use of recreations of Nixon, using actual recordings of Nixon and shooting an actor as the former President through a window of the White House. It's like you're secretly peeking in from the outside, eavesdropping on history, which could easily be said about the entire film.

Perhaps only Spielberg could make a movie this exciting and suspenseful about recent history.

The best film about politics and the press since "All The President's Men", THE POST gets an A.

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