As soon as I pressed "send" in a piece (to be published tomorrow) I argued that Steven Spielberg's Pentagon Papers The Post is not about Donald Trump and could have been made 10 or 40 years ago when I came across this interview in which Spielberg says that the film is an attack against Donald Trump and that it could only have been made in 2017. Good.
Hollywood is currently immersed in a kind of kabuki theater known as the Awards Season. Neither Spielberg nor anyone else will be heard to say, "I think my movie is great, so please give it prizes." Instead, the trick is to make a non-stop tour of V.I.P. screenings, panel discussions, parties, and interviews with the media to try to convince Oscar voters (and those who vote on minor awards, such as those awarded by the New York Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association, of which I am a member) that the film is Important or Relevant or Socially Committed or, in the best of cases, Timely. Voters of the awards season are invited to think of a love story as a social justice saga, a horror film as a "social thriller" about racism and a romantic comedy as a rebuke to immigration restrictions proposed by Donald Trump.
The Post coming out on December 22 and starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks as Kay Graham and Ben Bradlee, the editor and editor of The Washington Post, takes place in 1971, when the newspaper tries to catch up with New York Times & # 39; series of scoops on the Pentagon Papers. To Spielberg's credit, there are no tense references to Trump in the film, but in interviews Spielberg is drawing a parallel between how the Richard Nixon Justice Department tried to block the Times (and, tangentially) the Post publishes the Pentagon Papers through a court order and Trump treats the media. Of course, President Trump bothers these same two sets of news (and many others). But it is completely foolish to imply that Trump has instituted some kind of frightening repression in the press. As indecent, immature, counterproductive and strange as it is for Trump to tweet insults to journalists, this is not remotely similar to receiving orders from the Justice Department to stop publishing embarrassing stories. What Trump does to news organizations is unprecedented in its style, but it is extremely precedent in its essence. It's called spin. All the presidents put the message that the media are treating him unfairly. It's not like an attack on the First Amendment. Trump did not even call CNN from the list of organizations invited to the Chrismas party of the White House; the news network humbly announced that it would rebuff the president, and not the other way around. There is no clause in the Constitution that says White House officials have to talk to journalists they do not like, or invite them to informative meetings in the press, or even to organize frequent press meetings. And yet, the Trump administration keeps doing all these things.
It's fairly easy to re-mark a movie retroactively depending on what's in style at the moment. The original script of The Post written by Liz Hannah, was purchased by Sony Pictures producer Amy Pascal in October 2016, a time when both women believed that the script was not about Trump but .. Hillary Clinton is a pioneer victory, which they expected to happen the following month. Katherine Graham was a role model who broke into a boys 'club (she was the first executive director of a Fortune 500 company), Hillary is a role model who broke into a boys' club. Get it? Undoubtedly, if Clinton were president today, that is the spirit with which Spielberg would lean towards an Oscar.
To make sure he's covered in the other topic that obsesses Hollywood these days, Spielberg is also promoting The Post as an implicit rebuke to the cultural male sexual abuse in Hollywood, posing for ] Hollywood Reporter glamor session with four women who worked on the film and accepted a joint interview with this quartet: Hannah, Pascal, Streep and one of the film's producers Kristie Macosko Kriege. This is a transparent attempt to win the favor of Oscar voters: many people work in any film. Spielberg could have posed and been interviewed with such important figures in the film as his other co-star Tom Hanks, the other creditor screenwriter Josh Singer, the composer John Williams and the cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, all of them men. As it happens, The Post is a very good movie. But what makes it good is not that it says, "Boo Trump, yay women." In any case, Spielberg is doing it a disservice by making it seem more schematic than it is,