The Post lays out the events surrounding the Washington Post's decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, which exposed the government's deception of the public about the Vietnam War. Already the government had slapped a court injunction on the prestigious New York Times from publishing more on the leaked secret report. Now with the information in their hands, the intrepid reporters of the Washington Post and its first female publisher ever had to decide whether they should be allowed to be silenced or risk federal prison.
Spielberg is still going strong in his 70s -- he has a sci-fi joyride coming out next month and yet another movie in pre-production. And is there any other director that is so firmly confident in his craft? This film couldn't have come from anyone else -- not merely for his level of professionalism (more than any other director, his name behind a movie assures the largest demographic of movie-goers of a reliably solid film), but because you can always palpably sense the love he imbues for his subject matter, whether it's a CGI giant or monoliths of the press. In The Post you can almost smell the hot ink as letters press onto paper, and there's both a bright light of nostalgia and an aura of mysticism that goes hand in hand with the winding columns of newspapers being carried upward by machinery.
There are many "of course" factors of this movie. Of course Tom Hanks is fantastic. Of course John Williams delivers on the score. And of course Meryl Streep is magnificent. Her role here as Kay Graham here, head of the Washington Post, is instantly relatable and contemporary. A woman walking into a boardroom full of men, meeting condescension at best. Her wrestle with her own feelings of inadequacy culminate in a rousing arrival that comes not at a complete disavowal of but still amongst those doubts. Graham says "It's hard to say no to the President of the United States", and somehow encapsulates all that Spielberg is trying to give a knowing nod to -- Streep, after all is an actress Trump famously lambasted as "over-rated" after her Golden Globe speech imploring us to protect the press.
For whatever reason, although Spielberg's films are always greeted with a sense of inevitability of its quality, you often forget about his magic until you sit and watch one of his features. He may not be flying aliens in bikes anymore, but there is always a scene in his movies (and often more than one), where you are caught up in the sheer magic of movie-making, or the momentous weight of a moment. He loves what he does, and he uses it to create dynamos of films. The Post is one of his tightest narratives, barreling onward and using his craft to pose his own answer to the administration. It is not, necessarily, an attack on the government, but rather it is a call for us to recognize our rights in a larger context and to do our utmost to fight for them.