Rating: PG-13, Time: 1hr 56min, Director: Steven Spielberg, Cast on IMDb
How did they make the newspaper business and story exciting?
There is an exciting break in the history of Vietnam war that came to both the New York Times and Washington Post that threatens the Nixon Whitehouse and all the former presidents for having held the secret of the Vietnam war back from the US public called the Pentagon Papers. So the story is rich and dangerous. The really fun part of watching the movie is I saw it with someone that lived it, so you get a great insight on the period as well as challenging when a company or service came out. Too funny. So grab grandma and get out to the movie.
What did you think of Meryl Streep as Kay, the CEO of the paper?
Kay is a nice complex character of a woman that doesn't inherit the family paper directly. Her father passes on the reins of the business to her husband despite her being the daughter. He does a great job and is talented while she goes on to do the mother role of that period typical for many women. Then her husband up and dies, so the business is thrown to her hands. She is then forced to learn the business actively and become a leader. In the movie, they capture this kind of careful and a bit indecisive character flaws to the part. Later on she is forced to become the true leader and does. It has a great evolution of the character and how she is transformed. It also touches on how close relationships tend to influence how hard you dive into a story based on loyalty vs. the readers.
What did you think of Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee?
He has this strange role in that he is the Executive Editor at the Washington Times reporting to a CEO that is unsure of her role as a leader. He has a great leadership role with a loose reins about him. He is decisive and shows a bit of the bureaucracy in the newspaper of how do you decide which story to cover for the front page and lead the day with. If you take the wrong story, like a wedding, you may look the fool. He has decide how to get ahold of the Pentagon papers and from who as they are TOP SECRET.
'Who is the villain in the story?
McNamara is the key figure behind the powers for two presidencies: JFK and LBJ. In this role he continued the involvement of the US in Vietnam from "advisors" in the field to deciding to up the amount of troops on the ground from 900 advisors to 16,000 troops and later up and up to a full-blown war. He was one of the key deciders in recommending to up the ante in the war as well as discovering early on that their strategy was not going to work, but recommending to keep at it anyway. He likely led to the deaths of thousands of kids because he was hiding this decision from the public. Of course, no president wanted to own this issue of being first to drawdown troops and admit defeat. At the time, they military leaders believed it was crucial to stop communism in Vietnam to prevent the rest of Southeast Asia falling to the communism spread. If you look from 1942 - 1966, the USSR had expanded into controlling Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, East Germany, Lithuania, Estonia, Romania, Albania and part of Japan islands even. Additionally, Cuba flipped from a democratic authoritarian government to communism. China flipped from authoritarian fascist state to communism. North Korea and the Korean war came out. So the threat was very real in the day. So McNamara is kind of this slippery snake in the film. In reality, he tried to convince both presidents that the policy was failing and eventually left politics after LBJ. In the film, he has all these connections with the newspaper, especially with Kay, the CEO that is desperately trying to protect the president from scandal, but seeing the inevitable.
What were your favorite parts?
One of my favorite parts is that they have Nixon in the White House discussing the break of the Pentagon Papers scandal. It really is humous as they show Nixon from the back from outside of the White House, so it looks kind of like he's in a jail cell symbolically and they use the real Nixon tapes, since he taped all the conversations in the film. This really helps cement the story to the time and really nails the story down in relevancy. Another fun part is they lead a bit into the later break of the Watergate scandal. Definitely, this really added the spice to the story with small doses of the paranoia of this leader and his trying to undermine the whole story.
Do you have art related to this era?
I think the best connection, would be the Soviet and US escalation of nuclear testing. My painting delt with the end of the first stage of testing: creating the largest single bomb. The Soviets created a 50 megaton bomb called the Tsar Bomba that rose all the way into space with the mushroom cloud. I really identified with the fear the public must have lived through in the 60s. Of course, with the Trump presidency and staring down North Korean as well as the recent nuclear bomb scare in Hawaii are making this highly relative again, sadly. Even the atomic doomsday clock has been set to 2 minutes to midnight recently.
True Terrorism: the Original Shoe Bomber - 48x48 inches
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