Owen Gleiberman on Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film The Post, which dives into The Washington Post’s role in exposing the Pentagon Papers:
A year ago, a movie like “The Post” — or “Spotlight,” or “Zero Dark Thirty,” or “Erin Brockovich” — would have been thought of in that category called “Movies That Matter.” Which is to say: Movies that the liberal media establishment likes, that take on crucial themes of truth and corruption, and that have a fairly specific audience. That’s the way it’s been for ages. My question is: Could that audience, for the first time in a long while, evolve and expand? Is it possible that we could return to a period when movies aren’t just slotted into a category called “Movies That Matter”? That we could return to an age when they actually do matter?
The legendary Hollywood renaissance of the 1970s happened because America, at the time, was mired in social upheaval, in the earthquakes brought about by the new youth culture and by the corruptions and scandals of Vietnam and Watergate; the desire to see all that reflected back at us as drama was a timely, organic phenomenon. The defining motion pictures of the age, from “Midnight Cowboy” to “M*A*S*H” to “The French Connection” to “Chinatown” to “The Last Detail” to “All the President’s Men,” weren’t things you went to see because they were “good for you.” They were films that made the darkness enthralling, because they let you go into the darkness and come out the other side. They were slices of reality that were also extraordinary pieces of entertainment, and the audience was hungry for them because there was a sense, all around you, that the stakes were so high.
I definitely believe there will be a trend in film (and other forms of art) back in this direction. Of course, most won’t be directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. Talk about firepower.
Also of note regarding Spielberg:
“The Post” is scheduled to begin shooting in May and to be released later on this year, even as Spielberg is in the midst of post-production on his dystopian climate-change sci-fi epic, “Ready Player One,” and has had to push back another project he’s already at work on, “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara” (starring Oscar Isaac and Mark Rylance). Spielberg has a pattern of turning into a master juggler when he takes on a drama of historical import. He completed “Jurassic Park” the same year — 1993 — that he shot, edited, and released “Schindler’s List,” and he repeated the pattern, in 2005, with “The War of the Worlds” and “Munich.” It’s fascinating to think that Spielberg makes his topical-urgency movies on such a breakneck schedule, because that’s probably part of what gives them their history-written-with-lightning quality.
It seems crazy that he could shoot, edit, and release a movie that quickly in this day and age – especially when he’s editing another one
. But Spielberg does this from time-to-time, and seems to thrive in such an environment