Decades ago I read a Charles Bukowski recollection about the glorious results of a long, deep sleep. The author-poet had slept for two days straight, and when he finally awoke he felt wonderful. Bukowski’s body felt like $10 million bucks, etc. So I decided to follow suit. Lights out at 9 pm, a good 10 or 11 hours.
I woke up at 1:30 am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I studied my Twitter feed for an hour or so, and then decided to re-watch Steven Spielberg‘s The Post (’17) on the phone. My reaction was roughly the same as it was four years ago — respected the effort, loved the performances, admired Liz Hannah and Josh Singer‘s well-honed script, felt a certain emotional poignancy toward the end.
The Post was nominated for Best Picture and Best Actress (Streep) at the 90th Academy Awards, but Academy members mostly ignored it — identity politics and representation of historically devalued groups were the big concerns. If you ask me The Post didn’t deserve to be dismissed as a self-congratulating, middle-class, big-studio film about journalistic integrity, made by and for well-off, well-educated whiteys. But that’s how a certain percentage of the Academy saw it.
The Post isn’t a journalistic procedural as much as a feminist parable — a story about how Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham (Meryl Streep), who initially saw herself as less than ideally suited to the task and little more than a blandly embedded figure in Washington social circles, gradually grew some courage and a sense of journalistic purpose during the Pentagon Papers episode, which transpired over a 17-day period in June 1971.
In this light, the key scene — Spielberg’s signature moment — comes when Streep emerges from a historic Supreme Court session about the legality of publishing the Pentagon Papers, and several women on the steps gaze with admiration as she passes by.
On the other hand I found myself distracted by those klutzy moments that Spielberg always puts into his films — little errors of judgments that normalize characters by making them seem vulnerable. Graham waking up in her bedroom with several books and files on her bed, and of course they all fall from the bed and onto the floor, loudly. Graham meeting Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) inside a posh Washington restaurant, and of course she stumbles and accidentally knocks over a chair. An open-mouthed Washington Post intern visits the N.Y. Times building on West 43rd street, and as he starts to cross the street you just know he’ll almost get hit by a taxi…sure enough, that happens. (I’m fairly sure that another cab screeches to a stop later on.)
I finally got back to sleep at 5:30 am. The Bukowski sleep-in thing will have to wait.