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Not fake news: Stephen Colbert debuts the trailer for Spielberg's Pentagon Papers film The Post

The Post (Screenshot: 20th Century Fox)

Calling it “a big deal” akin to unveiling “a Marvel Trailer if Meryl Streep was playing Thor” (and with Tom Hanks as the Hulk), Stephen Colbert surprised his audience on Tuesday’s Late Show by nabbing the first-ever broadcast of the trailer for Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film The Post. Since the film, getting a limited release right before Christmas in advance of it going wide in January, is about the country-shaking release of the so-called Pentagon Papers (which uncovered several administrations’-worth of lying about the escalation of the Vietnam War), we’re left to wonder what parking garage or pumpkin patch Colbert visited to get his hands on the clip. We’re also left to wonder at how Donald Trump, he of the braying campaign against the legitimate press, is going to rise to a slice of big-budget Oscar bait starring noted Trump not-fans Meryl Streep (as Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham) and Tom Hanks (as editor Ben Bradlee), and directed by Spielberg, who has hinted that the film’s tale of journalistic courage in the face of governmental lies and pressures is, let’s call it timely. (The fact that nightly Trump-basher Colbert got the scoop just seems like the sharp end of the needle.)

The trailer itself is the sort of expensively mounted and star-studded (look for Carrie Coon, Bob Odenkirk, Bradley Whitford, Alison Brie, Sarah Paulson, Matthew Rhys, Jesse Plemons, Michael Stuhlbarg, Bruce Greenwood, David Cross, Zach Woods, and more) Spielberg epic we’ve come to take for granted. There are meticulously rumpled newsroom clothes, the merest hint of prosthetics, stirring speeches about risking it all for your ideals, and a faint whiff of Oscar polish everywhere. And, in a political landscape where beleaguered reporters (including those at the film’s Washington Post and New York Times who braved administration threats to publish the Pentagon Papers) are harassed as “fake news” by a desperately flailing manchild president, The Post looks, indeed, pretty necessary.


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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.