Updated: 24/01/18 : 05:03:39
Printable Version   Bookmark and Share Share This

national

The Oscars, the 2018 award goes to.....

By Eugene McGloin

KATE GRAHAM is gonna get her tits caught in a political wringer.

The coarseness tells you the sender was probably male, the context confirms the whiffs of menace, probably intended.

It was megaphone stuff, not literally, but acolytes in the Nixon Mob never much minded how messages were sent as long as they were received, and understood.

It was always so in other times, too, more subtler maybe but never mistakable either.

Meryl Streep plays Katherine Graham in “The Post” which opened in Sligo last weekend.

After her husband’s recent suicide, Graham enters the world of (smaller) newspapers and obligations attaching to their ownership.

It is the old world of hot metal pre-technology; dirty ink, Linotype machines setting (literally) setting lines of type from pots of molten, stinking lead.

When they cooled, these lines of lead, which had to be backwards, were locked into metal ‘chases’ which went on the presses.

Chaotic Mess

Streep strolls through this chaotic mess of 1970s newspapers, recreated with accuracy.

Strangely, Irish newspapers modernised their physical print set-ups much quicker than Graham’s Washington Post.

Indeed, in that same 1970s Graham’s company group fought bitterly with print unions.  

Choppers were used to crack the resolve of the unions, flying in stuff past the pickets.

Telephone Talk

Think choppers, think America, think 1970s and the next few words in the same sentence will deffo include ‘Vietnam.’

The Vietnamese themselves called it “The American War,” the conflict at the centre of “The Post.”

We recall on screen that Katherine Graham went all the way to the American Supreme Court to uphold the right to tell the truth about that war.

The film shows Kennedy, Eisenhower, Johnson and Nixon all had one thing in common.

JFK and LBJ etc, all hoped that schmooze and even straight talk on the phone by acolytes would be enough to ensure the truth of “The American War” would not be told on home soil.

Secret Papers

The leaking of the secret Pentagon papers changed all that. It was the beginning of the end.

That leaking episode limbered up all the main players — Press, public and politics — for the Watergate era.

That later episode was the political wringer of all wringers; it crushed tit Nixon and all who sailed with him.

The closing coda of “The Post” voices Nixon in a pre-Watergate petty rant, a true taster of things to come.

Endeared Worldwide

This film concludes with the Watergate break-in, the reporting of which endeared Katherine Graham and all who sailed with her at the Washington Post team all over the world.

Is there a better film in 2018? I’ve now watched “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Twice. To be sure, to be sure.

Many more viewings to come, most likely. This is my choice in almost all the chief categories for the 2018 Oscars.

One certainty: Paddy Power is now offering 1-3 odds on that Frances McDormand takes best actress, better than Streep or Saoirse.

McDormand delivers the performance of a decade. It transcends trite outdated category titles like ‘actress’ OR ‘actor.’ 

I’ve been a McDormand fan ever since she recorded the hour long New Yorker short story “People Like That Are The Only People Here.”

Several times a year I’d stick McDormand’s recital of Lorrie Moore’s great short story on headphones while walking around Sligo.

Like her recent film role about the aftermath — for all — of the death of her daughter, the short story deals with a mother and an offspring, too.

The setting is radically different: A toddler in a paediatric oncology ward where the voices of authority are often as opaque and sometimes as heartless as we see in “Three Billboards.”

Nevertheless, America itself is a bit like reading Desiderata; for all its sham and drudgery and broken dreams it does Beauty too.

Look at the examples America offers us in films, magazines, short stories, in totems like Frances McDormand. Go see, read, hear.