Millions of dollars in bribes, decades of deception, three presidencies and one big lie to the American public. Steven Spielberg’s The Post chronicles the U.S. government’s systematic cover-up of failures in the Vietnam War and the press’s struggle to uncover the truth. Head to the theater this weekend for a familiar collision of federal indiscretion and journalistic intrigue.
The year is 1971. The Vietnam War has raged for sixteen years, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of American dollars. In what soon became known as the Pentagon Papers, war analyst Daniel Ellsberg leaks top secret files to The New York Times that detail the truth of the Vietnam War. The American public has been lied to for decades, denied of the truth that the conflict in Indochina had become a lost cause. Now, the floundering Washington Post must decide whether to publish more of the Pentagon Papers and face possible annihilation at the hands of the Nixon administration. The Post is a high-stakes drama that recounts one of America’s most unsettling scandals.
Of the year’s biggest dramas, The Post touts the most prominent cast and directorship. One of Hollywood’s most accomplished directors, Steven Spielberg, returns to the big screen with an equally accomplished cast. Tom Hanks plays Ben Bradlee, the Post’s chief editor, and Meryl Streep plays Katherine Graham, the nation’s first female newspaper publisher. Both are seamless in their roles and draw on decades of experience and dedication to their characters. They’re flanked by supporting talent that follows suit, including Sarah Paulson as Bradlee’s wife Tony and Bob Odenkirk as Post journalist Ben Badikian. While The Post remains faithful to the true story at the expense of its own vitality, its cast and directorship ensure its place among 2018’s best films.
Meryl Streep’s performance as an undaunted female in an all-male industry is the heart of The Post’s story. It is ultimately Graham’s decision to publish the story that will shock millions, and her journey from incapable heiress of the Washington Post to its confident, rightful publisher is impactful. Spielberg’s film carries this struggle for gender equality to the point of inundation at times, reminding us of the institutional and social oppression Graham faces a few too many times. Still, Streep’s performance as the embattled publisher is a must-see and is deserving of the Oscar attention that will surely come her way.
Overall,The Post tells a fascinating true story but fails to add new substance. Viewers who are passionate about freedom of the press will find Spielberg’s latest drama captivating and timely. Others that are less interested in the topic may be won over by the superb casting and deliberation. However, The Post never fully drew me in. The dilemma of whether or not to publish the Pentagon Papers never distracted me from the historical fact that they were in fact published, which prevented me from fully investing in the drama unfolding on screen. The Post takes advantage of an unbelievable story but fails to recount it in a way that elevates the source material. Nonetheless, Spielberg’s latest film is a powerful story of freedom of speech and the courage to do what’s right no matter the odds. The Post comes in at a 7/10 in my book. See it this weekend for a study break you won’t regret.
Making it past the auditions for America’s Got Talent is impressive enough, but it doesn’t get much better than receiving the golden buzzer. Singer-songwriter and Tennessee resident Chase Goehring had the honor of earning a golden buzzer from DJ Khaled on season 12 of the show. The golden buzzer sent him straight to the live competition, allowing him to bypass the preliminary rounds. Ultimately, he finished in the top 10. The Hustler sat down with Goehring to recount his time on the show.
VH: How did you first become interested in making music? What were you up to before America’s Got Talent?
CG: Growing up, I wasn’t really interested in music. I just didn’t get it. All my friends were getting into it and I was like, “This doesn’t make sense.” But in middle school, I started taking piano lessons, and that was pretty fun. I joined a band with some friends. We did a couple shows, and I left the band to pursue the ukulele. So I went from this rock and roll band to this little wine instrument. My friend from my band joined me. He was the drummer, and we did this little acoustic duo. Then we split and became solo artists. I taught myself the guitar. I never had any singing lessons so I probably sounded really bad in the beginning. I started singing more, songwriting and putting stuff online.
What went through your head the moment that DJ Khaled hit the golden buzzer?
As the night went on, we were getting down to the last few people. He hadn’t hit his golden buzzer yet. So when I was performing, I was like, “There’s a chance he could hit it. Hmm, maybe it’ll happen.” But was I expecting it? Not at all. When I finished performing, people started chanting, “Hit that buzzer! Hit that buzzer!” He was looking at it, and I was like,
“What is gonna happen?” And then he hit it. The rest is history.
How did you compete with such a wide variety of talent? What were your methods of calming nerves?
A lot of people ask this question. It’s funny to me because I felt like there was less competition being a singer-songwriter, because it was kind of my thing. The only other singer-songwriter was Mandy Harvey, so we were kind of in our own little group. That’s just how I took it mentally. There was a lot of variety, so it just made it where we respected each other for what we were doing. Sometimes, I did get nervous. This is a big audience, millions of people are watching, but you kind of just have to forget about all of that and focus on what you do, and be the best at it.
What is your most memorable moment from the show?
One time, I pretended to be a producer. I got to know one of them really well, and he and I were buds. They always dress in black. I always wear black pants, and I had this hoodie on that looked like the one he was wearing. We took a picture together, and I decided I was a producer for the day. They let me use the walkie talkie and I would be like, “Chase for so-and-so.” Everyone is chill like that. I hate to say it because it sounds so cheesy, but we are family-oriented.
Do you have any advice for aspiring singer/songwriters?
It’s so cliché, but be original. There’s so much music, and it’s all diverse. I feel like the music that stands out the most is the music that comes from the artist who knows who they are, and they don’t want to be like anyone else. They want to be the first version of themselves.
What would you tell someone auditioning for season 13 of AGT?
I know some people are on edge wondering, “Should I do it? Should I not?” Some people don’t really have the confidence to do it, but I would say to just go for it. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so it’s a no-brainer in that sense. Just go for it, give it a shot and if it doesn’t work out, move on to the next thing.
Audition for America’s Got Talent this Sat. Jan 13. Doors are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Music City Center. Register online at AGTauditions.com.