Spotlight: a special investigative unit of The Boston Globe investigate a potential child sex abuse scandal within the catholic church. Obviously, this is a fantastic ensemble cast; as you’d expect, everyone puts in a top shift and is rewarded with their moment. Granted the subject matter is tough to handle, but the movie plays it far too safe for me, with very little in the way of dramatic moments – it’s basically a couple of damp revelatory moments where one priest becomes thirteen, then more, then more, and Ruffalo’s rant was the single outstanding dramatic moment. Despite the journalists having an ‘enemy’ or ‘target’ there’s no real counterbalance or push back from the church – just one scene with the cardinal. The direction doesn’t help much either – felling so flat and removed from the story that it may as well have been marketed as a made-for-TV documentary. More than anything, it feels like a film that’s really personal to Boston and Bostonians; it’s set in Boston around their seemingly overbearing institutions which – as an outsider – maybe that’s the knockout punch that missed me. The profile and performances of such fine actors is really the only selling point for Spotlight, which is a disappointingly low-profile and unimaginative telling of a shocking and evil crime.
Note: for this film to have so many Oscar nods feels bizarre. Sometimes you see the list and can understand why films are on it… but not Spotlight. Nu-huh. Nope. Nein.
- Best picture? ROFL – it’s barely a “movie”.
- Best Supporting Actress? ROFL – McAdams is good, but gets almost no screentime.
- Best Supporting Actor? Fair do’s, Ruffalo is the best thing in this.
- Best Director? ROFL – More like BLANDEST Director
- Best Editing? ROFL – it’s basic.
I’m with Mark on this one – ROFLO!!!
Southpaw [minor plot spoilers]: a boxer’s life crumbles when his wife is killed, and he loses everything else he cares about. For a standard beat-down/comeback sports story arc, it feels overly ripe and melodramatic – the ‘Fall’ section of the story takes forever and just gets worse and worse, to the point where it’s becomes borderline comical: losing wife, then fighting licence, then money, then child, then house, then gets a shit job… Because this bit and the token training montages take so long the short-but-more-upbeat ending doesn’t really counterbalance the emotional front end. For a boxing movie we don’t actually get much fighting either; as the focus is on 1-dimensional characters (slimy agent, has-been trainer…) and a well-worn story arc. Although his character’s a simple short-tempered meat-head Gyllenhaal puts in another sterling shift (talk about a hot streak); the rest of the cast are definitely supporting roles. You’ve seen everything in Southpaw before, but with a bit of emotion and some strong storytelling Fuqua and The Weinsteins deliver a solid – if unremarkable – boxing picture.
Midnight In Paris [Unavoidable Spoilers]: Woody Allen brings us more misunderstood middle-class artisan-intellectuals with relationship trouble. The idea of the central MacGuffin of this film (travelling back in time and meeting historical figures) didn’t bother me much; but as someone who’s not very literary literate it all got a bit wanky pouring familiar name after familiar name on to the screen as if the audience would lap up the theatricality of it all. The only character I liked from the entire cast was Adrien ”Rhinoceros!!” Brody, everyone else just played pretty grotesque caricatures. Owen Wilson’s does his schlubby moping vagina act again, would love to see him try something different. As with any Allen film, there’s some nice tourism-friendly photography and vision from behind the camera, and a token trampy ragtime soundtrack to tart up the audio. For me, it’s just another stock Allen film – watchable and mildly entertaining – unless you majored in English, then it will undoubtedly be your film of the year.