Review: Spotlight


Spotlight won’t win the awards it deserves this weekend. Oscar will overlook this film as it looks to The Revenant to wow Hollywood and the world beyond. I’ve written several times about The Revenant already this year and how I have been blown away by it’s achievements but Spotlight may be the better film.

Spotlight does what any film should. It tells a story really well. While Leonardo DiCaprio was eating raw bison liver and using a horse for a sleeping bag this group of fine acting talent were playing the roles of journalists investigating a story that shook the world. Did Leonardo do a great job absolutely, but this group excelled.

The difference in the two films to me is that The Revenant tells a fairly simple revenge tale through the blurred lens of multiplex action and arthouse wonder. Spotlight however tells a multi layered and difficult story in the most simplistic of ways.

Each member of this ensemble (the buzz word of moment among critics)  cast plays their part to perfection from Michael Keaton leading the team in the role of Robby Robinson to Mark Ruffalo’s intrepid Mike Rezendes it is really hard to define who is the lead in the piece. Nobody involved attempts to take centre stage. The real life story of Spotlight was a team effort and the film very much reflects that through its cast.

The Spotlight tale is well documented by now and it is hard to write anything close to a review without getting into ‘spoilers’ on some level. Spotlight is the true story of how the Boston Globe investigative journalist team  uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core is well known to many by now. The uncovering of these horrendous acts spread right across the globe and had an impact far beyond Boston.

While the church is the clearly the culprit the film does not demonise the institution completely. Instead time is taken to acknowledge that all players involved knew the dark truth deep down but looked the other way.

A special mention must be given to Liev Schreiber for his portrayal Marty Baron the outsider who interrupts the Globe’s world with no interest in the Redsox baseball team and due to his Jewish roots no link to the Catholic church. He is the key to the abuse being uncovered as he subtly refuses to let the story go and gently encourages the team to take it on.

This film is also a wonderful nod to a time we have lost memory of in our high spped broadband world. A time piece showing the way journalism used to be just before the internet era exploded and widened all our horizons (for better or worse). These journalists had to work for their story. There were clippings to be read, physical files to lifted from storage units and trollied to recipients, doorsteps to be walked on. True investigative journalism is the hero in this tale. Pre Google and long before the term click bait headline was even conceived this film salutes those who worked harder for their craft than those that walk the same beat today. I as a blogger am proof that anyone can attempt to write but Spotlight shows the value of true journalism.

With the Oscars this weekend to would be lovely to think Spotlight stands a chance.

The Revenant will more than likely prevail but there would be no complaints from me if Spotlight managed to take the limelight for itself.




Birdman: The Voices In Us All


Birdman might win Best Picture Oscar this year. No really it could. The constantly moving camera, the Keaton performance, the excellent cast surrounding him, the great direction, the nods to the actors struggle, it is certainly a powerful contender.

Based around the failing career or Keaton’s Riga’s we follow his journey to have one final attempt at stardom via  writing, producing, directing and starring in his self funded Broadway play. Riggans is a man with a past, a faded career following his success as the superhero Birdman. This is clearly the only thing of note he ever did and is now recognisable for.

Riggans is haunted by his former success and as the film develops we hear a gravelly voiced narrator chipping away at his confidence reminding him of past glories and how they used to be the only show in town. The character of Birdman haunts him but more than this he is haunted by the voice of who he used to be.

We all hear those voices.

The voices that remind of past mistakes.

The voices that tell us no one will read this blog so why waste the time?

The voice that says you could do better.

The voice that questions your ability as a parent, husband, wife, friend.

So many of us listen to that voice and believe its every word.

There is however another voice.

The voice that tells us we are loved.

The voice that tells us we are accepted even with our faults.

That pushes us forward.

The voice that calls us on.

The voice that encourages us to be better.

The voice that called the light into being.

The voice that screamed it is finished.

The voices are always there. The choice is which one we listen to.