This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on a true story, this is a journalistic procedural following a team of newspaper writers who take on a corrupt system. The outcome is well-known (they won a Pulitzer Prize and launched the global investigation into child abuse by Catholic priests), but the film is still utterly riveting, beautifully written and played to perfection.
In 2001, the Boston Globe's investigative Spotlight team is working to report the biggest stories in the city. So newly arrived senior editor Marty (Liev Schreiber) asks them to find out if there's truth to rumours that the local Catholic Archdiocese is covering up abuse. But he's unaware that the church controls the city, and the Spotlight writers (Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Brian d'Arcy James) quickly encounter heavy resistance from the establishment. As they persistently dig deeper, they realise that the story is exponentially bigger than anyone thought it was. Two lawyers (Stanley Tucci and Billy Crudup) prove to be crucial in this process, as the team works to prove that the Cardinal (Len Cariou) has been covering up abuse for decades.
Cleverly, writer Josh Singer and writer-director Tom McCarthy never play this story for its salacious details. Instead, they focus on the people involved, which gives the film a strong sense of what's at stake here and the urgency of getting the story exactly right. It's a rare movie that can maintain this balance, gripping the audience and building suspense without ever tipping over into sensationalism. And the filmmakers bring out some strong emotional resonance in sensitive conversations between the journalists and the victims. All of this is expertly played by actors who stir in personal details without letting their characters' side-stories interfere with the larger narrative. They also resist the temptation to overplay the material, letting the facts of the case provide every gut-punch.
Continue reading: Spotlight Review
Glenn Close has divorced for the third time. The ‘Sunset Boulevard’ actor and her husband of nine years, David Shaw, reportedly split earlier this summer.
Glenn Close at Variety's Power of Women luncheon in New York, April 2015.
Continue reading: Glenn Close & David Shaw Divorce After Nine Years Of Marriage
Michael Rezendes is a dedicted reporter for the Boston Globe and part of their Spotlight Team; an investigative division focused on justice and whistle-blowing. When accusations of child sex abuse by members of the Catholic Church arise, he leads the team into their latest case, determined to uncover the truth about a morally questionable priest and his scandalous activities across six different parishes over the course of several decades. It is alleged that the church knew what was going on, but chose not to act and hold their reputation above the welfare of their children. Not only that, but past statements from attorneys don't appear to add up and a delicate battle ensues with the government and police all getting involved as the Boston Globe take on the church. There's a large team at the newspaper working on bringing this case into the open once and for all, and they refuse to let these atrocities be swept under the rug another time.
Continue: Spotlight Trailer
Keller Dover is just a regular guy from Boston who goes with his wife Grace and six-year-old daughter Anna to their neighbours' house on what seems like a routine social occasion. No parent blinks an eye when Anna asks if she can take the neighbours' daughter Joy to their house to play, but when there's no sign of them back home later on, panic ensues as the families scour the nearby streets trying to find their precious children. The only clue as to what may have happened to them lies with a banged up RV that had been parked nearby. When young Detective Loki gets involved with the case, he manages to make an arrest on the driver - a seemingly timid and quiet young man called Alex Jones. However, with no solid evidence against him for the cops to keep him in custody in the case for the missing girls, they are forced to release him after 48 hours. Keller, angry with the verdict and fearing for the life of his daughter who he believes is still alive, decides to embark on his own investigation and kidnaps Alex at gunpoint in an attempt to extract information. Though through his panic and frustration in his quest to find his daughter, he may lose himself along the way.
Continue: Prisoners Trailer
Not that Jack can't be remarkably and convincingly low-key. His roles in both of Sean Penn's directorial projects, The Crossing Guard and The Pledge, are some of the best and most understated work he's ever done. And having enjoyed Citizen Ruth and Election, it's surprising to find that writer/director Alexander Payne's latest attempt at satire falls short of impressing when it stars someone that is capable of delivering. Maybe a comparison of the type of respect Penn must demand versus a relative newcomer to Hollywood is in order.
Continue reading: About Schmidt Review
Jack and Kate Burroughs (Alda and Carol Burnett), Danny and Claudia Zimmer (Jack Weston and Rita Moreno), and Nick and Anne Callan (Len Cariou and Sandy Dennis) head off for the first of their four annual trips in spring, but it's not going to be a good time. The fragile and seemingly unstable Anne announces that Nick has dumped her and that a divorce is imminent. The women rally around their long-time friend while the men stand back and try to avoid emoting at all.
Continue reading: The Four Seasons Review
Thirteen Days is the film in question -- and unlike staff writer James Brundage I felt the film was a truly powerful one, an eye-opening dissection of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a sobering study of how close we came to annihialation during the Cold War, and a peek behind the scenes of detente. An excellent companion to another (even better) Kevin Costner vehicle, Oliver Stone's JFK, Thirteen Days is not an actor's showcase like JFK is, but rather lets its story do the telling, taking us behind the scenes as decisions with cascading consequences are made. To be sure, Roger Donaldson was likely a poor choice as director -- his arbitrary use of black and white vs. color, his heavy-handedness in glorifying Kennedy at every turn, and his preachy doomsaying all wear a bit thin. But even he can't ruin the film completely.
Continue reading: Thirteen Days Review
A warmhearted semi-romance of self-discovery, "Shall We Dance" opens so promisingly that it's a big disappointment when the picture suffers crucial missteps that throw off its entire rhythm.
Richard Gere stars as a melancholy Chicago probate lawyer whose prosaic life (established in an uncommonly affecting voice-over and a perfectly pitched montage of daily routine) gets a secret, seductive pick-me-up when he discovers a passion for ballroom dancing. Riding home on the elevated train day after day, he becomes drawn to a possible kindred spirit, a beautiful stranger (Jennifer Lopez) who seems to be forever staring sadly out a dance-studio window. One day his intuition gets the better of him. He signs up for a dance class to be near her.
As Gere's ennui is only tenuously related to his marriage (to Susan Sarandon), the film does not go the obvious direction with this attraction. But director Peter Chelsom ("Serendipity") and screenwriter Audrey Wells ("Under the Tuscan Sun") find other ways to turn this remake of a mediocre 1997 Japanese film about cultural repression into a wholly Hollywood affair.
Continue reading: Shall We Dance Review
Any half-savvy moviegoer will have the entire plot of "Secret Window" sussed out so far in advance that after the first couple reels the only thing left to do is sit back and enjoy Johnny Depp as he turns this tattered Stephen King B-thriller into a one-man tour de force of gloriously glib psychodrama.
It's a movie that aspires only to entertain with easy apprehension, and harbors no delusions that it's anything more than second-rate horror cobbled together from familiar bits of other King stories (notably "The Dark Half" and "Misery") -- in short, a corny goosepimpler for genre gourmets who wish more drive-in flicks were made with a crafty cinematic élan.
Depp delves happily and headlong into playing Mort Rainey, a dejected divorcé novelist who is holed up in a lakeside cabin, wallowing in writer's block and self-pity until John Shooter -- a nerve-racking nut job played by John Turturro with a Mississippi-backwoods drawl -- turns up on his doorstep accusing him of plagiarism. "Yew stowal mah stowry," the slump-shouldered, slack-jawed whacko bug-eyes from behind the rim of an Amish farmer's round-topped hat.
Continue reading: Secret Window Review
I don't know about you, but whenever I hear Kevin Costner is coming out with another two-hour-plus epic drama, I have a Pavlovian reaction of raging skepticism. After all, this man was the driving force behind "Waterworld" and "The Postman," not to mention the lengthy, maudlin romances "For the Love of the Game" and "Message In a Bottle."
So I admit I went in to "Thirteen Days" -- not only another Costner epic but another Costner revisionist history epic centering around John F. Kennedy -- expecting to cringe my way through it and subconsciously (?) looking for gaffes.
At first there were signs the film might live down to my expectations, like the title sequence's generically ominous stock footage of mushroom clouds and Costner's awk-cent, which begins as more Elmer Fudd than Kennedy compound before he eases into a smooth vocal rhythm. But within 10 minutes I was completely wrapped up in this fly-on-the-wall, pressure-cooker dramatization of what went down at the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Continue reading: Thirteen Days Review