Spotlight, from director Tom McCarthy is a compelling account of how, in 2001, the “Spotlight” team of reporters from the Boston Globe uncovered numerous reports of child abuse by Boston’s Catholic priests, as well as the system-wide cover-up of said abuse by shuttling these clergymen from parish to parish, after a designated period of “sick leave.”
What begins as an investigation of one priest slowly escalates as more and more victims come forward, and the reporters (and moviegoers) find to their horror, that the number of predatory clergymen is no longer a mere fourteen or fifteen, but as high as ninety–and all with the probable complicity of the powerful Cardinal Law.
Besides the Church’s role, there is plenty of blame to spread around, from the legal eagles who have been buying off (and essentially “burying”) the unfortunate victims, to all those (Boston Globe included) who had previously turned a blind eye, even though the warning signs were apparent far earlier than the events recounted in the film.
There is nothing explicit or graphic in the dramatization of these events, but it’s quietly disturbing and powerful all the same. “I was molested,” one grown victim tells reporter Rachel McAdams. “I need you to tell me more.” The victim does, and this pent-up anguish plays out again and again with the other reporters Brian D’Arcy James (passionate under a thick moustache), and Mark Ruffalo (terrific as the most persistent and explosive of the team). One priest is interviewed at his front door, where he freely admits, “Yes I did it…but I derived no pleasure…” as if this admission expiated his sins.
What also unfolds in Spotlight is the way people close ranks, for better or worse, from the Globe reporters who band together to hunt for the truth, to the people whose faith won’t allow them to accept the facts, to the upper echelons of the clergy who conspired to cover up the abuse. The film is also about how complacency can be stirred up by perceived outsiders. After all, it’s the new Jewish publisher (beautifully played by Liev Schreiber) who suggests the Spotlight reporters pursue the story; it’s the skilled, but frazzled lawyer (Stanley Tucci) who tirelessly pursues justice, at the expense of anything resembling a personal life. In contrast, Spotlight’s chief, Michael Keaton (terrific) is a product of Catholic schools, the insider whose loyalties are shaken when discovers his well-connected friends had played some role in keeping things quiet, which forces him to ask them the question: which side of the story do you want to be on? Finally, Spotlight casts an approving eye on those in the media who allow journalists the time and the luxury of gathering the facts in their quest for the truth. In this fast-moving digital age, this is in real danger of becoming a thing of the past. Spotlight makes the case that it would be a shame if this occurred–it also makes the case for being one of the best films of the year.
Daniel Craig is back for Spectre, and the big questions are how long does Craig wish to remain as Bond, but more importantly, is the franchise still a viable one?
For the latest installment, Bond begins on a rogue mission to Mexico City, preventing a major bloodbath (in a thrilling manner, I might add), and discovering his vanquished quarry had ties to the terrorist organization known as …Spectre. Naturally this mission leads to Bond being relieved of active duty, while at the same time, a mysterious personage known as C (Andrew Scott, from Sherlock ) is planning to take over the Intelligence Service. Bond being Bond, he doesn’t take the suspension lying down, as he intends to takedown Spectre, wipe the smile off the face of the villain du jour (Christolph Waltz) and save the lovely lady (Lea Seydoux) of the hour from almost certain death (although she seems pretty capable, forthe most part).
The problem is, it’s all pretty tired. The action scenes, apart from the pre-credits sequence, are, at best, mere shadows of earlier, more successful showdowns. Waltz’ chief henchman is Mr. Hinx (or as I call him, Oddjob light), and the fierce battle between him and Bond on a train summons up fond memories of Bond vs. Robert Shaw (From Russia With Love), and reminders of how superior the earlier film was. The plot machinations surrounding Waltz’ real identity, as well as his status as “puppet master” stretch the limits of credibility, even by Bond standards–and any surprises connected to the subplot concerning C’s takeover of British Intelligence are mitigated by the casting (especially if you know the actor from Sherlock). In the end, Bond realizes his license to kill need not be exercised at all times–but who wants to see a humane, occasionally angst-ridden Bond–and one who doesn’t even seem to enjoy the lovely females he’s been paired with. Craig as expressed the desire to walk away–it may not be a bad idea.