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Friday, February 19, 2016

SPOTLIGHT (2015)

A great story, a decent film . . . decent in all senses of the word. Not much else to say about Tom McCarthy’s film about the small team of special investigative reporters @ The Boston Globe’s SpotLight division who uncovered the disgraceful, systemic epidemic of pedophile Priests in the Boston Catholic Church . . . and borders beyond. On the plus side, the pre-digital/analogue bias of 2001 meant reporters still did research in actual locations (libraries & warehouses, so much more photogenic than computer screens & keyboards). On the negative, McCarthy can no longer shock with Priestly revelations, and he falls victim to ‘walking exposition’ shots in an attempt to add dynamism. McCarthy, who’s pretty new to the directing game, is so determined not to sensationalize his touchy subject matter, he lets things go a little flat just when they need to pop. Not much helped by Masanobu Takayanagi’s drab digital lensing which crucially misses the mood setting specificity of Gordon Willis’s cinematography for ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN/’76, that film’s principal glory. Fortunately, there’s a strong cast on hand to play the reporters, lawyers, victims & Catholic leaders, with real standout perfs from Billy Crudup (sending off conflicting impulses with every cracked smile) and Stanley Tucci (nailing the pic’s broadest characterization) as lawyers, while back @ The Globe, Michael Keaton’s editor/reporter does his work selflessly inside the film fabric. Contrast with fellow reporter Mark Ruffalo who pecks nervously at each & every line, cancelling himself out. All told, a good film, to be sure; yet holding something self-congratulatory in its over-rapturous reception.

DOUBLE-BILL: In addition to the obvious choice of ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN maybe a classic Warners press drama like FIVE STAR FINAL/’31 which paints its tabloid in a more ambiguous light.

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