Thursday, December 1, 2016

Spotlight

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  THIS SPACE FOR RENT.



Spotlight – 5 out of 5

Films that involve heavy subject material and that are loaded with drama are always the films I have the hardest time coming up with opening paragraphs for.  Other films I rely on personal experience to parallel myself to the movie or I just fall back on making jokes to get the ball rolling but with a film like Spotlight I’m at an impasse.  Jokes feel disrespectful and I definitely don’t have personal experience to fall back on with this so what’s a dude to do?  I mean, I think I wasted enough time talking about how I have nothing to talk about in the opening paragraph where I can probably just go on to the next step and start the synopses, right?  I guess I’ll just do that.

What did we ever do as a human species that allowed us to get the gift
that is Michael Keaton?

Based on a true story, this film centers on a new editor named Marty Baron (Live Schreiber) moving into the Boston Globe in 2001.  He speaks with the editor of the Spotlight team, Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton), and talks him into investigating accusations of sexual assault of young children by local priests and the ensuing cover up that occurs.  The team; Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James), Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Ben Bradlee, Jr. (John Slattrey) and Walter Robinson, start to dig in and find out the truth is worse than they feared and what they are working on will have a deep impact on their city and the entire world.

"My next mission for this paper:  Remove any and all traces of Family Circus."

Simply put, Spotlight is an incredibly movie.  The story is heavy and dramatic but never presented in a way that feels too “Oscar bait-y”—if that makes sense.  While a film like this could easily come off as pretentious, the whole story had a very real and grounded feel to it.  It comes off how a bio-pic should be and that is without any over-the-top drama.  There’s nothing hammy going on about this one and it made for a story that was even more engaging and enthralling.

Look at that, real journalism.  Now it's just fake news and clickbait articles
that involve stupid things that will apparently "blow your mind."

Being super serious here but is there anything
Stanley Tucci can't do?
Adding to the film’s realistic and grounded feel are the performances.  There is a huge cast here and it is overflowing with top shelf talent.  Everyone from Keaton, McAdams and Ruffalo to the likes of Stanley Tucci, Billy Crudup and even Richard Jenkins (who was uncredited in his role) are all incredible with what they are delivering.  Just like the story, they all feel real and no one is giving an over-the-top performance or coming off like they are revving up the dramatic tension to 11.  From the little humanistic touches of every actor’s non-verbal communication to the way everyone interacts amazingly together during scenes and showed real chemistry really came together to form a film that was something amazing.

I feel like I should reference Dr. Manhattan here but really don't want to put
the effort in.  Oh, let's just make this a caption contest.  Do the work
for me!

I found no downside to Spotlight beyond the idea that replay value might be low.  This is something I mention a lot in my reviews because this is an important element to me and it does has some impact on my score.  Often, really great dramatic films that are similar to this one I will give perfect or near-perfect scores but concede that replay value is low because too often the same effect the film originally gives on a dramatic level is lost with repeat viewings or the subject material is so heavy that sitting through it again might be emotionally difficult.  Spotlight is sorta on this level as I imagine the impact would come close to the initial viewing but it doesn’t have the gratification fix that would make it a film I would envision myself watching again.

"What are you asking me about my refrigerator?"

In the end, Spotlight is one of those films that seems like it would exist solely to win awards but ends up feeling way more meaningful.  The performances are incredible and the story is able to deliver something tangible without having to resort to making the entire feature too obviously dramatic.

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