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
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
Based on a true story, this is one of those relentlessly uplifting Disney movies that mixes comedy and emotion to inspire and move the audience. Thankfully, it also has a very smart screenplay by Tom McCarthy (Win Win) that draws out some resonant themes while tackling cross-culture issues with wit and honesty. This makes it easy to identify with the sparky characters who are trying to reinvent themselves.
Sports manager JB (Jon Hamm) certainly needs a reinvention. He has lost all of his high-profile clients and now needs to find the next big thing. Perceived as washed-up, he has some difficulty convincing someone to fund his crazy plan to stage a talent competition in India to find baseball talent among the local cricket players. With the help of his easily distracted assistant Aash (Aasif Mandvi) and cantankerous ex-coach Ray (Alan Arkin), he narrows the candidates down to two potential stars: Rinku and Danesh (Life of Pi's Suraj Sharma and Slumdog Millionaire's Madhur Mittal). After JB brings them back to Los Angeles, along with over-eager interpreter Amit (Pitobash), renegade coach Tom (Bill Paxton) has to whip them into shape to see if they can attract interest from the big-league teams.
While the film continually threatens to indulge in smiley culture-clash slapstick, McCarthy's script continually grounds the action in the characters, who emerge as fully rounded people who are engagingly unpredictable. The cast is earthy and natural, anchored ably by Hamm as a likeable guy who remains self-absorbed even though he's desperate, and who takes a long time to learn his rather simple lesson. His chemistry with Lake Bell (as the plain-talking tenant in his pool house) is superbly messy. And ace scene-stealers Mandvi and Arkin bring plenty of comic relief to their hilarious roles.
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It's 1973 and young Steven is having a hard time from problems at his home in Pennsylvania due to his mother and father's tempestuous relationship with each other. In a bid to protect Steven from emotional turmoil and to allow themselves time to rebuild their marriage, his parents send him off to spend time with his grandparents on their farm which he soon finds is no longer a safe haven. In a moment of curiosity, Steven talks a walk into the high, expansive corn field but is given a fright when he discovers the body of a dead woman. He tells his grandparents who don't believe him at first, and he is approached by some unsavoury characters when he is briefly left alone in the car. Soon, the family become the victims of some terrifying disturbances at their home caused by some hidden perpetrators that use the corn fields as a hiding place and Steven begins to realise that he has less to fear from the dead than the living.
Continue: The Fields Trailer
In New York, gaming expert Leo (Garcia Bernal) is happily married to surgeon Ellen (Williams). While they work, their young daughter Jackie (Nyweide) is tended to by their Filipina nanny Gloria (Necesito), who's working to raise money to help her two young sons (Nicdao and Delos Santos) back home. Leo's latest business trip takes him to Thailand, where he has some time to kill waiting for his business partner (McCarthy) to make a deal, so he heads to a remote beach, where be befriends a lively young hooker (Srinikornchot).
Continue reading: Mammoth Review