Spotlight tells the true story of a group of investigative journalists at the Boston Globe who in 2001 uncovered the Catholic Church’s cover up of a scandal involving priests who molested children. The investigation starts with a single priest who has been accused but as the team uses their impressive detective skills to dig ever deeper, interviewing victims, lawyers and even a former priest who has been studying the psychological phenomenon they realise that this is only the tip of a truly horrific iceberg.
What makes the discovery particularly horrific is not only the position of trust the Church holds but just how insidious its attempts to protect itself and its own at the expense of the innocent have been over decades. Boasting an outstanding cast that includes an ever impressive Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schriber, Billy Crudup and John Slattery, Spotlight draws you in not only through the power of the story it unfolds but also the profound effect it has on those who have uncovered it. This is even more evident as the team realises they’ve had much of the informaiton at their fingertips fof yeats. While this is a well-told, highly authentic and very important story with excellent performances that I would highly recommend, it all played out just a little bit too straightforwardly for me. I can see why it won the Best Picture Oscar but it would not have been my pick. 4/5
Juliette Binoche plays Maria Enders a world famous film star who got her first break playing a young character called Sigrid in a play featuring a lesbian May-December romance. Now she is asked to revisit the play but this time in the role Sigrid’s older lover, Helena, with Sigrid played by a reckless paparazzi hounded starlet named, Jo-Ann Ellis (Chloë Grace Moretz). Maria heads to the remote Sils Maria with her assistant Valentine (Kristen Stewart) to prepare but as they run lines, Maria finds it ever more challenging to come to terms with the fact that she is reaching the twilight of her career and desirability. She is also drawn not only to Valentine, as there is a suggestion that life might be imitating art, but also to Jo-Ann who simultaneously fascinates, repulses and reminds her of her former self. So there is a lot going on in this film and themes abound but because nothing is developed particularly well it also feels a bit like there’s actually nothing going on. Binoche is as fabulous as ever and Stewart gives it a good go although never coming close to her older co-star. Moretz is uninspiring by comparison to both but it’s hard to tell if this is just because her character is somewhat clichéd and underwritten. In the end the biggest draw turns out to be the magnificent scenery. Interesting but ultimately undercooked. 2.5/5
Kitty (Naomi Watts) agrees to marry infectious disease specialist, Walter Fane (Edward Norton) mostly to get away from her overbearing parents. The two move to China, where although Walter appears to love Kitty, he is unable to show her much affection or take much interest in her life driving her into an affair with their friend, Charlie Townsend (Liev Schreiber). Having discovered the affair, Walter insists that Kitty follow him to a remote region where he will assist with a cholera outbreak. Initially Kitty believes Charlie will leave his wife for her but when this does not materialise she is forced to follow the ever more cold and indifferent Walter. But as their new environment tests and challenges the pair and they begin to communicate they realise that their marriage may not be as hopeless as either of them believed. All of this plays out against a volatile political situation and an intense culture clash between east and west. Watts does a great job with Kitty who is a frustrating and self-destructive character, mostly because she is desperate for passion and feels completely stifled by the conventions of daily life. Norton and Schreiber provide competent support along with Anthony Chau-Sang Wong, who plays the military colonel assisting Walter with the locals. Even the British accents aren’t bad at all. There are pacing problems though, especially at the start and all the gorgeous scenery in the world couldn’t stop me from wishing things would just get going for the first hour. If you can find your way through that though you’ll be rewarded for your perseverance with some decent character development. 3/5
Best friends, Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) are back in this follow-up to the cult hit, Wayne’s World. This time they’ve finally moved out of their parents’ homes, Wayne is still dating the beautiful Cassandra (Tia Carrere) and even Garth has a love interest (Kim Basinger). But even with all this, Wayne feels like he’s not doing enough with his life and when he is visited by Jim Morrison in a dream and told to put on a festival he finds the direction he is looking for. It won’t be easy though, none of the bands he’s booked have confirmed, no one has bought any tickets and Cassandra seems to be at risk of running off with her producer, Christopher Walken. So Wayne’s World 2 is even dumber than Wayne’s World with even less of a coherent story line and zero character development. It is a massive part of my early teens though, a total pop culture barometer and endlessly quotable with the best part of the film being a scene stealing performance by Ralph Brown as the uber roadie that Wayne convinces to help him put on Waynestock. Between him, Walken and Jeff Wong as Cassandra’s dad, Myers and Carvey almost get lost in their own movie. Whether you’ll enjoy this if you never saw it at thirteen is anyone’s guess but it still absolutely cracks me up despite its flaws. 3.5/5