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
You watched a lot a good movies this week, Abbi. I persevered and enjoyed The Painted Veil very much. I have heard a lot of people liking Clouds of Sils Maria. I know I’d love the scenery and Binoche never fails to deliver. I wonder if I will fee frustrated as you by the end of the film. Better get that one higher up in the Netflix queue. Nice reads, as always, Abbi. This is one of my favorite features of yours.
I wonder if maybe I need to watch Clouds of Sils Maria again to really appreciate it. It’s one of those films I can imagine it would be fascinating to study from a thematic perspective but that it’s not really that entertaining per say. So glad you enjoy the feature. I am sad that it’s probably going to become significantly less frequent once Little O arrives.
No doubt, however, the first month, all he’ll do is sleep and you will want to wake him up so he looks at you. Once he’s in a regular schedule, you and Mr. will have time to relax on the couch. I hope you are able to have some time off when Little O is born.
only seen spotlight of these and I LOVED it! Have no desire to see Clouds or Painted, but I’ve promised a friend a review of WW2 next month, so keep an eye out for it along with the original ww (which I saw once over twenty years ago)
Both Wayne’s World movies are a massive part of my teens. My friends and I watched them over and over. I can quote bits of them from memory.
Wow. It became popular on Snl when I was about to finish high school so I saw most of the skits but never fell in love with the characters or stories. Im looking forward to watching both next month 😉 schaawiiiig!
I’ve never seen any of these things. I hope you’re doing good over there!
Not even Wayne’s World 2? None of the others are for you. Avoid. We are good here. Large and in charge!
Need to see Spotlight still. Sounds really good.
It’s a must-see. Not only is it a great film but it’s also a very important story.
Spotlight was a powerful movie and it all felt so natural and realistic, almost akin to a documentary. The way it exposed the horrible abuse was commendable because it didn’t feel exploitative or sugar coated, it presented the facts.
It did have a strong documentary feel and it definitely added to the power of the story by presenting the facts without shying away from the ugliness of the story.
And the cast was so subtle and natural in playing their roles, a real ensemble.
I loved Spotlight, as you might know, so I’m glad that you liked it even though it wasn’t your favourite. Strong story. 🙂 I’m in the middle of Clouds of Sils Maria. It’s soooo long (and by that I mean it feels long), I like how the play and real life interwine but still… I’ll try to finish it tonight. I usually never watch films in parts but this time I just couldn’t finish it at the first go.
I actually also watched Sils Maria in chunks… on the treadmill at the gym. It’s an interesting set of themes but it is quite heavy going to watch.
Exactly my thoughts.
I actually love Wayne’s World 2, I think it’s better than the first one. Plus it has one of the funniest scenes ever with the one that has Charlton Heston in it!
The Charlton Heston bit is hilarious and I love the bit where Del tells the story of the brown M&Ms… “I had to beat them to death with their own shoes…”
Haha Del is a legend!
I’ve not seen any of these. In some cases that sounds like a good thing. I do need to see Spotlight though.
I would highly recommend Spotlight. I can’t believe you haven’t see Wayne’s World 2 though!
Just one of those things. More Bill and Ted I guess.
Wait… ready to explore the concept of… what?!
Leaving me in suspense here.
Oh total baby brain here. I was still thinking about what I was going to put in there but I clearly forgot yo finish it before I posted. Now I think I will leave it to my readers to make up their own endings 😊 #lazyme
Interesting selection here Abbi. I was very impressed w/ Spotlight, it’s a tough subject matter and it could’ve easily been quite boring but I was engrossed throughout. It was emotional and also riled you up about the atrocities of the Catholic church coverup. The ensemble cast was terrific, lots of people always talk about Ruffalo and Keaton (who are excellent indeed) but I LOVE Liev Schriber here and he’s very memorable even in a brief role.
I quite like ‘Clouds of Sils Maria,’ I was impressed by Kristen Stewart who I thought gave one of her best performances to date. She’s not as wooden as she is in her other movies.
I agree on Liev Schriber. It was a relatively small role but he gave a commanding performance. Also one of Stewart’s best. I just think it’s hard for anyone to match up to Binoche. I do think she has the potential to really grow as an actress.
Spotlight was great, I just posted about it, some of that creepy crap happened at my school *shudders
Clouds of Sils Maria is one I never got around to seeing. Your review sounds interesting… even though you didn’t like it much the themes you spoke about appeal to me. I need to get off my backside and watch this one already
The other two I have never seen
Oh wow! That’s awful. I would recommend Sils Maria from a cinematic perspective but it’s not going to be one to entertain the average viewer.
I’m certainly not the average cinema-goer 😉
This is true!
I’ve seen “Wayne’s World 2” twice (20 odd years ago mind) yet I can’t remember a damn thing about it. The first film however, there are many scenes which still stick out to this day.
I think that is the problem with Mike Meyers – he has one good idea then milks it to death.
That’s very true about Myers. I remember both quite well but I think it’s because they landed during my most impressionable years.
[…] Abbi‘s Film Friday post is always one I look forward to. Read her thoughts on Spotlight, Clouds of Sils Maria and more. […]
Great post, although I kind of disagree with you about the pacing in The Painted Veil. I thought it was spot-on. Few people realise that but the book it is based on is way more boring than the film. I thought the scriptwriter/director did a brilliant job in the movie “speeding things up”.
At the moment I have the attention span of a gnat (I’m 6 months pregnant) so I might have been having an off day. I did think the payoff was worth the wait though.
Hi Abbi. Great blog. I must watch Clouds Of Sils Maria again! I really enjoyed it the first time, the landscapes are gorgeous and, as you say, it’s thematically a very rich film. Would love to see how it holds up to a second viewing.