Sunday, 7 February 2016
129 Minutes. Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery & Stanley Tucci. Director: Tom McCarthy.
Shine a light on the beautiful city of Boston and you'll see this New England town is famous for a lot. The Sox, the Celtics...Cheers. Even gangsters and the movies they inspire from 'The Departed' and 'The Town' to Johnny Depp's Oscar snubbed 'Black Mass'. But one thing that gives Beantown more of a black eye than this is the scandal of the Catholic Church. The 'Spotlight' investigatory team of the Boston Globe newspaper revealed that there where 90...yes you read that right 90 priests who had been accused of paedophillia in the seventies and over 100 survivors walking the streets of Boston today. 100?! Survivors?! Those are the victims of abuse who didnt tragically decide to take their own lives. And these unfathomable numbers are just in one city and one country. Not the whole community or world. How can we ignore an issue like this that is still purily prevelant today? Well 'Spotlight' didn't...and neither will occasional actor ('Meet The Parents' and the journalistically grand 'Good Night And Good Luck') and until now feet wet director (aside from the independantly acclaimed 'The Station Agent' and 'Win, Win') Tom McCarthy who in one epic ensemble of a film may just have claimed his place and podium in the Academy for the Oscar's 'Best Picture' of necessity and merit. All the Academy's board must see that this is the greatest power of journalism for good picture since Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman's 'All The Presidents Men'. That's how great this cinematic episode that captivates from the first frame really is, even if it is all scripted in dialogue...even if it is dynamic. 'Bridge Of Spies', 'The Big Short', 'The Revenant', 'The Martian', 'Room', 'Mad Max: Fury Road' and 'Brooklyn'. This isnt just one of the best movies of the year. It's under the Spotlight as one of the greatest movies of all time.
No wonder McCarthy has been able to recruit an Academy of actors to bring this 'Spotlight' to the Hollywood press. Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci. Its a bold type faced billing worthy of a broadsheet. So much so there's formidably enough room in the footnotes for a breakout performance from musician and theatre player Brian d'Arcy James and a wealth of familiar faces (a brilliant Billy Crudup) and voices (an uncredited Richard Jenkins) in stellar support. Just like the 'Spotlight' syndacite its journalistic self, this ensemble is all about teammwork. That's why the first actor whose name appears here has been nominated for a supporting gong. But coming off his nominated, but still so underrated, trapping 'Foxcatcher' performance last year, Mark Ruffalo really is the best actor here. Furiously inspired and incredible, the Hulk here is red with a different type of anger. Raging with the bull passion ingrained of a journalist that wants to get to the root of the story and a man who feels wronged enough to want to do whats right. Strained yet sustained. Anxious, accented and amazing. This is Ruffalo at his roughest, rawest, but realest. The man who broke through with show steals in the legendary likes of Tom Cruise's 'Collateral' and Leo DiCaprio's 'Shutter Island' is finally making a name for himself. One man who already has from 'Batman' to 'Birdman' is 'Spotlight' leader Michael Keaton, keeping his story and star journalist at bay like the Back area of Boston. Following his Oscar nominated one shot as a fallen superhero and going up against the like of his last directors 'The Revenant', Keaton deserves another and not just as part of the big picture. Anybody who thought this man was a one trick Pegasus can find themselves with the birds. There is no virtue for ignorance here. You should have expected this. Keaton back to his keepsake best. Focussed, formidable and back amongst your favourites. Oscar or not. What name is better than Michael?
There's more to this story however. How about Rachel McAdams? One of the greatest actresses in the world who of late has vowed to show us she's more than just the time travelling rom-coms. About time! Here after her deep and dark, made up turn was one of the two saving graces in the highly anticipated but underwhelmingly disappointing 'True Detetctive' season two (the other being the classic copped, learning from Al Pacino's 'Recruit' Colin Farrell), McAdams reporters notebook read into more. She's tunnel visioned singular and oh so anti-journalist stereotype sympathtic to more than just the cause. Emotive and engrossing this will go down in the effects as one of her most definitive moments on screen. And if you really want to talk about Sopranos in this city than how about 'Ray Donovan'? An almost unrecognisable Liev Schrieber is also undeniably real as a new in town editor who yearns to know more about the state of his city than 'The Curse Of The Bambino'. There seems to be something eating away at his character and we cant quite tell. Maybe he's running away from a divorced marriage in a broken city, whether with his work or his wife. Or maybe he's running towards the right story or the desire to do the right thing. Or just maybe we should rewrite the word 'right' with 'necessary'. Whatever it is, either way Schrieber plays is award worthy perfectly. Just like the stark and stellar John Slattery, who forget 'Mad Men' is playing the role of an enraged one...and its not because the scotch and cigarettes advertising age of the fifties is now at the bottom of his glass. And who could forget that even more share the spotlight? Who could forget the classic actor of character Stanley Tucci? Who with so much in the pot is cooking up even more, featuring with an amazing assist that makes him one of those 'and' actors on the character billing of legend. Someone get this casting director an Oscar too. Still though, 'Spotlight' may shine on a lot here sure, but the one thing it must keep its and our focus on is the subject at hand. That's what matters most. No matter how hard it is to take and understand outside the realm of cinema with movies that make us think about the real world and all its fraileties and cruelties. For that we need to do more than just stand around and watch. Let us do more than pray. TIM DAVID HARVEY.