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Spotlight

Walter “Robby” Robinson (played by Michael Keaton) manages a special investigative branch of the Boston Globe. He and his team of skilled journalists focus on developing stories and spend several months in research, investigations and validation to create comprehensive coverage of issues in the lives of the Boston Community. One story begins to take real hold of the team. Under Robby’s leadership, investigators Mike Rezendes (by Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (by Rachel McAdams) and Marty Baron (by Live Schreiber) start to uncover the unbelievable and horrendous story if child abuse within their local Catholic Archdiocese. The story grows and becomes a significant scandal of molestation and cover-up that shakes the entire Catholic Church to its core.

This is an excellent movie. The story itself is horrendous but the movie makes compelling viewing. Well done to Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and everyone involved. It’s great to see Stanley Tucci in the key role as Mitchell Garabedian and also Len Cariou as Cardinal Law. Deservedly, the movie has received global acclaim – awarded an Academy Award (Oscar) for “Best Motion Picture of the Year” and “Best Writing, Original Screenplay”; Mark Ruffalo received a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor, the AFI awarded it “Movie of the Year”. The full cast were awarded with “Outstanding Performance” by the Screen Actors Guild. Well done everyone.

Made in 2015. Directed by Tom McCarthy.

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2016 in Movies

 

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Fading Gigolo

Fioravante (played by John Turturro) loves flowers – he’s enchanted by their delicacy and beauty. He loves to read too – some time ago his love of books lead him to his long-time job at the “Rare Books Store” in Brooklyn, New York. The owner is now closing down the bookstore and his son, Murray (by Woody Allen) is helping Fioravante pack up all the stock. One day, Murray visits his Dermatologist, Dr Parker (by Sharon Stone), and returns to the bookstore with a proposal – he tells Fioravante he wants him to get involved with Dr Parker in a ménage a trios with her partner Selima (by Sofia Vergara) which she will happily pay for. At first he is reluctant, but the extra money is a big drawcard, so Fioravante accepts … and so begins a very successful partnership between the gigolo (alias Virgil) and his manager (alias Don). All goes very well until Virgil meets a new client – striking and lonely Avigal (by Vanessa Paradis), then everything changes. A strict Orthodox Jew, by spending time with Virgil, Avigal breaks the laws of her religion and comes to the attention of her elders. Things start to get very difficult for everyone involved – Murray started this but should it finish? … should they all continue to break basic life rules just to go with their feelings ….?

The poignancy of this movie is far more endearing than its comedy. Like most Woody Allen movies, the scene is classic New York and it’s great, the audience can feel every sensation of the neighbourhood – almost smell and taste the wonderful culture. The comedy is off-beat and entertaining but the emotion and sensitivity in the story is much richer. As Virgil and Don, John Turturro and Woody Allen make a strong and authentic team. They create a successful business and balance well and Virgil is marvellous. He’s a seemingly superficial and straightforward person but is revealed to be a sensitive and deep thinking man. Sharon Stone is good here, she looks great, her style is fabulous and her character is marvellous; as is Selima – she’s really a caricature and well played by the voluptuous entertaining Sofia Vergara. I’m not quite sure of the reason for the presence of Murray’s family – admittedly they add an fresh dimension and an excuse to involve Avigal and her family in the story. As Avigal, Vanessa Paradis is breathtaking – she’s acutely beautiful here and her involvement is done well – she is marvellous. Overall it’s a good movie – very nice with some beautiful scenes and some entertaining comedy.

Made in 2013. Directed by John Turturro.

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2015 in Movies

 

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The Butler

It’s the 1920’s in the cotton fields of America’s South. Cecil Gains (played by Michael Rainey Jr., Aml Ameen then Forest Whitaker) is a young child, born and raised here on the cotton plantation with his parents. His childhood is marked by horror and cruelty as he watches the abuse of his mother and violent death of his father. An orphan, the landowner’s wife (by Vanessa Redgrave) takes him in to the homestead as a house servant, where he works until he’s a teenager. He learns to tend to the family’s every whim as if he’s not there. He leaves the plantation to make his own way in the world and heads north. He finds deep love with his wife Gloria (by Oprah Winfrey) and they raise two sons, Louis (by David Oyelowo) and Charlie (by Elijah Kelley). He works hard to provide for his wife and family. He excels as a server and rises through jobs as house servant to a butler. One day while he’s working, he’s spotted by a household manager from the White House and invited to work there. He proudly becomes a White House butler. So begins his long career serving the President. As the years pass, issues of civil rights and race segregation bring more and more active protests and violence throughout the country and Cecil’s son Louis becomes politically active. Cecil finds this very hard to accept and their relationship suffers.  His career at the White House spans his loyal and discrete service to Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush Snr. Although Cecil is an unassuming man, throughout the decades his unwavering loyalty to the Presidents brings unexpected challenges in his personal life and for his family.

This movie brings to screen a story uncovered during the Obama Presidential campaign when journalist Wil Haygood sought an African American who’d been a White House employee during the Civil Rights movement. He found Eugene Allen, now 89, and this is his story. The issues of the time are depicted well, as is the conflict between father and son – it gives a good overview for anyone not familiar with the issues, the significance of the Freedom Bus and the work of Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X. Clearly, it has the potential to be really great and with such strength in the cast from Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Terence Howard, Vanessa Redgrave, Lenny Kravitz, John Cusack and Cuba Gooding Jr, its credentials cannot be denied. Alongside these key characters, the drama is peppered with cameos from great actors such as Jane Fonda, Robin Williams, Alan Rickman and Clarence Williams III … the list goes on and on – it should have been stunning … but … it isn’t. Unfortunately, it’s only okay. Both Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey put in good strong performances (in my view, she is much better on screen than as a talk show host), but the rest is only good, not outstanding. There have been whispers of disappointments that Oscar nominations didn’t come, but it doesn’t really rate well enough alongside the other contenders for this year.  I think that is the right call for this one.   

Made in 2013. Directed by Lee Daniels

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2014 in Movies

 

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