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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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Begin Again

Gretta (played by Keira Knightley) is a songwriter and performer. Her music is light and her style unique. Her friends love her music but somehow she hasn’t managed to break through to the big time. Her longtime boyfriend Dave (by Adam Levine), is a performer too and they collaborate on their music. They’ve come to New York for Dave – he’s got a major record deal. Things go wrong for the couple and Gretta must find her own place in the world. After an impromptu club performance with her musician friend Steve, she meets record producer Dan (by Mark Ruffalo) who’s looking for his next big thing after a long barren patch. They connect hesitantly and Gretta is totally guarded, but slowly things start to turn around for each of them. A partnership develops with the fruits of their collaboration bringing a range of great things for them both.

This movie is a lot of things – but good things. It’s sweet, quirky, delightful, sensitive, funny and watchable. Keira Knightley’s singing style is unique and I think the songs are original, but some are not great. However, the story and presentation are good. As scruffy but sensitive Dan, Mark Ruffalo is perfect. He gives emotion where it’s needed and his comedy is nicely timed. James Corden is lovely as the hapless but talented Steve and Adam Levine is a good choice to play Dave. Shannon Maree Walsh does well as Rachel too. The New York City setting is perfect for this. Some parts are a little tedious and it could be shorter, but it’s good overall.

Made in 2013. Directed by John Carney.

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2014 in Movies

 

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Thanks for Sharing

Adam (played by Mark Ruffalo) lives his life day to day. Every morning he starts out determined to make it through the day without lapsing and giving in to his strong addiction. Even now, five years “sober”, he still struggles daily with his impulses and his addiction. He’s a sex addict. He’s made it this far thanks in no small part to his sponsor Mike (by Tim Robbins), himself a recovering alcoholic, who gives him constant advice and encouragement – and some days he needs it far more than others. Adam’s a sponsor too, to Neil (by Josh Gad), a newcomer sent to the group under Court Order after his sex addiction led to a series of his misdemeanours and anti-social behaviour. Things are going along with their ups and downs and Adam’s making a real go of his life. He meets Phoebe (by Gwyneth Paltrow), a stunning beauty and fascinating woman who he falls for instantly. He must disclose his addiction to her, but when things are going so well he doesn’t want to jeopardise anything. Meanwhile, both Neil and Mike face challenges in their lives that cause them to reassess their priorities and their relationships. Life throws some serious curve balls at each guy in turn – and they all must decide how to deal with their own difficult situation; whether their addiction is going to get the better of them once again …

This is an interesting movie. It first presents as a lightweight romantic comedy, but ‘comedy’ it isn’t – in some places it does succeed in laughing at human nature and presenting human frailty in an entertaining, positive way – but there’s no comedy here. These people all deal with real life issues associated with addiction – day to day struggles, choices about their actions and priorities, dealing with their impulses and with the consequences of their behaviour. There are strong messages here – often about the way humans interact with each other and deal with life issues that involve their or another’s frailty or weakness. It deals with that very well. The performances are all good – Tim Robbins and Mark Ruffalo are realistic and Josh Gad is as endearing as ever. There is great work from both Gwyneth Paltrow and P!nk (Alecia Moore) too. Overall it’s a good movie.

Made in 2012. Directed by Stuart Blumberg

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2014 in Movies

 

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Margaret

Lisa Cohen (played by Anna Paquin) is really smart. She’s studying in a class of intellectuals at a Brooklyn High School in New York. She’s pretty good at school and loves nothing more than to debate the issues of the day with her politically aware classmates. Her teachers are all challenged by her – her maths teacher Mr Aaron (by Matt Damon) is overwhelmed by her confidence, her English teacher John (by Matthew Broderick) is exasperated by her forthrightness and her political science teachers struggle to keep their class under control when she’s there. Lisa lives with her actress mother, Joan (by J. Smith-Cameron) and her younger brother; her father now lives in California. One day, while Lisa is out shopping she starts to muck around … her actions lead to her witnessing a road accident where a pedestrian is killed. Lisa is deeply impacted by this and her life is taken over by it – she feels she must take steps to correct the injustice caused to the victim. She’s determined that the driver involved, Maretti (by Mark Ruffalo) be held to account for his part in the accident and she mounts a campaign to achieve this.

I found this movie very slow and hard going. Lisa is highly intelligent and insightful, but she’s also immature and idealistic, so her expectations of life and social justice are firm and unyielding. With her intelligence comes confidence, almost arrogance – most of her rich-kid intellectual class mates are afflicted with this also. She wants to bring to life a point based on highest principles, but hasn’t learned that compromises must be made in life along the way too. Her mother is infuriated by her behaviour, but she sticks it out because she loves her and she can see Lisa is troubled. Lisa’s brother is too young to understand. Lisa continues her spoilt, opinionated, selfish, childish behavior – she becomes promiscuous and even more precocious – to the bewilderment of everyone around her. She gets told some home truths as the story plays out – which she richly deserves, particularly by the victim’s long-term friend, Emily (by Jeannie Berlin). Anna Paquin does do a good job as this totally awful girl and the London Critics Circle Film Awards awarded her their Actress of the Year award in 2012 for her performance. By the way, nobody in the movie is actually called “Margaret”, that’s a reference to a play that is read in one of the scenes. Matthew Broderick gets some good work to do and he’s fine, but Matt Damon is totally wasted here, I’m not sure what he was thinking taking on such a pathetic role. J. Smith-Cameron does well as Lisa’s mother, Joan, she’s probably best I think.  Perhaps I missed something with this one ….

Made in 2011. Directed by Kenneth Lonergan.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2013 in Movies

 

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The Kids Are All Right

Sometimes the label of “comedy” really mystifies me when it is applied to movies. This movie is an example.  Nic (played Annette Benning) and Jules (by Julianne Moore) are a long-term lesbian couple who each conceived one of their two children from the same anonymous sperm donor.  Nic is a doctor, she is an older, more practical and controlling partner in the relationship, whereas Jules (who has not yet settled into a career direction) prefers a less structured approach to life.  At 15, their son, Laser (by Josh Hutcherson), decides he wants to meet his biological father and persuades his 18 year old sister Joni (by Mia Wasikowska) to go through all the legal steps to find him. They have success with this and meet their Dad, Paul (by Mark Ruffalo), a still single restaurateur. The two women later meet him and they tentatively form an uneasy new group.

The film explores the relationships between all these characters – it includes betrayal, anger, pain and poignancy. I do question the presence of “comedy”, some of it is quite tedious – but I suppose it could be found laced through the realistic relationship between the totally different personalities of the women, the challenges of parenting and miscommunication with their teenagers and the the single 50 year old biological father caricature.  The performances are all great – the women play out the foibles of their relationship perfectly, the teenagers are typical and the father is a believable type of guy.

Yes, I’d say this movie is Alright.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2012 in Movies

 

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