Spotlight leads this week’s films
I’m an unabashed fan of Drafthouse Films. They fill a void in cinema left in the wake of big studio films on one side and the endless stream of indie product on the other side. Films like Roar and The Connection deserve to be seen and talked about. That being said, the latest Drafthouse release Dangerous Men is merely a tedious excuse for genre filmmaking masquerading as a cult classic.
Boiled down to its core Dangerous Men follows the adventures of a woman who goes on a killing spree of men who either killed her boyfriend or are trying to rape her. (Another Drafthouse re-release, Ms. 45 is actually the movie that Dangerous Men wishes to be.) The filmmaker, not from America, has a slanted view of how bikers, rapists, cops and killers consume as well as how people talk. Add the fact that director John Rad spent 25 years shooting the film and you have a cross pollination of ‘80s action soundtrack hijinks mixed with a wandering narrative that slithers all over the place. Calling Dangerous Men an action masterpiece is like calling Coke a health elixir. Dangerous Men opens in an exclusive engagement this weekend at the Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park.
Another exclusive unspooling at the AD Vintage Park is the horror flick The Hallow. An above average genre piece that puts its protags in the middle of an Irish forest filled with demons and spirits, The Hallow uses tropes from Straw Dogs (home invasion) to The New Daughter (strange things in the woods).
A young British couple with a baby moves to a remote rural area in Ireland and are instantly warned by the locals to stay out of the forest. When they don’t they draw the wrath of nature with increasingly disastrous results. Personally, I would’ve gotten the hell out of Dodge when the creeping vines started to strangle the house and car and not wait for the demons in rubber suits to arrive. Additional chills are supplied by the baby that never stops crying.
You know how at the end of a movie a graphic text pops up that offers an explanation of what happened next? Spotlight, a newspaper procedural that examines the true story of how the Boston Globe burst open the lid on pedophile priests, ends with a list of nearly every large and medium sized city in America, and then a list of several international destinations. These are places where priests were brought to bear for past sins of molestation once the Globe turned silence into every day conversation.
Like the best films of this specific arena (All the President’s Men being the finest example) Spotlight offers an increasingly suspenseful sense of a handful of reporters trying to get people to speak on the record. All the characters are based on the actual lawyers, employees of the Globe, clergy, judges and victims. The exemplary ensemble cast includes Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Live Schreiber, John Slattery, Brian d’Arcy, Stanley Tucci, Billy Cruddup, and Jamey Sheridan.
Director Tom McCarthy (also an actor who played a reporter for a 10-episode arc in the series Wire) helms Spotlight in an efficient manner that constantly escalates the stakes as the chain of truth goes higher and higher up the ladder of Catholic priests, bishops and cardinals. Conversation is action in Spotlight. The title refers to the name of the small division of reporters within the Boston Globe that will spend months investigating newsworthy items. The events seen in the movie won the Globe the Pulitzer Prize for reportage in 2003.
— Michael Bergeron