Two Days, Two Movies

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Gail made a New Years resolution to see more movies, and we started the year off with two very good ones.

The first, Spotlight, is the very true story of how the Boston Globe did brilliant investigative journalism and broke the story of the Catholic church consistently covering up for child abusing priests.

Michael Keaton has long been one of my favorite actors.  In Spotlight he plays Robby Robinson, the editor of the Spotlight section of the Globe, it’s investigative arm.  A home grown Boston boy, raised in the Church with working class roots, he doesn’t want to believe that the corruption goes all the way up to Cardinal Bernard Law, but cannot deny the evidence before his eyes.  He leads his team, including Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams, driving them to find solid proof of a widespread program of shielding and protecting pedophile priests with no thought to the damage they were doing to the children.

The new editor of the paper is an out of town Jew, who has no allegiance to the local history and power structure, willing to take on the Church.  He is portrayed by Liev Schreiber, looking so much softer and non-threatening than he does in Ray Donovan that I didn’t recognize him.

When the story is about finding a story, the plot gets too meta for me to properly analyze.  I’m getting dizzy trying to figure out which story is the real heart of the movie, but it doesn’t matter.  Spotlight is compelling theater.  It runs over 2 hours, and I wasn’t checking my watch ever.

In the end, the truth comes out, changes are made and reparations are paid, but Cardinal Law is kicked upstairs to Rome.  Did the paper, and the city,  win or lose?

 

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Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan in Creed

The original Rocky was one of the greatest movies of all time, then followed a series of increasingly sucky sequels, and now there is Creed, which is magnificent.

Turns out that Apollo Creed had a son with some now nameless woman with whom he was having an affair, a son who was born after the fighters untimely death.  The mother died, the kid bounced around foster homes and juvenile halls until Apollo’s widow finds him and takes him in.

Although raised from then on with money and class, fighting is in his blood, so much so that he is taking unsanctioned club fights in Tijuana by night and working in  financial services by day, until he can no longer bottle up his drive, quits his job and moves from the LA mansion of his father to Philly to look up Rocky Balboa and train to be a champion.

Rocky by this time is old, tired, not interested in fighting and just wants to run his restaurant, named for his deceased wife, Adrian.

From here you could probably write the script yourself.  There’s the staccato sound of boxing training.  There’s work. A fight is presented,  which nobody thinks he can possibly win.  He works harder.

There’s a girl, beautifully played by Tessa Thompson.  Lots of inspirational speeches.  Some bad things happen, then there is a great fight.  Your heart swells.  You cheer.  The audience applauds and the house lights come up.

Of course you know what is going to happen, and you don’t care.  This is not a suspense movie, it is an exciting, uplifting movie, and it works very very well.

Stallone wrote and directed most or all of the other movies, but this was written and directed by Ryan Coogler. Stallone just acts, and he does it very well, showing an old man who accepts his life, good and bad, with maturity and grace.

The fight scenes are incredible, filmed in very long takes with a hand held camera in the ring with the fighters. Cinematographer Maryse Alberti did a brilliant job of bring the closeness and immediacy of the ring to the screen.

Real fighter Andre Ward plays movie fighter Danny Wheeler. Real announcers Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman, Ring announcer MIchael Buffer play themselves.  Liev Schreiber pops up again as an off-screen narrator.

I thought this was a wonderful movie, but I’m a fight fan.  Stallone became famous with the first Rocky and has created the perfect cap to his career with the final one.  I hope it’s the final one–hate to see him try to milk one more our of the series.  Time to go out a winner.

 

 

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