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Spotlight Review (2015)

An eye-opener! Spotlight throws spotlight on the ugly side of faith. An issue lodged so profusely in the streams of religion that it goes either unnoticed or remains unlit. Plot: A team of reporters work conscientiously to bring child abuse by priests into the forefront by illuminating the dark hollows of the ugly tactics of the church.

The movie addresses the issue slyly and then dives into it fully fledged owing to the inclusion of a new concerned editor Marty Baron, played superbly by Liev Schreiber whose words make a difference and reignite the died out flame of Walter Robby Robinson (Michael Keaton) who along with his meticulous and diligent team rush in to address the elephant in the room. Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) are both outstanding. They look forever engaged in their pursuit, whilst Mark Ruffalo as Mike Rezendes can’t be ignored. Mark gets into the skin of Mike and creates a new persona altogether, an earnest committed fella who would stop at nothing to nail the molesters. It is almost as he disappears into that stream of acting. Watch him lose it like a maniac!

There are other brilliant characters in the movie that can’t be left uncredited owing to their enthralling acting. Like that of John Slattery as Ben Bradlee, Jr. who fits into the bossy shoes pretty great. Also, Billy Crudup, Stanley Tucci and Jamey Sheridan who were all mesmerizing in their little fleeting acts.

Screenplay of the movie is well written. Becomes very thoughtful at times. The work the people do in the flick will make you feel worthless. So, crucial bringing issues in the dark to the front page! They deserve an ovation.

“That’s why I never got married. I am too busy. What I do is too important.”

The aforementioned is said by Mitchell Garabedian played brilliantly by Stanley Tucci. You could almost read how concerned and thoughtful the guy is from his looks.

Spotlight comes up with a beautiful plot of mind-boggling revelations that will make you hate the religious conventions that hide the truth. It is a dead on collision between the media and the system, which remarkably addresses the church functioning snags. To say that the issue just circles around church would be an understatement. It is a global phenomena, something so ugly that it hardly makes news. This flick beats the odds to come up a victor. Kudos to the thoughtful media on this one!

SPOILERS AHEAD:

Spotlight begins with a hushed conversation and a free priest getting away with a horrendous crime. The prologue is reflective of how untouched and unscathed they feel under the aegis of their religious fallacy. How unfazed they feel around the law! Believing they are closer to God they could get away with anything! The perpetrator walks on to his car, escorted by a bigger authority from the Church as the helpless law (a policeman) watches their car drive through a mist of smoke into the oblivion.

It delves deep into some outstanding reporting too which is well captured by Tom McCarthy that shows us how extraordinary the efforts of Boston Globe reporters really were in bringing out the issue at hand into the limelight. The final result will gratify you and if you are the empathizing kind, you will feel the cold yet comforting gaze of justice from the end credits.

The world’s full of sexual predators. They could be masked as priests too. To look the other way is not the solution. If it is happening in your corridors, speak up. Crime’s after all a crime. Something needs to be done or the world will go blind.

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Review (2014) | Genius

Exhilarating! Extraordinary performances! Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is an outstanding flick that tries to capture the life of a washed up actor, his continuous battle to prove his mettle in the acting world once again. Michael Keaton, the protagonist plays a character that is miffed by his psychotic split persona, in his endeavour to revive and in the process, get a hold of himself.

Plot of Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s riveting drama isn’t just about a lost actor who is trying to find himself through a Broadway play but is also about a broken man trying to justify his relevance to the world. Birdman is an extremely well written dramatic account of Riggan’s life, his tattered relationships, his dream to make it big once again and the alter-ego that literally rules over him. 

still of michael keaton in birdman movie

Direction

Inarittu’s direction is a beauty as he merges several frames subtly to project a continuous shot. The whole movie seems like it has been shot in a single take, and that illusion is worth an ovation. The director also gorgeously masters every frame’s timing quotient. Every act starts with a proper follow through of a character only getting intercepted when it’s someone else’s queue. The flow and rhythm of the movie is simply splendid. 

There is something beautiful about Birdman’s story. The ploy is brilliantly narrated through the messed up head of Riggan with glimpses from his past debacles, screenplay that makes you brood that often cross over for emphasis, an ever ending take that goes on till the climax, and a conclusion that loosely dangles for intense interpretation. Everything has been wrapped up beautifully by an audacious and dark voice in his head, the one big thing he ever was – Birdman, one big success from the past that keeps haunting him, telling him he isn’t dead and that he flies above the meaningless. 

Breaking Birdman Down

With an imaginary backdrop working along with the protagonist, you already know that you are in for a fantasy-world. What is crucial is that you pay attention. There are minute subtle hints that will blow your mind away while trying to connect the dots. 

If we overlook the mind boggling ending for a while, still we are left with some exceptional drama pieces like when Sam speaks up to her father and shatters him with cold, when Riggan takes on a famous NYT critic in a bar and excellent conversations between Mike and Sam and Lesley’s remorse. Things become intense owing to bits of psychotic drama as Riggan inches towards insanity. The climax of the movie leaves you spell bound and is deliberately left open for interpretation.

Final Epilogue Explained (Spoilers)

If you have not seen the movie, please stop reading at once. But if you have, the ending is sure to raise a dozen doubts in your head. 

The flick ends in a surreal epilogue with Riggan jumping out of the window, and Sam reacting happily to her Father’s ‘flying’ act. The one theory that I would like to believe but not stick to is Riggan’s death after he shot himself during the theater act. Reasons that reassure me of this:

  • The plot was one continuous single take but the continuity breaks for the first time right after Riggan shoots himself.
  • In the hospital when Jake switches on the TV it showed people lighting candles for him. You don’t do that for a person who is alive. Du-uh dead! 
  • The hospital scene was probably the next day right after the incident. Sam bringing flowers for him could be at his funeral. This justified by his inability to smell them. His funeral again supported by the fact that her wife was wearing a black dress. 

Riggan jumping out of the window could be a symbolism of his soul transcending, as he finally rejects Birdman to be his only way to stardom. Sam’s smile in the end could be her acceptance of her father’s feat as a true hero.

Contradicting the Above Theory

What contrasts the above ‘dead’ theory greatly is the fact that there were several past failed suicidal endeavors by Riggan which have been subtly inserted into the screenplay. Lesley responding to Ralph once: “He shot himself in the mouth. But he screwed that up, too.” The Jellyfish story goes on to show how Riggan was unsuccessful in killing himself in the past. So shooting the nose seems plausible. Then it takes us again to the hospital part. Taking this theory ahead on the vanguard, we can say that the imagination of Riggan once again begins right from the part he decides to take off the bandages and the rest that follows is once again the imagination bit. In the end he flew fantastically and figuratively with an acknowledgment sign from her daughter. This seals the deal too.

Whatever the case might have been Birdman is truly a rare feat that must be celebrated. Go ahead and watch this movie if you wish to visit some avant-garde style of film-making.

Check out the trailer of Birdman movie here: