For Reel


Spotlight (2015)
October 21, 2015, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Thomas McCarthy
4 Stars
SpotlightSpotlight is a celebration of good journalism, a film where the moments of lasting dramatic impact come in either particularly revealing interviews or big finds in dark basements riddled floor to ceiling with files and books. As with Zodiac, the film plays as a journalistic procedural, where the drama of the process of reporting itself becomes the focus. Critically, Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer’s screenplay doesn’t indulge in parading grotesque corrupt priests for the audience’s scorn, rather deals almost exclusively with the victims, as well as the lawyers, reporters, and other activists who have felt defeated in a seemingly losing battle against the behemoth that is the Catholic church. The cast delivers uniformly fine work, with the unknowns stealing their scenes given the generous performances of their famous co-stars. Mark Ruffalo’s Michael Rezendes has an emotional outpouring that feels slightly unearned, and there are perhaps too many shots of him looking distraught as he ponders the story while watching innocent schoolchildren, but for the most part director McCarthy plays things with an admirable sense of understatement and precision.



Win Win (2011)
April 12, 2011, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Thomas McCarthy

The third effort by Thomas McCarthy (following The Station Agent and The Visitor), Win Win is an earnest, well-intentioned comedy that perhaps suffers by not taking the same risks as his previous efforts. Funny as the cast may be, the humor lacks edge and there isn’t a single joke that subverts expectations. However, the appearance of Melanie Lynskey late in the film momentarily salvages the familiarity of the material. As the mother of the troubled teenager, she surprisingly offers a whole, human performance that earns our sympathy and frustration in equal measure. McCarthy’s formula may be transparent – each of his films involves an outsider who becomes accepted into an initially reluctant community – but as long as he continues to cast them this well, it will be an uphill effort to direct a total dud.