We watched the Oscars last night and were surprised and delighted when Spotlight — the only Best Picture nominated film Beth and I saw — won! It managed to be suspenseful, well-paced and gripping–all without a single explosion or any special effects. To celebrate, here’s a post from November 16 last year that I wrote right after we saw Spotlight on November
This past weekend Beth and I took in a movie at an honest-to-goodness movie theater where we shared a bag of movie popcorn. This is something we do infrequently and with some care—that is, we have to have confidence that the film will be dialog heavy, to the point where Beth can follow on her own. I can freeze and annotate a movie aloud at home fine, but not so much at the theater.
We chose well.
The new movie Spotlight has been getting rave reviews, and I can happily say that it more than lives up to the kudos. Some of the subject matter is difficult to be sure—it involves the Boston Globe’s investigation of priests abusing children, and the Catholic Church’s systematic and diabolical cover-up. But the movie is not prurient or sensational in any way. Instead, it tells a riveting and ultimately satisfying—if somber—story of how important good journalism is, and how difficult it is.
If you liked All the President’s Men, you’ll love this. If you just like good filmmaking, you’ll love it. (Writer/Director Tom McCarthy has some interesting Chicago history.) Great writing. Great acting. Two thumbs and two big toes up.
Besides reminding of the critical role the press plays in a democratic society, the movie honestly points out that, by the same token, when the Fourth Estate fails, there are consequences. In the wake of horrific events like those that played out in France, the press can get caught up in the emotions of the moment, feed nationalism and jingoistic tendencies— for example, the failed coverage of the run-up to the Iraq war.
Or it can keep its collective head and play a healthy role.
Right now, there’s a little of both out there. But it’s been gratifying to run into some thoughtful work—for instance, several writers have pointed out that terror attacks also ravaged Beirut, Kenya, Iraq—and let’s not forget that Russian Airliner.
Here are three items I found particularly helpful in trying to sort things out, and I hope you’ll give them a read and that you find them useful:
This piece by Charles Pierce in Esquire points out the elephant in the Mideast: generous funding of ISIS and other terror groups that comes from nations that are labeled as Western allies. Pearce cites documents from Wikileaks indicating that the State Department has been urging that we persuade these “allies” to clamp down on terror funding for some time. Apparently to no avail. (H/T to our friend Dean Fischer, who shared this on Facebook.)
Speaking of Wikileaks and whistle blowers, a predictable meme in the Paris aftermath has been the efforts by some to try to blame Edward Snowden and his leaks for the attacks. It’s total rot, as this piece by Glenn Greenwald makes clear. The story also raises some serious questions—at least some of the attackers were on intelligence radar, but still they prevailed.
And the most poignant, inspiring and emotionally clarifying thing I saw was an article in the British Independent. The article excerpted and translated images and comments from a Charlie Hebdo who posted on Instagram after Friday night’s awfulness. (H/T to Chuck Miller.) For one thing, the drawings and commentary signaled that the courageous and talented people at Charlie Hebdo are still at it.For another, apart from policy issues, this artwork manages to communicate some inspiration and resoluteness—and even a bit of joy. I hope you’ll give the drawings and the translated messages a look.
Here’s a taste from the cartoonist who loves his city and culture:
For centuries lovers of death have tried to make us lose life’s flavour.
They never succeed.
Those who love. Those who love life. In the end, they’re always the ones who are rewarded.