REVIEW: “SPOTLIGHT” (2015) Q & A w/Producers (Open Road Pictures)

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“Spotlight” boldly brings back into the spotlight (pun intended) and tells the true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking up not only us the public, but the entire Catholic Church to its core.
Michael Keaton plays Walter Robinson who leads the Globe’s investigative unit “Spotlight” along with Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James). At a time when the internet started undercutting actual newspapers & staffs of some of the biggest papers in town were being cut in half, the Globe brought in new editor, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), and the team begins to unfold a horrific pattern of child sexual abuse by the church that was muted and covered up by high priced lawyers and payoffs to victim’s families. As Walter probes further and further into the events (the setting is just prior to, but mostly after the events of 9/11) the investigation reveals layers and layers of injustice of Catholic Priests that were aided by the highest powers of the church in an effort to keep the story muted.spotlight 1

It all starts with a featured column about Catholic priest John Geoghan who was accused of abusing over 100 boys. A civil suit is filed but the details of the abuse were ordered sealed by the courts. As newly installed editor and the first Jewish one at that, Baron puts the team of reporters on the case and within days the evil that lurked with the sacred rooms of local churches begins to reveal it’s despicable face.
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The investigation goes on for months as the team hits roadblock upon roadblock taking one step forward for every two steps back. But the story eventually breaks and the emotionally exhausted team is eventually able to bring to light one of the more depressing and important stories to hit us in the new century.

The performances are mostly good. Schreiber as Baron, the first Jewish editor is quiet, yet speaks volumes. Ruffalo with some oddly thrown in facial & body tics/expressions that are reminiscent of a bad Jimmy Olsen type reporter is almost annoying to a point, McAdams is her usual bland generic self. Keaton & Tucci both are good, though for Keaton, it’s not Birdman type good. There are more roles to be recognized in Billy Cruddup, Jamey Sheridan & notable is John Slattery. It’s truly an ensemble film as there are no specific leads. spotlight 5
And of course nods to All the President’s Men will be inevitable. The film itself is fresh and invigorating in its painfully frustrating subject matter. It is at times painful to watch. Trusted bonds between people, children, parents and the institution that promotes the opposite to what it sometimes preaches are disgusting revelations that are brought to the screen with sizzling effect. You won’t forget this movie or what happened any time soon after you see it, and truthfully, we never should.

Grade: B-
@pegsatthemovies

Screening: Monday, November 2, 2015 ~ Courtesy of the Producers Guild of America
Nationwide release: Friday, November 6, 2015

POST Q & A w/Producers: Michael Sugar, Nicole Rocklin, Blye Pagon Faust, Steve Golin ~ It’s always nice when the Producers, Director and Cast take the time out to do a post-screening Q & A. They talk about their passion for the projects and usually give great insight to their films. That’s why it surprised me so much that there was a huge exodus of people after this film. Usually you always get a few, but I would say 1/2 the audience emptied out. Not sure why, maybe they were disturbed by it, maybe they were Catholics upset by the fact that it happened, and maybe some still just don’t want to believe it. I found it sad because as a film-goer, you should have the decency to show respect to the people that again, took the time to come talk to you about a project. Moving on… All producers listed took the time to speak about the films budget, which at 20 million, but they still got good stars to come aboard even though there was no specific lead role, as it was a complete ensemble type film. Mark Ruffalo was the first to come aboard and they appreciated that because it brought others to the table. They also had to clear schedules because they wanted to shoot in the specific time of year of late fall, early winter as that’s when it all actually happened. The Boston Globe also let them shoot in their actual offices where everything took place.
They also had to work closely to get all the legal aspects & clearances done correctly as you would be assuming correctly if you thought the Catholic Church was less than thrilled to be having this all brought up again in a film. The only reaction from the church has been the few apologies you’ve already seen.
Since the piece first ran in Jan 2002, over 600 more articles were published by the Boston Globe unearthing more and more atrocities. The most moving moment was when a survivor was in the audience and thanked the producers for making this film and making sure we never forget and hopefully work harder to prevent this from happening again, as it still is going on all over the world..and not just in the catholic religion to be sure.

REVIEW: “MINIONS” (2015) Universal Pictures

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Everyone!! Meet Kevin, Stuart and Bob, our adorable minions who decide to leave the home they have set up as all the minions are getting depressed (in some of the movies funniest ‘depressing’ scenes) to go and find an evil master to serve. This takes them on journeys far and wide until they eventually find a master who they think is evil enough in “Scarlett Overkill” (v/o Sandra Bullock) who along with her husband “Herb Overkill” (v/o Jon Hamm) is shall we say, just a bit obsessed on obtaining the royal crown and being Queen of England. Needless to say, without even trying the minions manage to annoy and disappoint her just by the sheer dumb luck of what is happening to them.
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Before we even meet Ms. Overkill though, the film takes us on an adventure to see how the minions have spent their years trying to find an evil master to serve. This creates some of the best and most amusing moments of the film showing what the minions have been doing during some historic time periods.
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While it lagged some in the middle of the film, it picked itself back up with the parts in England and inclusion of Queen Elizabeth being fun along with the British stereotypes, made for some humourous moments. I think the best thing to say about this film is that I surrounded by loads of kids and shockingly enough they were quiet in the best way possible throughout the film – by that I mean they all seemed to love it and be very entertained by it.. laughing at different parts show that it was well catered to them though I’m not sure how parents are explaining the prequel part to them, it might not be all that necessary.
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For me, the soundtrack used in the film is a must mention with some absolutely fantastic songs from start to finish. Though I’m guessing only the adults will catch on to some of the references made such as running into The Beatles in the now famous Abbey Road album cover.

All in all, this movie will be a summer-time box office smash and a must see for anyone with young children.

Rating: C+
@pegsatthemovies

Screening at Mann’s Chinese Hollywood – Monday, July 6,2015 courtesy of Universal Pictures.
Nationwide release: Friday, July 10, 2015

Added bonus shot: ME with the Minions!!! 😀
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OSCAR COUNTDOWN: BEST ACTOR

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We’re coming to the end of my Countdown to the Oscars…

BEST ACTOR:
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Michael Keaton
“Birdman”
From the first time I saw this movie to the third time I saw this movie..I loved Keaton’s performance wholeheartedly. And yes, I love a comeback and this was a damn good one and yep..he’s my pick.

Eddie Redmayne
“The Theory of Everything”
Eddie Redmayne’s performance in this film is what awards are made for. Enough said. I won’t be mad if he wins and honestly, I think he just might pull it off..

Benedict Cumberbatch
“The Imitation Game”
I’m a fan of Cumberbatch’s for some time now. Before Sherlock even he did some fantastic work..anyone ever see him & Tom Hardy in Stuart: A Life Backwards??!! Wonderful film and the message he brought forth about Alan Turing needed to be told.. is it enough to win..no I don’t think it is.
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Bradley Cooper
“American Sniper”
Whomever says Bradley Cooper can’t act really needs to see this film. He really embodies this role but I’m guessing political controversy will make it so he is not taking home a little golden man this year.. Though I think it will happen eventually in another role.

Steve Carell
“Foxcatcher”
Was Steve Carell so creepy good in this film? yes he was.. Did he play so against type you wondered at times if it was really him? yes you did. Will he win.. probably not.

My Pick: Michael Keaton
Will Win: Eddie Redmayne
Possible Win: it’s anyone’s guess at this time.

Golden Globes – My picks for Film~Best Actor/Actress/Director/Supporting/Foreign

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My picks for these awards are just that..MY PICKS! 😀 This is my favourite award show as it’s both Film & TV..I mean how can you go wrong with the best of both genres drinking it up at one awards show with Tina Fey & Amy Pohler hosting. Well the answer is you can’t. I’ve seen almost all the films presented this year, even the foreign ones – though yes, I’ve missed a few as there is only so much one human-being can do! ha! You might agree or even better, you might dis-agree ~ it’s all good. I will warn you, I did pretty well last year with my picks and this year I think I’m going to do even better. So with that..I give you #peggyatthemovies 2014 Golden Globe picks! Cheers!

BEST PICTURE (DRAMA):
“Boyhood”
I loved the premise of this movie.. the movie itself was good..but not great for me.

“Foxcatcher”
I will say I was glad I went into this film not knowing to much about it. Performances were very good, but still not my pick here.

“The Imitation Game”WINNER
I loved everything about this movie. The story is so good~the much speculated and talked about inaccuracies and all. The acting even better, and alas it was the only movie to make me cry..both times I saw it.

“Selma”
Like it as it’s quite a powerful film with all it’s much talked about inaccuracies also…just didn’t love it.

“The Theory of Everything”
Really like the film..second viewing the other night was even better.. performance by both actors, especially Eddie Redmayne, is what awards are made for. Still not my top choice for best picture though.

BEST PICTURE (COMEDY/MUSICAL):
“Birdman”WINNER
From the 1st viewing to my 3rd viewing.. BRILLIANT!!

“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
I enjoyed this movie as it was tons of fun and entertaining..though I might not think it’s best picture material, others might.

“Into The Woods”
Will admit to not having seen it yet..as it just wasn’t on the top of my to-see list. I will eventually get to it though.

“Pride”
This movie never came to a theatre near me as far as I know as it was on my list..if it did, it was in and out so fast I missed it. Too bad because it seems as it would be right up my alley.

“St. Vincent”
This was a fun, sweet film.. I mean how can you not like Bill Murray..and the kid was great..but still not a top film for moi.

BEST DIRECTOR:
Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Wes Anderson has done some good films that I’ve really liked..and I did like this a lot, just not enough for it to be my pick in this category.

Ava DuVernay, “Selma”
Good film..love the fact that a woman director got nominated and it was great hearing her speak about the film trials & tribulations after the screening, but alas, it’s not my pick.

David Fincher, “Gone Girl”
I mean who doesn’t love David Fincher..He;s done some brilliant stuff..and I liked this film a lot as it had a good creep/twisty factor but it’s not an award winner.

Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman”WINNER
But there is only one “Birdman” and this film was stunning with it’s long one-shots and imagination. I loved loved loved it…all 3 times to be exact.

Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Yes, I was stunned as I watched this film unfold as to the idea of it all..and that idea was Richard Linklater’s – but I just didn’t like the movie enough to make it my #1 .. though if Alejandro doesn’t win, he would be my 2nd choice based on just the fact it was done over a 12yr time period..that’s a huge commitment and undertaking.

BEST ACTRESS (DRAMA):
Jennifer Aniston, “Cake”
I wish I could say I’ve seen this film/performance as a lot of people are raving about it. But I blinked and missed it for the 1 week it was in like 2 theatres here.

Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
Loved the film, loved the performance especially for her 1st major leading role and she was wonderful..my 2nd choice for sure.

Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”WINNER
Can we not just give Julianne the damn award already??!!! She needs to finally win it for a lead role in a film dammit!!

Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”
While I’m not Rosamund Pike’s biggest fan, she was crazy creepy good in this role. But then she also did Simon Pegg’s “The Pursuit of Happyness” this year which was awful. Just for that reason alone she doesn’t deserve this. 🙂

Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”
Yeah..everyone said I would be ‘WOWED’ by this film & her performance..I wasn’t. It was good..not great.

BEST ACTOR (DRAMA):
Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
Funny-man turned oh-so-serious and pulled it off..pretty well I might add.

Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
2014 was definitely the year of the Brits. This performance is outstanding..it really is..but it’s also my 2nd choice. I know..I know..ALREADY!

Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nighcrawler”
Jake pulled off creepy-shitshow reporter here.. but he didn’t come close to my 2 top picks performance wise.

David Oyelowo, “Selma”
Good performance..fair movie..but like Jake, just didn’t come close to the top 2.

Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”WINNER
Yes, I am giving my pick to Eddie Redmayne here..why..because simply put he was BRILLIANT BEYOND BELIEF. He embodied Stephen Hawking in every way, shape, form & speech. This performance is why awards are given. period.

BEST ACTRESS (COMEDY/MUSICAL):
Amy Adams, “Big Eyes”WINNER
Really good performance.. was it the ‘gold standard’ of American Hustle that I loved..no..but then neither was the film and sadly the actress roles were seriously lacking this year across the board. She was however good enough to win this.

Emily Blunt, “Into The Woods”
I’ve come to like Emily Blunt more & more..she was great as an action star with Tom Cruise in ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ pulling this off is harder.

Helen Mirren, “The Hundred Foot Journey”
Didn’t see this film..again, I’ve read the movie itself is mediocre but how can you not love Helen Mirren is just about anything.

Julianne Moore, “Maps To The Stars”
Again, blinked and missed this one, but I hear Julianne did a bang-up job.

Quvenzhane Wallis, “Annie”
Let’s face it..we know the genre was lacking contenders so this is a ‘fill up the category’ nomination.

BEST ACTOR (COMEDY/MUSICAL):
Ralph Fiennes, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
I’m a fan of this film and of the performance, as it was fun. But it’s not a win.

Michael Keaton, “Birdman”WINNER
Let’s face it..we ALL love a really good comeback. And Michael Keaton gives it to us lock, stock and barrel in this film. He’s a fantastic actor who deserves this big time.

Bill Murray, “St. Vincent”
I j’adore Bill Murray. From ‘Caddyshack’ to ‘Groundhog Day’ to this film. How can you not? But it just wasn’t a better performance than my pick for winner.

Joaquin Phoenix, “Inherent Vice”
Ridiculous film..ridiculous performance..and I love Joaquin. This shouldn’t even be up and I’m guessing was another ‘fill in the category’ nomination

Christoph Waltz, “Big Eyes”
Good performance and while some thought it over the top..I was lucky enough to see a screening with a Q & A afterwards with cast/director where they noted it was actually toned it down. I liked it, not enough for a win though.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
The part I loved most about this was when I finally realized that they were doing this over a 12yr period and having a giggle over ‘hey, that’s when she was doing “Medium” hair-style etc. She probably did the best work of her career here and stands a good chance of winning.

Jessica Chastain, “A Most Violent Year” WINNER
Jessica just went against type here and really came out strong in this performance for me. Very different style & film.

Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”
For once Keira Knightley did not annoy the bejesus out of me..She was actually decent in this role. Though she also did ‘Begin Again’ – where she was annoying and probably one of the 5 worst movies of the year ‘Laggies’ – so she can not not not possibly deserve this award.

Emma Stone, “Birdman”
Was one of my top 3 films of the year, but definitely not a favourite performance here. It grew on me a bit more by the 3rd viewing, but still, nope.

Meryl Streep, “Into The Woods”
It’s Meryl. What else is there to say? she’s always good.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Robert Duvall, “The Judge”
This was a fairly good movie, and a nice performance. Though sweetly done, not a winner for me.

Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
I remember when the screening started and I thought “how does Ethan look so damn young here” and it took me a good hour to finally realize what they did here. I’ve always liked Ethan, through the good and the bad..this was part of the good.

Edward Norton, “Birdman”
I’m so torn here as until I saw Whiplash, he had my vote. hands down. but now, uuuggghhh torn, torn, torn! But he’s my 2nd choice, and it actually hurts to say that.

Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
I thought Ruffalo was out of place in this film. He’s playing someone who is clearly supposed to be so much younger and it didn’t come off for me. I know a lot of people loved him in it. He was just okay for me.

J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”WINNER
Damn this movie was good. Even better the 2nd time with a full screening and J.K. & Dir:Damien Chazelle speaking afterwards to fill it all in. I’ve been a J.K.Simmons fan since “OZ” and he blows you away in this film. He so deserves this award for everything he’s done in his career that has been so good, but most of all for bringing this character to life like no other.

BEST FOREIGN FILM:
“Force Majeure”WINNER
I was way behind on my foreign films because they were all screening at the same times and their English counterparts and I could only do so much. That being said, I saw this the other day..really good film..loved it.

“Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem”
Wasn’t able to see this yet

“Ida”
Caught this film this week, and while I know it’s the fav. I found my pick to be all-around better film.

“Leviathan”
This was an okay-good film. I know sometimes maybe a bit gets lost in translation, and while I thought visually it was beautiful, it story was scattered and lost.

“Tangerines”
Was not able to see it.

REVIEW: “BIRDMAN” (2014) ~ Fox Searchlight

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Ok.. I will admit, I’m rather breathless right now.. I was fortunate enough to see a special screening (thank you EVER so much Jason Watters) of this movie and to simply say it’s fucking BRILLIANT feels like I’m almost understating it.. To say I’ve never seen anything like it and I’m going to venture out on a limb here and say I don’t think most have either..But I’m pretty sure in my stating that fact. It’s almost to difficult to put into words what exactly this movie is about, because it’s that different and special, but when you see, trust me, you will get it, and that gettin is oh so good of a film.  From the 4th or 5th minute in this movie..YOU ARE IN IT..it feels that way..and as they say..’in it to win it’.. And you don’t want to leave it.

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To sum it up as best I can without ruining or revealing to much of the plot of this SUPERBLY acted play within a movie, within a play, yes you read that correctly, starting with a simply superb performance as “Riggin Thomson” is Michael Keaton, playing a washed up actor who in a twist of fate that could possibly be based on a bit of real life (hmmm), once played an iconic superhero character named ‘Birdman’, got pigeon-holed by sequels and has been type-cast ever since.  He is attempting to mount a ‘comeback’ of sorts by doing a Raymond Carver play which he wrote. is directing and starring in and what entails during the 3 preview showings of the play is what this somewhat fantastical, oh so cherry-red, dark comedy takes us through. All the while ‘Birdman’ seems to be a voice in his head telling him things, but is it just a voice and are all the fantastical things he can do all real?  This is all part of the wonderfully different ride you will be on while watching the film feeling you are on the rollercoaster right along with him,  birdman 3

Stealing the show and his play within a movie within a play..ha! I just love saying that..is Riggin’s co-star in both “Mike Shiner” (Edward Norton), who really does a fantastic job here of making us think or believe his character is either completely insane or completely normal. You get to decide while you either shriek with laughter or dis-belief at this guy.  While some of the supporting cast here is so-so for me in this movie. as I’m not fond of either character of “Lesley” (Naomi Watts), who is the rather neurotic lead of the play  or “Sam” (Emma Stone), who plays Riggin’s re-habbed daughter/theatre assistant/stoner/ends up sleeping with Mike role, I did however love Andrea Riseborough as “Laura” who plays quite comically, Riggin’s girlfriend, and “Brandon” (Zach Galifianakis) his agent/lawyer/comic best friend.

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I will sum this up for you very simply, this is probably one of the best films I’ve seen, this year for sure. It’s so original, well thought out and If anything, you must give a huge shout-out to not only the director, Alejandro González Iñárritu for his amazing vision and what he accomplishes in this film with it, but the WHOLE film crew from the producers and most especially the camera crew as noting they did in the Q & A afterwards with producer John Lesher & the film’s star, Michael Keaton, what a great job was done by all in a very short period of time on a very low budget, you will be amazed by what you see and hear as the soundtrack is just as good as the film itself.  This movie has you giving knee-jerk reactions in some scenes that parlay into completely different situations than you thought possible, it will make you think, it will entertain you and end with a scene which is one you will not soon forget, Lastly you will talk about this movie for a long time afterwards. Is this what you might call a “comeback” for Michael Keaton, yeah..it is, and we all know how much not only Hollywood, but we ALL love comebacks, My suggestion to all is run..don’t walk..do not pass go, just get to the theatre and see this very very good movie when it’s released. For me, this would get Oscar nods for film, lead actor Michael Keaton, and supporting actor, Edward Norton.  I’m going to bet on this one that I am right..:)   

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Producer Josh Lesher & Michael Keaton

Producer Josh Lesher & Michael Keaton

Grade:  A (Oscar-worthy)

(see grading scale)

#peggyatthemovies