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Saturday, December 5, 2015

Thoughts on Creed and Spotlight

I saw two new movies recently, Creed and Spotlight.

Creed was really good, very well-written and well-acted. It followed the plot beats of the original Rocky (underdog boxer coached by mentor and fights a famous boxer), but it still felt fresh anyway. Michael B. Jordan gave a really strong performance as a guy who really had to work hard to succeed, and to check himself whenever he got too cocky or hotheaded. I liked how his relationship with Rocky wasn't just a father/son thing, but more about friends motivating each other to keep going and pushing through adversities, and finding a purpose in their lives instead of just giving up when things seemed hopeless. It made the film feel more well-rounded, and less overly predictable. It was a solid mainstream movie by Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station), written by Coogler and Aaron Covington, taking a film in the Rocky franchise and making it grow more in maturity. Plus, I loved the one-take 360 panning shots, especially in the fight scenes, where the actors were doing their own stunts in one take, that was badass to see. The cinematography was done by Maryse Alberti.

Spotlight was great. It is a very dialogue-driven talky movie, directed by Tom McCarthy and written by McCarthy and Josh Singer, with journalists chasing a story, doing interviews, taking notes, looking at government records and newspaper archives in libraries, and being fully dedicated to their work. As an archivist, I loved seeing all the researching scenes, it fed my inner nerd and love of looking at data and records. Plus, this film had an insanely great cast: Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci, and John Slattery. I was just amazed the movie got so much solid talent in one film. The film was sad sometimes (it is about reporters at the Boston Globe in 2001 trying to break a story about child abuse by Catholic priests), but it was still an amazing movie about journalism.

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