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‘Spotlight,’ ‘Youth’ and ‘Truth’ all worth a watch

Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, John Slattery and Rachel McAdams in “Spotlight.”
Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, John Slattery and Rachel McAdams in “Spotlight.” TNS

“Spotlight”

There’s nothing that’s not heavy about this true story detailing how the Boston Globe exposed an immense child molestation cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese which still scandalizes the entire church. And all this heaviness earned the film six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Actor-turned-director Tom McCarthy (“Station Agent” and “The Visitor”) takes on this material with a terrific ensemble cast. Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams are a one-two emotional punch, and both score Supporting Actor Oscar nominations. Michael Keaton continues the extraordinary roll he’s been on lately. Liev Schreiber and John Slattery throw in a few great minutes. It’s a heavy movie, but it’s not over-weight. It moves with fluidity, and the script (also Oscar nominated) allows the space for dramatic moments, laced with humor. This film deserves the spotlight it’s getting – worth a watch.

“Youth”

A couple of years ago, writer/director Paolo Sorrentino won an Oscar in the Best Foreign Film category for “The Great Beauty.” Well, Sorrentino has made another beautiful film. Some might say it’s slow, but this movie moves with subtle and graceful movements. The characters discuss art, aging and love. Michael Caine plays a retired composer. Rachel Weisz is his daughter. Harvey Keitel plays a film director and the composer’s best friend. The serenity of the Alps becomes another character as it looms behind and around tense and strange conversations. The only pivotal plot point here is an invitation for the composer to perform for Prince Philip’s birthday. There are also plenty of pretty and sad relationship moments. Paul Dano and Jane Fonda show up to twist a few scenes into knots. One of the songs is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song – rightfully so. But the academy might’ve missed Best Cinematography on this one, because it’s a sweeping epic of a film, even if it moves in simple ways – worth a watch.

“Truth”

It’s been over 10 years since anchor Dan Rather signed off of the CBS Evening News in a shroud of scandal over a “60 Minutes” investigative report regarding then-President George W. Bush’s military service. Producer Mary Mapes lost her job and was accused of falsifying evidential documents. Here we get to see how the story unfolded with Robert Redford taking on the big role of Rather, and Cate Blanchett masterfully handling the role of Mapes. James Vanderbilt (writer of “Zodiac”) makes his directorial debut into an analysis of the transformation of journalism from a service to its community into a source of income where the truth gets lost in the politics. Dennis Quaid and Topher Grace turn-in nice supporting performances, but the powerful Elisabeth Moss somehow gets lost in the shuffle. Just like Blanchett’s consideration for another Oscar nomination got lost in the mail, because she makes this one worth a watch.

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