Tag Archives: Mark Ruffalo

Spotlight

Spotlight_(film)_poster

It’s that time again, more Award-baiting films in the run up to the Oscars. Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight is one of the favourites for the win, but will it light up my life?

In 2001 Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) is hired as the new editor of The Boston Globe. One of his first moves is to have the investigation team Spotlight (Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo and Brian d’Arcy James) look into child abuse cases carried out by a priest which the church did nothing to prevent. As the Spotlight team look further into it they realise that the abuse is much more widespread and serious than they ever imagine.

Given the heavy subject matter it would have been easy for this film to have been sentimental and cliched. However Spotlight is noticable for it’s restraint. Thats not to say there isn’t the occassional impassioned speech but Spotlight is a grown up movie, more intent on telling the story and trusting it’s audience doesn’t have to have any heavy handedness or clichéd baddies to be told THIS IS BAD.

As the investigation becomes bigger the film doesn’t shy away from the fact it’s not just the church that been covering things up. Many others were either actively involved in the cover up or dismissed earlier claims for different reasons, and the Boston Globe itself is also put under scrutiny for not investigating earlier. As Stanley Tucci’s lawyer Mitchell states “If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse them.” That it took an outsider to push them into investigating is also a sobering thought for the protagonists.

It would also have been easy for it’s cast to give overwrought and over the top performances, Ruffalo’s journalist Michael most particularly given the character’s quirks, but they trust in the script and the story. It is so strong they don’t have to live in heightened emotions. The film also largely stays away from the characters’ personal lives and concentrating on the meat of the story.

It may not be as epic in scale as The Revenant however I think Spotlight will stay with me longer and wish it well on Oscar night.

Rating 4/5 – a thought provoking and sobering look into investigative journalism at it’s best

 

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Avengers: Age of Ultron

There were high expectations from Marvel and director Joss Whedon following on from 2012 mega hit The Avengers. But would too much hype mean all my expectations will be crushed Hulk style?

Having grow tired and concerned over whether the Avengers can stop every battle coming their way Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr.) convinces Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) to help create an A.I that will help defend Earth. Unfortunately his creation Ultron (voice by James Spader) decides the best way to save Earth is to destroy the Avengers and humanity. Teaming up with a pair of gifted twins (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen) they plan to bring the Avengers down and the world to its knees.

While the film doesn’t reach the dizzy heights of the first Avengers movie it’s still a great summer blockbuster. Theres some nice character moments to develop members of the team like Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). While there isn’t as many Whedon-isms as I would like there are still some very funny one liners. There was a surprising amount of swearing in the movie and a lot of innuendos. There was some hilarious moments such as the Avengers trying to lift Thor’s hammer. I loved Chris Hemsworth’s worried expression as Captain America (Chris Evans) nudged the hammer. The film also had some nice emotional scenes such as the Avengers coping after having been given a massive beat down by Ultron and the twins. Ultron made for a good villain even if he isn’t as awesome as Loki. We also got plenty of drama as the Avengers came into conflict over Tony’s actions, building up some nice tension between iron Man and Captain America which shall continue into the next Captain America movie.

Not everything worked. The middle of the movie dragged a bit for me. I didn’t believe the romance between Banner and Black Widow. They have better chemistry as friends. I wasn’t completely sold on the twins Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch either. Quicksilver suffered from the fact that X Men: Days of Future Past did the character so much better. Scarlet Witch just felt a bit undeveloped but could be more interesting in future installments.

There are fears that Marvels run of movies will become stale, but while they continue to make enjoyable summer movies and have a great team of actors and directors, I think they still have a way to go before we start seeing a real dip in quality.

Rating 4/5 – not quite the smash that the first film was but still a great superhero movie

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Foxcatcher (2014)

Who knew there was so much drama behind the scenes of Olympic wrestling. Based on a true story Foxcatcher has seen Oscar nominations for actors Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo as well as for director Bennett Miller, can this movie live up to the hype?

Brothers Mark (Channing Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) are both US Olympic Wrestlers, however Mark feels overshadowed by his older brother Dave. When Mark is contacted by billionaire John E. du Pont (Steve Carell) to his farm, he offers Mark to join his private wrestling team, “Team Foxcatcher” (after his land Foxcatcher Farm), Mark sees an opportunity to make something for himself away from his brother. However Du Pont’s eccentric behaviour becomes more disturbed as time goes on, and when Dave joins the coaching of Team Foxcatcher, things becomes out of control.

Foxcatcher is one of those stories in which you can’t believe you haven’t heard of it before. Or at least I hadn’t. This a well made film, full of tense atmosphere and great performances. It’s mostly a drama but with Carell’s Du Pont menacingly hanging around the edges and circling the Schultz brothers it comes across like a thriller at times. The cast is strong all round, but Carell is the performance you will remember after watching the movie.

However there has been some controversy over the making of this film with the real Mark Schultz angrily disputing some elements of the movie. With that in mind you wonder whether interactions between Mark and Du Pont are as accurate as its portrayed in the movie. It also felt slow at the beginning and ends rather abruptly after the climax of Du Pont’s actions. Also while the movie is good, it’s doesn’t stand out as much as the other movies around this award season.

Rating 3.5/5 – three fine performances grounds this true crime drama

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Now You See Me

I was hugely anticipating this film. Magicians using their skills to pull of crimes. It’s a great idea. But does it live up to my expectations?

Now You See Me is a crime caper following a group of magicians called The Four Horsemen who use their stage show to rob a bank. They come to the attention of FBI and Interpol who start investigating them and asking how four street performers could suddenly have the money and knowledge to commit these crimes. Is there a fifth Horseman pulling the stings?

The best part of this film is  The Four Horsemen themselves, street magician J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), escape artist and Atlas’ former assistant Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), new magician Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), and mentalist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson). The film starts off great as we are introduced to these characters, seeing their respective skills and them being brought  together to eventually perform in Vegas.

However overall Now You See Me is a mixed bag of tricks. Director Louis Leterrier has collected a great cast but fails to really use them effectively. The Four Horsemen are an intriguing bunch, unfortunately they get sidetracked in the film so we can follow Mark Ruffalo’s grumpy FBI agent Dylan Rhodes and Interpol detective Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent).  In supporting roles Michael Caine (as the Horsemen’s Vegas investor Arthur Tressler), and Morgan Freeman (as Thaddeus Bradley an ex magician who now reveals the secrets behind the magic) are reliably good as always but they don’t seem to have much to sink their teeth into.

The film starts off strong and The Horsemen’s tricks are involving but they do seem to get bigger and ridiculous as the film goes along, which goes for the film in general. Also a lot of their magic acts are spoiled in the trailers.

The film’s main problem is with the ending.  When you watch a magic trick you want to be blown away  by the performance wondering how the hell they did that and then be amazed by how simple and clever the revelation is about how it was all done. Here the film’s revelations just seem a bit ridiculous and relying a lot on blind luck.

It would have been a much more interesting film if we had been following The Four Horsemen as they perform their tricks while they wonder who they are actually working for. Considering the trailers seem to show the Four Horsemen as the main protagonists it’s a shame they are missing for great chunks of the film. Harrelson, Fisher, Franco and Eisenberg work well together bouncing off each other and light up the screen when they are performing their acts. There are hints at back stories for some of them but not enough for my liking. There is also a great fight scene involving Franco’s Jack, whose uses weapons such as card tricks and sleight of hand to evade capture of two FBI officers.

Perhaps it will be improved on repeated viewings and things might make more sense when you can go through and see how everything was done. However it’s not as good as films such as Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige (which  also starring Michael Caine).

Ratting  3/5

There was potentially a great film about these Four Horsemen but unfortunately this is only an  entertaining but average  one.

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