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Spotlight (2015)

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Variety:

 

 

"Win Win" helmer Tom McCarthy and scribe Josh Singer ("The West Wing") have boarded Anonymous Content and Rocklin/Faust's untitled Boston Globe project, which follows the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists who exposed the Catholic Church's decades-long cover-up of child molestation in Massachusetts.

 

Wow.

 

And yikes.

 

 

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Deliver us from Evil was focused on a priest in California, but it also touched on the larger, worldwide issue, as well.

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Deliver us from Evil was focused on a priest in California, but it also touched on the larger, worldwide issue, as well.

And it does so in a very irresponsible manner:

http://www.themediar...evil-2006-film/

This film crushed me -- crushed me -- when I saw it a few years ago. I'd challenge everyone to watch the film, although it's very, very disturbing, so I don't know that I can recommend it. I had some issues with the film's ultimate argument about who was responsible for the actions of O'Grady, but the linked article strikes me as ridiculously defensive. The first "serious problem with the facts" it offers up in relation to the film -- and remember, this is a film about a child molester -- is this:

Berg and her staff approached an elementary school in Ireland under the false pretense that they were filming a documentary on “multiculturalism.” (O’Grady was born in Ireland, and he was deported to there in 2001.) Berg wanted to stir the emotions of her audience by filming the pedophile O’Grady leering at small children on a playground and talking about how children sexually arouse him.

If that's the sort of thing you find to be a "serious problem with the facts" that Deliver Us From Evil shows, then this article's for you.

Edited by Christian

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How many documentaries have there been on this subject in the last few years?

Alex Gibney's new film MEA MAXIMA CULPA: SILENCE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD made a big impact at TIFF on both my brother and Ken Morefield .

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I should just also add that there's not a lot of directors I trust to tackle this issue, but I would say based on his first three films that Tom McCarthy is one of them.

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Berg and her staff approached an elementary school in Ireland under the false pretense that they were filming a documentary on “multiculturalism.” (O’Grady was born in Ireland, and he was deported to there in 2001.) Berg wanted to stir the emotions of her audience by filming the pedophile O’Grady leering at small children on a playground and talking about how children sexually arouse him.

If that's the sort of thing you find to be a "serious problem with the facts" that Deliver Us From Evil shows, then this article's for you.

Those scenes were absolutely chilling. O'Grady's calmness--and his continuing lack of realization of how very evil his actions were (he said "I did wrong" but he showed no awareness of the fact) were, to me, the most unnerving parts of the documentary. It's not a "problem with the facts" to show them--it is, I submit, the only moral approach to the issue.

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You know...I've had a copy of Deliver Us From Evil sitting in my collection for a few years...but never got around to watching it...I had watched a series of heart breaking/anger inducing docs and did not think I could take yet one more... maybe it is time to take this one out.

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DreamWorks, Participant Pick Up Church Sex Abuse Scandal Film (Exclusive)

In a move certain to spark controversy, DreamWorks Studios and Participant Media have acquired film rights to the story of the Catholic Church's decades-long cover-up of its pedophile priests in Massachusetts as uncovered during a yearlong investigation by the Boston Globe.

Tom McCarthy (The Visitor) has signed on to direct and co-write the script with Josh Singer (the upcoming WikiLeaks movie The Fifth Estate).

Anonymous Content's Michael Sugar and Steve Golin and Rocklin/Faust's Nicole Rocklin and Blye Faust will produce. David Mizner, who brought the project to the producers, will serve as a consultant and associate producer. Participant's Jonathan King and Jeff Skoll will serve as executive producers.

Life rights have been acquired to the Boston Globe's "Spotlight Team" of reporters and editors, including then-Globe editor Marty Baron, special projects editor Ben Bradlee Jr., Spotlight Team editor Walter "Robby" Robinson and reporters Michael Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer and Matt Carroll.

The team spent a year interviewing victims and reviewing thousands of pages of documents and discovered years of cover-up by Church leadership. Their reporting eventually led to the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law, who had hidden years of serial abuse by other priests and opened the floodgates to other revelations of molestation and cover-ups around the world that still reverberate today. . . .

The project marks the sixth collaboration between DreamWorks and Participant, having previously partnered on The Fifth Estate -- which is due in theaters Nov. 15 -- Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, the 2011 hit The Help, The Kite Runner and The Soloist. . . .

Hollywood Reporter, April 2

- - -

On a semi-related note, I was going through some of my old clippings the other day, and came across a review I wrote of the 1996 film Sleepers in which I marvelled that here we had a film about child sexual abuse in which the priest -- played by Robert De Niro, even -- was *not* the bad guy. That would be something like seven years before the American scandal kicked in. We here in Canada, of course, had been dealing with similar scandals going back to the 1980s (as dramatized in the 1992 TV-movie The Boys of St Vincent).

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We here in Canada, of course, had been dealing with similar scandals going back to the 1980s (as dramatized in the 1992 TV-movie The Boys of St Vincent).

Wow. I haven't heard about that TV-movie in ages. I remember seeing promos for THE BOYS OF ST. VINCENT on CBC (probably during Sunday-evening family viewings of ROAD TO AVONLEA) and they bothered my 10 year old self a great deal, even though I never ended up seeing it or really having a sense (at the time) of what kind of abuse was happening.

Carry on.

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DreamWorks Bails on Movie About Catholic Priest Sex Scandal

DreamWorks has decided not to go forward with director Tom McCarthy’s untitled feature about the Catholic Church’s cover-up of its pedophile priests in Massachusetts, uncovered by the Boston Globe.

Participant Media is still on board as producers and is shopping the film around town with Warner Bros. as the projected front-runner to land the drama. . . .

Matt Damon is rumored to be McCarthy’s first choice for the lead but sources close to Damon say the actor has not even read the script yet.

Variety, June 13

DreamWorks Drops Catholic Priest Movie as Producers Shop Elsewhere

DreamWorks is quietly parting ways with the untitled movie project that chronicles the Catholic Church's decades-long cover-up of its pedophile priests in Massachusetts as uncovered during a yearlong investigation by the Boston Globe.

Participant Media, which remains a co-financier, and producers Michael Sugar and Steve Golin ofAnonymous Content and Rocklin/Faust's Nicole Rocklin and Blye Faust are now shopping the project, which has Tom McCarthy attached to direct.

Multiple suitors are already lined up and the prestigious nature of the project will surely lock this up. . . .

Hollywood Reporter, June 13

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Time to give the thread a title: Spotlight.

 

- - -

 

Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci in Talks to Star in Catholic Church Sex Scandal Drama (Exclusive)

Producers have secured life rights of the Globe reporters responsible, including Spotlight Team members Michael Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer and Matt Carroll, Spotlight Team editor Walter “Robby” Robinson, special projects editor Ben Bradlee Jr. and Globe editor Marty Baron.

When Baron saw an article in the Globe just after starting as editor about a Boston priest who had molested children, he realized a bigger story could lie behind it. He spurred a team of reporters to spend a year interviewing scores of victims and poring over thousands of pages of documents.

The Globe team eventually discovered that Cardinal Bernard Law had hidden years of serial abuse by moving guilty priests from one parish to another, where they often abused again.

The team's articles won them the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for meritorious public service and set off a tidal wave of revelations around the world.

TheWrap.com, August 8

 

- - -

 

"A tidal wave of revelations around the world"? Maybe. But I can't help thinking of that line in Chicken Run about Americans always showing up late for every war. The wave of revelations in Canada, at least, took place a full decade or two earlier (the allegations against the Mount Cashel Orphanage first went public back in 1988, according to Wikipedia, and it resulted in the TV-movie The Boys of St Vincent in 1992, which helped turn Canadian actor Henry Czerny into a regular Hollywood supporting actor in films like Clear and Present Danger, Mission: Impossible, etc.).

 

Oh, wait. I got into some of that earlier in this thread. What can I say, two years have passed since then, and I forgot.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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My TIFF review:

This silence on the characters’ personal lives robs the film of some of its emotional impact. But gradually, as the story inches forward, something amazing happens. The actors start showing the toll that moving into the light is taking on them—through pained grimaces and hunched shoulders, through knowing glances and stunned silences. Instead of giving the characters (and us) the release of voicing their indignation too often, McCarthy lets the immensity of what is being revealed dawn on them slowly and wear on them steadily.

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I'm not surprised to see that we both made the comparison to All the President's Men, as I suspect this analogy will be made frequently in the coming weeks.  I agree, this was a sensitive, excellently crafted film.  In my review, I spoke more about what this film says about the RC hierarchy that knowingly allowed this abuse to continue, but I was also affected by the toll this investigative work took upon the reporters.  I couldn't resist incorporating Stanley Tucci's line into my review, since it was so powerful and telling.  

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The interesting thing to me about the Garabedian quote is that like the rest of the film it seems to refer directly to the Roman Catholic church but actually, upon reflection, points to the complicity of those outside the church or only marginally/weakly tied to it.

The first scene at the police station is very important in that regard as it shows the acculturated deference of the police and district attorney in going along, not necessarily to protect the church but because the prospect of opposing the church seemed a bit daunting. Same for the scene between Ruffalo and the judge who is reluctant to let him have the public documents (although the judge eventually complies). 

Obviously that comes to a head in Keaton's Schindler moment and the long shadow of (I don't think this was an unconscious parallel) the Nuremberg defenses. Lapsed Catholics, nominal Catholics, and non-Catholics are certainly not held out as morally equivalent to those who did the abuse or more actively covered it up, but they do seem to be complicit in subtle and not so subtle ways. The more I think about the film the more I respect it presenting the scandal as primarily but not exclusively a Roman Catholic problem. This was a total system failure. 

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Andrew, I was so with you, until you wrote:

> Bill Donohue and the Catholic League will frothily denounce the creators of Spotlight and blame the victims of abuse, just as he did in reaction to 2013’s excellent Philomena.

Ugh.  Are you kidding me?

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Nick, I'm not kidding, but I don't want to get sidelined into an argument on this marginal issue either.  Actually you were the one who brought Donohue's ugly response to Philomena to my attention in that film's thread.  (And yes, I still think Philomena is an excellent film.)  And Donohue is already on record as blaming victims of clerical abuse multiple times; I found oodles of relevant citations online in about 5 minutes, so I'm sure you can, too.  That's all I'm going to say on this topic, so have at it if you will.  If we simply sit back and wait, I'm sure Donohue won't disappoint.   

   

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Here's a suggestion: How about we move any further discussion of Philomena to the thread with that title? I don't want to have that film on my mind when I go see Spotlight.

Edited by Overstreet

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I don't want to get into an argument about a movie I haven't yet seen, but I don't think Andrew's Bill Donohue comment was out of line. If I'm honest, I thought your review was excellent until the last paragraph, in which I thought taking a shot at the entire hierarchy* and encouraging viewers to rethink their religious views over the abuse scandal was an unfair bit of proselytizing, but maybe it will be relevant to the film.

 

*parts of the hierarchy deserve strong condemnation; but the bishops that allowed the abuse to continue failed miserably in their duties, and betrayed the way the hierarchy is supposed to function.

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Thanks, Evan.  I think that's a fair critique.  On the one hand, I recognize that my target audience at Patheos Atheist Channel is going to be fellow nonbelievers like me, so I feel at liberty to write openly for them.  On the other, I recognize that I tend to editorialize in my reviews, and sometimes that tendency can get the better of me.  My writing is definitely still a work in progress, and all that.

I look forward to lively conversation here, when Spotlight gets its wider release.

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You're entitled to your opinion, and I'm happy you liked both films.  When I came to seeing that film (rather late in the game--I pay Redbox prices for controversial films), I caught problems that nobody else mentioned, but nobody challenged me on them. They were left ignored, but those same problems didn't disappear.

I would dearly hope that Spotlight is as good a movie as you think it is.  But being that we come at it from two different worldviews, I suspect I will have to wait till Redbox to render a judgment.  In the meantime, expect that I will find dissenting opinions to see if they warrant a lively discussion.

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Indiewire

Of all the films that premiered at TIFF, Venice or Telluride, it was probably Tom McCarthy's "Spotlight" that was the most universally well-received of the lot. Depicting The Boston Globe's journalistic efforts to expose sex abuse within the Catholic church, it offers inspiring, intelligent filmmaking that will surely give McCarthy his first best picture nomination (and a second chance for Michael Keaton to win, after coming so close for "Birdman" last year). But can it go all the way? It's far too early to call "Spotlight" a frontrunner, even if it's perhaps the closest thing we have to one.

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