Short Takes: In Theaters Now



   Spotlight may just be the best film of the year, or it at least comes damn close. It’s certainly the best film on investigative journalism since, though not quite as good, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN. The film draws you in early on and keeps you locked in while managing not to exploit sensitive subject matter. SPOTLIGHT is intelligent filmmaking and a superb look at heroic journalism against powerful forces.



   With films like Taxi Driver, Network and All the President’s Men released in the same year as the first Rocky (1976) I was always shocked Stallone’s film won best picture. Not to take anything away from Rocky being a great film, but those other three films are works of art while Rocky is a solid piece of populist entertainment. Don’t get me wrong, as Jerry Seinfeld would say, ” not that there is anything wrong with that.” Rocky is a great entertaining film. The others three films though travel at a higher level.

   That brings me to Creed which like the first Rocky is a solid piece of populist entertainment. Michael B. Jordan is excellent and Stallone gives the best performance of his career in a role that he has been identified with for more than 35 years. I would not be surprised if his name pops come award time. Creed not just revitalized a franchise, but modernized it bringing it into the 21st century with style and intelligence.



When acting nominations come out, Bryan Cranston’s name should be clearly in the running. Trumbo may be uneven at times, but this is a solid film that reflects the fanaticism and the length witch hunters and extremists are willing to go to destroy anyone who’s not like them in the name of patriotism. The parallels to what is happening today with Donald Trump’s rhetoric on making America great again by turning the country into an ugly land, filled with hateful fascist is unintentional but timely.



   Based Colm Tóibín’s best selling novel, Brooklyn is poignant, tender, at times sad, yet reaffirming. A low key, love story with wonderful performances by Saoirse Ronan and Emory Cohen. Easily, one of the best films of the year.



   Well intentioned yet muddled film that left me less inspired than it intended. The continuous shaky camera movement became just overbearing making you have to work hard to understand what was happening at certain times. Suffragette is a  noble effort, but overall disappointing.


Love the Coopers


   I saved the most disjointed for last. It’s not that this holiday comedy/drama doesn’t have its good points. There are some laughs, fine performances, a good soundtrack and some layered emotions about dysfunctional family gatherings. However, it’s all wrapped up in a clunky, unbelievable terminally corny script that is narrated by the family dog.  There are also way too many characters in the film. I felt like they should have issued a scorecard of some sort so you could keep track of who’s who. That all said, if you just sit back and relax and not think about it, and you have a soft spot for Diane Keaton like I do  you could have an enjoyable time. M





4 comments on “Short Takes: In Theaters Now

  1. Sam Juliano says:

    John, BROOKLYN is my favorite film of the entire year, and SPOTLIGHT is definitely Top 10 material. I’m sure you were happy to hear that it (SPOTLIGHT) won Best Picture from the Boston and Los Angeles Film Critics Circle over the last few days. Great post here!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John, thanks for the update. With my preoccupation with classic film it’s hard to keep up with current offerings, especially this year when critical reception of any picture seems all over the map. It’s good to read the assessments of current films from someone whose judgment I respect.

    Liked by 1 person

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