Film reviews: Spotlight, Dirty Grandpa

We review the biggest releases of the week.

Spotlight is on them The Oscar nominated Spotlight cast on set at the Boston Globe.

Spotlight (15)
Running time: 127 minutes

With six Oscar nominations and three BAFTA nods under its belt, Spotlight was always going to be a good movie, but just how good? A stellar line-up including Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams were drafted in to tell the story of journalists from The Boston Globe who exposed a huge child abuse scandal and cover-up within the Catholic Church in Boston in 2001.

First off, Keaton makes a truly convincing head of the paper’s Spotlight investigative team. Keaton, a former altar boy himself, is a stellar choice to portray Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Walter “Robby” Robinson in the film. The Spotlight team led by Robinson are instructed by new editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) to delve further into a story involving a Catholic Cardinal turning a blind eye to ongoing abuse across the city.

The drama is impeccably crafted by Thomas McCarthy (Up) and paints a near-perfect image of a newsroom scenario. Ruffalo, who plays Spotlight journalist Michael Rezendes, gives a superb and passionate performance, one that certainly makes him worthy of his Best Actor nomination at the Oscars.

McAdams is also worthy of her nomination for her portrayal of reporter Sacha Pfeiffer, torn between her passion for unearthing the truth and her ties to the Catholic church through her grandmother’s deep faith.

The power and might of the Catholic church will astound viewers of all religious beliefs, and certainly leave practising and non-practising Catholics with a bad taste in their mouths. By the same token, the astounding work carried out by these journalists, faced with constant roadblocks and a city under a religious siege of silence, is brilliantly captured on camera.

Spotlight will make journalists want to be better reporters, film makers want to make better movies, law enforcers go further to root out the wrong doers, and religious people re-evaluate the power of the faith they hold. There aren’t many modern day movies that evoke such a plethora of emotions in just over two hours. Spotlight does just that.



Dirty Grandpa (15)
Running time: 102 minutes

Dirty Grandpa
Paternal figure? De Niro and Zac Efron in Dirty Grandpa. Image Lionsgate

Upon viewing the trailer for Dirty Grandpa, you’ll probably be left wondering what on earth Robert De Niro is doing. Having seen it, you’ll repeat those thoughts on more than one occasion. Here’s the best actor of our generation, doing his turn in a pretty filthy comedy, and the funniest thing about Dirty Grandpa essentially lies right there. During Dirty Grandpa, you’ll scarcely be able to avert your eyes, wondering what on earth his unloveable and aptly-named character Dick might possibly come out with next.

Dick is a man who spends about 10 minutes mourning the loss of his dear wife, before informing grandson Jason (Zac Efron) that they’re heading off on a road trip to Miami. En route, the pair are waylaid to Daytona Beach by a group of students, with Jason understandably horrified that his grandfather plans to get stoned and laid as soon as possible.

Directed by Dan Mazer of Ali G and Borat fame, it’s clear from the off that its main intention is to shock. In that regard, it certainly doesn’t fail. Dick is a foul-mouthed, sex mad, racist and homophobic ex-army man, who has a penchant for sticking his thumb up his grandson’s behind. 

While some audience members might become mute with shock at what De Niro does, there are plenty of laughs from his Jackass-style shock tactics to be had too. It’s no wonder Mazer told Loaded even he couldn’t believe De Niro was onboard when he read the script.

Whatever you might think of the content, De Niro doesn’t give a half-arsed performance – the man is determined to shock. And shock he does. Not one for romantics.

Dirty Grandpa is out in UK Cinemas 29th January 2016, with previews from 25th January.

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