Movie Review: Spotlight (2015)

Spotlightby Brad Nelson5/21/16
It’s a toss-up who I will offend most in this review, Catholics or the Pink Mafia. This movie must be reviewed in two parts. One part is the cinematic aspect. The other is the political aspect. Neither is stellar nor particularly deep.

Spotlight is a so-so investigative journalism type of film that lacks the dynamic cast of characters of All the Presidents Men which had Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Martin Balsam, Hal Holbrook, and Jason Robards, among others. It’s an episode of Lou Grant without the spunk of Robert Walden as Joe Rossi, the gravitas of Nancy Marchand as the publisher, nor the weighty presence of Ed Asner himself as the boss.

Spotlight, perhaps because this is somewhat of a sanitized movie regarding the subject matter, has a somewhat dull cast of characters with the exception of John Slattery (Roger Sterling of Mad Men) who has no great lines but, hey, he’s Roger Sterling and adds charm and interest because of that.

Mark Ruffalo is okay at the uber-patient and sensitive journalist. At least he has some personality. Most of the other actors, including Michael Keaton, are just dull or nondescript. The movie could barely hold my interest as a movie based on investigative journalism. I’ve seen better.

But no one is going to watch this movie because it’s about reporters doing their jobs (a novel concept itself). This is about the Catholic Church and their pedophile priest problem. You can give the movie some credit for not being a too-blatent hatchet job. For what it is, it’s fairly measured and reasonable. But you’ll never get an inkling that the reporters on the Boston Globe are all rabid liberals. You’ll never see anything but a complete stoic professionalism as they go about their work going after the Church. Surely there must have been a lot of “Let’s get these religious bastards” dialogue in real life in the background. But all you see is what is likely a sanitized version of the investigation.

And you’ll be happy to know, this movie loudly proclaims, that the pedophile priest problem had nothing to do with homosexuality or being “gay.” It was about pedophile priests preying on kids, not homosexual men who were attracted to children.

The movie is also short on details. It would have been interesting to see more behind-the-scenes of Cardinal Law and others dealing with their homosexuality problem in the priesthood. But we don’t see much inside the Church. There isn’t much drama here other than discovering, one by one, that, in fact, a whole lot of homosexual priests were engaged in pedophilia. And although this is serious, it’s rather one-dimensional considering the story that could have been told.

Part of that story would include a look at the seminaries where it’s not Catholicism being taught but liberalism. I certainly don’t know the full extent to this story. But you won’t find it in this movie. The barest inkling you have of bringing context to this is that it is speculated by someone in the movie that because supposedly 50% of priests are not celibate (but not necessarily homosexuals or homosexual pedophiles) that this gives a lot of “shame” cover when something like this pops up. Most people (or at least half of the priests) are already guilty of something significant.

This may, in fact, be true and be a major factor in why the homosexual priest problem was covered up for so long. And you’d think a movie that spent 128 minutes on the subject might enlighten you a bit. But all you get is the surface-level stuff.

But once in a while real drama breaks out, especially when one of the reporters interviews one of the victims (referred to as “survivors,” as is the term these days). Some of their stories, while brief and not very detailed, were heart-breaking. And that’s about all the heart and drama you get of any significance. And none of these stories is graphic so I have no idea why this movie received an “R” rating. It’s PG-13 at most.

But as a vehicle for instigating a two-minute hate against the Catholic Church, this movie is more than adequate. And much of that hate is more than deserved. What is amazing, though, is that apparently this problem was not restricted to the Boston area. The average given in the movie is that typically six percent of priests were engaged in homosexual activities with children. In Boston that statistically meant 90 priests. Apparently the actual number was very close to that: 87.

How do you keep something like that secret? Well, the movie notes that the homosexual priests who preyed on children typically preyed on poor children from broken families (no father at home). This made them more vulnerable and less likely to rat on the homosexual priests. But according to this movie, there were plenty of adults who knew about this and did nothing. Part of this was opportunity (there apparently was a cottage industry for lawyers making deals with the Church on behalf of victims). And surely part of this was the cult-like mindset of Catholics for whom “The Church” is related to in more of a superstitious way.

Anyway, I would love to see the next movie from these producers be about the thousands of blacks who are victims of crime, bad educations, and broken families due to the Democrat hegemony in many cities. But don’t hold your breath. The Church of Liberalism, much like the Catholic Church, is full of people ready and willing to turn a blind eye to evil.


Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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2 Responses to Movie Review: Spotlight (2015)

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    I remember when this all came out that there were homosexual activists claiming it had nothing to do with homosexuality, even though no one reported any heterosexual pedophilia. Their argument was that pedophilia is distinct from homosexual, which is true to a degree. To be precise, pedophilia can be heterosexual or homosexual, and in these cases it seems to have been entirely the latter.

    One wonders if anyone ever challenged Nancy Pelosi — a Catholic (or so she calls herself) who regularly attends NAMBLA parades — over the clerical pedophilia scandal.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      The important political point was to sanitize homosexuality, which this movie did. The movie itself wasn’t a two-minute-hate against the Church, per se. This was a real event. They didn’t make it up.

      It was a somewhat dull movie but did not overtly try to stoke hatred. It remained (or tried to…I think I’ve revealed the bias) a neutral, dispassionate view of the event. You can image a movie in the future that paints Megyn Kelly as some kind of great investigative journalist when she is, at most, a girl’s-club Progressive with an agenda other than gathering news. Just show everyone being very very reasonable and sober and you’ve white-washed reality in a way opposite to the bombastic exaggeration style of a Michael Moore. But both techniques can easily deceive.

      And as one guy quipped at IMDB.com, “Remember that brave Hollywood film that criticised Islam/Muslims?” I don’t call this movie a hatchet job, but it did sanitize both homosexuality and (most likely, although I can’t prove it) the liberal reporters’ enthusiasm for going against what one presumes is the hated Catholic Church.

      There was actually one piece of what I would call intelligent dialogue in the film which I found revealing, and perhaps central to one of the core weaknesses of Catholicism. I think this occurred in the scene where one of the “survivors” asks one of the three or four reporters assembled in their meeting if he was a Catholic. Basically they went around the room, all announcing that they were lapsed Catholics of one sort or another. And in this scene, or another, one of the reporters mentions how he was able to separate the Church (which he acknowledged is comprised of fallible people) from his faith. Another reporter said that it must be a difficult balancing act to do so. He concurred.

      And I’m thinking, “Difficult balancing act? Surely it’s common sense that neither priests, bureaucracies, or brick-and-mortar buildings are God.” But that’s not how a Catholic sees it. A Protestant surely sees it that way, or should. But not Catholics. This is surely one reason so many people found it easy to hide the homosexual predation on children. If the Church was scandalized, this was something very deep for them. But, heck, if a Protestant church is scandalized, any Christian worth his or her salt will see it as a human problem and one that doesn’t necessarily have squat to do with Jesus or their faith. But that is not the case with Catholics. The Church is the vehicle.

      Again, none of this was taken up in the movie. It remained a pretty shallow treatment of a serious subject.

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