Entries tagged with “Liev Schreiber”.


Director Tom McCarthy authored a very interesting first film in 2003 (The Station Agent) and then his career seemed to go adrift into ‘OK movies’. Now he hits gold with Spotlight which does not differ much in directing style from his other films, but just gathers a number of very favorable factors into proving that you can get a Best Film Academy Award even taking the ‘OK approach’ (in a ‘dry’ year as 2015 was).

 

source http://trilbee.com/reviews/spotlight-2016-movie-review

source http://trilbee.com/reviews/spotlight-2016-movie-review

 

Let me start with the positive things, and there are many of these. One first condition to hit gold at the Academy Awards is to run one of those big American stories, that play well with the concepts and heroes of the nation. Investigative journalism and people who make the news are the main theme and the heroes of the film, and on this respect ‘Spotlight’ follows a tradition that starts with ‘Citizen Kane’  and continues with films like All President’s Men and Zodiac. The story that is investigated by the ‘Boston Globe’ ‘Spotlight’ team in the movie is the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests and the cover-up of the phenomenon and of its dimensions by the Church institutions but also by the town authorities, judicial system, community leaders. It’s an explosive subject which to some extent continues until today. The ‘based on real events’ factor works well here because we know that the implications and ramifications of the problem continue until today. The writers and producers of this film chose to use the real names and tried to remake the true story as close as possible to the facts, places, characters.

 

(video source Movieclips Coming Soon)

 

The other strong attribute of this film is the accurate rendition of the ‘yesterday’ atmosphere to the smallest detail. The story happens between 2000 and 2002, this was so close and yet so far from many points of view. Acting is also very precise, although the homogeneity of the team makes the characters indistinguishable from a moral stand point of view. It’s like I missed an element of hesitation, of fear of consequences – the story looks not like what it happened but like the way the heroes told the world it happened. Sure, , , , and do all fine jobs, and I also liked how many of the supporting actors entered into their smaller parts.

I do not believe however that ‘Spotlight’ would have won the Best Film Award in another year. It lacks the sparkle that make the big movies we remember over the years. It may also be the last important movie in his genre. As printed journalism melts down and the multi-channel TV news and the Internet take over, the public relies less and less on this kind of journalism.  People have easy access to much more information, they can change easily allegiance to any channel of news on TV or Internet, they need to make the choices by themselves. ‘Spotlight’ may be the cinematographic requiem for the kind of journalism it describes.

 

Defiance tells about one of the lesser known episodes of World War II in which a group of Polish Jews saved themselves from the ghettos and the executions by the German occupiers and their local collaborators and formed a partisans unit in the forests of Belarus. They were led by the Bielski brothers and succeeded to hide more than one thousand of people in the forests, to fight against the German occupiers, and also to form a community that survived the harsh weather and natural conditions in the woods, the fights with the enemies, and also the sometimes tense relations with other non-Jewish partisan groups and with the local population. The story was told in the last decade in several books and historic studies, some revealing not only the heroic story but also some more controversial aspects.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1034303/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1034303/

 

The film directed by Edward Zwick focuses on the first year in the three that the group spent in the forests, the year that the group was formed, and the first winter that they had to survive in the woods. It’s a story of heroism and survival, of revenge and resilience. Two of the three brothers (originally they were four) are in the center of the story – Tuvia, the leader (Daniel Craig) and Zus the fighter (Liev Schreiber) who at some point joins the Soviet partisans. Both give very credible performances, their dilemma  between personal revenge and saving lives, and their conflicts in the ways the group is to be led are well described. Heroism, faith, will to survive and to keep the human dimensions of life are the main motivations of the characters and they come strong on screen. Besides good acting, authenticity and attention to the details in film making are other visible qualities of this movie, together with fluent story telling. The only questionable aspect is the one related to the language – the Jewish characters speak English, they turn sometimes to Russian when speaking with the Soviet partisans and to the local population (was not this supposed to be rather Polish?) in a mix and with switches that are not clear at all and lack authenticity. I am not sure what the better solution would have been, this may be the best an American production can do without losing the American audiences for whom big screen movies must be mostly or fully spoken in English, I guess.

 

(video source WatchMovieTrailersHD)

 

Defiance belongs to a genre which does not have too many films in its records, the one that deals with the Jewish Resistance during World War II, representing Jews not only as victims but also fighting back, defending themselves and sometimes taking revenge on their murderers and oppressors. The other illustrious example is Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds which was produced and released around the same time, which was a declared work of fiction. Defiance openly advertises being inspired by true events, and it succeeds to present a credible and in some moments moving picture of the few and the brave who had the courage to resist. There is no hint in the film itself or warning in the text introduction or epilogue about the controversies related to the darker aspects of the story, and this is maybe the principal minus of this production.