Agree to disagree

Aren’t there objective facts anymore?

niceguysOne of my favorite bits on the most recent Academy Awards was when Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, costars of the violent comedy The Nice Guys, being released in May 2016, presented the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Gosling gives an inane definition of the category.

Crowe corrects him, explaining the category represents a screenplay adapted from another source such as a novel, play, short story, or TV show.

Gosling replies, “Agree to disagree. Let’s not fight, come on, we have two Academy Awards between us, it’s beneath us to argue.”

“Wait, you’ve won an Oscar?” asked Crowe, surprised.

“Well not when you put it like THAT, but you have two Academy Awards, so technically there’s two between us!” Gosling explained. “Can we go on and give this award so more people can have Oscars like we do?”

Crowe insists that he only has one award, but Gosling repeats, “Agree to disagree.”

“Look, mate, you can’t go around just saying—” Crowe responds, before Gosling cut him off to announce the nominees.

Crowe DOES have but one Oscar, for Gladiator (2000), though he had been nominated two other times, for The Insider (1999) and A Beautiful Mind (2001).

The bit, which you can watch here or here. I found it funny because it’s painfully true.

“Agree to disagree” is actually a reasonable position to take when it comes to opinions. But FACTS? Aren’t there objective facts anymore? They seem to be lost, quite often these days. We’re in a world where we seek, to quote a recent blog title, “News that agrees with you.”

Another thing I liked at the Oscars was the Best Picture winner. “Spotlight” Gets Investigative Journalism Right, the Truthout article says. Getting the story correct was important in 2001 and 2002 when the story was based. The reporters didn’t always get it right, but the goal was the truth.

And Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won her second Oscar for best documentary short, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, a film about “honor killings”, which are anything but honorable.

And Forget Leo, Ennio Morricone finally won an Oscar after 500 movie credits.

Oscar night 2016

Son of Saul is a film I have no desire to see.

OscarsIt’s an odd thing that I always record Oscar night, which will be a week from today, on the DVR. I never watch it in real time, and it usually takes me five or six days to get through, by which time I know, of course, who won.

Sure I can find the “best moments” online – and I’ve stopped trying to hide myself from those – but I seldom watch them when they just pop up, because I like to see these things in the context of the evening.

Actress Jada Pinkett-Smith announced her boycott of the Academy Awards because, of the twenty acting slots, none of the nominees were black. Or Hispanic. Or Asian. Director Spike Lee and Jada’s husband Will Smith followed suit.

Larry Wilmore did a bit on The Nightly Show that wasn’t terribly funny, but had elements of truth. Blacks get nominated when they are slaves (12 Years a Slave), or still feeling the sting of slavery (e.g., the Help). The joke is that the filmmakers should have made Michael B. Jordan in Creed, or the cast of Straight Outta Compton, more tied to their slave roots.

When there’s a lack of diversity, in any organization, there’s a recognition that “something” should be done. Continue reading “Oscar night 2016”

Movie review: Spotlight

Where the Post had Ben Bradlee, the Globe had Ben Bradlee, Jr.

spotlightIt appears that every movie I’ve seen lately, most recently Spotlight, is designed to tick me off. The subject of my ire this time is the Roman Catholic church that allowed its priests to prey upon its young, vulnerable members. Not only did they do nothing about it, but the system also allowed priests to get transferred to other parishes to continue their misdeeds.

All this I knew coming in. What was interesting in the telling was this: once upon a time, great metropolitan newspapers actually took on the system, even when that system is the mighty RC church in Boston. One truly chilling moment in the movie was one priest’s rationalization of why his actions weren’t so bad. Beyond the pain I felt from the physical and emotional abuse of the victims was the loss of faith and trust the now-adult victims experienced.

Some have compared Spotlight with All the President’s Men, and I think it would be fairly apt. Instead of two disparate reporters from the Washington Post trying to make sense of Watergate, there’s the special unit of the Boston Globe (Rachel McAdams, Brian d’Arcy James, and the headstrong character played by Mark Ruffalo). The group is headed by Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson (Michael Keaton), attempting to ascertain the scope of the church scandal.

Where the Post had Ben Bradlee, the Globe had Ben Bradlee, Jr. (John Slattery), plus a cerebral new boss (Liev Schreiber). The closest thing to Deep Throat is an infuriating, possibly crackpot lawyer (Stanley Tucci) who was representing some of the victims.

At one point, the team asks someone who had studied the phenomenon whether it could be as many as 13 priests in their area. Of course, there were far more, and not limited to the Boston diocese. In fact, the end of the movie lists all the areas in the country, then the rest of the world, where pedophile priests were rooted out. This included Albany, NY, first on the alphabetical list, as the nearly sold-out crowd at the Spectrum Theatre in the city noted.

The other great sadness of this story is that the events happened early in this century, yet the level of investigative reporting has all but disappeared, due to budget cutting. This is not a flashy movie but is a solidly made, occasionally tension-inducing narrative, despite the fact that we largely know the outcome.

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