Wednesday, December 16, 2015

“Spotlight” Movie About Fine Example Of Investigative Journalism Is Oscar Best-Picture Favorite

Posted by Peter Quennell

Hollywood has rewarded movies about investigations many times over the years.

Maybe not such a bad thing when media are under such internet and political pressure - and too often prone now to propagating dishonest PR and misleading their audiences, as we have seen.

“Spotlight” portrays an investigation by a Boston Globe newspaper team in 2001 and 2002 into myriad sexual abuses by priests in that very catholic city.

This was the first-ever such investigation into the sexual abuses. It started very small - less than 10 priests were initially suspected - and ran into roadblocks and was nearly shut down several times.

it eventually cascaded into the exposure of hundreds of priests in the US and many more worldwide. Numbers of victims are unknown but worldwide are numbered at minimum in the hundreds of thousands.

The pace of the film is phenomenal. There is jolt after jolt as the reporters - most of whom are themselves catholic or lapsed-catholic and take some heat - in repeated disbelief find the numbers of priests and victims growing and growing.

Pope Francis himself is reported as in favor of investigations continuing.  The various support groups representing the numerous “survivors” have welcomed the film.

Some American priests have raised some objections. They dont seem to fault the movie for honesty though.

Prophet’s Prey is a similarly gripping and unflinching movie, about children abused by fundamentalists. It is a documentary, and may be nominated for an Oscar in that category.


I usually record the Oscars and then skim through. Occasionally they stumble on something important!

Here is the Indiewire website’s Oscar predictions.

The Sure Thing:
1. “Spotlight” (Open Road)

The Strong Bets:
2. “The Revenant” (20th Century Fox)
3. “The Martian” (20th Century Fox)
4. “Carol” (The Weinstein Company)
5. “Room” (A24)
6. “Mad Max: Fury Road” (Warner Brothers)

The Close Calls:
7. “Brooklyn” (Fox Searchlight)
8. “The Big Short” (Paramount)
9. “Bridge of Spies” (Disney)
10. “The Hateful Eight” (The Weinstein Company)
11. “Inside Out” (Disney)
12. “Straight Outta Compton” (Universal)
13. “Creed” (Warner Bros)
14. “Beasts of No Nation” (Netflix)
15. “Steve Jobs” (Universal)
16. “Sicario” (Lionsgate)
17. “Trumbo” (Bleeker Street)

The Long Shots:
18. “Joy” (20th Century Fox)
19. “The Danish Girl” (Focus)
20. “Youth” (Fox Searchlight)
21. “Son of Saul” (Sony Pictures Classics)
22. “Black Mass” (Warner Brothers)
23. “Love & Mercy” (Roadside Attractions)
24. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (Disney)
25. “Tangerine” (Magnolia)

This is from a predictions article quoting the Gold Derby website.

Oscar nominations for 2016 will not be announced for another month, but expert predictions are already rolling in as critics, film buffs, and bloggers attempt to sway the Oscar race in all of the major categories — but with none generating as much passion as the Best Picture category as Spotlight, where at least three major contenders appear set to slug it out for the Academy’s top honor, with one potentially serious dark horse also riding into the scene.

According to a panel of 22 film experts assembled by the Oscar predictions site Gold Derby, the current frontrunner in the Best Picture race is indeed Spotlight, the newsroom drama from director Tom McCarthy — and with Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo topping an ensemble cast — that chronicles the Boston Globe investigation into the Catholic Church child molestation scandal.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/16/15 at 06:40 PM | #


“Spotlight” definitely does sound interesting and relevant as it’s about the lost art of investigative journalism.

As we have unfortunately come to realise in Meredith’s case, journalists have long since sold out to their employers (at some imprecise date but somewhere in the last 30+ years). Somehow the crazy cult of individualism became paramount for everyone in this period and the general climate of fear and “there’s no such thing as society”( aka Thatcherism the U.K.) meant that it became paramount and   deadly serious to keep existential insecurities repressed by maintaining personal job and income security. Thus it became verboten to question the system and point out however vaguely that the emperor was in fact naked.

“All The President’s Men” (1976) was a great film about proper idealistic journalists who make today’s reporters look like the pathetic wage slaves they are. Perhaps “Spotlight” will reverse that trend?

Posted by Odysseus on 12/17/15 at 05:50 PM | #

Hi Odysseus

All The Presidents Men is the gold standard of course. This new movie could be a much-needed shot in the arm for journalism schools which have seen less applications of late. The Columbia school for one has been in touch with us and important results may emerge. 

A paragon of the me-me-me society you describe was arrested in Brooklyn several hours ago. I do hope all our psychologists are taking a look. Martin Shkreli seems as much narcissism-on-steroids as Sollecito and Knox.

Like Knox and Sollecito he foolishly flaunted it rather than tucking himself away.

Twitter firestorm: the most hated guy. Some of the tweeters are seriously funny. Worth a read.^google|twcamp^serp|twgr^search

Cynical report from the Guardian.

In fact the Guardian misleads, many CEOs have been put away by the Federal prosecutors in NYC, the same who are giving world soccer a hard time.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/17/15 at 10:32 PM | #

Two more great links, like night & day, for the psychologists, on the illusionist or delusionist Martin Shkreli:

1) Some of his vain tweets, one claiming he’s worth $20 mil, another that he just gave $5 mil away:

2) An analysis of his investment acumen showing he had, well, none at all, and he simply lost & lost & lost.

One of the charges alone, and there are several, could see him put away for 20 years. Plus he faces civil suits, for fraud.

A NYC defence lawyer says his chutzpah when he KNEW he was being investigated could lead a judge to make an example of him.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/18/15 at 02:39 AM | #

Maybe the biggest swindler in US history was Bernie Madoff who is now serving 150 years behind bars.

He took many life savings, in return for huge promised gains - in a ponzi scheme just like this guy’s.

Here’s the post in which SeekingUnderstanding warned us to smarten up over these dangerous psychopaths and extreme narcissists.

Two weeks ago, Knox didnt swindle anybody out of anything - but she took an entire law faculty in Chicago in.

She’s a swindler pure and simple, among other things, and soon it will be very hard for any American to miss.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/18/15 at 05:45 AM | #

Interesting stuff.

Any word on calunnia #2 final arguments?  Weren’t they supposed to be submitted last week?

Posted by Chimera on 12/18/15 at 09:34 AM | #

“Two weeks ago, Knox didnt swindle anybody out of anything - but she took an entire law faculty in Chicago in.”
by Pete, on 12/18/15 at 12:45 AM

Knox and Loyola did seem to support some naive, uninformed Innocence-Activist J.D.s.

Is it possible she’s swindling US on that taking-in too?

Where are the reports of who was present at this “Event”?

What Qs were asked?

What did Knox say?

The silence-so-far is consistent with LUC’s Dean paying-heed to our warnings.

Posted by Cardiol MD on 12/18/15 at 10:20 AM | #

Hi Chimera.

On Calunnia #2 sharp eyes and good memory. Yes and yes, see new post? We’ll be getting the submissions from Italy.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/18/15 at 03:02 PM | #

Hi Cardiol

Right, Loyola itself seems to have not attempted to gain any mileage. You & others do seem to have issued effective warnings.

Knox came and went and a few people paid a whole lot for a table (maybe we could consider that a swindle?) and she put out a grateful tweet to the organizers.

Then… silence.

The “luncheon” was of course set up by Loyola on the basis of the March verdict, which seemed pretty categoric. It took even us a while to observe and explain just how much the written report still dropped Knox in it.

Her own lawyers must hate her doing these events, as she is already tangled up in three criminal trials for making things up, and ensuing civil trials by hurt parties could stretch to the horizon.

If Knox ever tries a repeat, we will be fully loaded (just a few weeks to go now) and will be able to fill in media by way of press releases and links to numerous series here.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/18/15 at 03:11 PM | #

This translates into the old English axiom of the “Hue and Cry” in which groups of people hound the perpetrator until they are discovered arrested and found guilty and sent to jail. it was placed upon the towns populous as a whole since it helped the local constabulary.
So with reference to Loyola and anything else that might appear on the horizon. Never stop until true justice is served. The forces of evil (Steve Moore, Bruce Fischer etc) expect us to get bored and give up. Well that is not going to happen no matter how long it takes. Knox must know that we are after her and that we will not stop.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 12/18/15 at 11:27 PM | #

In reading about Shkreli, I was struck by what appears to be his addiction to high risk and danger - as well as his own misplaced pride.

Typical of course of the sensation seeking sociopath/ psychopathic narcissist.

Interesting that he couldn’t resist gloating. But his vitriol is something else (with his threats to previous employee etc). Sadly unsurprising though.

For me, this is the main reason why it has been important to keep alive the quest for justice. Purely for the sake of Meredith’s family, especially this time of year, one might wish that the terribilita and agony of her case could be put to rest.

But the other shocking aspect to the case still has to be learnt…that is, not to be taken in and deceived by these types of ruthless, conscienceless, frequently attractive personalities.

Society still has a way to go with learning to recognise this state of being in time .

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 12/20/15 at 01:19 PM | #

Hi SeekingUnderstanding

I agree, the Meredith case could be precedent-setting. It could be a classic handbook for dangerous narcissists and lawyers who cannot win in the courts and so turn to dishonest PR to poison opinion. Or it could open enough eyes and cause enough corrective action that we see nothing similar for years.

In Italy they are working hard to make sure it is NOT precedent setting and we have highlighted their corrective actions so far. I hope theres a way to bring Bongiorno down a peg, she is continuing to be vicious against justice officials who have no easy way to defend themselves. 

In the Shkreli case I hope you spotted the newer, deeper articles now coming online, which show how many DID see a problem - which he then actually used to his advantage, the lone ranger. He shocked an entire medical summit several weeks ago and was thrilled to have done so.

Lone rangers with mentalities that are far from balanced are the heroes now in many TV series and movies, snapping and snarling, and putting others down in an extreme way, but ending up the winners. (“House” and the two Sherlock Holmes TV series - which I do watch - are mild examples!)

The entire government is often made to look very stupid, and full of dangerous schemers and total incompetents.

The Jason Bourne series of movies (okay, among my favorites) had the government attempting numerous crimes to cover up other crimes. The Homeland TV series has an incompetent CIA except for a rogue agent, a bipolar hero who in the latest series said she does her best thinking when she comes off her medication.

We undermine these institutions at our peril. We are going to need them more and more.

Americans have had fear messages beamed at them for many years (watch Bowling for Combine for numerous examples) and some are now so rattled they are scared to leave home. Where guns are easy to get sales are peaking.

The way beyond this has to include group-group-group, and what may ultimately correct things if it is not too late is a universal acceptance that economic growth only really happens through teamwork. High-performance teams are the headiest environments on Earth and it is common to find those who experienced them seeking to recreate that experience for the rest of their lives.

Lets hope they are mostly good guys!

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/20/15 at 04:15 PM | #

In the Shkreli case again, it is his swindling that could put him away for many years. His first company went broke so he started a second company to con investors into covering his losses - and then all of that happened a second time!

But its also his model of charging thousands of percent over research and production costs for a vital drug that may have awakened a sleeping giant. See today’s NY Times editorial at bottom here.

He paid $50 million for the US rights to Daraprim, a drug over 60 years old with several vital uses including HIV control which amazingly still has some sort of patent protection, and now the company that just forced him to resign has to figure out how to drop the price again but not go broke in the process. Have fun with that one.

No Justification for High Drug Prices

There is ample evidence that drug prices have been pushed to astronomical heights for no reason other than the desire of drug makers to maximize profits. Prices in many cases far exceed what’s needed to cover the costs of research and clinical trials, and some companies have found ways to rake in profits even without shouldering the cost of drug development.

The two worst offenders are bottom feeders that simply buy companies they believe have underpriced their drugs and then quickly raise prices to astronomical levels.

In August, Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired the American marketing rights to a 62-year-old drug to treat a devastating parasitic infection and raised the cost of one pill to $750 from $13.50. That brought the cost of a course of treatment for some patients to hundreds of thousands of dollars. (Turing’s founder, Martin Shkreli, was indicted on Thursday on charges of securities fraud involving a hedge fund and another biotechnology firm he started.)

Valeant Pharmaceuticals greatly increased the prices of several drugs it acquired, including two used by hospitals to treat heart conditions. It also protected its high-priced dermatology drugs by urging doctors to send prescriptions to a mail-order pharmacy that would make sure no cheaper alternative was substituted.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group, described Turing and Valeant as essentially investment vehicles “masquerading as pharmaceutical companies.”

Yet even some mainstream companies have set high prices that seem hard to justify. Eli Lilly said its new lung cancer drug, Portrazza, would cost about $11,430 a month in the United States, six times the $1,870 price that leading oncologists said in a recent journal article would be a fair reflection of the benefit the drug offers compared with older therapies.

Similarly, Pfizer set the list price for Ibrance, a drug to treat a form of advanced breast cancer, at $9,850 a month, a price that remains high even after the 20 percent discount demanded by insurers. The price was not based on manufacturing costs or research costs, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal. Rather, Pfizer set the price as high as it could without causing doctors and insurers to favor an alternative drug.

The pharmaceutical industry often defends its prices by noting that drugs account for only 10 percent of nationwide health spending. But in employer-based health insurance plans, drug benefits account for 19 percent of spending, not much less than spending on inpatient hospital care, according to a recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. And surveys have shown that many Americans have difficulty paying for the drugs they need. Major drug companies often increase prices 10 percent or more a year, far faster than inflation, straining the health care system.

Experts have proposed several ways to reduce drug prices, like fostering greater competition among drug companies or allowing the government to negotiate lower prices. Encouraging the development of innovative drugs and setting prices in ways that make lifesaving medicines affordable to all are not mutually exclusive ideas.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/20/15 at 04:59 PM | #

Hi Pete

I do believe history will see the personalities of Knox and Sollecito very clearly, and I also feel that this will not be a difficult task, with time perspective, because they both actually, but especially Knox, - do over-expose themselves.

She can’t resist the crowing, the thrill from the pulling the wool..  Well done to all those in Italy behind the scenes, with patience.

‘growth only happens through teamwork’ could say that many things require teamwork -Christmas in a large family for instance! 

Another word is cooperation. Humans are, naturally, cooperative. Unfortunately they are also naturally prone to fear and adrenalin-induced states.

We need to reclaim the former characteristic wherever possible…and yes, institutions form an important role in this. They exist on the back of tremendous and often courageous work for their initiation. I quite agree, we ignore or overlook their traditions and rules at our peril.

Interesting about Sherlock. I don’t actually watch the Cumberbatch version, as I don’t like it. It makes me very uncomfortable. I prefer the much older version with Jeremy Brett (with Edward Hardwicke) who, oddly enough, actually did suffer from a bipolar condition, which he was painfully aware of - and it seemed to donate a poignant humanity to the role.

I had noticed, like you, this tendency to laud the ‘rogue’ lead detective in modern series. Regrettable. Governing is actually very difficult - we need more respect for this!

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 12/20/15 at 05:02 PM | #

Hi SeekingUnderstanding

Adrenalin rushes are addictive, right? Many live for them and are bored otherwise. Not uncommon at the political levels of government, not unknown in the UN either, I had to fight against it. A helpful book here:

Re portraying Sherlock there seems a way to be jubilant when things work out that is inclusive and magnetic and a way to be jubilant that is sharp-elbowed and demeaning.

I saw Brett (and Hardwicke) in a Sherlock play onstage while passing through London (he died soon after) and Brett was the kind of guy people would follow anywhere. Daniel Craig who I saw onstage in NYC makes a magnetic James Bond for the same reason; in real life and onstage he seems pretty humble, shy almost.

Most British actors seem to exude humble (many say they are most comfortable in ensembles) and Cumberbatch playing various mean-jubilant loner roles lately seems an outlier and not very British!

One of the most talented and humble actors is Mark Rylance. He is often onstage here, and then all eyes are upon him. His quiet, watchful, relentless Thomas Cromwell in the BBC Wolf Hall series opened eyes here to a whole other way of acting.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/20/15 at 05:28 PM | #


This might of interest regarding the desperate need for investigative journalism.

It seems the lick-spittle and craven mainstream media (and here politicians, the professions et al.) are still at it - in this case avoiding any mention of, never mind prosecution for,  the illegal activities of a big business.

Fear has big eyes as they say. The fierce money god can seem to demand total obedience. It ain’t necessarily so.

Posted by Odysseus on 12/24/15 at 05:44 PM | #

Whoops. Make that “be of interest”.

Posted by Odysseus on 12/24/15 at 08:48 PM | #
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