Some people are saying that Spotlight is the best journalism movie since All The President’s Men.  I actually think it’s better.

spotlight-image-1Spotlight tells the story of the Boston Globe‘s breaking of the story of priest pedophilia and sexual abuse in Boston — a story that helped trigger the worldwide focus on priestly child abuse in the Catholic Church.  It’s got all of the elements of the classic film about reporting:  the team of tough, hard-bitten reporters and editors, the shoe-leather reporting work of trying to convince reluctant sources to talk, the efforts of powerful people and institutions to bury the story, the tough decisions on when to publish . . . as well as the inevitable footage of the newspapers rolling through the printing presses and being bundled and delivered when the story finally hits the front page.  The film is a riveting story of criminal cover-ups and secrecy and dogged reporters finally getting to the truth.

But what really lifts the movie into the realm of greatness, in my view, is the rawness of the story that the reporters were trying to exposed.  In a film chock full of terrific performances, some of the most powerful are given by the actors playing the devastated, humiliated, emotionally crippled abuse victims . . . and, interestingly, by the defenders of the Catholic Church struggling to rationalize their unrationalizable efforts to maintaining the silence about terrible, unpardonable criminal conduct.  And when the movie comes to its potent final scene, and on the day the story hits the newspaper the investigative reporting team is bombarded with phone calls from victims that reveal that the priestly abuse problem is even more severe than they dreamed, the viewer can’t help by be amazed and sickened that so many people allowed such inexcusable conduct to go on, victimizing new generations of children, for so long.  The movie’s message hits like a sledgehammer to the gut.

The script for the movie is terrific, the actors playing the investigative reporting team — Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Brian d’Arcy James — are all excellent, and I particularly liked Liev Schreiber as the taciturn new editor who cues the reporters in to the story lurking under their noses and Stanley Tucci as the lawyer for the victims who has no expectations that the Globe will actually tackle the dominant religious institution in town.  The finest performances, though, were of the actors playing the emotionally wrecked abuse victims.  Their characters shift Spotlight from a traditional fast-paced reporting movie into an emotional powerhouse.

This is a must-see movie.

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2015 (II)

The internet puts a huge amount of useful information at our fingertips.  You can find all kinds of helpful details about history, fashion, health, music, modern culture, and faraway lands . . . but who really cares about those mundane topics, anyway?  We all know that the real godsend is the ready availability of thousands of cookie recipes.

I found the recipe below on the website and think it looks pretty good.  After all, who can resist a recipe that requires you to “coil” cookie dough?

Mini Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Ingredients:  1 cup butter, softened; 1 3/4 cups sugar, divided; 3 large egg yolks; 1 tablespoon honey plus one teaspoon honey, divided; 1 teaspoon vanilla extract; 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour; 1 teaspoon baking powder; 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar; 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon; 8 ounces white baking chocolate, chopped.

exps49906_th1999449d06_03_2bcCream butter and 1-1/4 cups sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, 1 tablespoon honey and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cream of tartar, then gradually add it to the creamed mixture and mix well.  Take a heaping tablespoonful of dough and roll it into a 6-inch log. In a shallow bowl, combine cinnamon and remaining sugar, then roll log in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Loosely coil the log into a spiral shape and place it on a greased baking sheet. Repeat, placing cookies 1 inch apart. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar.  

Bake cookies at 350° for 8-10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. In a small bowl, melt baking chocolate with remaining honey; stir until smooth. Drizzle over cookies. Let stand until set. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 2-1/2 dozen cookies.

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2015

The Force Awakens

7fhdje1It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas — but who cares?  I mean, come on!  We’re less than two weeks away from the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and the geek world is in full Star Wars madness mode.

You could spend hours just surfing the internet for information about the new movie.  To save you at least part of the trouble, here’s a sampling of some of the diverse Star Wars stories out there:  an interesting BBC interview with Harrison Ford and director J.J. Abrams, a story collecting seven of the most far-out fan theories about the plot lines of the movie (Jar Jar Binks a Sith Lord?  Seriously??), and an article positing that a careful review of the Star Wars trading cards that are now being sold reveal crucial story elements.  And, of course, you can go to the official website if you want to watch the trailers a few dozen more times to get ready for the big day.

I’m not much for trying to figure things out before I go to see a much-anticipated movie, so I’m not going to actually read any spoiler reveals or try to guess what might happen to Han, Luke, Leia, and the new generation of Jedi warriors.  I’d rather take my Star Wars pure and unadulterated by anything other than approved previews.  So for now, I’ll count the days until the movie hits the theaters, check out safe stuff like the Spanish language poster printed above, and think:  that movie looks like it is going to be pretty cool.