Sunday, January 31, 2016

Spotlight the way home

The only person I have telephoned
from Virginia, whom I knew before 
arriving here, I called for the
first time yesterday after seeing
the American movie, Spotlight. An
ancient friend I luckily met, as 
a young man in San Francisco. It
was a brief and happy conversation.

I believe I've just given the film
the only review it needs. For view-
ers who have ever been American or
ever been young, this is a script
capable of reaching beneath habits
and adjustments, to awaken sensings 
gratefully, of another's heart.

Unobserved isolations, internal ex-
iles persist deeply in a landscape 
of superficial toleration, on many 
levels just as intractable, if in 
spheres less spectacular than the 
rape of children by institutions of 
trust. The seduction of boys series
in this blog appropriates its title 
sardonically from a marker of genital 
invasion, for which the phrase is uni-
versal shorthand, for that reason -- 
to portray the enterprising range and 
corrupting consequence of a culture's 
dilettante, yet not whimsical manipu-
lations. The peripatetic hottie, for 
that reason, portrays iconographical-
ly the endgame of customary casuistry, 
high and low, in examples accruing al-
most every week. Now we have a movie, 
lauded by critics sounding exonerated 
in print media, hailing a whadya know 
discovery of literal genital racketeer-
ing in an outpost of the Vatican. 

I agree with them, this is a detective 
tale of zingy suspense, so far as it 
goes. But its path draws it along lines 
of Dr Tulp's discovery of innards in a
human body for Rembrandt. The question 
was not, who knew, not even who wanted 
to know. The prize cannot be genuine if 
it is claimed by the painter, any more 
than by the anatomist. It belongs to the 
life, investigated, feeling its way home.

Thobias Malmberg
Erik in Venice

Michael Fried
Realism, Writing,
  Disfiguration  ~
  On Thomas Eakins and
  Stephen Crane
University of Chicago, 1987

Stephanie Zacharek
The Village Voice
3 November 2015

Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
4 November 2015

A.O. Scott
The New York Times
5 November 2015

Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
5 November 2015

Anthony Lane
The New Yorker
9 November 2015

Ann Hornaday
The Washington Post
12 November 2015

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