*NEW* SILENCE REVIEW *NEW*

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Silence was probably the best reaction I could muster after this arduous affair.

Two priests travel to Japan in an attempt to locate their mentor and propagate Catholicism.

There were moments where I felt I was being tortured with the priests and NOT in a good way (If there is a good way).

I’m a fan of Scorsese. Who isn’t? (If you’re not, get out of here!) Goodfellas, Casino, Shutter Island, Taxi Driver, the list goes on. We all have our favourites.

BUT his latest foray into religion left me a little numb and downtrodden.

This may have been a long term project finally coming to life BUT I found myself befuddled and lost in what the movie maestro was trying to do.

The strong opening sequence certainly grabbed my attention. The sound of crickets getting louder and louder until . . . NOTHING . . . Silence. The credits rolled. An air of unease as figures shifted around the foggy marshes.

The fog cleared to reveal crucifixes. The tone was set. My curiousity peaked. Cue the most challenging three hours of my life.

Rodrigo Prieto’s cinematography was hauntingly beautiful. In one shot, he could make a dilapidated village look desolate and deadly to warm and inviting. A masterstroke.

The first act was slow BUT engaging as Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) was forced to watch the torture of his own clergymen. His grim voice over describing every detail.

It was brutal as the priests had their bodies scolded with hot spring water. To stop the punishment; all they had to do was denounce God by stepping on a face plate of Jesus.

I felt Silence had a hint of Heart of Darkness with Ferreira’s whereabouts unknown (Yes, an absent Neeson. Disappointing). Only whispers in the wind suggesting his demise with some even saying the priest had abandoned his faith and taken refuge with the Japanese.

Andrew Garfield was fantastic as the naive Rodrigues. Refusing to believe the gossip and desperate to seek the truth. I don’t think I would have been as interested if he wasn’t at the helm. He carried the piece.

I was constantly on edge throughout the film. The unease and suspense was executed perfectly. All the secrecy and creeping around for two priests to deliver Midnight Mass. The villagers hiding in the dark. Afraid to announce their faith.

The silence was unsettling. Scorsese created a tranquil and haunting atmosphere. By the first hour, I was surprised to still be absorbed in this story as the priests hid under the floorboards to evade capture from The Inquisitor (Issei Ogata).

I loved the little nods to Akira Kurosawa. The influences were everywhere from the camera shots to the set design.

Jay Cocks (Don’t laugh. Come on now) and Scorsese penned a fantastic script. There were some great bits of dialogue. I haven’t read the Shusaku Endo novel so I don’t know how much of that praise goes to the author.

Adam Driver was surprisingly good as Garupe. I’ve only really known him as the loud mouth who loves sex and nachos in What If or the sulky emo Sith from Star Wars. He made a great duo with Garfield.

However, the middle act was where Scorsese should have trimmed the fat. It could have been cut by a good 40 minutes and this was where the problem began for me.

Ogata’s strangely eccentric and bizarrely camp performance as Inquisitor Inoue was a mixed bag for me.

His religious sparring with Rodrigues was brilliant. Two stubborn figures debating their cause and defending their faiths. BUT as they tackled these strong themes, beliefs and values, I could feel my attention waning.

The endless torture sequences were relentless as the Japanese continued to punish any self-proclaimed Christians and their loved ones. The agonising length and exhaustive monologuing soon had a cathartic effect.

I was disappointed when Rodrigues and Garupe split up to spread the good word. Driver’s absence was missed. Their dismal reunion was too rushed and abrupt for my liking.

Kichijiro’s character (Yôsuke Kubozuka) infuriated me. The cowardly villager that continually betrayed Rodrigues. Only to return to confess. I knew where I would have told him to go.

BUT if anything, he encapsulated the hypocrisy of the confession. As if being granted forgiveness by God would make up for his treachery?!

Tadanobu Asano was delightfully smug as the Interpreter. Toying with Rodrigues as he faced trial for his faith. Laughing at the priest’s belief. Knowing that resistance was futile.

The final act was tense, gripping and hard going as Rodrigues finally discovered Ferreira’s demise.

The film really put me through a rollercoaster ride of emotions BUT I can’t honestly say I enjoyed it. I considered seeking the novel for answers BUT I felt drained.

It was a daunting affair that certainly lingered long after my viewing BUT for the right reasons? Or just for the sheer disappointment?

Silence will determine the die hards from the Scorsese fans. If you fancy a completely different tone and direction with a fantastically acted religious drama, then this may be for you.

BUT anybody else may find this a testing effort that will lose you along the way.

Me? I’m still some what in-between.

2.5/5

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UNDER THE SKIN REVIEW

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Under the skin? More like grating against my skin. What the hell did I just watch?

Now imagine Species. Replace Natasha Henstridge with the even more alluring Scarlett Johansson. Set it in a grittier, murkier Scottish backdrop and you have . . . something worse than Species. In fact just watch Species. Hell, even check out their dreadful sequels.

Now Scarlett Johansson plays a flirty alien that feasts on weak, shallow, lonely Scottish men. How could this be so bad? How can the man who brought us Sexy Beast produce this? (I mean he did do the oddly bizarre Birth. You know the one with Nicole Kidman and her husband whose reincarnated as a 10 year old? Yeah that one).

And breathe. I tried to find redeeming features in this drab affair and the points are few and far between. Director Jonathan Glazer creates a daunting experience that despite starting off harrowing, soon turns into a mind-numbing coma inducing journey with an unexpected if pathetic climax.

From the opening sequence, you knew what to expect. An incredibly drawn out and mind numbing scene opener that desperately attempted to be clever and artistic BUT just came off pretentious.

The light and orb like imagery to form an eye was a nice touch but ten minutes of Johansson mumbling with that irritating tinny noise drilling through your head? Not so much. It felt like Glazer was trying to outdo David Lynch and failing miserably.

The low budget Taxi Driver-esque hunting sequences were originally intriguing. Especially when Johansson entraps her first kill. BUT that soon got very repetitive. The killing sequences were the better moments of the film. Haunting and engaging in parts. The soundtrack was more a collection of noises BUT creepy ones that will stick with you.

The men she entraps makes for some darkly comical moments whether that was intentional is another matter. Once the feasting method is revealed, it’s pleasantly gory. The special effects are actually very good (When they are used).

However after a solid hour of Johansson vamping it up with her mangled posh English accent, I felt my eyes wandering to my watch. Apparently, most of the men that Johansson approaches were just normal, I say normal, fellas walking the streets. One major gripe. The trip scene. What was the point of that? She trips. Which Glazer decided to keep in the movie. I couldn’t understand the purpose. Other than for hilarious Internet memes.

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BUT for story and structure? Nothing. Her feeling of isolation, neglect and confusion was established very early on. There was no need for the endless blank faced staring at random objects or people over and over.

The only surprise turn after an hour was when Johansson’s characters picks on a man that suffers a similar condition to the Elephant Man. Credit where it’s due. It was an engrossing scene. But one good scene does not a good movie make. Look I try to find the good in movies. I want them to succeed but in terms of story and structure, there isn’t a lot.

Once ScarJo has got in the buff (Whey. Pack it up!), you feel as if they have run out of ideas. Done a kill scene. Uh, flash her body. Done a hunting sequence. Flash her va- various regions. Disappointing. It raised questions but didn’t really answer any.

I mean, what was the deal with the motorbike guy? He came across as a Reinfeld to ScarJo’s extraterrestrial Dracula. Without spoiling; the beach scene was a strange encounter. The longer the film went on, the thinner my patience got. I was bored.

An unexpected chase sequence through the forest made for a redeeming ten minutes with a crazy if incredibly disappointing finale. I can’t help but feel that if it wasn’t Johansson fronting this, this mess wouldn’t have even had a cinema release. And rightly so.

I respect Johansson for branching out and investing in indie projects again but this? She does what she can with the part. But my goodness. I mean it does stay under your skin merely as a reminder that I wasted almost two hours of my life.

Droll, drab, dark but drawn out. A definite Marmite film. Unfortunately I hate Marmite.

1.5/5 for me. Sorry ScarJo.

WOLF OF WALL STREET REVIEW

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The Boss is back with one drug induced beast of a movie. Bold, brash and bloody bonkers but better than ever?

Nah, but it’s one hell of a ride!

It’s relentless, outrageous and doesn’t give a f- This film is not afraid to rock the boat. It literally capsizes one! DiCaprio’s Belfort is a monster but Scorsese always has that ability to make them so god damn watchable and likeable.

From the get go, Belfort’s character is very reminiscent of Liotta’s Henry Hill from Goodfellas. He makes it explicitly clear that he is out to make money and doesn’t care who he’s gotta screw to get to the top.

The opening sequence was a perfect indicator of the madness that will take over your life for the next three hours. Midget tossing, shagging and enough drugs to kill Keith Richards. You feel like you’re on drugs watching this. It’s so frantic, it’s almost like you’re watching a demented Luhrmann flick.

I won’t say too much about the film’s plot. Firstly, you won’t believe me. It’s so intense that it seems to throw everything but the kitchen sink. In fact, it launches the whole god damn kitchen! The only problem was that after the first hour, it got exhausting, a little repetitive and overlong.

However, the writing is sharp and everything you could expect from the legend and  “soprano” Terence “Boardwalk flippin’ Empire” Winter. It’s incredibly dark, gritty, violent and funny as hell. There is one scene I don’t know how DiCaprio and Hill did it. I won’t spoil it but my God!

Rodrigo Prieto’s cinematography is fantastic to boot and makes such a dirty and murky world look so glamourous. The cast are incredible. Jonah Hill is fantastic. His massive teeth and his erratic behaviour were hilarious. I couldn’t tell if he was improvising in parts because DiCaprio’s reactions seemed too genuine.

Great cameo from Matthew McConaughey. He manages to make a memorable impression in five minutes, summing up the beautiful reality of working in Wall Street and the true corruption that it brings. Plus his little motivation chant is very funny.

The stunning Margot Robbie certainly made her presence known. Plus she can act. What? I couldn’t get over the faces that popped up in this. Jon Bernthal (Shane from the Walking Dead), Jean Dujardin (The Artist), Jon Favreau, the movie legend that brought us When Harry Met Sally and This is Spinal Tap, Rob Reiner (on comic form) and Joanna Lumley.

However, plaudits must go to Leonardo DiCaprio. A tremendous actor who manages to stand out in a sea of talent. Proving why he is one of the best actors going. You can see why Scorsese has made him a regular. Even when the film may dip in pace, DiCaprio carries it every time. Bravo.

It was also good to see Kyle Chandler. An underrated actor in my opinions. Friday Night Lights fans will agree. A much needed injection as the second hour approached. He worked well with DiCap. A perfect catalyst with much needed tension and top notch banter.   

One little gripe. I can’t believe Winter had the cheek to steal a line from one of my favourite films, Heat. “Who? Who? What are ya? A fucking owl”.

It was always going to be tough for Scorsese to top such iconic films as Goodfellas, Casino, Raging Bull and Taxi Driver. His last few films have been good but lack that edge (except Shutter Island).

I still believe that Scorsese was given the Oscar for the wrong movie. The Departed was one of his weaker entries. But in a way, it must be the universe amending such a big mistake for Goodfellas.

Wolf of Wall Street may look like it has that edge but it’s just too ridiculous and exhausting that I was a little relieved to see the ending. That’s the problem with Scorsese flicks. There’s only ever two outcomes. They get away with it or they don’t.

Brilliantly shot, brilliantly acted and bloody bonkers. A little exhausting and overlong. Scorsese’s best? Nope BUT definitely worth a go.

3.5/5