*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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TOP 20 BEST FILMS OF 2014 * PART TWO

SO HERE WE ARE . . . AT LAST. The second month into 2015.

I know, terrible. For those who are still interested, we have the SECOND PART of my best films of 2014. The top 11-20!

Feel free to search through my posts for my top 10. If you want, I can provide them.

The best (or better) ones of that mediocre movie year. My criteria mainly focused on the ones that surprised, intrigued and entertained me. And boy, it was tough. Many have been watchable. Okay at best. What was harder was condensing my 20 WORST films of 2014 (Which will be following shortly).

BUT there were diamonds in the rough sea of bilge that polluted the movie screens last year.

I have had to endure endless entries of mindless drivel regurgitating the same old plot, clichéd characters (even in their 3D wrapped foils) and excruciating acting or dreadful dialogue and to be honest, it’s killed my enthusiasm a little bit.

Now some entries you may question and unfortunately release dates are always different. My argument was films I saw in that year at the cinema. Some may have been released at the end of 2013 but I didn’t see them until early January 2014.

BUT that sums up my argument if they are in here.

I won’t go on too much about each film. That’s what the other posts are for but a quick two cents if you like. Some I hope you will nod in approval. Others you may scroll back and forth hoping that this is a joke. BUT my criteria is based on surprise, entertainment and engagement. So God knows what lies in store.

11. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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Now I am actually reading the book. This film lost marks for stretching out its source material to the max. However, Jackson still manages to deliver the goods by harvesting a special effects extravaganza of a movie. This slicker, darker installment made up for the lumbering opener that was An Unexpected Journey. The pace may still have been a little long at the tooth BUT was certainly the best in Jackson’s second trilogy.

12. Captain America: Winter Soldier

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A Marvel sequel that wasn’t needed but surprised me in surpassing the stuttery original. I felt the first Captain America was rushed to introduce the Cap in time for the Avengers and didn’t really cover as much of the WW2 elements as I had hoped. A superhero fighting in the war had a lot more promise for me. BUT the sequel had a decent story, good action pieces and added depth to the ‘Cap. Plus it gave a lot more screen time to the Black Widow and the legendary Nick Fury (At last!)

13. The Raid 2

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Fast and furious . . . after an hour of droll exposition. BUT it was still the most intense action film I saw that year. The final 45 minutes surpassed the original in suspense and action. Worth the wait. It may not have beat the original overall BUT other films need to use this as the next “How To Make An Action Movie” textbook.

14. St Vincent

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Bill Murray at his best in this easy going indie dramedy. It was funny, well acted with some cracking one liners and an impressive debut from young wunderkid Jaeden Lieberher.

15. Before I Go To Sleep

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A tense, slowburning but well crafted psychological thriller. Memento meets While You Were Sleeping. Even if I had sussed the big twist. The unveiling still took me by surprise. I thought the cast were fantastic. Kidman was on fine form and the last 15 minutes were brilliant.

16. The Maze Runner

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You read that, right? We had numerous teen book bestseller franchises flooding the screens. Divergent, Hunger Games, The Giver and . . . The Maze Runner. I went in, really expecting the worst and for the majority of the film, I was hooked. It’s hardly original but it zipped along and stopped me grumbling.

17. Nightcrawler

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A superb performance from Gyllenhaal. Deservedly earning a BAFTA nomination. Somehow managing to out-Bale Bale in this dark take on the American dream. Satirical, grim and engrossing. If a little predictable with an abrupt ending BUT still worth a gander.

18. The Guest

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Mr Crawley has left the Abbey and he’s kicking ass and taking names. A cracking and charismatic performance in this strange but riveting indie action flick. It felt like a film of two halves. Some may not like how it pans out BUT it certainly took me by surprise. Badass film of 2014? Hell yeah!

19. What If

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What if Harry Potter did an indie chick flick? It would be an easygoing and entertaining affair. That’s what. Radcliffe and Kazan had great chemistry and were a normal and believable couple. I actually cared what happened to them unlike the other umpteen romantic comedies that have wasted my time.

20. Blended

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I told you that I was going to think outside the box. I said surprised or entertained me. It has been a while since I have enjoyed a Sandler movie. And this says a lot from a die hard fan. Hardly die hard BUT I’ve endured them all. Blended certainly isn’t perfect but it felt like a return of sorts. It was certainly a return for Drew Barrymore. The plot is stupid and some gags fall flat on their backside.

BUT when it was funny, it had me in stitches. The family dynamic was dealt with well. The handling with the grief issues was done nicely and was unexpected. I enjoyed it. There’s still hope for the Sandler. I went in expecting nothing and was rewarded with something more. A good comedy. Hallelujah. Has the Mad Movie Ranter lost his marbles?

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU REVIEW

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This is where I leave the cinema for a bit . . .

No, it’s not that bad. But not that great either considering the talent at Shawn Levy’s fingertips.

Levy’s projects have always been okay (Real Steel/ Date Night/The Internship). For some of you those titles might make you wince. The master of ground breaking comedy classics? Not even close.

The cast did their best with the material. It’s just a shame that the material is not that good. In all fairness, Levy takes a stab at family dramedy. But maybe he shoudn’t have.

AND if you wanted anyone to head a dysfunctional family, it would be Jason Bateman (Arrested Development/Horrible Bosses).

So what’s it all about? When their father passes away, four grown siblings are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother (Jane Fonda) and their spouses and exes.

Jason Bateman was brilliant. He carried the film in my opinion. His marriage breakdown story line was hardly original but it gave an extra something to the endless childish sibling bickering that dominated the majority of the screen time. How it was all resolved was a little predictable and terribly flat but at least there were a few dramatic moments to be had.

Tina Fey didn’t really deliver as much as I hoped. I know she’s funny. Come on, 30 Rock and Date Night proved that. It felt like she played it safe and stuck with the tame script which made her highly unmemorable, bar two little scenes. She worked well with Bateman and did her best but with her comedic prowess, you expected something a little better.

Adam Driver (What If?) was a much needed comedy injection. His lines were hardly comedy gold but his delivery and style managed to get a smile out of me. His relationship with Bateman made for an entertaining and endearing one.

Connie Britton was wasted in her role. A shame after her turn in Friday Night Lights and Nashville. A nothingy character that didn’t really add anything to the mix. Nothing more than a psychiatrist MILF that Adam Driver got to show off to the family.

Speaking of nothingy role, Timothy Olyphant come on down! Absolutely gutted after his terrific performance in Justified. His character was involved in a naff subplot that didn’t really go anywhere. This is what infuriated me with TIWILY. There were so many missed opportunities with the characters and the cast to make more drama and better story lines.

I know that this was adapted from a Jonathan Tropper novel. I can’t say how faithful the film is to its source material but it certainly hasn’t made me want to read it.

Some of the gags were just plain terrible. I mean the recurring joke of the little toddler moving his potty around to poop all over the house was just not funny. The little toddler himself actually was hilarious. His improvisation with some of the cast was brilliant. They didn’t expect him to retort back. More of that would have been perfect.

But potty-ing (I know it’s not a word. I’m not wasting any time finding another) around the house and flinging poo? Awww. No. AWWW – Are you kidding me? Put your potty in the bathroom, boy. Jeez.

Anyhoo . . . The sibling rivalry and tension wasn’t badly done. Everyone can relate to it in some capacity and the moments in which they look back and experience the old nostalgia make for some nice moments. One of the gags that should have been branded as just plain lazy actually entertained me.

A scenario involving some marijuana and a synagogue classroom actually allowed for a comical encounter between Bateman, Driver and Corey Stoll (Homeland). It was great to see Stoll have a bigger role and he doesn’t do a bad job as the stubborn older brother.

Ben Schwartz was incredibly annoying as the hyperactive Rabbi Charles Grodner or Boner to everybody else. Delightful. A guest that gets a giggle and then overstays his welcome . . . in almost every scene. Not even the (usually) hilarious Kathryn Hahn (Step Brothers/We’re The Millers) could save the day with her kooky momma hell bent on getting preggers. It was weak.

And Jane Fonda . . . Apart from having fake pumped up breasts to cue inevitable breast feeding gags, she was highly unmemorable. In fact, there was a bizarre revelation that occurs nearer the end of the film which doesn’t fit in at all. It didn’t work and just completely unnecessary. It was nothing more than a lazy plot device to stop the family scrapping. The only bit of real heated drama that got me interested.

Dax Sheppard (Without A Paddle) played the two-timing sleazebag well. But is this the only character that he can play? And to be honest, when he was first introduced with the Howard Stern DJ spiel, it wasn’t funny. Just annoying as hell. It made a change for Abigail Spencer (Suits) to play a more meatier role as the cheating wife. But the story line was so hammy and predictable, it never really hit the heights that you’d hope.

Rose Byrne (Damages) and Bateman had good chemistry but their love subplot was so generic and corny that I really couldn’t care. Tropper left their little romance so open as a feeble attempt to prevent the predictable outcome but just made it flat and uninteresting.

To be honest, this film only did one thing. Well, two. Waste my time. And make me realise how good August: Osage County was. If you want a good family drama, then I’d invest your time in that instead.

There is the odd moment to be had. One chuckle here, one little heart plucker there. But memorable and entertaining? Quotable and re-watchable? Meh.

2/5

WHAT IF REVIEW

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What if . . . ‘Arry Potter made a rom com about falling in love with a girl who is with somebody else?

A surprisingly watchable and entertaining one, that’s what.

Daniel Radcliffe makes another impressive screen outing breaking away from those Hogwarts halls in this indie rom com.

Now it’s hardly original. The obvious clichés are all there.

The inevitable yearning, the awkward glances, that typical teen debate about whether men and women can be just friends without the sexual ambiguities hanging around them like a foul smell. The inevitable ending.

However, at it’s heart is also a well acted, if slightly corny, rom com that is able to make you laugh and care for the clueless couple.

A feat in itself. You can’t help but watch so many of these regurgitated predictable romantic comedies and not actually care about the protagonists.

Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan (The Big Sick) have great chemistry and manage to apply it to some likeable and well written characters.

I think it really is down to your temperament of rom-coms. Normally I don’t have one.

So what’s it about? Wallace (Radcliffe), who is burned out from a string of failed relationships, forms an instant bond with Chantry (Kazan), who lives with her longtime boyfriend Ben (Rafe Spall).

Together, they puzzle out what it means if your best friend is also the love of your life (Bleurgh)

I went in ready to hate this. The trailers made it all seem so corny and schmaltzy BUT that only really happened in the final act.

The first half was an easygoing insight into the couple’s brewing relationship that moved along at a steady enough pace.

It just focused on the two characters BUT the chemistry and witty dialogue kept it all on par.

There is very little breaking apart from them except for the odd moment with the supporting characters to question their intentions.

The supporting cast weren’t a bad selection.

Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) was the main scene stealer as Wallace’s promiscuous college room mate, Allan. His odd outlook on life and bizarre sex advice was hilarious.

Especially his celebratory quip after having sex. That line will be quoted for months to come (Well for me anyway).

Rafe Spall (Prometheus) played the suspicious boyfriend with an impeccable accent. His character made for some awkward encounters as well as a humourous kitchen accident.

Mackenzie Davis (That Awkward Moment) didn’t do too badly as Allan’s partner. Her brash forwardness made for some funny moments.

However, I couldn’t help but feel that when she was teamed up with Driver; it all got a little OTT and hit and miss for me. The kind of OTT stuff I was expecting from the get go.

Megan Park’s (The Secret Life of the American Teenager) introduction as the temptress spiced things up, desperate for a rebound lay and targeting the “available” Wallace.

Predictable like I said BUT it’s a story we’ve either experienced or know somebody who has.

I wish more was made out of the subplot with Wallace’s sister (Jemima Rooper – Hex/Kinky Boots) and nephew (Lucius Hoyos).

It was a missed opportunity that could have added a little more depth to Wallace’s character rather than having him brood on a roof for chunks of the movie.

The final act in which the pair were missing each other as they travelled to different destinations was unnecessary and hammed up what was a normal and (generally) more realistic love story.

It may have been predictable BUT I went in expecting the worst and was relieved. It was entertaining, got the odd laugh and thanks to two talented actors, I wasn’t too bothered.

One of the better ones anyway.

3/5