‘Silence’: Review

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Martin Scorsese is so good and operates at such a high level after 50 years of directing (I had to look this up to be sure, that’s two of my lifetimes making stunning films) that I feel everybody, including myself, is kind of brushing Silence to the side like “eh, another amazing Scorsese film, what else is new.” Any other lesser director, or one not as well-known directs this film and there’s gonna be storming the streets over how good this thing is, but with Scorsese it just seems like another day at the office. I’ve been waiting years for Scorsese to get his passion project finished and now that it’s here and as good as it is it’s kind of demoralizing to see it fall by the wayside during end of the year awards talk, not that that’s the be-all and end-all of whether a movie is good or not, but still.

This is an uncomfortable film to watch and Scorsese doesn’t reward you at the end for sitting through this punishment, it’s not Hollywood fanfare where we all come out happy in the end and necessarily excited for life. It’s about two priests who travel into anti-Catholicism Japan in the 17th century in search of their mentor who has been missing for years. Both men get deeper and deeper into this religious war zone and suffer hardship after hardship affecting both their religious and physical demeanour.

While Liam Neeson and Adam Driver share their name on the poster with Andrew Garfield, it’s largely a showcase for Garfield who he pulls it off with aplomb. I’ve always liked Garfield fine enough, he’s never really wowed me or did anything horrible, just been doing well existing and putting in fine work. But, he certainly proved that if you give him a meaty part and something for him to sink his teeth in, like this film, he’ll go full bore and deliver something special. A lot of the film works in quiet moments and also because of the Japanese to English language barrier a lot of the emotions and reactions are played off the actor’s faces. Garfield is especially wonderful in how he’s able to act with his face and emote all this pain and feeling that wears him down through the hours of the audience watching the film and the years inside the film.

Scorsese never makes easy films, but he also never makes films that are so over-complicated and convoluted that they treat the audience like an idiot because of wanting to seem “smart” and educated. He’s so assured in his direction that a psuedo-comedy like The Wolf Of Wall Street and a deeply religious exploration like Silence can be told by the same equal measured by Scorsese’s respect for the medium and how expertly each part of it informs the whole, no matter the subject matter. Silence is a film that is powerful in the quiet moments and understated in the grandiose, revelatory moments. It’s a film that is interested in showing how things are and how they were, no matter the pain that it delivered and may continue to for some. Scorsese documents it and wraps it all up in an engaging filmic package that he clicks on as easy as autopilot, while still showing how much he cares.

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My Top 10 Favourite Films Of 2013

Before Midnight Best Banner

1. Before Midnight

This film is so raw and honest that nothing can even come close to it. I’m an unabashed fan of realism on film, and this one explores relationships like none other. The build-up of the predecessors do nothing but to make it more meaningful.

2. 12 Years A Slave

The most powerful movie I’ve seen all year and the first in awhile to make me actually feel something when I left the theatre. Ejiofor was overlooked in the awards race, but his performance still is resonating in me.

3. Gravity

The most uncomfortable I’ve been watching a movie in forever. My claustrophobia and being afraid of heights didn’t help me in watching it, but it made it much realer and hit harder than many other films could even dream.

4. The Wolf Of Wall Street

Probably the funnest movie of the year, glorifying sex and drugs and making it seem like the best thing ever. What a ride, and great performances all around to legitimatize it in this world.

5. Inside Llewyn Davis

One of the most personable films of the year with the best music. The Coens somehow keep introducing classic to their filmography.

6. Her

The most beautiful film I’ve seen all year. A poignant and important take on relationships as well as how modern-day technology shapes us.

7. Dallas Buyers Club

Great film heralded by legendary performances by McConaughey and Leto. Strong message and just inherently winnable.

8. The Past

An enormous surprise to me with a film that just kept compounding elements to be the incredible shock of the year for me.

9. Prisoners

So incredibly overlooked and underrated when it came to awards season, but it remains one of the best thriller I’ve see in quite a long time.

10. Star Trek Into Darkness

I really didn’t have a slot filled in here, but I remembered how much fun I had with the Star Trek sequel that I decided to throw it in here for its enjoyment in adventure and how it personifies what a summer blockbuster should be.

The 86th Annual Academy Awards: Picks

Oscars

I was all excited about my Oscar picks because I’m pretty confident in them, and am not really wavering on any of them, but then I see everyone (the mass majority) has the same picks as me. Also, I’m never confident in my picks, and since I am this year it basically means that they’re all wrong, so I look forward to Philomena winning best picture.

Best Picture: The actual best picture isn’t even nominated (Before Midnight), but the second best one 12 Years A Slave is and it’ll win. I do not now how Inside Llewyn Davis is not nominated, not that it’d win, but c’mon. For fun let’s rank the best picture nominees:

12 Years A Slave

Gravity

The Wolf Of Wall Street

Her

Dallas Buyers Club

Nebraska

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Philomena

Best Actor: Chiewtel Ejiofor gave the best performance, one that’s still hard to shake even months after seeing it, but Matthew McConaughey wins, he was great, though, and I love him more than anyone now, so I’m cool with it.

Best Actress: Blue Jasmine was a pretty forgettable film, but Cate Blanchett wins for it, she was quite good.

Best Supporting Actor: Love me some Jared Leto and he wins it. I really don’t think he has any competition here.

Best Supporting Actress: I wish beyond anything that June Squibb takes this home, but goddamn Jennifer Lawrence is nominated, so of course she wins this.

Best Director: All great nominees, but Alfonso Cuarón wins because Gravity was so different than everything else.

Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years A Slave, although I could see something like Terence Winter’s The Wolf Of Wall Street sneaking up.

Best Original Screenplay: Spike Jonze wrote a damn masterpiece. What an exquisite piece of writing that deserves to be recognized.

Best Animated Film: I really could care less about animated movies, but obviously Frozen wins.

Costume Design: I’m gonna give this to The Great Gatsby because period pieces with lavish wardrobes usually win this.

Film Editing: Gotta love those Greengrass edited films.

Cinematography: Gravity looked nice.

Sound Editing: Gravity sounded nice.

Sound Mixing: Gravity sounded nice.

Music (Original Score): Gravity sounded nice.

Music (Original Song): People really seem to love that Frozen song.

Visual Effects: Gravity looked visual effect-y.

Production Design: The Great Gatsby looked nice.

Make-up And Hairstyling: Dallas Buyers Club seems to be the one.

Best Foreign Language Film: I’ve only seen The Great Beauty, and it was indeed a beauty to look at, if lacking in other parts, but I’ll still pick it to win.

Best Documentary: The Act Of Killing is the only one of these I’ve seen and it’s pretty damn good. It has the buzz coming in.

Documentary Short Subject: I’ll say The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life wins because it’s about the holocaust. The Academy loooves giving shit to holocaust films, so yeah, I’ll take this one.

Short Film: I have no clue about this, so I’m guessing The Voorman Problem.

Short Film (Animated): Get A Horse! sounds like fun!

*UPDATE POST OSCARS: I got 19/24 correct, which I guess on the outset seems good, but I really expected myself to do a lot better, but I think this is my best year yet at picking the winners, so I’ll take it!*

The 86th Annual Academy Awards Nominations Reaction

(ABC)

(ABC)

Best Picture:

Pretty great list of films, only haven’t seen Nebraska (which I’m almost literally dying to see) and Philomena, which I didn’t think it was necesary to see, but maybe I’m wrong. As with others, I can’t believe Inside Llewyn Davis didn’t get nominated, such a wonderful film in so many ways, and a Coen Brothers film, okay then. I think Before Midnight should be here, but of course it wouldn’t, it’s cool.

Best Actor:

Perfect list. Ejiofor deserves to win, but who knows.

Best Actress:

I’m a Bullock fan all the way, but I know Blanchett has been getting a lot of praise going into awards season. She is fantastic in Blue Jasmine, indeed, but really don’t think she matches Bullock in Gravity.

Best Supporting Actor:

Jonah Hill was good in The Wolf Of Wall Street, but not as great to get Oscar-worthy claim, but okay. I think Jared Leto takes this, but it’s a worthy category all around.

Best Supporting Actress:

Fine category, but I don’t think anyone has a chance against J-Law, and rightfully so.

Best Director:

I think Cuaron wins this like he won the Golden Globe, he tackled something unseen before in film, and even with the quality of director, I think he wins.

Best Documentary:

The only I’ve seen is The Act Of Killing, and it’s a juggernaut, I’d think it wins.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Great selection, anyway it could go. As good as Before Midnight is, I think it’s down between 12 Years A Slave and The Wolf Of Wall Street. Might be a toss up.

Best Original Screenplay:

Her should take this in a great category.

A kind of more shorter and abrupt post than I expeceted, and also didn’t expect to predict winners, but here we are. I’ll probably predict EVERY category right before the awards, but these are just some quick reaction thoughts after the nominations have been posted. All in all, though, this has been one of my favourite years of film in recent memory, where I’ve trully loved quite a films as standouts like Before Midnight, 12 Years A Slave, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Gravity Inside Llewyn Davis, Her and Dallas Buyers Club. Just great stuff all around.

The 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards Reaction

(Reuters)

(Reuters)

Alright, so lets talk about some general actual Golden Globes ceremony shit before we get into the shit that actually matter (but, actually doesn’t as well). I’m an unabashed Ricky Gervais Golden Globes supporter, I’m a huge fan of his and absolutely loved when he was given the reigns to the show, and eventually a couple more. He was biting, funny and toed the line on not giving a fuck about who he was making fun of. Now, I love Tina Fey and Amy Poehler almost as much, and so I was sad last year when it wasn’t Gervais again, but Fey/Poehler were just as great. This year wasn’t any different and their monologue killed, with some great jokes on McConaughey, Clooney and DiCaprio.

As good as they are, they were sparingly seen throughout the telecast. As great as their straight-forward jokes are, I think they work best when they do bits. I always loved when they did those bits in the Emmys during the Best Comedic Actress category with all their nominees. Legend Julia Louis-Dreyfus played along with this in the monologue and later in the show, riffing off being nominated in film and TV, and it was wonderful. I liked the idea of Poehler playing off Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick’s daughter where she’s the onstage “shooer” (a technicale term), but it almost seemed to common-based SNL humour. But, yeah, Fey/Poehler were great, and if I can’t get Gervais, they’re really the next best.

Alright, so what the shit is up with giving Woody Allen the Cecil B. DeMille award if he’s not even going to be there? I mean, make no mistake, Allen deserved the award ten times over, but of course you know he’s not going to show up, so really why even bother. It’s incredibly weird dedicating 20 minutes to someone, and going so in depth on their career driving towards something so anti-climatic it just falls flat and then awkwardly going to commercial.

Actual winners, okay cool. Jennifer Lawrence is great in American Hustle, even if the film isn’t so itself and totally deserved to win. Lawrence is that great actress who can do actual awards calibre films along with blockbuster type films (“Hunger Games”) at the same time. Infinite props.

Bryan Cranston wins of course, and how was Liev Schreiber and James Spader nominated? lol

Breaking Bad won best dramatic series. WOW jk

I don’t know how Jon Voight wins for ‘Ray Donovan,’ I mean the show sucked, and he was alright, but there’s really no reason he wins against Josh Charles, who is great, Aaron Paul, who is terrific, and Corey Stoll who was fantastic and should have won.

I love Amy Adams, I really do, but I’m too much of a Before Midnight fan (which is a masterpiece) to let go that Julie Delpy didn’t win. Dreyfus and Gerwig were almost equally good to win. I mean, really I like them all, so it’s all good.

Robin Wright won best actress in a drama, which is fine, she was good, but I really didn’t think she was given all that much to do. She was good, but I don’t think the show really pushed her to do anything that great.

I loved Jared Leto winning, he was so deserving and I loved Dallas Buyers Club, even if it seems its been fallnig by the wayside in awards season, performances aside.

So stoked to see Spike Jonze win for writing Her. What a gorgeous film, not only visually, but how Jonze paced it all out.

How does Brooklyn Nine-Nine win best comedy? It’s an entirely fine, if slightly above average show, but to actually win? This was the most baffling award of the night. Not that the rest of the shows were that great, but I just don’t know how this wins, but I guess this was the Golden Globes. And also Andy Samberg wins? Again, the same as before, he’s funny, but award-worthy? Ehhhhhhhhhhh.

Amy Poehler wins for “Parks.” So happy, she’s the best, so much deserved.

Alfonso Cuaron was in the compnay of some great directors, but he was the most sensible winner. Not only was his film daring and different, but within it he created and pulled off something that didn’t seem possible a few years ago.

DiCaprio wins for best actor in a comedy which is hilarious as he said, Leo in a comedy, which is all sorts of great. But, really a tough category with Bale being amazing in American Hustle, Phonenix in Her, Isaac underratedly perfect in Inside Llewyn Davis and Bruce Dern supposedly great in Nebraska (which I’m so sad I haven’t seen yet).

American Hustle wins best comedy. Alright, then. It’s not like Her, Inside Llewyn Davis and The Wolf Of Wall Street were nominated against it…

Cate Blanchett winning for Blue Jasmine. Nice choice, even if I’m a Bullock fan myself.

I really love McConaughey winning for “Dallas” even if I think Ejiofor is more deserving. I’ve been in awe of Ejiofor’s performance since I’ve seen it, and think McConaughey would win in any other year, but hey, I guess it’s this year. McConaughey was so great, in his best role of his career, and pretty much turned me back into a fan of his.

Very happy that 12 Years A Slave won, after I thought it was falling by the wayside in awards season. I think Before Midnight is the best film of the year, but it’s too small to get any attention, and thus 12 Years A Slave is my second favourite film, and something that should be rewarded. Lets see if the moment pushed along to the Oscars.

‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’: Review

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They say that Scorsese is back, well, not actually back, since he’s been making films consistently forever now, but The Wolf Of Wall Street feels like something different. Yes, The Wolf Of Wall Street harkens back to what we all really consider a Scorsese movie to be like, a long epic, crime movie, with sex, violence and swearing, and that’s just what we’ve been delivered. Of course we all know Scorsese’s most famous movies in Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino and so on, his most popular and most founded upon are the mob-esque ones that detail high crime. It’s no secret why they are so, and not only from their content, but also through Scorsese’s directing prowess have these films reached a while different cultural lexicon. Even stuff like Gangs Of New York and The Aviator aren’t quite quintessential Scorsese, even though they are great films, so I guess, yes, in a sense this is classic Scorsese formula, just formulated for 2013 tastes.

The thing about The Wolf Of Wall Street unlike any of those other films is that it’s not a drama, but rather a comedy. Sure, Scorsese is known for his bleak pictures, but they always have a strong comedic sense, and are always light of foot in certain parts. “Wall Street” is seemingly an inverse of these previous traditions with the vast majority of the film focused on comedic elements, all focused through a “dramatic” storyline, but engulfing it in jokes and laughs. Hearing about it beforehand that this was “Scorsese’s funniest film” made me uneasy in him taking his old and true concept and making it kind of silly and odd, seemed weird to me an not like anything he’s ever done. But, the film works splendidly as a comedy, and so off-kilter and taking Scorsese’s style to it’s brink, but never pushing it over, with delightful physical, verbal and sight gags, going fore bore into the proceedings. It maintains like a 20% serious tone throughout, a baseline, but the other 80% is just an entertaining and comedic filled time in this crazy world.

Don’t let any of that fool you, this is classic Scorsese. This film is like The Aviator on crack, literally. We follow Jordan Belfort on his way up to stock trading ladder, as he eventually gets his own company and gets more money than a Fort Knox stronghold. All throughout the film he does more drugs than a Rolling Stones concert, bangs more women than a Motley Crue concert, and makes more money than Gordon Gecko. If you had to sum up the movie in three words, it’d simply be sex, drugs and money. All these facets are explored and enjoyed through a myriad of ways, and lend that classic Scorsese touch. DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort is high throughout the whole movie, different women around every corner, and new “investment” opportunities seek to make him even more money.

Of course, like these stories are always destined to do, Belfort is faced with everything going to shit, as he gets in deeper with his own company, money creating efforts and FBI on his tail, a shadow begins to follow him. Caught up in all this greatness of drugs and money and power and self-worth it’s hard to give it all up, even if threats of fines and jail time are looking you in the face. It’s the crux of a lot of the film, how far will you go until too far is too far, how much is enough? When you get to feel this power and  gain money so easily, is anything enough? Belfort feels this emotions back and forth, succumbing to the ultimate power of thinking of the greater good, until he vaults back to only thinking for himself. It’s never good enough, and really who knows if he actually ever truly learns a lesson.

DiCaprio gives one of his best performances in a while, which is pretty substantial since he’s just been giving knockout performance after knockout performance over the past couple of years. He’s a slime-ball, but since he’s Leo one you’re still always kinda rooting for him, even with that slightly sinister look he always plays off of his face. Really, it’s because DiCaprio is so goddamn charismatic that you’d follow him off the edge of Niagara Falls if he looked at you right. Jonah Hill plays another one of his “semi-serious roles, but actually still the comic relief” and he fits it perfectly. A rotund guy who just wants to make it in the world coattails off of DiCaprio and becomes his right-hand man, and lightens the situation. Margot Robbie continues to be amazingly gorgeous to look at, and plays DiCaprio’s “duchess valley girl” wife to the perfect degree.

Scorsese and DiCaprio deliver another classic, and one that I’m happy to watch, seemingly not getting to experience an epic 3-hour crime movie in a long time. The movie is just utterly entertaining with ridiculous scene after ridiculous scene of DiCaprio fucked off quaaludes, coke, crack, booze, women, you name it. While possibly cheap ploys for a “hard edge” movie, it all works in concert with the life that this film creates and the story it tells. Everything is over-the-top because this story and these people’s lives were over-the-top. It’s so ridiculous that it has to be true. Martin Scorsese’s still making these films, and DiCaprio is still knocking them out of the park, traditions die hard.

9.5/10