Issei Ogata

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Silence Review

Excellent

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Kindun (1997). And now he has adapted the Shusaku Endo novel into this profound exploration of religion. As seen through the eyes of a 17th century Jesuit priest in Japan, it's a dark, contemplative film that sometimes feels a bit too murky for its own good. But it also has bracing insight into our need to believe.

At the centre of the story is the disappearance of Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) as Japan cracks down on foreign religions in 1640, brutally persecuting local converts. Back in Portugal, two of Ferreira's proteges, Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Garrpe (Adam Driver), volunteer to go in search of him. But the journey is dangerous, requiring them to trust exiled Japanese drunk Kichijiro (Yosuke Kubozuka) to sneak them into a rural village near Nagasaki. There they find an underground group of devout Catholics who are hiding from the cruel Inquisitor Inoue (Issei Ogata). After they split up to search for Ferreira, Rodrigues is captured by Inoue and interrogated by his interpreter (Tadanobu Asano), who is determined to show him that Christianity can never take root in Japan.

The film has an eerie resonance in today's divisive global climate, where everyone seems determined to protect their own culture from any outside influence, especially a religion that seems to run counter to long-held traditions. But the film's deeper themes explore the idea that we all have a yearning to understand the world and our existence in a way that makes sense to us. So debating the relative benefits of Christianity and Buddhism is actually beside the point. When the movie lets these ideas simmer under the surface, it has real power, especially in Rodrigues' experiences, which are gruelling both physically and emotionally.

Continue reading: Silence Review

The Sun Review


Excellent
How do you like your tyrant? You have so many choices these days that it's hard to figure out what's best. Take Hitler for example. If you want him stone cold and terrifying, go for Oliver Hirchbiegal's Downfall, in which Bruno Ganz gave one of the most intense performances of the year as the Fuhrer. Want it weak and sorta awkward? Noah Taylor's turn as Adolf in Menno Meyjes' halfhearted Max should be your ticket. But for outright strangeness and surrealism, you've got to stand and marvel at Aleksandr Sokurov's Moloch, about a day in the life of Hitler with his mistress, Eva Braun, and some other close friends. It's not any easy watch by any stretch of the imagination, which explains why most of his films don't get U.S. distribution: One has to track down these films in DVD or at film festivals. Don't expect his latest, The Sun, to be any sort of exception.

While Moloch dealt with Adolf Hitler and 2001's Taurus dealt with Lenin, The Sun takes on Emperor Hirohito (Issei Ogata) during his August 1954 meetings with General Douglas MacArthur. Under any other director, a film like this would be a political thriller with crisp tension and lots of shouting about pride. Sokurov isn't interested in that stuff, thank God. Instead, Sokurov uses his entrancing, methodical style to search inside the Emperor and look at the character in relation to his use of power and the stress it puts on him. His meetings with General MacArthur (Robert Dawson) are straight-laced and hushed, like two lovers lying in bed in the dead of winter. Even when Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor come up, it's a solemn and sacred speech that they don't want to soil with such emotions as anger and resentment.

Continue reading: The Sun Review

The Sun Review


Excellent
How do you like your tyrant? You have so many choices these days that it's hard to figure out what's best. Take Hitler for example. If you want him stone cold and terrifying, go for Oliver Hirchbiegal's Downfall, in which Bruno Ganz gave one of the most intense performances of the year as the Fuhrer. Want it weak and sorta awkward? Noah Taylor's turn as Adolf in Menno Meyjes' halfhearted Max should be your ticket. But for outright strangeness and surrealism, you've got to stand and marvel at Aleksandr Sokurov's Moloch, about a day in the life of Hitler with his mistress, Eva Braun, and some other close friends. It's not any easy watch by any stretch of the imagination, which explains why most of his films don't get U.S. distribution: One has to track down these films in DVD or at film festivals. Don't expect his latest, The Sun, to be any sort of exception.

While Moloch dealt with Adolf Hitler and 2001's Taurus dealt with Lenin, The Sun takes on Emperor Hirohito (Issei Ogata) during his August 1954 meetings with General Douglas MacArthur. Under any other director, a film like this would be a political thriller with crisp tension and lots of shouting about pride. Sokurov isn't interested in that stuff, thank God. Instead, Sokurov uses his entrancing, methodical style to search inside the Emperor and look at the character in relation to his use of power and the stress it puts on him. His meetings with General MacArthur (Robert Dawson) are straight-laced and hushed, like two lovers lying in bed in the dead of winter. Even when Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor come up, it's a solemn and sacred speech that they don't want to soil with such emotions as anger and resentment.

Continue reading: The Sun Review

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Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

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