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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

De-Lovely Review


Very Good
In a darkened room an elderly man sits at a piano. He's barely outlined by light from a window, his face obscured in shadow. Then, a light fades up, spotlighting him, followed by light everywhere. Thus starts De-Lovely and its style of self-aware artificiality. It purports to be the life of composer Cole Porter (Kevin Kline) but there's little more here than a grand retrospective of his ingenious touch with a pop song and an attempt at scandalizing his personal, bisexual life.

Like a symphony that's incomplete because all the notes aren't available, what I didn't get out of this is a three-dimensional portrait of the subject. The show, structured as a dead or dying man's vision of his life played out like a movie and stage production, is loaded with talent and a detailed recreation of his period. The portrayal of the swank, rich life is as festive to behold as it is off-putting. The world in which Porter whirls and commands with assured, inevitable success is an alien one. Rather than feel a part of it, we are there to revel in the entertainment.

Continue reading: De-Lovely Review

Strange Days Review


Good
I've never really given much thought to what the turn of the millennium is going to bring. Will it be a new beginning for society and the world? Or will it bring on the apocalypse foretold by Revelations?

Strange Days continuously plays these two possibilities off of each other, and in L.A., on December 31, 1999, it seems either one is equally likely. Ralph Fiennes plays Lenny Nero, a bottom-feeder ex-cop who peddles "clips," full-sensory pieces of memory from real people's lives. These clips are played on "the wire," a device which delivers experiences directly into the brain. The very illegal wire is also the source of a whole slew of problems, including the murder of one Jeriko One, a very influential rap star, and the subsequent stalking of Faith (Juliette Lewis), Nero's ex-girlfriend, for whom he still pines.

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Gangs Of New York Review


Extraordinary
Because Martin Scorsese's blood runs Big Apple red, it's a remarkable coincidence his first project following September 11 is Gangs of New York, a magnificent drama that seems to spring directly from the panic, violence, pain, and fear the terrorist attacks wrought on the director's hometown. In the wake of 9/11, the master of Mean Streets was almost expected to weigh in and help close the door on our national tragedy.

Over the course of his career, Scorsese has proven he fully understands the tension that once fuelled - and continues to fuel - this powder keg of a city. With Gangs, he rewinds the clocks to present a vicious social and political history lesson that retraces New York's early steps in an effort to better understand the many ingredients of the current Melting Pot.

Continue reading: Gangs Of New York Review

The Age Of Innocence Review


Good
Little Marty Scorsese, directing a period piece? Well, it is set in New York. Only it's the late 1800s and everyone is in frilly dresses and smokes cigars. Daniel Day-Lewis takes center stage as a high-society type engaged to Ryder but entranced by her cousin Pfeiffer. How to choose between two very different girls? Ah, such is the dilemma of life. Very pretty, very long, very cold, and very tidy.
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Jay Cocks Movies

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

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

De-Lovely Movie Review

De-Lovely Movie Review

In a darkened room an elderly man sits at a piano. He's barely outlined by...

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Gangs of New York Movie Review

Gangs of New York Movie Review

Because Martin Scorsese's blood runs Big Apple red, it's a remarkable coincidence his first project...

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