Silence

After nearly 30 years of development, Martin Scorsese finally finishes what is being dubbed as his passion project, Silence. Based on an acclaimed novel of the same name, a story of two christian missionaries who come to the ultimate test of faith in search of their missing mentor in feudal Japan during a time when Christianity was outlawed and those who practiced it suffered severe persecution.

Silence is a brutal look at the testing of faith. It will challenge your understanding of both the responsibility to God and human nature. Questions like, would you save others from persecution even if that means you renouncing your faith publicly. It challenges the very notion of martyrdom. It’s more than just asking if you will suffer for your faith. It is asking are you willing to let others suffer and die for your faith. Denying your faith to save those who you have devoted your life’s mission to is not an easy answer.

I really enjoyed the deep questions Silence proposes. From someone who was once deeply entrenched in western evangelical ideologies, its movies like Silence that reminds me of the importance to be open-minded, and see through the eyes of another person regardless of their beliefs.

On the technical side, one of the first things I noticed was how incredibly gorgeous each shot was. Each frame is artistically shot. Definitely a contender for best cinematography in the upcoming Oscars.

Andrew Garfield is continuing to prove his caliber as an actor in a lead role. From 2015’s 99 Homes to Hacksaw Ridge and now Silence. I expect to see Garfield’s name added to the list of oscar nominees for Best Actor.

If the film struggles in anything, it would be that its run time is over two and half hours. I can imagine with some moments, some people may feel like it’s a bit somnolent. But with Scorsese’s long successful career consisting of many iconic films like Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Oscar-winning The Departed, and before Silence, a highly praised DiCaprio led Wolf of Wall Street. I don’t think Scorsese really cares what people think of his runtime, and Silence kind of proves that.

 

Featured image courtesy of Paramount pictures.

A Monster Calls

First off, let me say there are some spoilers. So let me give a brief spoiler-free recommendation and if you care to read on, feel free to do so. This is a profoundly heavy emotional movie. It’s not warm and cuddly like Pete’s Dragon. It is a very mature theme. The acting is top-notch and the special effects along with the cinematography is incredible. Oscar worthy, in my opinion.

Here is a poster of the movie and if you want to avoid spoilers, do not continue below.

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This isn’t a horror film, nor is it a psychological thriller. It is a rescue film. Often times we call for the rescue of others when we are the ones needing the rescue. This is what A Monster Calls boils down to.

One of the most beautiful thing about story telling, is through the journey of the stories are lessons that we human beings can relate and connect with. A Monster Calls is a heavy journey of grief. It’s a tale of a boy, Conor, who faces the reality of his mother having terminal illness, along with having to live with a grandmother he doesn’t like, being bullied at school, and not having a present father. So he calls upon a tree monster to help.

However, the monster doesn’t help in the way the boy wants. The monster tells Conor that he will tell him three tales. Each of these tales contain complex morals and paradoxical characters that points to Conor’s own struggles. Afterwards, on the fourth visit, the boy must tell him a story, a true story or the boy will die.

There’s several nuggets to gleam from these stories. I actually would want to see the movie again, or at least read the book in order to fully grasp everything this movie has to offer. I can offer a couple of key points that hit me pretty hard.

Through the tales that he tells the boy, he helps him and the audience see that life is never black and white. “Sometimes there aren’t any good guys, nor is there always a bad guy. Most people fall in between,” the Monster says.

And most importantly, the boy learns that his emotions are completely valid. His mother tells him, “if you feel bad for being so angry at me that you couldn’t even speak to me, then you have to know, Conor, you have to know it was okay. It was okay. That I knew. I know, okay? I know everything you need to tell me without you having to say it out loud.”

I came away both enchanted and frustrated. Enchanted because of everything I described before. Frustrated because I know there will be those who will disregard the beauty of what A Monster Calls is trying to convey. Shit happens, that’s life. But if we brush all that aside and only expect rainbows, unicorns, and happy endings then I believe that we lose one of the most powerful human connection we have, and that’s empathy.

When the grandmother is rushing with Conor to the hospital due to her time coming to an end, she was stopped by a train. In that moment of frustration of having to deal with a grandson who hates her, she sympathizes with him and ask that he does with her. She tells him that though they have nothing in common, they do have one thing. And that would be his mother. When he jumped to hug her, I fought back some heavy tears.

I’ll be expecting this to be added to the list of Best Picture nominees for the Oscars in the coming weeks.

20 Most Anticipated Movie of 2017

It’s the new year and time to look at whats ahead coming to the big screen.

Here is my top 20 most anticipated movie for the new year. Our lists may differ but in no way does it mean that you’re wrong. Unless it’s the upcoming animated Emoji movie. *kidding* I asked my peers on social media on what their most anticipated film would be. Their vote is included by the asterisks next to the title.landscape-1469303639-justice-league-poster

20. Justice League *
If last year’s crop of DC films didn’t bomb as much as they did, Justice League would be much higher than this.

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19. The Shack **
I normally hate watching faith-based films because they are usually terrible for many reasons. Bad theology, painting anyone who isn’t a christian as evil, etc. But the book that the movie is based on is far different from the western evangelical fundamental ideals that the world has recognized Christianity to be like. And I’m hoping that it is portrayed in that in the way that it was written. We’ll see.

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18. Power Rangers
I’m incredibly excited but also worried that this could be horrible. This is my childhood here. I’m still not convinced of the new looks, but at least we have Bryan Cranston as Gordon.

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17. Lego Batman Movie
One of the biggest oscar snubs of recent years was Lego Movie for best animated feature. Hopefully the Academy voters will recognize this one.

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16. Beauty and the Beast ***
The trailer does look pretty magical. Disney continues their successful run of animated to live action features.

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15. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Luc Besson flicks are a hit (The Fifth Element) and miss (Lucy), but this movie looks incredibly stunning.

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14. Pixar’s Coco
Pixar always delivers, especially when it comes to original story telling.
( No official trailer yet)

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13. Blade Runner 2049*
The cinematography looks stunning as it should be with Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Prisoners, and Sicario) at the helm.

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12. John Wick Chapter 2
The first movie was an incredible adrenaline rush. Keanu Reeves can make a pretty sweet action flick.

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11. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales *
Anything with Javier Bardem as a villain is worth seeing, and now having him as a ghostly pirate hell-bent on taking down Jack Sparrow, sorry I meant Captain Jack Sparrow. Hopefully they can mend the disaster that Stranger Tides was.

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10. Thor: Ragnarok *
Hulk joining Thor in what is considered to be an intergalactic buddy road trip. Fans of Marvel should be very excited, also Doctor Strange is slated to make an appearance. How involved Strange will be, only time will tell.
( No official trailer yet)

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9. Wonder Woman *
It’s about time we get a female superhero who leads her own movie. Hopefully the movie is as good or better than the trailer shows, unlike last years DC films.

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8. Kong: Skull Island
I couldn’t help but think of Apocalypse Now with some of the teaser shots. At least it’s not a tired rehash of the early 1900 exploration of the island and bringing Kong back to New York.

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7. Logan *
Finally a rated R Wolverine movie. The Last of Us anyone?

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6. War for the Planet of the Apes **
Andy Serkis is king of Mocap, and his role of Ceasar is testament.

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5. Spider-man: Homecoming *****
Spidey’s back and now a part of the MCU. Don’t worry, there will be no rehashing Spidey’s origin.

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4. Dunkirk
Because Christopher Nolan

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3. Star Wars: Episode VIII ******
Once they drop the first official trailer, I’m sure this will quickly take the number one spot.

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2. Alien: Covenant *
Just look at that teaser poster!
https://youtu.be/BJ6RX8YBpI4 (nsfw:language)

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1. Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 ******
Seriously, how can anyone think this movie wouldn’t be any fun. And how bout that Baby Groot?

Some other movies to check out since they have been voted in by others but didn’t make the top 20 list.

Transformers: The Last Knight
The Fate of the Furious
Rock Dog
Puerto Ricans in Paris
Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Did I miss any? What are you excited for?