Author Topic: Silence  (Read 801 times)

Junior

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Silence
« on: January 19, 2017, 03:10:54 PM »
Ok, so let's talk about a few things that I couldn't quite get to in my (already too long) review.

The first is that holy wow does Andrew Garfield look a heck of a lot like Hayden Christiansen in the Star Wars movies here. It isn't helped when Qui-Gon himself shows up at the end with long hair and robe and everything to really complete the picture. More than all the chewing sounds combined, this knocked me out of the film for a little bit.

Secondly, what did you all make of the actually quite present voice and image of God near the end of the movie? Hallucination brought on by madness and torture? Or real? I was surprised for a minute there, but then I remembered that this was a Scorsese movie and nothing's gonna stop him from doing something bold. I loved the use of the portrait as God, and I quite liked how Scorsese used it (first in that smaller hallucination at the stream and then big and bold and full-framed. It's that kind of quietly dazzling filmmaking that is what I've come to love most in films, and it's all over this movie. My nomination for best shot is a long take that doesn't feel like one because of how well done and both showy and un-showy at the same time it is. Kind of a marvel. It starts with the decapitated body and head literally split by the bars of Rodrigues' cell in the foreground, then somebody drags the body over to the shallow grave and plops it in unceremoniously. Then a quick pan across the trail of blood to the perpetrator (also framed by the cell bars) and some dialogue. It's small, it's short compared to what we've seen him do before, but it also highlights how little Rodrigues can do to change his situation and that of his fellow Christians. Spectacular stuff.
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Totoro

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Re: Silence
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2017, 08:29:59 PM »
I still haven't collected my thoughts.

It's very close to a masterpiece for me. I think the first half is too loose and the performances are all a bit too sketchy. Garfield comes into the performance for the second half though, delivers career-defining work in his scene with Liam Neeson and the subsequent walking on the fumie scene which made me scared, on edge, and on the verge of tears throughout - when Christ began talking, I lost it.  :'(

This is a film that needs a certain type of a person to truly appreciate it. Someone who isn't a fundamentalist Christian who doesn't believe doubt has any place in Christianity. Someone who isn't such a hardcore atheist that they believe all religious narratives are fluffy and silly and stupid. Someone who isn't solely into fast paced violent odysseys that Hollywood peddles over and over in big budget studio films. So no wonder it took 30 years to make.

I am glad it's finding an audience. I'm glad people are having intelligent conversations over it. I'm like hardcore waiting for Oldkid to see it.

Junior

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Re: Silence
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2017, 08:34:22 PM »
I agree on the looseness of the first half and the greatness of those later scenes. And yeah, it takes a certain kind of person to love it. I'd also like to hear what Sam and OAD have to say about it. I know Sam is going this weekend.
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Totoro

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Re: Silence
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2017, 10:07:26 PM »
My only question is whether or not this film others the Japanese and presents the white characters in a wholly positive and self-righteous light. Mainstream critics seem mostly split on this. I think it's very much about not only subverting but destroying the white savior trope. One of my favorite scenes is the one where Rodrigues screams at the other captured Japanese Christians that they're all going to die. He's vulnerable, he's scared, but most of all, he's weak and he's human, scared of death to the point of sharing it with those that would otherwise follow him. He's not infallible.

Junior

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Re: Silence
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2017, 10:10:08 PM »
I'm with you there, too. It's a fascinating and complex take on what has been a simple sorry in the past.
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IDrinkYourMilkshake

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Re: Silence
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2017, 05:43:50 AM »
I agree with Totoro about the first hour or so. I spent the first 30 minutes thinking "so... it's a comedy?"

I loved this film. I'd like to know how close it is to the novel, and I think questions of 'otherness' are irrelevant, or, at the very least, the films pre-emptively responds to such objections in the second half with some of the dialogue scenes. I agree that it subverts the white saviour trope.

I going to see it again as soon as I can. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to have had much of a run in the UK, and apparently has lost money at the box office. But then we live in the world of President Trump. Films like this are too good for such a mediocre culture.

Glad Scorsese's back on form after the 3-hour MTV promo video he made for Jordan Belfort.
"What should have been an enjoyable 90 minutes of nubile, high-school flesh meeting a frenzy of blood-caked blades, becomes instead an exploitational and complex parable of the conflicting demands of agrarianism and artistry. I voted a miss."

oneaprilday

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Re: Silence
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2017, 12:41:39 PM »
Secondly, what did you all make of the actually quite present voice and image of God near the end of the movie? Hallucination brought on by madness and torture? Or real? I was surprised for a minute there, but then I remembered that this was a Scorsese movie and nothing's gonna stop him from doing something bold. I loved the use of the portrait as God, and I quite liked how Scorsese used it (first in that smaller hallucination at the stream and then big and bold and full-framed. It's that kind of quietly dazzling filmmaking that is what I've come to love most in films, and it's all over this movie.
A fascinating, essential moment that I at first took as pure hallucination/disorientation akin to the stream moment (it's a wonderful, perplexing parallel set of scenes) but then thought could actually be God, and the power of the voice and the image (so truly stunning) made me lean towards the latter interpretation. But I think, ultimately, we can't know either way because of the subjectivity of the perspective. What I loved about it - that moment - was the embrace of his own failure, the final skewering of all his pride, a choice that meant he would never be a martyr as he thought he would be, and so prove his faith. He was, after all, only as strong or as weak as Kichijiro, a constantly lapsing Christian who perhaps cannot ever be called a real Christian or would not be called so. But the irony of course is that while he failed to be a "Christian martyr" (something that might be seen as the ultimate proof of faith), what he did was at the same time an act of faith. An impossible decision that had no clear path - any path was the wrong one - and so he simply had to step forward and give up all pretensions to knowing he knew anything at all about what was right. And he could not, thereafter, presume to speak as a representative of the faith. And yet, what I loved about this failure, this stepping on the face of Christ instead of being a martyr, was the way it was so fully complicated in the following, final scenes. In more straight forward film, there would be a fall into nihilism or perhaps hedonism or atheism: I cannot know what it right and I cannot be what is good and the church has failed and therefore, God is dead. Or, if not nihilism or atheism, another film might show him falling into a Christian hypocrisy and a denial of his failure.  But the end leaves the space for something more complex than either of those things. A faith that is real but a weak faith, barely visible - one that we perhaps doubt is there at all, one that hides and perhaps needs the actions of others (eg. his wife and her final act for him, placing an object of faith into his literally dead hands that cannot act on their own) to exist at all - but it is there, utterly humbled and emptied of the self and of pride. If God is there, I think the suggestion is, it will be up to him in the end, not to Rodrigues, as Rodrigues had thought throughout the bulk of the film.

Junior

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Re: Silence
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2017, 06:43:11 PM »
Fantastic as always. I think your explanation of the conflicting ideas in Rodrigues' mind about which is the real sin makes for a compelling final third of the film. I wondered at first why the movie didn't end when he stepped on the tile or shortly after, but the coda nicely complicates things, as you pointed out. Brilliant stuff.
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oneaprilday

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Re: Silence
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2017, 09:38:41 PM »
The coda threw me at first as well - partly because I felt only fully emotionally engaged in the moment he steps on the tile and had a moment of disappointment that there was going to be a lingering coda. I couldn't figure out where it would go from there - but as you say, it's the coda that makes the film fully complex and masterful.

I struggled a bit through most of the film with the performances of Garfield and Driver. Something about how they looked, how they spoke (the odd accents), and how they behaved didn't communicate the era to me. And I felt distant from them and the suffering. (The villagers' lives were much more powerful.) They seemed out of place. But, in the end, I found that final - what was it, 15 minutes? - so powerful and so powerfully speaking to the events of the rest of the film that somehow even Garfield and Driver's odd performances felt right. And perhaps the out-of-place nature of Garfield and Driver suits the film's context - they are out of place in Japan and are never quite fully united with the people that want them there. They see themselves as above them, I think, rather than as humble vessels of service. Until that attitude changes at the end.

I really want to see it again now. It's gone from the theaters here though.  :'( It lasted only a week; last night was the last night.

Junior

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Re: Silence
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2017, 10:08:04 PM »
This has all the markings of a movie that'll be "rediscovered" in 10 years or when Scorsese dies exactly because it was such a nothing at the box office and is complex enough to merit the attention. Hugo is nice and I like Shutter Island, but this is his 21st century masterpiece.
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