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Boresese

Scorsese’s painful piety

Silence: Liam Neeson looks pained (or is it more pained) in Scorsese’s answer to The Passion of the Christ. - Image by Kerry Brown
Silence: Liam Neeson looks pained (or is it more pained) in Scorsese’s answer to The Passion of the Christ.

Silence isn’t golden.

He may not be the hardest working man in show business — not with just one theatrical release every two years — but at 74, and with almost 60 features, shorts, and documentaries behind him, it’s a safe bet that Martin Scorsese is America’s Patron Saint of Cinema. Only Clint Eastwood comes close.

At this late stage of the game, Scorsese appears to be stacking his final chips of reverence, demanding that audiences look upon him as a serious artist. What does he think we’ve been doing for the past four decades?

It was a scant 15 years ago when Scorsese began lobbing one Hail Mary pass after another, hoping to score points with Oscar voters. Seated before his family television set in Little Italy and taking in the yearly Oscarcasts, with their air of Academy piety, must have made a lasting impression on his pubescent soul. But doesn’t Scorsese realize that more than half of the directors in his personal Pantheon were repeatedly snubbed by the philistine voting members?

Video:

Silence official trailer

Never mind that nobody remembers the winners three years later. Scorsese still feels the need to impress the Academy war horses, of which he is now a silver-haired stallion. Whatever their virtues, he had to make Age of Innocence, Kundun, and Gangs of New York before the Academy finally got around to bestowing upon him their golden doorstop of approval for what is easily his weakest showing, The Departed.

Now comes this labored, over-inflated cross-cultural Catholic history drama set in the 17th Century. Why Scorsese still craves acceptance, to say nothing of the Laurel of Immortality, is a question only he can answer.

A pair of fledgling Jesuit priests, Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garrpe (Adam Driver), embark on a mission to Japan, hoping to rescue their absentee mentor, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson). If Scorsese’s army of two is to perish, the Church in that part of the world dies with them.

When they’re not witnessing unspeakable acts of human suffering, the duo spend much of their time having their faith put to the test. When the plot slows down — as it is frequently prone to do — scenes of torture become as perfunctory as a Luger to a Jew’s temple in the equally lumpily structured Schindler’s List.

A master of smuggling in references to cinema past, this time the homages — what few there are of them — stick out like a John Wayne stunt double. Even if you’ve never seen Otto Preminger’s The Cardinal, you’re bound to detect a tribute to something lurking in the overhead shot of Garfield, Driver, and Ciarán Hinds walking through the churchyard.

There is no room for beauty amidst the evil. The deliberate pace and desaturated tones being what they are, one wonders why he didn’t just film in black-and-white. It couldn’t possibly have acted as more of an audience deterrent than an adaptation of Shūsaku Endō’s dark Japanese novel.

Nor is there so much as a hint of levity in this saintly slog. Given the source material, how could there be? Even Harvey Keitel’s Judas in Scorsese’s Last Temptation of Christ — an elegantly filmed series of Bible stories — sports red curls and speaks in a Brooklyn accent.

It’s not just the source material that proves problematic, it’s Scorsese’s dreary presentation that accounts for the quick disconnect. The closer he gets to Him, the more problematically pious things become. All of his protagonists are not-so thinly veiled Christ figures.

Is it me or was Casino Scorsese’s last full-blown masterpiece? He enjoyed showing audiences the proper way for Joe Pesci to perform a fountain pen tracheotomy almost as much as he did a third act resurrection of a seemingly “dead” Ace Rothstein.

Garfield no doubt came at the studio’s insistence, a desperate box office concession to audiences who loved him as Spider-Man. His clipped accent and I Was a Teenage Werewolf haircomb were distracting at best. Ditto Liam Neeson, who is allowed but two expressions: pained and more pained.

Movie

Silence *

thumbnail

Martin Scorsese’s over-inflated cross-cultural Catholic history drama focuses on a pair of fledgling 17th-century Jesuit priests, Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garrpe (Adam Driver), who embark on a mission to Japan, hoping to rescue their absentee mentor, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson). Apparently, at 74, and with almost 60 features, shorts, and documentaries behind Him, Scorsese still feels the need to impress the Academy war horses, of which he is now a silver-haired stallion. He slowly stacks His final chips of reverence, demanding that audiences look upon Him as a serious artist. What does He think we’ve been doing for the past four decades? It’s not just the source material that proves problematic, it’s Scorsese’s lumbering presentation that accounts for the instant disconnect. All of the director’s protagonists – Travis Bickle, Jake LaMotta, Ace Rothstein – are not-so thinly veiled Christ figures, yet the closer He gets to Him, the more problematically pious things become.

Find showtimes

One had hoped for a stylishly engrossing epic going in, something along the lines of Anthony Mann (El Cid, The Fall of the Roman Empire) or the director’s mentors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (The Life and Death of Col. Blimp, The Red Shoes). Silence falls somewhere between David Lean at his dreariest (Ryan’s Daughter) and George Steven’s sanctimonious The Greatest Story Ever Told.

It took two viewings to realize one was enough. Onward to his next offering, The Irishmen.

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Silence: Liam Neeson looks pained (or is it more pained) in Scorsese’s answer to The Passion of the Christ. - Image by Kerry Brown
Silence: Liam Neeson looks pained (or is it more pained) in Scorsese’s answer to The Passion of the Christ.

Silence isn’t golden.

He may not be the hardest working man in show business — not with just one theatrical release every two years — but at 74, and with almost 60 features, shorts, and documentaries behind him, it’s a safe bet that Martin Scorsese is America’s Patron Saint of Cinema. Only Clint Eastwood comes close.

At this late stage of the game, Scorsese appears to be stacking his final chips of reverence, demanding that audiences look upon him as a serious artist. What does he think we’ve been doing for the past four decades?

It was a scant 15 years ago when Scorsese began lobbing one Hail Mary pass after another, hoping to score points with Oscar voters. Seated before his family television set in Little Italy and taking in the yearly Oscarcasts, with their air of Academy piety, must have made a lasting impression on his pubescent soul. But doesn’t Scorsese realize that more than half of the directors in his personal Pantheon were repeatedly snubbed by the philistine voting members?

Video:

Silence official trailer

Never mind that nobody remembers the winners three years later. Scorsese still feels the need to impress the Academy war horses, of which he is now a silver-haired stallion. Whatever their virtues, he had to make Age of Innocence, Kundun, and Gangs of New York before the Academy finally got around to bestowing upon him their golden doorstop of approval for what is easily his weakest showing, The Departed.

Now comes this labored, over-inflated cross-cultural Catholic history drama set in the 17th Century. Why Scorsese still craves acceptance, to say nothing of the Laurel of Immortality, is a question only he can answer.

A pair of fledgling Jesuit priests, Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garrpe (Adam Driver), embark on a mission to Japan, hoping to rescue their absentee mentor, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson). If Scorsese’s army of two is to perish, the Church in that part of the world dies with them.

When they’re not witnessing unspeakable acts of human suffering, the duo spend much of their time having their faith put to the test. When the plot slows down — as it is frequently prone to do — scenes of torture become as perfunctory as a Luger to a Jew’s temple in the equally lumpily structured Schindler’s List.

A master of smuggling in references to cinema past, this time the homages — what few there are of them — stick out like a John Wayne stunt double. Even if you’ve never seen Otto Preminger’s The Cardinal, you’re bound to detect a tribute to something lurking in the overhead shot of Garfield, Driver, and Ciarán Hinds walking through the churchyard.

There is no room for beauty amidst the evil. The deliberate pace and desaturated tones being what they are, one wonders why he didn’t just film in black-and-white. It couldn’t possibly have acted as more of an audience deterrent than an adaptation of Shūsaku Endō’s dark Japanese novel.

Nor is there so much as a hint of levity in this saintly slog. Given the source material, how could there be? Even Harvey Keitel’s Judas in Scorsese’s Last Temptation of Christ — an elegantly filmed series of Bible stories — sports red curls and speaks in a Brooklyn accent.

It’s not just the source material that proves problematic, it’s Scorsese’s dreary presentation that accounts for the quick disconnect. The closer he gets to Him, the more problematically pious things become. All of his protagonists are not-so thinly veiled Christ figures.

Is it me or was Casino Scorsese’s last full-blown masterpiece? He enjoyed showing audiences the proper way for Joe Pesci to perform a fountain pen tracheotomy almost as much as he did a third act resurrection of a seemingly “dead” Ace Rothstein.

Garfield no doubt came at the studio’s insistence, a desperate box office concession to audiences who loved him as Spider-Man. His clipped accent and I Was a Teenage Werewolf haircomb were distracting at best. Ditto Liam Neeson, who is allowed but two expressions: pained and more pained.

Movie

Silence *

thumbnail

Martin Scorsese’s over-inflated cross-cultural Catholic history drama focuses on a pair of fledgling 17th-century Jesuit priests, Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garrpe (Adam Driver), who embark on a mission to Japan, hoping to rescue their absentee mentor, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson). Apparently, at 74, and with almost 60 features, shorts, and documentaries behind Him, Scorsese still feels the need to impress the Academy war horses, of which he is now a silver-haired stallion. He slowly stacks His final chips of reverence, demanding that audiences look upon Him as a serious artist. What does He think we’ve been doing for the past four decades? It’s not just the source material that proves problematic, it’s Scorsese’s lumbering presentation that accounts for the instant disconnect. All of the director’s protagonists – Travis Bickle, Jake LaMotta, Ace Rothstein – are not-so thinly veiled Christ figures, yet the closer He gets to Him, the more problematically pious things become.

Find showtimes

One had hoped for a stylishly engrossing epic going in, something along the lines of Anthony Mann (El Cid, The Fall of the Roman Empire) or the director’s mentors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (The Life and Death of Col. Blimp, The Red Shoes). Silence falls somewhere between David Lean at his dreariest (Ryan’s Daughter) and George Steven’s sanctimonious The Greatest Story Ever Told.

It took two viewings to realize one was enough. Onward to his next offering, The Irishmen.

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Comments
2

Says the film critic who made me waste $11 on AQUARIUS!!! I WANT MY MONEY BACK!!! I'm definitely NOT listening to you this time! But hey, still love ya, man!

This is a more introspective film for Scorsese. His interviews about the film are fascinating, even if his speech has slowed a bit.

Jan. 5, 2017

Who is telling you not to see a Scorsese film? I suffered. Twice! Why shouldn't you? I'm convinced He made the film to avoid a lawsuit.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/martin-scorsese-sued-by-producer-364934

http://www.indiewire.com/2014/01/martin-scorsese-settles-silence-lawsuit-casts-liam-neeson-30585/

Jan. 6, 2017

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