Silence (2016)

Directed By: Martin Scorsese

Screenplay By: Jay Cocks & Martin Scorsese

Cinematography By: Rodrigo Prieto

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver & Tadanobu Asano

Runtime 161 minutes

Silence is Scorsese’s newest movie. It’s really tough to watch. People like Scorsese for a lot of reasons and I think that many fans will find this to be an extremely difficult movie to get through, I did. It is not a nice movie for audiences. It doesn’t let you sit back and watch mobsters hustle or gangsters rise to prominence. It doesn’t have Joe Pesci giving spitfire comedic dialogue. It doesn’t have De Niro or Leo. Silence is a brutal film, both for its audience and it’s characters. Silence is also a spectacularly beautiful film.

Scorsese has mastered the image. He has, plain and simple. Scorsese’s movies are always in some way about movies themselves. What movies can be, what they should be, how they can operate on multiple levels. Silence is no different, but it is not about movies in the way we usually understand them through Scorsese. Silence is not about long dollys, steadicams, or quick cuts. Silence is about stillness. Silence is about the image. But more importantly Silence is about the meaning images can convey.

Silence is brutal because of it’s subject matter. It is hard to watch arrogant people believe they are right and that is exactly what the Jesuit Priests were, in my opinion. It is harder to tell what Scorsese believes but they may ultimately be the point. Scorsese does not spoon feed us what to think or feel, he wants us to experience these things on our own. He wants the movie to do what a movie should do, make its audience think. For me this was a tough movie to get through, not because of it’s pacing but rather because I cannot stand these missionaries. I cannot stand what they preached, what they believed, and how they went about doing it. But that doesn’t mean it’s a movie I shouldn’t see or that it was a movie I regret seeing.

I believe that there is also a strong parallel of the Jesuit Priests in Japan to Scorsese as a filmmaker. The Priests in Japan died for their cause yet accomplished nothing. Scorsese is at a point in his career that he too must be looking back and wondering what he has accomplished. Even with so much praise and success what impact has he had on new filmmakers? Are new filmmakers understanding what he loves so much about movies? Do they understand why movies are impactful and how this can be done? Or even though he has worked so hard and brought us to many terrific films, is it essentially all meaningless?

Silence will test you as it tests its characters, but I assure you this is worth seeing on the big screen.

God Bless America

Shutter Island (2010)

Directed By: Martin Scorsese

Screenplay By: Laeta Kalogridis

Cinematography By: Robert Richardson

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo & Ben Kingsley

Runtime 138 minutes

I am so glad I have finally been able to rewatch this film. As I say a lot, the way we receive movies is largely due to our expectations. Sometimes this falls on marketing for a misleading advertising campaign and sometimes this falls on us for wanting a movie to be something it is not. When I first saw Shutter Island in theaters I could not appreciate this movie for what it was because I wanted it to be something it wasn’t. I was looking for a detective ghost story and that is not what Shutter Island is. What Shutter Island is is a profoundly beautiful film about a shattered man who has a whole island of people trying to help him find himself.

The beautiful irony of Shutter Island, which was not lost on me this time around is that wonderful idea that Leo’s character is looking for himself. This is and isn’t a spoiler. The reason it is not is because the movie is undeniably more impactful when you know this going into it. Every gesture, every look, every comment that people make to or away from Teddy Daniels (Leo’s character) has so much more meaning because you, along with everyone else on the island, knows what is going on. That was the tragic flaw of this movie for a modern audience. It seemed to them, us, me at the time that we were being dealt a shady hand. That the movie wasn’t being honest or straight forward with us. That ultimately there had to be more because it couldn’t have been as simple as the characters were telling us it was. But it is that simple and therefore utterly complex and compelling.

I’m telling you, this movie is beautiful and heart-breaking and a tremendous testament to Martin Scorsese. Go rewatch this movie and be amazed.

God Bless America

Bringing Out the Dead (1999)

Directed By: Martin Scorsese

Screenplay By: Paul Schrader

Cinematography By: Robert Richardson

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Patricia Arquette, John Goodman, Ving Rhames & Tom Sizemore

Runtime 121 minutes

This was one of the last narrative features of Scorsese’s I had yet to see and it didn’t disappoint. Scorsese truly is the best living American director (respectively). His films have a vitality throughout his career that never ceases to amaze, and unlike other directors that get complacent or seem to lack whatever passion it was that got them into the game in the first place Scorsese is always pushing ahead, seeking to further film and it’s possibilities.

Bringing Out the Dead is not Scorsese’s best film but it has something unique to say about the world and for Scorsese it has something unique to say about New York City. Those that wander the streets at night, those that serve to protect us, and those that have to see all the terrible horrible shit that we don’t want to see. Frank, the main character sums up the role of an EMT perfectly as he says something along the lines of “My job isn’t to save lives, but to bear witness so that others don’t have to.”

Speaking of The Cage, Nic gives a great performance with his best friend make-up getting the MVP for this movie. The make up job makes me feel as Cage’s character suggests, that he hasn’t had a goodnight sleep in months, and boy do I ever want this guy to get a good nights rest, Jesus. Cage is rattled and on the brink of a melt-down throughout this entire film, so essentially perfect casting. The supporting cast of characters brings a dynamism to this film that we’ve come to expect from Scorsese but that most other films lack.

Just a well done movie that gives you a lot to think about. Thank you Marty.

God Bless America

The King of Comedy (1982)

Directed By: Martin Scorsese

Screenplay By: Paul D. Zimmerman

Cinematography By: Fred Schuler

Starring: Robert De Niro & Jerry Lewis

Runtime: 109 minutes

In my opinion this is Scorsese’s most underrated film. It’s fantastic on so many levels. De Niro is hilarious, awkward, absurd, creepy, manic; he’s the best Rupert Pupkin anyone could ever ask for.

Scorsese is in tip-top shape, framing us both inside and outside Rupert’s head seamlessly and humorously. The rest of the cast is extremely funny. There’s so much subtle and dark humor in this movie but also deals with a subject matter that thirty-five years later is still as relevant as ever: celebrity culture.

The King of Comedy is dark, real dark. And if you can get past that, you’ll find the humor in it all. This is a movie that’s shear existence amazes me. A still moderately young De Niro playing an absolutely delusional comic, it’s incredible. Scorsese showing that he’s as good at humor as he is at violence, this is the whole deal.

If you haven’t seen this movie you should.

God Bless America