Tag Archives: Liam Neeson

Critics Choice at Beau Cinema: Silence

Silence movie posterAs pointed out by Wynter Tyson (one of the curators of the #CriticsChoice series at Beau Cinema) during his introduction to this screening of Martin Scorsese’s Silence, the revered director has, throughout his career, often explored elements of faith in his work.

From the more obvious in the The Last a Temptation Of Christ to references in Gangs of New York to, arguably, a mirroring of a kind of corrupted faith in Wolf of Wall StreetSilence though follows Last Temptation in being a more direct take on the subject.

The film tells the story of a pair for Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) on a mission to Japan in the 17th century to continue the development of Christianity in the country and seek out the fate of their teacher, Padre Ferreira (Liam Neeson).

From the start, a fog shrouded scene featuring severed heads and a particularly unique and specific form of torture being administered to a group of Christian priests told from the point of view of Ferreira, it’s clear this is going to be a deep, dark journey and exploration of faith, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Silence movie - Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver

Garfield and Driver

While Scorsese is perfectly adept at everything from b-movie style fare to bright modern drama, here he more than proves why he is as regarded as he is as one of Hollywood’s best directors.

Every moment of Silence feels created with all aspects coming together to create something all-encompassing.

The sound design particularly stands out (as the title might suggest) being very low-key but highlighting what it needs to without resorting to the grand sweeping orchestrations or stereotypically ethnic sounds a lesser director might.

Silence - Liam Neeson

Neeson

This allows the visuals, which range from the rusticity beautiful to the genuinely brutal, to really stand out and strike in a way that is never melodramatic, giving the whole thing a sense of realism that is really absorbing.

While Liam Neeson’s appearance feels something like an extended cameo in the mould of his turns as Qui-Gon Jin in The Phantom Menace or Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman Begins (just a little more serious) and Adam Driver brings an impressive intensity to Padre Francisco Garupe, it is Andrew Garfield who owns the film.

Garfield, as Padre Sebastião Rodrigues, is the film’s centre and really, despite the historical themes surrounding him, it is his journey that is the central plot.

We watch him struggle with his faith both physically and psychologically in a way that is (for the most part) brilliantly understated but gradually works its way into a truly effective and effecting place that shows a side to him I honestly never thought possible based on his pair of outings as Spider-Man (an unfair comparison I realise, but it makes the point).

Silence - Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson

Garfield and Neeson

While I’m not sure the film effected me on the spiritual level that it would Scorsese, or indeed anyone of a more religious or spiritual bent, Silence is a genuinely impressive piece of cinema.

It both manages to capture a period of history I knew not as much about and also allows space for a very real feeling story to be told without resorting to typical over the top cinematic tricks to manipulate its audience or rushing to explain every last thing, meaning it will likely sit in the back of my mind for a good while to come.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie posterComing into The Lego Movie on Blu-ray certain expectations were in place following the near unanimous praise it received during its cinema run earlier in the year… unlike many films that this happens with, I am happy to say I was far from disappointed, 100 minutes or so later, as the credits rolled.

Telling the story of an average Lego man’s quest to save the world from being frozen, The Lego Movie is one of the most good-hearted and genuinely entertaining films I’ve seen in a long time. Despite the fact it is a one hundred minute toy advert, it manages to entirely make you forget that as you get swept along with the characters, the joyful animation and action and the amazing sense of irreverence that is laced through it all.

What this combines to make is a genuine family film as there is stuff there, in the basic story and the, at times cutesy, animation that will appeal to youngsters, there is a sense of rebellion that I think teenagers and young adults would get (not wishing to stereotype) and the combination of all of it along with actual jokes and references, and the denouement, that would appeal to adults – and if I’m being honest, a combination of all of these could appeal to anyone and certainly did to me.

Princess Uni-Kitty and Emmet

Princess Uni-Kitty and Emmet

With hints of 1984 as the film begins we soon get into some of the best action scenes I’ve seen in a long time and, despite being purely animated, act with their own sense of internal logic that often seems missing in the CG parts of live action movies.

This includes the thing that is Lego’s unique selling point, that the bricks can be used to create entirely new objects and machines, which is so ingenious it never gets tired, despite being used time and again and does some of the things I’d expected from the Transformers films far more successfully than they managed.

It’s this USP that becomes the moral of the movie and, while it could easily fall into being a cynical advert, it never does as we are left with the message that being yourself is, in the film’s vernacular, “awesome”, but so is being able to work in a team. This may sound trite and obvious but the way that message is delivered, and the fact that every fibre of the movie stands by this, is what makes it work so well.

WyldStyle and Batman

WyldStyle and Batman

Normally at this point I’d point out the things that I didn’t enjoy about the film, but, in this case there really was nothing I didn’t enjoy, from the glimpses at the relationship between Superman and Green Lantern, to the joyously out of character, but so in character, Batman to the giant robot pirate and the cameo from Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca and the Millenium Falcon, it was a movie packed with things to just make you smile and have a good time.

On top of this the animation was consistently first-rate and believable in its context and the voice acting was spot on giving us one of the best voiced screen Batmen we’ve yet to see and Chris Pratt delivering another fine performance as the hero to stand alongside Guardians of the Galaxy. Will Ferrell even manages to not grate and Liam Neeson is a true standout.

Bad Cop and Lord Business

Bad Cop and Lord Business

I’d imagine if you approached The Lego Movie cynically you would probably have trouble with it, but I can’t see why you bother watching it if that was your attitude as, above all, it is simply a joyous celebration of imagination and fun – though I will admit its got me wanting to find all my old Lego and see what I can build.

And, well, because its awesome… Everything is Awesome!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,