Richard and CP24 anchor George Lagogianes have a look at the weekend’s new movies, “Silence” from director Martin Scorsese, Hidden Figures” starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe and “A Monster Calls” with Liam Neeson.
Richard sits in with Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, “Silence” from director Martin Scorsese, Hidden Figures” starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe and “A Monster Calls” with Liam Neeson.
Richard sits in on the CFRA Morning Show with guest host Kristy Cameron to talk about the weekend’s big releases, “Silence” from director Martin Scorsese, Hidden Figures” starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe and “A Monster Calls” with Liam Neeson.
Director Martin Scorsese has always been torn between the scared and the profane. His greatest work has always grappled with sin and redemption, populated by characters like “God’s lonely man,” truth seeker and psychopath Travis Bickle.
Over forty years ago he did a voice over in “Mean Streets” that could inserted (with certain modifications) into his latest film, a seventeenth century epic based on Shūsaku Endō’s 1966 novel “Silence.”
“You don’t make up for your sins in church,” he says. “You do it in the streets. You do it at home. The rest is bull**** and you know it.”
In this case “the streets” are a foreign land, but the spiritual journey is not that different.
“Silence” begins in 1633 with the disappearance of Father Cristóvão Ferreira (Liam Neeson), a Portuguese Jesuit priest who has gone missing while on mission in Japan.
Christianity is an outlawed religion and those who hide Christians are tortured and killed. Two young priests, Sebastião Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Francisco Garrpe (Adam Driver), acolytes of Ferreira, convince Father Valignano (Ciarán Hinds) to allow them to travel to Japan to locate their mentor. “How can we abandon our mission?” asks Rodrigues. “How do we neglect the man who shaped our faith? We have no choice but to save his soul.”
The year is 1640 and they are the last two priests to go to Japan. “An army of two,” says Valignano. An arduous journey leads them to a country more dangerous and complicated than they anticipated. Christians are desperate for their word but live in fear. Officials insist, “Your doctrine is of no use in Japan. We have concluded it is a danger.” If caught by colonels of the country’s inquisitor Inoue Masashige (Issey Ogata) Christians are first asked to committed apostasy—step on an image of Jesus Christ—to denounce their faith or be killed.
As the bodies pile up around them on heir search the question must be asked, are they helping or are they foreigners who bring disaster with them? “Think of the suffering you have inflicted on these people,” says Masashige, the cheery faced inquisitor with a squeaky voice, “just for your vision of a church.” If the priests die the Japanese church dies with them but will the suffering of their people be enough to compel them to make the painful act of love ever performed, apostasy?
“Silence” is a meditative movie about the strength of faith and the limits to which it can be stretched. It is a physical and sacred journey à la “Heart of Darkness.” A look into obsession, colonialism and martyrdom, it is a deliberately paced—i.e: a slow, almost glacial tempo—film unafraid to submerge the viewer in the suffering of its characters. Make no mistake, this is no “Passion of the Christ” with its love of violence and blood. This is a 160 movie that examines the intersection of agony and ecstasy, but does so as an exercise of the mind. There are uncomfortable images, but Scorsese plays it straight, presenting the instances of torture as expressions of the power of belief not merely physical agonies. The movie may start with a beautifully composed shot of the dismembered heads of two priests but the violence here isn’t glamourized, it is organic to the story and even more chilling as a result.
Also, anyone expecting the usual Scorsese stylistic flourishes may be disappointed. There are no Rolling Stones songs or slow motion. There are a few overhead shots but nothing as showy as the long, uninterrupted tracking shot in “Goodfellas.” Instead it’s a classically made film with some serious Kurosawa mojo.
As the Jesuits Garfield and Driver convey divine confidence and yet, as their faith is tested and doubt seeps in, they play their characters as priests battling to do the right thing in the face of suffering and insurmountable odds. Both must make the choice between their beliefs and the stark reality of the consequences of their belief. Both bring humanity to characters who could have been simply portals for some kind of celestial message.
Most memorable is Issey Ogata as the grinning inquisitor Inoue Masashige. The very definition of the ordinariness of evil, he is a cruel man with a smile on his face and a scar on his heart. Think “Inglorious Basterds’s” Hans Landa with the faux gentility of Auric Goldfinger and you get the idea.
“Silence” is a rarity, a big, epic film that values introspection. It’s a companion piece to Scorsese’s other religious offerings—“The Last Temptation of Christ” and “Kundun”—but a more complicated film than either of those. It is about faith but more importantly, also about the distinction between religion and spirituality and Scorsese does not back away from diving into those murky theological waters.
Conor O’Malley’s (Lewis MacDougall) needs a friend. A sensitive child with a troubled home life, he’s being forced to deal with adult problems even though he’s only twelve-years-old. He is, as one character says, “too old to be a kid, too young to be a man.”
The young British boy’s troubles are many. His mother (Felicity Jones) has terminal cancer so he’s forced to move in with his strict grandmother (Sigourney Weaver). “If you get hungry there’s spinach in the fridge,” she says on the way out the door. “Don’t touch anything!” If that wasn’t bad enough his father (Toby Kebbell) lives in California and he’s the favourite of local bully Harry (James Melville). “I’m sorry you have to face this,” says dad, “but you have to be brave.”
One night at 12:07 he meets the friend he so desperately needs, a monster yew tree (voiced Liam Neeson) with roots for legs and long branches for arms. “I know everything about you,” he rumbles. “The truth you hide. The truth you dream.” Speaking in parables the giant tree tells Conor three stories to help him cope with the trauma in his life.
“A Monster Calls” is a quiet family drama about growing up and learning to grieve. It’s an intense topic and one that places it just outside of the kid’s entertainment category. An off-kilter tale that packs an emotional wallop in its final third, it defies expectations by allowing the characters to react in real ways. This is not sentimental fluff. Conor is in turmoil, plagued by nightmares of his mother’s grave and, as a result, lashes out in anger. It’s powerful and upsetting to see a young boy struggle with situations that he can barely understand let alone control.
At the heart of the story is Lewis MacDougall as Conor. He’s a child with an adult face that imbues the character with an unactorly authenticity that feels utterly real, even when he is talking to a giant tree.
Neeson’s voice is a thunderous roar that comes on strong but hides an undercurrent of tenderness and compassion.
“A Monster Calls” is a heartbreaking tale with a nightmarish climax that will be too intense for kids who may get wrapped up in the story. For everyone else it’s a fractured fairy tale with real insight and pathos.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show to talk about the weekend’s biggest movies, “Silence” from director Martin Scorsese, Hidden Figures” starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe and “A Monster Calls” with Liam Neeson.
Richard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliot talk about the weekend’s big releases, Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt in “The Huntsman: Winter’s War,” the Tom Hanks dramedy “A Hologram for The King” and Sally Field in “Hello, My Name is Doris.”
Richard and “Canada AM” host Marci Ien talk about the weekend’s big releases, the pomp and circumstance of “The Huntsman: Winter’s War,” the Tom Hanks dramedy “A Hologram for The King,” Sally Field in “Hello, My Name is Doris” and the sexy sax sounds of “The Devil’s Horn.”
In polite society no one would dare ask a stranger about his or her father’s violent death, but celebrity culture is not polite society.
Over the years I’ve heard interviewers ask questions ranging from the innocuous — “What are you wearing?” — to the silly — “How do you keep your bum in such great shape?” — but rarely have I heard anything as unnecessarily meddling as the query aimed at Charlize Theron during a press conference I hosted several years ago.
A reporter asked the actress about seeing her mother shoot her abusive, alcoholic father dead when she was a teenager. But instead of breaking down Theron said, “I’m not talking about that,” with an icy finality that made everyone freeze.
I admired her for not over sharing, not spilling the intimate details of her life à la the Kardashian Klan. She’s careful what she says to the press, avoids scandal and damage controls the ones that inevitably pop up in every celeb’s life. For instance, recently she said, short and sweetly, “We both decided to separate,” when accused of “ghosting” on her romance with Sean Penn.
She understands some things should only be spoken about when and where she chooses and not at the behest of an aggressive reporter looking to dredge up painful memories for the sake of “good television.” Theron is media savvy so I was surprised a few weeks ago when she caused a media hurly burly with comments about the burden of being beautiful.
Chatting up her new film The Huntsman: Winter’s War with British GQ she said, “How many roles are out there for the gorgeous, BLEEPINGing, gown-wearing eight-foot model? When meaty roles come through, I’ve been in the room and pretty people get turned away first.”
She is a beautiful woman, that is as clear as the perfectly positioned nose on her face, but is she intimating that being beautiful has harmed her career?
Turns out she wasn’t, or so she claims. Alleging a misquote, she later apologized, saying that playing “deconstructed characters” appeals because, “how many characters really are there out there for a woman wearing a gown? You have to play real people.
The mea culpa was unnecessary. She works in a business where beauty is a commodity.
The problem with her earlier statement is that publicly acknowledging one’s own looks carries with it a hint of arrogance, a suggestion that winning the genetic lottery somehow makes you superior, but she simply said something others already have.
Keira Knightley claims she almost lost the role in Pride and Prejudice because the director thought she was too pretty and Jessica Biel says being Esquire’s 2005 Sexiest Woman cost her work.
Theron may have missed out on a job or two because of her looks, but it’s also an element of what made her a star.
That and talent, and just as you wouldn’t apologize for skin colour or having red hair or being tall or short, she doesn’t need to say sorry for being beautiful.