By Bob Grimm
on Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 9:00 AM
Martin Scorsese’s Silence, or, How to Torture a Jesuit Priest Until He Says, “Ah, Screw It!” and Looks for Another Gig, is the auteur’s most inconsistent offering since his misguided and sloppy Casino. It’s clear that Scorsese has poured his heart into the passion project, which makes it all the more sad that it doesn’t live up to his usual standard.
The movie is far too long, and repetitive to the point where it becomes laughable rather than having the desired effect of moving the viewer. Based on the Shusaku Endo book, and a project Scorsese had been trying to mount since the ’80s, it’s nothing but a colossal waste of a great director’s time. Bored to death is not what I expect to be during a Scorsese offering, but that’s what I was watching Silence.
Two Jesuit priests, Rodrigues and Garrpe (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver), head to Japan in search of their mentor priest, Ferreira (Liam Neeson). Ferreira went missing during a prior mission years ago and is rumored to have gone into hiding as a civilian with a wife. The whole setup feels a bit like Apocalypse Now, minus the excitement, capable storytelling and fat Brando.
There’s a lot of violence as Japanese Christians and the priests are tortured for their beliefs. There’s also a lot of snoring as the proceedings carry on way too long.
During chilly days like this, there is a phenomenon at my house we like to call "Winter Time Cats." When the outside temperatures dip below 65 degrees, our antisocial little fuzzballs forego their usual scampering to climb onto our laps (and chests, heads and shoulders) for warmth and cuddles. It is the damn best.
Don't have a cat? Gogetone. Don't have anything to watch while you cuddle? Here's your weekly look at the most popular rentals from Casa Video:
By Bob Grimm
on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 at 9:00 AM
Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig and Billy Crudup shine in Mike Mills’s ode to his unusual mother, who raised him in the late seventies and tried to like punk music as much as she could.
Bening is terrific as Dorothea, perhaps the best work of her career. She represents the late seventies woman, still cool but perhaps slowing down a bit due to too many cigarettes and a general disillusionment with certain aspects of the changing culture.
Mills uses Dorothea as a sort of narrator from the future who talks about the events of the film while observing from a perch in years ahead. It’s an interesting technique, and Bening’s performance is a career milestone.
Gerwig and Fanning are great as two different women who hang around Dorothea’s apartment, both with their own highly interesting subplots. Cruddup chimes in capably as a local handyman who will sleep with you if you ask him to.
I must add, I love the way this film utilizes music on its soundtrack, from Talking Heads to The Buzzcocks. This is a great, accurate depiction of the late seventies, with a vibe that feels authentic.
By Bob Grimm
on Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 4:00 PM
Michael Keaton is flat out great as Ray Kroc, the sorta-kinda founder of McDonald’s.
Director John Lee Hancock’s film tells the story from when Kroc was selling milk shake mixers door-to-door, up to his wife stealing days as the head of the McDonald’s corporation. Hancock’s movie desperately wants you to like Kroc, but maybe we shouldn’t?
After all, he swept in and took the name of McDonald’s from the McDonald brothers (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch), effectively cutting them out of most profits and leaving them in his dust. The film is at its best when it is in old time, Americana mode. It’s a beautiful looking movie that captures the essence of those old timey fast food joints that replaced the traditional Drive-In diners.
The movie slows down a bit and gets a little muddled when it tries to depict Kroc as some sort of commerce hero. I suppose if they went into details about how his co-creating McDonald’s has contributed to worldwide obesity and environmental concerns, McDonald’s themselves would’ve mounted up the lawyers and put the kibosh on the whole thing.
Offerman is great as the well-meaning, high standards McDonald brother that regrets the day he met Kroc. Keaton gets high marks for a film that is ultimately uneven.
By Bob Grimm
on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 9:05 AM
Writer-director Pedro Almodovar’s latest is one of his more quiet, introspective films. It also has the characteristically good looks and great performances his movies often have.
Julieta (Emma Suarez) appears ready to move with her boyfriend (Dario Grandinetti) and start a new life in a new land. A chance meeting with an old friend (Michelle Jenner) changes her mind. She leaves her relationship, takes up her old apartment in Madrid, and starts penning letters to her long lost daughter.
The film then switches to flashback mode where a younger Julieta (Adriana Ugarte) meets her daughter’s father on a train, and they embark on a complicated life together. That flashback eventually leads to the present and an ending that might frustrate a high percentage of its viewers.
Suarez and especially Ugarte are good here, keeping the movie from being too melodramatic with finessed performances. This one isn’t as original or captivating as past Almodovar works, and it’s certainly lacking in humor.
Still, it holds you for its running time, and the actresses are very impressive.
By Bob Grimm
on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 2:17 PM
The latest collaboration between director Peter Berg and actor Mark Wahlberg, Patriots Day, stands as not only a valuable tribute to the victims and heroes of the Boston Marathon bombings, but a solid, meaningful, gritty look at what it took to take down the terrorist Tsarnaev brothers.
Wahlberg plays Sgt. Tommy Saunders, another one of those fictional composite characters that often show up in historical dramas. You may forgive this kind of artistic license, because the goal of Patriots Day is to take you through the entire drama, from the bombing itself, through to the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Alex Wolff) inside a boat in somebody’s backyard.
There probably wasn’t a single person who was at all of the events leading to the ultimate capture of the final living suspect in the bombings. It’s best to just view the Wahlberg character as a partial representation of the heroism and diligence that led to that arrest.
This is the second of two Berg/Wahlberg collaborations in 2016, and it’s a good one. The film is about heroes, the heroes who worked to find the perpetrators, and the selfless, persevering heroes who were standing close to an explosive device when it went off. You’ll walk away from this movie feeling that Berg, Wahlberg and company did all of these good people justice with Patriots Day. Most importantly, it’s a moving tribute to those who lost their lives.
By Bob Grimm
on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 9:21 AM
Director Ben Affleck’s latest is a period piece/costume drama that looks like a lot of work went into it, but never feels like a cohesive picture.
Affleck also stars as Joe Coughlin, one of those gangsters you just gotta love, fighting the gangster fight during Prohibition in sunny Florida. Joe rises to the top of the gangster field, despite being the son of a cop (Brendan Gleeson), and despite basically being an all around good guy.
The problem here is that Affleck fails to give his central character a true identity and emotional toolbox. The character feels stilted, and the movie around him feels like a costume party. It’s as if Affleck is afraid to make him the truly bad guy he should be. The fedoras and sweet suits all look good, but it’s in the service of a story that has been told before in far more powerful fashion. Sienna Miller is good as Joe’s early love, and Elle Fanning, who had a great year with The Neon Demon and 20th Century Woman, is also good as a disgraced actress who finds a new career in preaching.
Again, the movie looks good, and Affleck’s performance is okay, but the story feels like a rehash of every gangster movie ever made.
By Bob Grimm
on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 9:04 AM
Adam Driver plays the title character in writer-director Jim Jarmusch’s latest, a bus driver with a penchant for poetry.
His name is Paterson, he lives in Paterson, New Jersey, and he sets his folded clothes out every night so he’s good to go in the morning. His wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) aspires to be a country music singer, eagerly awaiting a new guitar the couple can barely afford (Also, it must be noted that she can’t play guitar).
The film offers no substantial plot; it’s simply a snapshot of a normal, pleasant life being led by two people who aspire to create art in their spare time. Jarmusch always does well with these sort of observational stories, and this is no exception.
Driver is terrific here, capping a great year that included Midnight Special and a great performance in the muddled Silence. It’s a funny, sweet performance without him really trying to be funny or sweet. The big events in this movie consist of Paterson taking his bulldog for a walk or meeting a fellow young poet who makes him feel insubstantial.