In the 1800s, Christianity was banned in Japan, but a group of Portuguese Jesuit priests had established an underground group that was being pursued by the Japanese inquisitor. Ferreira (Liam Neeson) was a mentor priest who went missing, and word returned was that he had given up his faith and now lived in the Japanese way with a wife and child. Disbelieving that this could be true, Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Garupe (Adam Driver) travel through the country, hidden by believers and secretly preaching and hearing confessions. However, they are constantly tormented by a cruel regime that torture indiscriminately.
It is an absolutely stunning film – very hard to watch in the torturing scenes, but the scenery is stunning, and the depictions of Japan so long ago was beautiful. However, unsurprisingly, I have some issues with the story. I have a real issue with evangelical missionaries who ignore the local culture and religion to preach their own religion. What’s more, what is shown in Silence is that the poor to continue to be oppressed and abused with the belief that the ultimate reward is after death. It is questionable that there is anything they could do about their oppressed position in those times, so perhaps having this belief is some kind of kindness. I don’t know – to me, it raises a lot of issues relating to colonialisation and destruction of culture and oppression. Who’d have thought discussing religion could be tricky?
Silence was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Cinematography.
Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) is a young man who, despite the example set by his alcoholic, abusive father (Hugo Weaving) whose life was ruined in WW1, signs up for WW2. However, he refuses to carry a gun – he has volunteered to be an unarmed medic, to spend his time in the field saving the injured soldiers. Based on a true story, Doss is treated like a freak by most of the army including his immediate superior, Sgt Howell (Vince Vaughn) – until he proves his worth.
I quite liked the idea, it really is a good story. I’m not quite sure why Doss had to come across as a bit of a fool – his character had a bit of a Forest Gump feel to him, and I feel as though that took away a lot from his stance. There is a whole section at the start which had stuff from his childhood that I feel was really unnecessary – almost as if it was just filling up space to make it a longer, weightier film. For me, it really got good once they were fighting. That was very impressive.
Hacksaw Ridge won Oscars for Best Achievement in Film Editing and Best Achievement in Sound Mixing and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Andrew Garfield), Best Achievement in Directing (Mel Gibson) and Best Achievement in Sound Editing.
Yet another origin film of Spiderman. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is bitten by a magic (or whatever) spider and develops skills. Blah blah blah… no, actually not. Yes, the essential plot is that. But let’s face it, that’s a pretty cool plot anyhow. Then add in Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Sally Field and Martin Sheen – awesome cast. Andrew Garfield is a great Spiderman. I loved it, heaps of fun, great humour, cool stuff. And then there’s Denis Leary too! Ace.
Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) is a hardworking tradie who’s been hit hard by the financial crash. He ends up evicted from his family home along with his mother, Lynn (Laura Dern) and son Connor (Noah Lomax) when the bank forcloses. They move into a hotel, but before too long through a kind of odd series of events, he ends up working for realtor Rick Carver (Michael Shannon), the very man who evicted him. He starts to see how to make things work for himself.
There were a few major flaws that I struggled with – I could believe that Nash would take the job – he is desperate. I couldn’t see why Carver would offer it. There’s that old line – you remind me of me at your age – but it just doesn’t fit. However, it is certainly a good first step at looking at the financial crisis – what is most distressing it to think that the situations in this film are the good end of things; everything became more corrupt, more ugly and so much worse. Terrible.
99 Homes opens November 5 at Cinema Nova
Knowing that this was Heath Ledger’s last film, and indeed, that he passed away during shooting, I’ve been hesitant to watch it. Even knowing it’s a Terry Gilliam film and that filming was resumed with Colin Farrell, Jude Law and Johnny Depp, I still couldn’t bear it. I suspected (very wrongly) that it would feel unfinished, or, at best, half-arsed. As is often proven, I’m an idiot. Of course the perfectionist Terry Gilliam wouldn’t release a poor product.
There is a travelling theatre stage on the back of an old-fashioned horse-drawn caravan that appears in random locations. The feature act is Doctor Parnassus; the thousand-year-old man who provides a unique experience to anyone who enters. But it is running into the ground in the modern age as it has not updated – until the appearance of the hanging man, Tony (Heath Ledger).
There is so much more to the plot, but I think you should just watch and enjoy. Be aware, though; it’s crazy and nuts, with unreal worlds hidden from view, and you really need to suspend your disbelief to enjoy it.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was nominated for Oscars for Best Achievement in Costume Design and Best Achievement in Art Direction.