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January 22, 2017

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JohnKeefer

Very greatful for this piece but I must confess that I would like you to write a book on this film. I feel there are depths that you would be well suited and more than capable of plumbing. Today I saw the film Lion, which was very moving and that Dev Patel sure is great, but I left thinking about well-crafted films, the kind where the cuts are correct and the performances on point and well-supported by the filmmakers. I'll probably never see the film again but I was moved and I'd recommend it, etc. But then there are those movies that engage with the form and the history of cinema, creating a tapestry that a film obsessive can luxuriate over. When you're facing a loaded gun, what's the difference?, to reference another film that I only recently discovered he didn't have a good time making which you would never know from the film itself. I know that aeathetically it's a good idea when you're telling a true story to ease up on the flourishes and make the overall strategy straightforward but I left Silence overwhelmed, a bell had been rung that well-crafted well-meaning well-made films can't reach. It's just weird to me, thinking about two very different films, one good and one excellent. I've seen some other good films recently too and I know that making even a competent film takes extraordinary effort so seeing a film like Silence is akin to actually seeing a ghost or an alien in real life. It's been, or at least felt like, a long time since I'd seen a new film that felt like a foundational document, a masterpiece sure why not. So yeah, basically I'm happy you're writing about it and hope for more but I won't be greedy and will appreciate this article. (That final trample VO from the icon/Rodrigues floored me, my god the tonal quality of it alone was phenomenal, ok I'm just rambling now)

That Fuzzy Bastard

This is a great piece, one I'll be turning over in my head for a while. Thanks.

lazarus

Interesting that you mention Dreyer's Vampyr w/r/t the boat in the fog scene, when Prieto has gone on record as saying they were paying homage to Ugetsu.

http://www.indiewire.com/2016/12/martin-scorsese-silence-cinematographer-rodrigo-prieto-interview-oscars-1201760618/

Zach

I also dug this piece, which helped me clarify some of my thinking about the film, which I also consider one of 2016's finest (although I didn't see it until this past week.)

I hadn't seen the Prieto interview, but I definitely flashed on Mizoguchi, and Ugetsu in particular.

My impression is that this film is as exacting and expressive as anything Scorsese has ever done - kind of along the lines you sketch out here - it's that he's using many of the same techniques, but in a way that arises organically from the material. It's interesting, that "mature/immature" divide, and the use of the medium; one hesitates to call their use here more "mature" or "refined," better to simply say, I suppose, that it works. Extremely well.

Andrew

This movie is definitely unique in being a Hollywood film that challenges certain Christian precepts without first antagonizing Christians by portraying them as monstrous imbeciles. It's a rare movie that, I think, or hope, a Christian and an Atheist could see together and discuss peacefully afterwards. As a former Christian, I was moved by the respect Scorsese pays to genuine people of faith, and I hope this film will be taken by other filmmakers as an example of how to talk to and not down to religious people.

I will say that it took me about a half hour to get properly into the story because I couldn't accept Garfield and Driver's STUPID FAKE ACCENTS. I'm baffled by these kinds of decisions in period films. Are we (the audience) actually supposed to believe that the obviously British Garfield and Adam from "Girls" are genuinely Portuguese? Since that doesn't seem like a notion any intelligent person could defend, what's the point of having them add a vague European lilt to the end of every other sentence? Scorsese seems generally intelligent when it comes to accents - the obvious example being "Last Temptation of Christ," and I thought DiCaprio's ridiculous accent in "Shutter Island" fit that movie's artifice - so I was surprised to see him utilize such an inapt tactic here. I was glad and relieved that Neeson didn't seem to bother to attempt to sound Portuguese.

Anyway, can't wait until Issei Ogata's name is announced for Best Supporting Actor tomorrow! And Alden Ehrenreich, Glenn Powell and Tracey Letts. Such a great year for this category, so many worthy nominees!

titch

Well, Scorsese got snubbed again. Except a nod for cinematography. I wonder Glenn: in your DVD-oteca (see The New Yorker's great recent profile of Pedro Almodovár), do you group your titles by genre or director? Do you have a Scorsese section? I just saw the recent Twilight Time release of Boxcar Bertha before Silence. I agree with you that he's matured.

Paul

A detail on an excellent post: having just seen the movie for the second time, I *think* what Ferreira says in the crucial scene mentioned is not "the greatest" but rather "the most painful act of love ever performed" -- which if I've got it right seems apt. Did notice the slow-motion there this time around, largely because primed by the discussion here. Definitely worth seeing the whole thing more than once -- it's yet more intensely engaging after the first time -- not quite sure how that works, tho' I suppose re-viewing helps me get past an OK-so-what-happens-next focus on plot or incident.

JREinATL

@Titch - I recall that Glenn wrote previously about his DVD groupings: http://somecamerunning.typepad.com/some_came_running/2010/04/congratulations-to-aronofsky-and-fincher.html

And on that note, Glenn, any updates to the auteurs' pantheon?

titch

Aha! Thank you for the link! In addition to auteurs, Almodovár has a shelf marked “Joyas” (“Jewels”), with “The Palm Beach Story,” “Blue Velvet,” “Gun Crazy,” “Ed Wood,” and the 1936 kitsch horror classic “Devil Doll,” whose shrinking actors helped inspire the surreal movie-within-a-movie in “Talk to Her".

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/12/05/the-evolution-of-pedro-almodovar

Mikhail Goberman

Excellent writing, Glenn. Want to see the film even more now and share my thoughts afterwards. Well done.

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