This is it short review film fans – my final edition for 2016! I’m still combing the cinematic remains of year end films to possibly fill out the Top Ten list but these are the last titles I’m giving you critical skinny on. Taking on missing daughters, politicians and religion check out the Encapsulated Movie Reviews for Julieta, Miss Sloane and Silence below!
(Sony Pictures Classics)
Incredibly engrossing yet undeniably frustrating at the same time, Pedro Almodóvar’s latest is interesting nevertheless. A tall tale of a distraught mother who holds onto reconnecting with a daughter who has abandoned her years earlier, Julieta is a captivating little amateur detective story with plenty of twists and turns. (Plus a whole lot of backstory to boot!) Problem is Pedro knows how to play his audience like an emotional fiddle and here does so with one of the most frustrating finales I’ve ever witnessed. It makes a point as to what the film is truly about, but also kicks the viewer when they’re down – meaning poignant but it will piss you off.
A very smart and biting story by Jonathan Perera about a cutthroat female lobbyist, Miss Sloane has a very easy ‘good movie’ ride. Meaning even if the performances were so-so, the direction merely adequate and the production design just above a third grade level, the film would still possess power. Thankfully the high-profile cast brings their best with Mark Strong, Alison Pill, Michael Stuhlbarg, John Lithgow and Sam Waterston all serving up healthy doses of decent dramatic work. But it’s the sharp and focused turn by lead Jessica Chastain that makes Miss Sloane worth watching. Playing almost the caustic female version of Alec Baldwin’s tough Glengarry Glen Ross heavy, Chastain has the ball busting down to a science. Though unlike Baldwin who only graced the screen for a few minutes, Chastain’s the lead here and with little layering in terms of any other emotional side to speak of, her arrogant act does grow a tad tired. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly a great performance – it’s just not a brilliant one.
Having been a Scorsese fan since I could walk (Taxi Driver formed my indie encouraging spirit!) and being a huge fan of the filmmakers previous controversial religious outing The Last Temptation of Christ, going into such waters with the masterful director seemed like a dream come true. The truth unfortunately is something else – more like a nightmare. Clocking in at a mind numbing two hours and forty-nine minutes (and yes, you feel EVERY damn minute of it!), this uninspired 17th Century tale of two Jesuit priests who face persecution trying to teach Catholicism to the Japanese is a dull, mundane and heavy-handed film that seems to take personal glee in hammering it’s points into the aching heads of weary viewers. Not to mention that the side story of trying to find a recently captured and converted priest comes right out of the Apocalypse Now handbook – though with Liam Neeson providing no payoff as the kidnapped man of the cloth. (Marlon Brando Col. Kurtz quality this turn is not!) The only reason this one gets a single dog from me is simply because of some of the picturesque visuals of foreign lands, but as far as engrossing cinema that Scorsese claims is missing today Silence is golden does not apply here.