Martin Scorsese sure likes to take his dear sweet time inbetween passion projects. Silence, based on the novel of the same name by Shusaku Endo, has been slowly gestating for well over 25 years, and in fact was even prepped before Scorsese had taken on Shutter Island and Hugo. Through delay after delay, and project after project, his dream film finally arrives, a deeply haunting examination of spirituality versus human nature, but does the end product make the long wait worth it?
2016 has seen a great deal of movies concerning the personal impression that people leave on younger generations, from Moonlight's deconstruction of stereotyping coming to define someone, to Kubo and the Two Strings doing the same with memories of the past. But in no film has that idea been hit nearly as well on the head as 20th Century Women, the latest from Beginners director Mike Mills, making his way back into the independent circuit with an autobiographical touch, and crafting one of 2016's most perfect yet fittingly imperfect films.
They say that the hardest person to truly accept you, to look past all of your imperfections and see the valuable person underneath, is yourself. That sense of identity and self-worth can often eat away at us, filling us with intense personal scrutiny, in many ways defining the term "my own worst enemy". That's a trait that director Barry Jenkins observes with one of the most celebrated movies of the year, Moonlight, a quietly affecting and introspective piece of filmmaking of analyzing, and deconstructing stereotypes to get to the true core of its characters.
In preparation for the Oscar season, and for my Best and Worst lists of 2016, throughout the month of January, I'm going to be posting some smaller reviews of films I've been checking out in the meantime. Hope you enjoy!
Passengers is a film that sounds too good to be true. An epic sci-fi romance and action film, produced with a hefty $110 million dollar price tag, starring two of the hottest actors currently working, and helmed by the Academy Award nominated director of The Imitation Game. On paper, it sounds like a great career choice for anyone involved. And yet, despite all the impressive pedigree, Passengers has become one of the more notorious disappointments of 2016, garnering a generally poor response from critics and viewers. So the question is, "Where did it all go wrong?"
The medium of video games is an incredible industry that rivals even cinema nowadays, but when it comes to taking those same properties and putting them to the big screen, their track record is terrible. Ignoring easy targets the likes of Super Mario Brothers and Mortal Kombat among others, this very year saw two more making their way into multiplexes to subpar results, one being the epic Warcraft from Duncan Jones, the other being the thoroughly grating Angry Birds Movie. It seems even Michael Fassbender couldn't resist getting in on the fun, having backed an adaptation of Ubisoft's mega-hit Assassin's Creed franchise, reteaming with his respective Macbeth director and co-star Justin Kurzel and Marion Cotillard.
We as humans are subject to a wide variety of feelings both pleasant and unpleasant. In fact, many of these emotions are triggered not by any actions of our own, but by a shared connection formed with other people. Sometimes these bonds can be so strong, and our love of these people can be so powerful, that the thought we may someday lose them can be unbearable. Such grief can cause unpleasant and unstable thoughts beyond our control, all of which that writer/director Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester by the Sea examines in as painful, but deeply emotional context as possible.