<![CDATA[Cinema Samurai - Movie Review Recap Revolver]]>Sat, 24 Feb 2018 04:51:43 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Movie Review Recap Revolver: Silence, Jackie]]>Wed, 11 Jan 2017 05:45:34 GMThttp://cinemasamurai.net/movie-review-recap-revolver/movie-review-recap-revolver-silence-jackie

This week's chamber:
Silence and Jackie

“The price for your glory is their suffering?”

Rating: R (for some disturbing content)
Genre: Drama
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: Jay Cocks, Martin Scorsese
In theaters: January 13, 2017 (Wide)
Runtime: 161 minutes
Studio: Paramount Pictures 

This movie tells the story of two Christian missionaries (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who face the ultimate test of faith when they travel to Japan in search of their missing mentor (Liam Neeson) - at a time when Christianity was outlawed and their presence forbidden.

Martin Scorsese is back with his most somber and prophetic work exploring the confluence of religion and cinema, giving us a gratification of cinematic persecution that film industry rarely achieves anymore. This somber, nihilistic, xenophobia of a travelogue is inward in epic prowess yet tender and wrenching with its personal soul searching. Scorsese, who adapted this movie from Shusaku Endo's 1966 acclaimed novel – creates a demonstrative lurking uncertainty through his lead performance of Andrew Garfield. The affable actor back from Superhero purgatory (starring in Sony’s 2010 and 2012 Amazing Spider-Man) lent himself to a rewarding role as a strident Jesuit priest who has gone to Japan to not only find his wayward former mentor Father Ferrera, played by the familiar but worn out leather mug of Liam Neeson, but also to usher Christianity as a metaphoric forced spoonful of dreadful medicine down the country’s misbegotten throat in an attempt to ideologically and religiously fix something that was never broken in the first place – buddhism.

When Garfield’s “Father Rodrigues” arrives he finds that he is in way over his head through Scorcese’s traverse of dark, benign landscapes and Kurosawaian feudal peasant realism. Rodrigues walks in with the cocky, proud strut, but that soon dissipates with every entitled sandal step he takes forward, and every indigenous villager he tries to redeem. Of course, the conflict of the story is that he is behind enemy lines as the Japanese regional shoguns, see him as a threat and this is when Hammer meets Nail. Painstakingly the further Rodrigues treads into japan the more his unrelenting belief in his faith is stymied and crestfallen, as if Scorsese is personally reflecting onto his character with a meta-contempt like self-prosecutorial fury. Along for the trip we have Adam Driver’s character as Father Garrpe but he leaves as soon as he comes, and its ultimately up to Andrew Garfield to become our soul crushing avatar.

This movie for all its deep theological ambitions, comes close to becoming the perfect forsaken movie that deals with personal faith in by achieving the intersection it aims for between narrative examination and commercial viability. Scorsese is too good to let this weighty demagogue of cinematic testimony to ever succumb to outright boredom – no Scorsese is too powerful and immense as an auteur for that, he will bore you to death with this movie by sheer bravura, which is your fault, not his nor my own as this movie for me was an incredible welcomed challenge. The movie clocks in at a whopping run time roughly at 2 hours and 40 minutes. That is not offensively indulgent, its purposefully sustaining doubt. You feel mystified by  this choice, but this is the work that Scorsese has wanted to take on, and when have you known this craftsman to half-ass his ambitions – never! Everything is giving to a deliberate observation in how Garfield’s “Rodrigues” is met with adversity around every corner. Scorsese is making the viewer earn the right to move forward to the next scene, next revelation, and soon the audience would find itself being tested to want to see what is next or emotionally check out. I did not - I stayed wanting to lose myself with the promise that the deeper the movie got, the more involved I have become, regardless of the movie spinning its wheels behind its obligatory presentation of scenes involving Rodrigues getting into thorny philosophical discourses against the Inquisitor, Inoue Masashige, played by Japanese acting elder statesman, Issei Ogata.

Brilliantly, this movie cornered me with its ambition, and I wanted to take the voyage. It works as an obvious mystery but also as a reflective mood piece especially for viewers that appreciate film art theory along with Japanese centric aestheticism. Kurosawa fans will appreciate the influence that he had over Scorsese as it shows in the filmic texture and naturalistic feel through its frames and cinematography. Scorsese doesn’t use much music to underscore the main emotional tipping points for his story. He keeps you in scenes with his direction using religious theorems to drive home the point that “Silence” as the title represents not only God leaving Rodrigues’ prayers unanswered, or the deliberate choice not to use a score, but to immerse the audience into a psychological, Ingmar Bergmann explorative determination, that subverts Andrew Garfield’s sweet natured warmth piousness into an unraveled Onibaba-esque decent into madness. As the more Rodrigues, on behalf of the film’s director, descends into Japan to free its converts, the more he feels trapped to do anything for them for he’s in the swamp called Japan, and his roots are not deep enough not to be cut. 

4 out of 4
Top 10 film of 2016

“People like to believe in fairytales.”

Rating: R (for brief strong violence and some language)
Genre: Drama
Directed by: 
Pablo Larraín   
Written by: Noah Oppenheim
In theaters: December 2, 2016 (Limited)
Runtime: 95 minutes
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Jackie is a film about a personal portrait of one of the most important and tragic moments in American history, seen through the eyes of the iconic First Lady, then Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (Natalie Portman). The film places us in her world days following her husband's assassination. Historically known for her class and iconic place in historical “First Lady” glamour and womanly influence, here we see a psychological portrait of Jackie as she struggles to maintain her JFK’s legacy and the world of "Camelot".

This movie for all its intentions to give us an personal introspective peek behind the curtains of Jackie Kennedy’s arguable most harrowing moment of her life, fails miserably in its design to draws us personally and substantively closer beyond the technical Terrence Malick imitation up close and tight camera work the director Pablo Lorrain uses to evoke such a false intimacy. This film led by Natalie Portman, who typically always hits the mark on her roles, does not give us any discernable insight or emotional pathos that this film preconceived subject matter would suggest. Portman, plays Jackie to a woeful caricature down to the lithic breathy melancholy voice, the brunette mushroom mod haircut and arts and craft pink pillbox hat. What betrays her more than anything is her height. What makes the real Jackie iconic is her formidable style, and handsome dark looks and ethereal mystique – Portman looks like Babes in Toyland with her Lilliputian portrayal.

It’s obvious from its trailer, and from the onset of the film that Lorrain’s only intent is to give you a faux visual diary to visually read but with no legible meaning or truth, only the feeling of empty syrupy soullessness. He films this movie around Portman in an all so “Look at Natalie wearing her mommy’s pearls” adolescent grown up make believe kind of way. Portman, who is known for her fierce work in her academy award best actress winning role Black Swan, can carry a film, and has enough star wattage to greenlight a film. This film should have been a triumph, but she doesn’t let us in, she succumbs to a 2 dimensional performance of Lorrain’s pretentious filmmaking that lends to vanity filmmaking at its worst.

Steeped more into its unintended consequence of obnoxious silly political cos-play exercise, and not a true psychological personal Kennedy tragic-mythos, the film, through its flashback narrative becomes insufferably empty. Lorrain mixes his verisimilitude by recreating the fateful day of Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, but then interlocking his staged scenes, with actual footage that creates an unwanted artificiality and cheapens the historical impact for the sake of indulgent art. He wants to make a good-looking picture, but this film has for all its ambitions, has no original cinematic foundation beyond visual derivations of better directors to achieve what it wants to do for “Camelot”.

The only time the movie centers itself to a halfway decent intake are the scenes in which Jackie, in the present moment being interviewed by a reporter played by Billy Crudup, who intends to write a piece on Jackie. Portman is given more to work with, and can play off someone that reacts to her and vice-versa and Crudup and Portman find genuine adversity each in their individual intent as its done with a cagey respect of both players. Conversely, it’s the flashback scenes in which we are left to her cloying madness and drifty loneliness where Portman can’t find the added mental terror, that she has demonstrated in other roles, better roles. However, in contrast, we can work with the dynamic between her and Crudup, which is sad because that is where the truth was in the film, but it was a throw-a-way, as Lorrain was clearly more interested in making the flashback scenes his tour-de-force pronouncement to say that this film is more of a testament to his filmmaking than to Natalie Portman’s acting. Sure Portman got a Golden Globe Nom for her work in this, but trust me, it wasn’t because of him, it because she is good, real good, and better than most actors on their best day. Which this movie needed before it became farcically lame.

Pretentious, vapid, and passive aggressively decadent – “Jackie” almost singlehandedly sunk all of Camelot for its cinematic misdeeds. From its wonky uneven score, to its juxtaposition between fairy tale imitative truth and historical contextual fact, this movie was obscene. However, Natalie Portman saves it from being one of the worst pseudo art house biopics that I have suffered through in a long time. Is it Frida bad? No, but it’s not far behind.

1.5 out of 4

<![CDATA[Movie Review Recap Revolver: Top Five, The Imitation Game, Wild]]>Wed, 31 Dec 2014 05:07:22 GMThttp://cinemasamurai.net/movie-review-recap-revolver/movie-review-recap-revolver-top-five-the-imitation-game-wild

This week's chamber:
Top Five, The Imitation Game, and Wild

Top Five
"Smile muthafucka!"

For those that this matters towards and those that it doesn’t – here are my top five rappers: NAS, Notorious B.I.G, Rakim, Ghostface Killah and Rick Tha Ruler (Old School baby!) - Chris Rock is back harnessing his full Woody Allen while keeping it somewhat real trying to prove he still can’t hail a cab as black man, when the meter is running and his cabbie awaits their destination. Rock, who is gifted ferociously funny and redundantly corny, gives you a performance you can expect, but he does sharpen his suit and filmmaking eye to hit you where it counts: LETTING YOU KNOW WHAT’S AUTHENTIC AND WHAT ISN’T and he is the person to tell you where it stands. Sidepieced by Rosario Dawson, our hero is being interviewed for a new article on Rock’s cooked up Haitian Revolution diluted historical exploitative motion picture titled “Uprize” that’s right, Uprize with a “Z”. The New York times comes a calling and sends Rosario and her squarish cinder blocked cheek boned self to interview Andre, and get a sense as to who this man really is besides, his basic bitch “Hammy the Bear” super-cop wanderlust former pathetic franchise.

Like Innirtu’s Birdman, credibility is under Rock’s scrutiny. He banters to a hasten wit with Dawson as the ample and statuesque "loversary." Nothing that Rock deals with aside from his persona relationships ring authenticity. His “fiancé” Gabrielle Union is a reality star that must have every moment with Allen on camera. Speaking of the lens, Top Five is filmed with a lean wide lens perspective. Rock knows what he is doing with his frames, multiplied with the conscientious dialog, the beginning scenes set a responsive and wondrous start to something that appeared to be fresh. It was not. Rock is at his best when combating with Dawson and they both chew the air like a pack of bubbleicious gum. However, when he is alone, deep pocketing a retread joke, Top Five loses some of its power, its relevance, its freshness.

The further the movie progresses the more tonal trouble finds Rock. On one hand he is being observational, pithy and biting with his commentary-humorous delivery, but when he tries to pratfall for an schticky joke, Top Five ends up at the bottom of the list. Moments of truism are few and far between, but in scenes with his family (hilariously effective Leslie Jones and always reliable Tracy Morgan) add a bright spot giving understanding to Rock’s intentions and motivations. Also, Dark Man X shows up for a well-timed rocket fueled cameo. Good at times, average at times, and not nearly as funny from a farcical standpoint than from a commentary assault, Top Five, lacks focus for the most part regardless of the solid chemistry between its leads.

Written, directed by, and starring Chris Rock, Top Five tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career-and the past-that he's left behind. Starring Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, Cedric The Entertainer, J.B. Smoove, Sherri Shepherd, Anders Holm, Romany Malco, Leslie Jones, Michael Che, and Jay Pharoah.


2.5 out of 4

"Captain midnight's decoder ring."

Benedict Cumberpimp is at it again! Our Sherlock holmsian not so great/good looking actor is now decoding German Secrets and building a computer that looks like a giant tape deck that issues out old Hall and Oates' LP’s (not that it’s a bad thing). Its all about Turing and his machine. Without it and you are left with a stale brit melodrama focusing on a person with the social skills of viral meningitis. The moral of the story according to movies is if you are genius, you basically have license to be dick – and everyone will still love you, Oh Hollywood! I do adore your naiveté!

The drama, terse and orthopedic-like does sustain throughout the duration of the movie. Being a historical drama it's hard to keep people completely suspended because they should know pretty much the end result. This aspect is completely passable because like all british period pieces, you get caught up in the honey suckled proper accents and the old time production scales.  Even with its top notch acting from Cumberpimp - to Keira Knightly it all meshes beautifully as one would presume, but there was an undercurrent of hollowness, like the Theory of Everything, where this movie doesn’t delve deep in Turing’s personal stigmas, or bother to make any of the relationship’s three dimensional, especially the most important one of all with Ms. Knightly. The movie was made for cheap quotable, feel good keep calm and don't panic poster moments.

Then, there is the wonderful baleful Mark Strong as MI6 officer that is unofficially sanctioning Turing’s project. He just stands there cloaked and dagger behind someone’s grandmother’s curtains lingering – stepping in at banal moments and not really adding anything to the movie that so desperately needs an  injection of life to it. Also, this movie is saddened by a monotonous and repetitive screenplay. Drama is acting from Machine room to pub back to machine room and only right back to the pub. If I were to take this movie literally, I swore the entire country of England was the distance of maybe 15 miles between two rooms. Uitmately, we have here passable chemistry, brilliant production values, and an anchored performance from a likable lead in Cumberpimp, but the movie is decoded to something just plainly fine but it’s below average screenplay, shallow developments and listless restraint of the man’s challenging life it doesn't break the code.

During the winter of 1952, British authorities entered the home of mathematician, cryptanalyst and war hero Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to investigate a reported burglary. They instead ended up arresting Turing himself on charges of 'gross indecency', an accusation that would lead to his devastating conviction for the criminal offense of homosexuality - little did officials know, they were actually incriminating the pioneer of modern-day computing.


2 out of 4

"Been through the desert on a conscience with no name."

If you don’t know by now, you had better ask someone – Reese Witherspoon and her chin can carry a movie like Lebron can carry a rustbelt state on his back. She needed this role and this role needed her. Like James Franco and his method acting of never taking a shower in real life, Witherspoon knuckled up and doubled down on this free standing character study retrospective, like Franco before her in 127 hours. First of all, how many contemporary actresses could carry this emotional drama built personality spin cycle role and do it with conviction? Jolie? Maybe – but remember her shit don’t stink, and in this movie, our actress literally has to take a deuce in the desert with nothing but a leaf and imagination – so Jolie is out. This leaves the only other good/bad girl that is really likable but not swoon worthy – Reese! She is believably cute enough to rise above her characters, but not sexy enough to become permanently typecast. She is what Scarlett Johanssen’s acting ability has hanging up on its walls. And it’s this natural bad preacher's girl next door act that allows her to movie star her ass off.

Self discovery is the name to this movie’s game. First of all, anyone walking in a desert and it isn’t Moses or tripping out to burning man, can’t be there to have a good time, they are trying to get away. Directed by Dallas Buyers Club’s Jean-Marc Vallée, the same Americana commentary and guilt is focused, only Reese doesn’t have a thick plot to work around. Every emotion, every angered traverse, every flashback rest on her shoulders. Vallée’ doesn’t use visuals or camera ingenuity to mask anything, his films leave his actors open, naked and stripped of all self conscious. This movie isn’t pretentious either. It doesn’t leave much open for interpretation. It gives you Cheryl’s motives, and he demonstrates the causes to her destructibility leaving you believing that a person has not choice but to trek by themselves in order to find themselves. Her demons are enough to make her single journey feel like a medieval cocktail party with her being the main attraction, so its only fitting to exorcise any others beside the audience on her discovery.

This is a real examination and Reese’s interpretation of the real Cheryl Strayed compels to where you want to learn about the actual person. This movie is gritty but not guttural in its pain. Flashbacks of a young Cheryl and her relationship with her mother is heartfelt, but then future reflections of the mother touch a bit of mawkishness towards pandering when she depends on the good graces of the other weary travelers that she encounters. The movie compounds the tone to cloyingly intent of Cheryl always being looked after by good people even though the narrative maintains she doesn’t deserve it necessarily but the movie olive branches her soul for redemption. With a strong movie star carrying the film, to excellent, unwavering direction built around a solid story and powerful character arc, Wild is good, but not Academy Award season good – outside of best actress nomination for Witherspoon.

With the dissolution of her marriage and the death of her mother, Cheryl Strayed has lost all hope. After years of reckless, destructive behavior, she makes a rash decision. With absolutely no experience, driven only by sheer determination, Cheryl hikes more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, alone.


3 out of 4