Silence is the crowning achievement of Martin Scorsese’s impressive career. It is a visual masterpiece and every scene of this film is breathtaking. Andrew Garfield is also at the top of his game as the main Jesuit priest, Rodrigues. His struggles throughout the film with pride are heartbreaking.
One of the most inspired choices in the film is the almost complete lack of a score. It adds to the already tense mood and elevates the incredible dialogue, the best of which coming from Issei Ogata as the Inquisitor and Tadanobu Adani as the Interpreter. The way they both work to manipulate Garfield’s Rodrigues is hard to watch at times, but so entrancing. This is not a film I will probably ever watch again, but is an experience that I think everyone should have.
19. Southside With You
The presidential election was depressing and I definitely needed something to get my mind off of the results: Enter Southside With You. This film was delightful. It is a wonderful look into the first date of the Obamas that was so much more entertaining than I was expecting. It is particularly interesting because it shows the events of their date but also delves into their early political ideals and work in community planning. Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyer do an excellent job of portraying the future presidential couple. The way they transformed their voices was impressive and completely spot-on. This film may not be anything super innovative, but every second of it is lovely and supremely entertaining.
18. Kubo and the Two Strings
The first thing I noticed about Kubo and the Two Strings was it’s beautiful animation. Every strand of hair and every drop of water is animated so precisely; a truly impressive feat. The story is interesting and very unique and the voice actors do a wonderful job of expressing a vast array of emotion. Some of the voice actors, specifically Matthew McConaughey and Charlize Theron, transform their voices so well that I didn’t know until the credits that they were the ones portraying their characters. Art Parkinson as Kubo is extremely impressive for such a young voice actor. I always find it impressive when young actors portray such complex characters with only the use of their voice. Overall, this was a wonderful film that brought a surprisingly rich and beautiful world to life.
Jackie is a stunning and beautiful film. The cinematography in this film is simply a wonder to behold. One of my favorite scenes, which seems so simple, is a scene of Jackie walking through the White House trying on different dresses and looking through different rooms. Through interesting camera angles and some intense close-ups of Jackie this scene becomes a work of art and also benefits from the filmmaker’s choice of music. They perfectly pair it with music from the musical Camelot which not only enhances the scene, but also reflects the overall themes of the film.
Natalie Portman gives the best performance of her career as the titular Jackie. She completely embodies the character down to the way she carries herself and her flawless recreation of the first lady’s accent. Her performance truly elevates this film to a new level.
16. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
I am so glad we continue to get great Star Wars films. Rogue One, while not as high on my list as The Force Awakens,is still an amazing addition to a film series that I have always loved. It has one of the best ensemble casts of the franchise, with the obvious standout performance of Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso. She continues the new Star Wars trend of strong female leads, which I think brings new direction and character to an already great franchise.
The special effects and cinematography in this film are simply stunning. There are shots in this film of the Death Star and other Empire ships that are awe-inspiring. The battle scenes, both on land and in space, are well thought out and perfectly executed.
“I pray but I am lost. Am I just praying to silence?”
These are the words uttered by father Rodrigues, a Portuguese Jesuit Priest (Andrew Garfield) who is sworn to find and bring back his mentor, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) from a 1640, anti-Christian Japan. Rodrigues, alongside his fellow missionary, Father Garupe (Adam Driver) are director Martin Scorsese’s two soldiers for Christendom in a country which is described by its leaders as a “swamp” in which Christianity cannot grow. The task is large, if not impossible, in a great story guided by the direction of man that most relates to New York Mob violence, Robert Deniro, and Wall Street Tycoons addicted to Quaaludes. Nonetheless, Scorsese notably delivers this story in a dramatic, cinematic fashion that articulately portrays a piece of a historic persecution with which most are unfamiliar . Silence is a tale of what one undergoes when holding a zealous belief in a land where that is punishable by death, and – in the case of Rodrigues – cause another to suffer the most egregious torture. As a counterpoint, the film also lays out themes of hypocrisy in religion, as well as the idea of Imperialism.
While the film itself lays its foundation on the two missionaries rescuing their fellow friar, it is also a window into 17th century Japan. During this period Japan was formally a feudal administrative system (Danka Seido) which required its citizens to be affiliated with a particular Buddhist temple. This in turn helped to monitor and detect minority devoted Christians who were seen as threat to the traditional Japanese state. In Silence, the state is represented by the ruthless Inquisitor who exposes fervent believers by subjecting them to a test of apostasy. The task is a simple – “only a formality” – to lay one’s foot on a tablet with Christ’s impression. The penalty for loyalty however, is torture followed slowly by death.
Scorsese is no stranger to violence. Many of his films are built around it. Unflinchingly graphic and realistic violence, in fact. Believers lashed to crosses while being plastered by rising tides or being wrapped in straw mats and burned alive, or possibly – for the lucky – a quick beheading by a sharpened Katana. These are the threats that are forced upon the Christian minority.
While Scorsese accurately portrays the obedience, as well as the fear, of the Christian peasant from the state, he also captures the fear and doubts of the shepherds of the sheep. A major theme of Silence is in fact right in the title: the silence of god and the absence of justice. Why does God subject his followers to utter pain, embarrassment, and suffering? These are the questions Rodrigues asks as he sees his fellow man perish. Rodrigues is time and time again called to apostatize to cease the torture of many prisoners. A moral dilemma arises out of the film. Is it worth the renunciation of faith, the scare of hellfire, to end the suffering of others? On the other hand, other hypocrisy is easily seen by the “Buddhist” inquisition as they torture and kill their Christian prisoners. A major precept that is part of the Buddhist tradition is the abstention from violence and actions that cause the suffering of living beings. As the movie shows the ideologies of religions and governments rarely add up in the real world actions of their followers.
Maneuvering into another theme that also relates to government is Scorsese’s look at imperialism. Christianity was unarguably a catalyst for the European Renaissance, with Rodrigues and Garupe embodying western European Christianity in its quest to evangelize every living soul. The Japanese feudal system, however, was in complete contradiction to this idea, made very clear by a story told by the Inquisitor involving 4 concubines (Portugal, Holland, England, and France) and a King (Japan) who found that it was in his best interest to let the women go and find peace by himself. Scorsese looks at this impasse very nicely. Japan wants its own identity, but at the price of the beliefs of its people. On the other hand, it is the drive of the Christian ministry which pushes the inquisition harder. Turning again to the moral dilemma that Silence gives us, a question is asked by father Ferreira. “Do you have the right, to make them suffer?” The film forces the viewer to ponder the question.
While Silence begs many questions, it also leaves the viewer with many emotions. While the film can be ambiguous at times, the story is nonetheless moving and powerful. Garfield and Driver deliver spectacular performances, the scenery is beautiful, and the story is mesmerizing. And the two larger themes of hypocrisy in religion and imperialism that are central to the film are important for the viewer to meditate on. I, myself, am still meditating on it.
“With the release of the 2017 Oscar nominations, the bros bring you their biggest snubs and surprises, plus plenty of interesting tidbits about the nominees. Then, the long-awaited film adaptation of Shusako Endo’s ‘Silence’ is finally out in theaters and the bros discuss whether Scorsese’s film lived up to the hype.”
Continuing our look back at the best of film in 2016, we highlight another underappreciated art form: movie trailers. Editing together footage from an incomplete film to portray what that film will be and doing it without revealing too much information is quite the task. The best trailers not only get you excited for the end product, but are also entertaining and engaging in their own right. Many of the best have great musical choices, show off some of the best shots of the film and are cut together in an innovative and interesting way. Not all trailers are great, as they often are just mish-mashes of footage from the movie that are basically just screaming, “We know you’re going to give us your money, so here’s some of the film!” Below, are the trailers from 2016 that we felt went above and beyond to become more than just marketing tools, but real works of art in their own right.
— Joe —
As with some of my other picks you will see, what makes this trailer great all starts with the music. Not only is “Soul’s On Fire” by Anthony Hamilton a great toe-tapping song for any trailer, but for this particular movie, it could not be more perfect. Barry is all about the college years of future President Barack Obama and the conflict he felt being both white, black and from many different places. At times in the film, he feels as though his soul is literally on fire and we see the conflict both within himself and around him during the course of this trailer. Add to that some absolutely gorgeous shots throughout, including an absolutely iconic ending shot of a young Obama silhouetted against a purple sky smoking a cigarette, and you have a great trailer.
11. Hail Caesar!
— Sam —
The Coen Brothers’ filmography is quite varied. Out of all of their films my favorite is O Brother, Where Art Though and the trailer to Hail Caesar! completely reminded me of the vibe of that movie. This trailer does a lot of things right. Like many trailers it is a pretty rapid viewing of many scenes from the film with some pauses to linger on funny lines or other specifics from the film. The rapid fire sections of the trailer are perfectly paired with the song ”Rumble and Sway” by Jamie N Commons. This song not only drives these scenes along but it also sounds somewhat reminiscent of the music from the era that the movie is set. This trailer also makes sure to prominently show off the names of its ridiculously stacked cast which just gets the viewer even more excited for what is to come in this quirky film.
10. Swiss Army Man
— Joe —
The trailer for this film sold so many people on checking it out including myself. It presents all the weird the film has to offer, backed by an incredibly uplifting song and absolutely stunning photography. They didn’t over-think the marketing on this one. It is the Daniel Radcliffe farting corpse movie, so they used the song from the film and showed us Daniel Radcliffe as a farting corpse. And it was glorious and surprisingly heartwarming.
9. The Nice Guys
— Sam —
The first thing that stuck out to me in the trailer for The Nice Guys was the choice of music and the usage of that music throughout. The soundtrack for the trailer, as with the finished movie, perfectly sets the tone for a wacky adventure in the late 70s. They also at times sync ends of notes or ends of phrases to punches and other action in the trailer which helps to accentuate those moments really well. This trailer also does a great job of setting out the personalities of its main characters without using up every funny line from the actual movie. Until I saw this trailer I never knew how much the world needed a Ryan Gosling/Russell Crowe buddy cop movie.
— Joe —
This trailer is about as perfect as a trailer can get and it all starts with the music. The closing song of the musical Camelot accompanies the first part of the trailer as we see Jackie happy and enthralled by the wonders of being First Lady. Then with a push in shot on a cellist, we get the first notes of a much darker song that overwhelms the first as we see her life literally crumbling in front of our eyes. Combine all this with incredible shots that recreate actual footage from that time period and you have a trailer that has done its job in spades. After I saw it the first time, I was saying, “Please, take my money!”
— Sam —
I love this trailer because it starts off looking like your normal run of the mill superhero movie. It tells us that Wade has cancer and is going to get treatment so that he can be with the woman he loves. Then as he’s being wheeled off to get the treatment that is supposed to turn him into a superhero he breaks the fourth wall and asks them not to make the super suit green. From this point on the trailer is jammed packed with all the best parts of Deadpool: Insane jumps, epic pistol and gun wielding, and of course snarky comments right in the midst of battle. We also get some great dialogue between Deadpool and the minor characters of Weasel and Blind Al. The last element that perfectly combines all these insane pieces is the use of the song “X Gon’ Give It To Ya” by DMX played throughout most of the trailer. What a great trailer to come out of the gate with and get fans pumped for the film!
Before we ever see a film, many times, we see its poster. The phrase tells us to not judge a book by its cover, but we certainly don’t always follow that rule. Posters are the book covers of films and they can either encourage our excitement to see the film, bore us with indifference or, at worst, cause us to reject a film. Movie posters are an extremely important aspect of filmmaking and marketing that certainly do not often times get their due. The best of them not only are good marketing tools, but are also good art. So, to honor the artists who excited our imaginations and helped sell the films they were tasked with presenting, here is the Cinema Bros’ top 12 movie posters of 2016:
12. The Lobster
— Jake —
The Lobster has been on my radar for over a year, but I have yet to see the film. However, I think this poster hooked me and articulates the message of the film at the same time. Per the trailer, The Lobster is a darkly satirical take on relationships, monogamy, and love. Colin Farrell’s character embracing an invisible person with a blank stare on his face is minimal and brilliant and reminds me what drew me to this film in the first place.
11. Sing Street
— Sam —
This film, which is set in the 80’s, gets the 80’s portrayal it deserves in this poster. Everything about it is fabulously retro. Obviously the hairstyles and attire are spot on, but the overall color scheme seems very 80’s. It is almost garish in the way that it combines colors. They seem to clash but that’s what makes the whole thing pop. The slogan of the movie is a great addition and is expertly portrayed in the girl’s look of utter boredom. This is just a really fun poster for a phenomenally fun film.
10. La La Land
— Sam —
The colors of this poster are outstanding. The blue of the sky is so rich and deep and almost otherworldly. The brightness of Emma Stone’s dress splayed across that background is breathtaking. The lone lamppost works to add a bit of character to the scene but also stands as a reference to the classic musical Singin’ in the Rain. The symmetry of this point in the couple’s dance adds an overall elegance to the scene at large. This poster perfectly captures the magic of this wonderful film.
9. In a Valley of Violence
— Jake —
This poster coupled with Ti West as director made me want to see this film without even seeing a trailer. I love the old school, Tarantino-esque vibe that the poster throws out, and I also value the simplicity of color scheme and imagery. I don’t expect much more than a fun, escapist experience from this film, and I think the poster conveys that quite nicely.
8. The Witch
— Jake —
This poster features, believe it or not, a main character of the film whose name it bears. The goat, Black Phillip, alludes to darkness and looming evil per New England folklore. I also have to admit, the goat on this poster and in the trailer for The Witch was one of the elements that made me most terrified to see this film. That terror was certainly warranted.
— Joe —
Out of all the films in 2016, I think the marketing for Jackie has been some of the best. This poster is another example of that. Natalie Portman adorns this sheet in the blood red outfit that recalls Jackie Kennedy in the White House tour video. This part of the poster is quite simple and beautiful. Add the blood red backdrop though and the abundance of red gives off the feeling of danger and dread. Then add the name of the person and movie in the form of Jackie Kennedy’s signature and you have an elegant, simple, beautiful, foreboding poster.