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Duel Review: Hell or High Water/Silence
Hell or High Water is the story of two brothers who decide to rob banks in order to pay off their mothers ranch. The youngest brother played by, Chris Pine comes up with the idea who also wants to leave the ranch for his two children, and ex wife. His older brother played by, Ben Foster doesn't hesitate to help when his brother asks. Already a wild man with a criminal past, the oldest brother at times is a bit of a loose cannon, risking both his, and his brothers life when he goes on a rampage. Jeff Bridges plays a wise-cracking Sheriff on the trail of the two brothers with a half Mexican, half Indian partner.
The movie is a modern day Western with it's west Texas setting, and simple cat and mouse plot line. At time the movie is too obvious in it's message that big banks are robbing the poor. You have shots of the two brothers driving down the highway with billboard signs lined up on the side of the road reading, "Need Money Now?" Or, "Get out of Debt!" The film also shows near ghost towns. Small area's with little to no people as the half Indian, half Mexican deputy says, "This land was stolen by the white people who were told they were better than us, now its being stolen from them," as he points to the bank they are watching over.
The performances, and direction is what drives this movie forward. The script is contrived, but nevertheless, a solid picture, and the third act is explosive, and tension filled. If you love Westerns then this movie is for you.
Silence is the story of two Jesuit Priests who go to Japan in the 1600's as missionaries tried to bring the gospel to the country, but were persecuted for their beliefs. The two priest, played by, Andrew Garfield, and Adam Driver set out to find their fallen mentor played by Liam Neeson who has apparently renounced God in public, and has taken a Japanese wife. The two young priest don't believe the rumors, and they feel it is their duty to go and find him, and save his soul, but when they arrive in Japan all they find suffering. Any priest or Japanese citizen found practicing Christianity must answer to the Inquisitor who has outlawed the religion.
The movie is muddled with various idea's. You never understand what it's trying to say about religion. You don't know whose point of view you should sympathize with, the Japanese are shown as barbaric in their methods of torture, yet the Christians are portrayed as arrogant. Forcing their faith on Japan, and bringing sin, and guilt to country. You can say that there really is no one side you have to choose, but at times the Christians are shown as victims, then the next as the enemy, and it's very conflicting with no real resolution. The movie also talks about how one could lose faith if they feel God is silent during troubling times, but that theme is also crammed in there with the others making it a very frustrating film to follow.
Direction wise, this is Martin Scorsese's driest movie. The cinematography was wonderful, but that's just lighting, and color. As far as camera placement, pace, shots, and scenes, it all felt pretty standard. Usually Scorsese's is really flashy, and fast paced, and I wasn't expecting that here, but I at least thought there would be some grit to his film-making approach. There wasn't.
It's sad to say, but Silence is one of the worst movies of 2016 only because I expected better from the Legend that is Martin Scorsese. He is held to the highest esteem, and to have a movie as boring, and confusing as this one was a real let down.