Archives for posts with tag: Martin Scorsese

Grade A

Feudal Japan: Christianity has been outlawed; priests have been expelled from the country but a few remain in hiding to keep teaching the converts.  Those who are caught are given a chance to renounce their faith; and if they don’t, torture and execution will follow.  Martin Scorsese directs and co-writes “Silence,” an emotionally powerful movie about two Jesuit priests (played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who volunteer to go to Japan and risk a horrible death in order to find a missing, high-ranking Jesuit (played by Liam Neeson) who was reported as captured and tortured by the Japanese until he apostatized.

“Silence” is a complex movie because of the multiple themes running through it: what are people willing to sacrifice to hold on to their faith and religion; is it okay to renounce one’s faith, without truly meaning it in one’s heart and mind, in order to avoid torture and death; if God exists, why does God allow the suffering and deaths of those who are faithful and loyal to God; which religion is the true religion; does one religion have a right to call other religions heresy, and by doing so is it a form of self-importance and ethnocentrism; etc.  The numerous, elongated scenes of torture will also be hard to watch for most people — yes, this is a movie, but the depictions of torture and executions of the Christian Japanese and European priests are based on what happened to this group hundreds of years ago.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Silence” is the scene when **SPOILER ALERT** Neeson is brought to Garfield so Neeson can explain to Garfield why Christianity doesn’t work for most Japanese, and why Neeson renounced his religion.  While Neeson does give some valid points, the audience is left to wonder if Neeson is just playing along to protect his own life, or does he really believe in what he is saying?

“Silence” is a great piece of art that burdens the heart with sadness and horror at what people can do to others; and it also uplifts the spirit by showing the courage and sacrifice of those who will take death over renouncing their religious beliefs.  This movie is not for everyone, but for those of the Christian faith and those who love well-crafted movies, “Silence” will speak loudly to your soul.

— M

When Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays the title role in the movie, “The Wolf Of Wall Street,” is about to describe what his most addictive drug is, I already knew what it was before he said it.  We see DiCaprio snorting a line of cocaine using a rolled up, hundred dollar bill; and then he unrolls the bill and says that money is his most addictive drug.  Oh yeah.  Once you get used to those hundreds going through your hands and flowing into your pockets, you can get hooked fast, and will want more.  It alters your perception of money to the point where 5 dollar bills start to look like toilet tissue.  I know…I speak from experience.  The pursuit of money…being addicted to it…that is the heart of “The Wolf Of Wall Street.”

This movie is based on the true story of a New York trader, Jordan Belfort (played by DiCaprio), who cheated his clients of millions of dollars by turning them on to stocks that were virtually worthless.  It didn’t matter if the stock crashed because DiCaprio and his crew of traders made a killing from the commissions.  The money flowed in like a tsunami, and with it came drugs, prostitutes, delusions of being above the law, and the attentions of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI.

DiCaprio gives a great performance of a man who has both likeable and disgusting qualities.  I admired his drive and focus to be financially successful so he can have a better life for himself and his wife.  His ability to sell is amazing, and he had the guts to go out there and get what he wanted.  Unfortunately, he lied and cheated his way to making his millions, financially devastating many honest, hard working people.  Still, his downward spiral in life as his morals took a back seat to drugs and money is thrilling and shocking and funny.  The movie is part comedy, don’t forget.  So is life.

Director Martin Scorsese shows us his great talent as usual, creating a movie that moves rapidly and gives us fast snapshots of a man’s rise and fall.  The momentum does wane somewhere in the last half of the third act.  This is a 3 hour movie, and it feels like it.  The first 2 hours comes and goes quickly, but that last hour will have you checking your watch often.  That said, “The Wolf Of Wall Street” is worthy of 3 hours of your time.  Unless you have an aversion to sex, drugs and cursing.

Some people complain that this movie has too many of the three things I just mentioned in the previous paragraph.  Um…these guys are stockbrokers.  Traders.  And the worst kind, too (the ones who prize money above their souls).  They are type A-1 personalities, and acting like Caligula is the norm.  What do you expect?  This is the life they had.

One of my memorable, movie moments of “The Wolf Of Wall Street” is the scene when Matthew McConaughey was telling DiCaprio what stockbrokers did: sell stocks and make tons of money from the commissions, and have no idea if the stock is going up or down or sideways.  Of course, they tell their clients that they know what they’re doing.  People, let me tell you something: stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies…they’re all a gamble.  You all should know that before you get into them.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Wolf Of Wall Street” is…go read the first paragraph.  And after you’re done with that, go down to the last paragraph.

What brings your perception of money back to reality is when you lose money.  Then that $5 bill that you once thought of as toilet tissue is now 2 loaves of bread, or 2 dozen large eggs, or a gallon of milk, or a very nice Hallmark card in which you can write to your parents how wonderful they are in taking care of you since you were born, and how you can never repay them for all the love and kindness they’ve given you despite all your flaws.  I know…I speak from experience.

— M

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