Blu-ray Review “Silence”

Actors: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Tadanobu Asano
Directors: Martin Scorsese
Rated: R
Studio: Paramount
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Run Time: 160 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1 out of 5 stars

I feel for the movie “Silence”. It was Scorsese’s big film that he’s been trying to get made for a decade. It packs a solid cast including Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver.Scorsese is a directing genius and a legend but the film never grabs the audience. Obviously everyone is aware that this film is nearly 3 hours long and since the film is titled “Silence” don’t expect any dance/musical sequences in here or pretty anything a lot of anything. It is well done don’t get me wrong. It looks beautiful and the acting is superb but not a film that audiences want to see cause the enjoyment level is not high here, folks.

Official Premise: Silence tells the story of two Christian missionaries (Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield) who travel to Japan in search of their missing mentor (Liam Neeson) at a time when Christianity had been outlawed. Captured and imprisoned, both men are plunged into an odyssey that will test their faith, challenge their sanity and, perhaps, risk their very lives.

“Silence” comes as a combo pack with a UV digital copy and definitely carries Scorsese’s signature look to it and the 1080p transfer shines in terms of visual aspects. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 also carries the rather quiet film well and gives it a good narrative. The special features are a let down for sure, like I am sure the film ‘s success was to Scorsese. There is only one extra included. “Journey Into ‘Silence” is a 20+ minute trip into the production and road to getting this film made over the decade Scorsese was trying.

The Biggest Snubs from this Year’s Oscar Nominations

One of the fun things to discuss, debate, argue, or silently complain about on social media is Oscar snubs. Luckily this year, the ship has been righted and I think we can put the #Oscarssowhite controversy to rest because of how diverse the nominees were this year. Although to be fair, the Academy set the bar pretty low the past two years in terms of cultural variety. But there’s one thing the Academy can never escape and that’s snubs. While I certainly don’t believe some of my snubs ever had a chance, they are deserving of some gold.

Best Picture Snub
Swiss Army Man

I knew this was a longshot. I know the Academy isn’t about to publicly acknowledge a farting boner corpse movie. But a little part of me had hoped that its indie cred, combined with its existential storytelling, would have made it a respectable dark horse in a field of 10. It’s unique, fascinating, moving, well-acted and wonderfully shot. Its only flaw is that it’s too off putting for general audiences and slightly juvenile for the snobby voters in Hollywood. I swear this is the last time you’ll hear or see me cheerleading for this movie.

Honorably Snubbed as Well: 20th Century Women

Best Director Snub
Robert Eggers, The Witch

Eggers immersed himself in 1630’s New England to deliver a historically accurate portrayal of terror in the unknown wilderness of early America. Everything from the film’s dialogue to the farmstead were meticulously groomed and crafted by the director. He managed to wrangle four (including one teenager) child actors, keeping them from being annoying, as they traditionally are in horror movies. This production designer turned director crafted an atmospheric horror masterpiece. Eggers is one to watch out for.

Honorably Snubbed as Well: Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, Swiss Army Man

Best Actor Snub
Tom Hanks, Sully

Let’s clear up this presumed notion I’ve seen on social media. Tom Hanks doesn’t get nominated every year. He hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar since 2001 and hasn’t won a golden statute since 1995. I’m not asking the Academy to throw him a bone, he doesn’t need one. But don’t overlook the fact that “Sully” is a sub par movie-going experience without Hanks’ hefty talents in the pilot seat. Hanks’ navigates Clint Eastwood’s so-so work into a memorable tale of average Joe heroism and the bureaucratic blame game.

Honorably Snubbed as Well: Jake Gyllenhaal, Nocturnal Animals

Best Actress Snub
Sasha Lane, American Honey

I wouldn’t blame you for not watching “American Honey.” Three hours of wanderlust is too much for the average audience. But first time actress, Sasha Lane, is a treasure to watch. She was up for every challenge of portraying an impoverished young adult. Lane portrays an innocent, if not naive, teenager looking for her purpose and a slice of the American dream. Her character, without speaking usually, represents youthful aspirations and good intentions, despite the thieving people around her. Lane keeps the flame of hope in her character lit throughout the movie, making her character one to root for her and admire.

Honorably Snubbed as Well: Amy Adams, Arrival

Best Supporting Actor Snub
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals

The story within a story is the strongest part about “Nocturnal Animals,” mainly due to its wonderful performances. Leading the way is Jake Gyllenhaal, but his emotionally distressed character would be nothing without the terrifying Texas psychopath played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson. While visually disgusting, Taylor-Johnson’s grimy character radiates off the screen. He’s calculating, but relaxed. He’s vicious, but calm. The dynamic extremes of his character are balanced by Taylor-Johnson who’s “ablicious” and repugnant.

Honorably Snubbed as Well: Ben Foster, Hell or High Water

Best Supporting Actress Snub
Haley Bennett, Girl on the Train

I know. I know. This is a bad movie. But the Academy has not been above nominating a bad movie or rewarding the components of a bad movie. Let’s not forget that “50 Shades of Grey” is an Oscar nominated movie with five Razzie wins under its belt. While Emily Blunt should certainly be commended for her performance, it’s Haley Bennett’s performance as the tragically flawed suburban floozy that becomes the center of the movie’s suffering. Her character lives life emotionally empty, only to be killed when finding new life. In the rear view mirror of 2016, Bennett’s performance is brave and engaging, but trapped in a lifeless cliché movie.

Honorably Snubbed as Well: Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women

Best Animated Feature
Finding Dory

Is “Finding Dory” that average? I thoroughly enjoyed the Pixar movie and was surprised it didn’t, at the very least, get a nod. It’s not the best of the year, but it can certainly be mentioned in the same breath as the other candidates. I haven’t seen “The Red Turtle” or “My Life as a Zucchini” so I can’t comment on their quality since they certainly secured the final two spots. I’m sure they’re good. Maybe this is a sign that Pixar should just avoid sequels for a while. At least “Sausage Party” didn’t steal one of the nomination seats or else there’d be hell to pay.

Honorably Snubbed as Well: None. This was a year that saw Angry Birds, so we need to do better in 2017.

Best Original Screenplay
Zootopia

It’s been mentioned before, and not just by me, that “Zootopia” benefited from coming out at the right time. The script, while being generously relatable to kids and adults alike, has a wonderful message about acceptance. A city populated with cute, furry animals taught everyone that sexism, racism, classism and xenophobia are still very real and can divide us in a heartbeat. Disney could have easily settled for a buddy cop movies with animals, but instead allowed the script to naturally evolve and survive the rewriting process. Despite nine credited writers, “Zootopia” never became diluted or a jumbled mess. Instead it ran smoothly with a clear message of tolerance.

Honorably Snubbed as Well: The Invitation

Best Adapted Screenplay
Silence

Martin Scorsese’s decades long passion project is based on a work of historical fiction. While having never read the novel myself, the folks who have read the book have left nothing, but glowing reviews of it online. If the purpose of the 20th century novel is to make us reflect and question spirituality and our religious beliefs as a whole, Scorsese captured that wonderfully in a movie that, while drawn out, is beautifully retold on the silver screen. Scorsese painted a beautiful picture just like the book certainly transported readers back to post-Feudal Japan.

Honorably Snubbed as Well: High-Rise

Best Music
Cliff Martinez, Neon Demon

While I’m not completely sold on “Neon Demon” being a good movie, I found myself listening to the soundtrack of “Neon Demon” multiple times. While adding another layer to the movie, the soundtrack on its own accord is a wonderful synth album inducing feelings of hope and despair. “Neon Demon” is a visual experience, complimented by a wonderful score that spurs dread and bouncy optimism, sometimes within a single song. “Neon Demon” is the only movie this year where the music feels like an unseen narrator for how we’re supposed to feel.

Honorably Snubbed as Well: Johann Johannson, Arrival

Best Music, Original Song
Drive it Like You Stole It, Sing Street

The coming-of-age love letter to the 80’s, “Sing Street,” should have been more popular. Not only did the Clash, A-Ha, and the Cure get some much deserved love on the screen, but the movie featured some dynamic original music. Most of the original content, like “Riddle of the Model,” was short nods to music by Duran Duran or other iconic bands. However, the movie reaches its crescendo with its most poppy rock hit, “Drive It Like You Stole It.” The song is a big metaphor for the final act and growing up in general. Just listen to it and tell me that’s not the best original song of the year.

Honorably Snubbed as Well: Montage, Swiss Army Man

Best Foreign Language
Elle

I’m finding it difficult, once again, to put into words why I like this movie so much. Just read my review.

Honorably Snubbed as Well: I’m not sure. I should be more cultured.

“Manchester by the Sea” Dominates 4th Annual MediaMikes.com Awards

Writer/Director Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea” led all films in the 4th Annual Media Mikes Awards, which are voted on by both readers and staff of the web site.

Besides being named the Best Film of 2016, “Manchester by the Sea” took home the awards for Best Actor, Casey Affleck, as well as Best Original Screenplay for Lonergan. It was also the only film to win multiple awards.

Best Actress went to Natalie Portman for her performance as former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in “Jackie.” Best Supporting Actor was Dev Patel for “Lion” while Viola Davis was selected as the year’s Best Supporting Actress for “Fences.”

Damien Chazelle was named the year’s Best Director for “La La Land” while “Zootopia” was chosen as the Best Animated Feature.

As in past years, over 3,000 entries were submitted by readers in seven categories, with the staff of Media Mikes choosing the winners in the Original and Adapted Screenplay, Original Musical Score and Documentary categories.

Below is a complete list of winners:

BEST FILM: Manchester by the Sea

BEST ACTOR: Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea

BEST ACTRESS: Natalie Portman – Jackie

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Dev Patel – Lion

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Viola Davis – Fences

BEST DIRECTOR: Damien Chazelle – La La Land

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: Zootopia

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Jay Cocks and Martin Scorcese – Silence

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: OJ: Made in America

BEST ORIGINAL MUSICAL SCORE: Mark Mancina – Moana

Film Review: “Silence”

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Rated: R
Running Time: 161 minutes
Paramount Pictures

Our Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

Very rarely do you have a religious piece of filmmaking that doesn’t question religion or support the existence of a greater entity. Martin Scorsese is no stranger to the topic; raising hell with “The Last Temptation of Christ,” but his latest film is a deep meditation and self-reflection on the topic. The myriad of ideas behind “Silence” are a little too insurmountable to summarize without glossing over one or two powerful and important themes. Nothing about this feels like your stereotypical Scorsese movie, which means it’s all substance and no style.

The movie follows Jesuit priests, Sebastia Rodrigues (Garfield) and Francisco Garupe (Driver). They receive a distressing letter about their mentor, Father Cristovao Ferreira (Neeson). He’s apparently committed apostasy and disappeared in post-Feudal Japan. Despite warnings about the inherent dangers of being a Christian during the Kakure Kirishitan era, a time when Christians were deep in hiding in Japan and feared being publicly executed for their beliefs, the duo head off with nothing but their faith and an alcoholic guide looking to be forgiven for his past sins.

While the first act establishes 17th century Japan, the rest of the movie follows Sebastia. There’s nothing unique about him, I guess that’s just how the cards fell in terms of storytelling and/or history. Both Sebastia and Francisco are devout men, struggling to deal with the harsh reality of potentially being murdered for their religion in a foreign land, as they watch as others are brutally slain in their God’s name, and in inherently, their names as well.

“Silence” is a struggle of morality, faith, and life. There are moments where Sebastia’s beliefs are selfish, wholesome, absurd, and compassionate. The clash of religious ideals stems from the Japanese power structure believing in Buddhism and viewing Christianity, not only as a threat, but as a toxic influence that can’t sprout in their land, which they constantly refer to as a swamp. And more frankly, the Japanese government sees Christianity as a sly form of Western intrusion and corruption. The philosophical struggles between the two beliefs don’t develop until halfway through “Silence” and that’s when they things get more profound.

We get to see the rotten and enlightened side of religion’s impact. It’s difficult to pinpoint an encompassing message in “Silence” because it plays out like a scholarly debate on faith. The three biggies in “Silence” are its reflection about how important and damning symbolism can be, it’s criticism about how humans can fetishize their own beliefs, the idols they keep close, and the images that they deem holy, and it’s praise for how religion can teach us compassion and give us silent strength when dealing with the impossible.

On a more personal level, Sebastia’s voice-over narration and internal monologue provide insight into his selfishness of wanting to be martyred much like Christ. Outside of Sebastia’s unintentional egocentric spiritual journey, it’s a humanistic learning exercise as he internalizes concerns that his prayers are said and uttered to an empty void with no one on the other end. Anyone who’s ever prayed can surely relate to that plight.

“Silence” isn’t entertaining in the traditional sense. You may find yourself bored if you aren’t willing to put your beliefs and other beliefs up for scrutiny or if you view religion as an intangible topic. “Silence” is not just an intense examination of religion, but it’s a study of societal ethics and personal morality as it relates to history, culture and your community. It’s not until the end that Sebastia aligns his priorities with what’s best for his. “Silence” may very well be Scorsese’s deeply religious message for those wanting to live life and find peace.

Win Free Passes to Florida Screenings of “Silence”

Calling Florida moviegoers, below please find the codes for the screenings of “Office Christmas Party”. If you want to see this film before ANYONE else! Hurry fast and grab tickets below and spread the word to your friends as well! They will go VERY fast! Enjoy and be sure to leave comments below after the film!

Miami- 1/3 AMC SUNSET PLACE 7:00pm
West Palm Beach- 1/3 CINEMARK BOYNTON BEACH 7:00PM

Orlando- 1/10 AMC ALTAMONTE 7PM
Tampa- Tampa- 1/10 AMC WESTSHORE 7:30PM

Orlando- http://www.gofobo.com/SMMOrl
Tampa- http://www.gofobo.com/SMMtam
WPB- http://www.gofobo.com/SMMWPB
Miami- http://www.gofobo.com/SMMMia

In the seventeenth century, two Jesuit priests face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor and propagate Catholicism.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson

Blu-ray Reviews “Code of Silence & Lone Wolf McQuade”

Directed by: Andrew Davis / Steve Carver
Starring: Chuck Norris, Ralph Davis, Henry Silva, Bert Remsen, and Mike Genovese / David Carradine, Leon Isaac Kennedy, Robert Beltran
MPAA Rating: R / PG
Distributed by: MGM Entertainment
Release Date: July 17, 2012
Running Time: 101 / 108 minutes

Blu-ray Scores: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When it comes to Chuck Norris, I can honestly never have enough. MGM dug into their archives and have delivered two classics from the films of Chuck Norris, “Code of Silence” and “Lone Wolf McQuade”, which is easily one of his best films. These films really represent true 80’s action and show the rise of the badassness of Chuck Norris. Plus in “Lone Wolf McQuade”, if Chuck isn’t enough we had the also fellow Kung-fu master David Carradine. Even though these releases feel like a cash in to time with “The Expendables 2”, if you are looking for a fix of Chuck Norris in high definition, I would recommend these very reasonably priced Blu-ray.  They aren’t the best releases but it’s enough to give your Blu-ray player a nice roundhouse kick.

In “Code of Silence”, Chuck stars as Eddie Cusack, a Chicago police officer whoaims to take down a drug gang.  When two rival gangs go at each out, it is up to Cusack to take let since no one at the police force is willing to help him since he who broke the code of silence by testifying against a fellow cop. His only help is a  police robot called “Prowler” that assist Cusack in taking down the gangs.

In “Lone Wolf McQuade”, Chucks plays legendary renegade Texas Ranger J.J. McQuade.  That name alone is bad-ass enough for me. He is quick with his gun but more lethal with his black belt! McQuade comes face to face with big-time kingpin and also martial arts expert, Rawley Wilkes.  McQuade must face his biggest challenge in order to save his daughter.

The video quality on both “Code of Silence & Lone Wolf McQuade” are very impressive.  I would even go as far to say that they look awesome on Blu-ray. The 1080p transfers are quite good and are presented in a sharp 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The sound on the other hand is good but nothing amazing with its DTS-HD MA Mono audio track.  If you are looking for extras, look elsewhere.  These releases are totally very lacking extras. The Blu-ray’s only come with each film’s original theatrical trailer, presented in standard definition.  Fans of Norris should not miss out on these releases, nonetheless.