Tag Archives: Andrew Garfield

Sounds of ‘Silence’

Martin Scorsese’s epic new drama looks for God, not gangsters

Liam Neeson plays a 17th century Portuguese priest on a difficult mission in 'Silence.'

Liam Neeson plays a 17th century Portuguese priest on a difficult mission in ‘Silence.’

Silence
Starring Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver & Liam Neeson
Directed by Martin Scorsese
R
In wide release Jan. 13, 2017

The director best known for hoods, gangsters and thugs turns his eyes to God in this epic tale of two Catholic priests who face persecution and death as they travel to Japan in the 17th century to spread their Christian faith.

Martin Scorsese, the cinematic maestro whose iconic work includes Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino, Gangs of New York, The Departed and The Wolf of Wall Street, transforms the 1966 novel by Shusaku Endo into a sprawling historical drama about faith, centered on God’s “silence” in the face of human suffering.

In the movie, two young Portuguese priests, Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Garrpe (Adam Driver) set sail across the globe to Japan to seek their mentor, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson). In the Land of the Rising Sun, Christianity has been outlawed, Ferreira is missing and there are rumors that he’s dead—or worse, that he’s renounced his faith, or apostatized, and become a Buddhist monk.

Adam Driver & Andrew Garfield

Adam Driver & Andrew Garfield

And in Japan, talk about a “war on Christians”: Local villagers are rounded up and subjected to various heinous tortures if they do not publicly disown their faith—crucified in the ocean, burned alive, beheaded, scalded with hot water, hung upside down and slowly bled to death.

When a missionary priest is captured, he’s forced to watch the torture until—unless—he will apostatize and publically denounce and deface his God.

For Rodrigues and Garrpe, this is no exotic Japanese vacation—it’s some 350 years before Disneyland Tokyo, BTW—and they are the only two Catholic priests on the whole island. How far, and how long, can they spread the seeds of their faith without being caught? Can they find out what happened to Father Ferreira? Can they come to understand why a benevolent, loving God continues to let Christians suffer, if holding on to faith is worth all the terrible pain it causes—or if God is even listening at all to their prayers?

These are big, unwieldy questions, and Scorsese tackles them head-on. Silence is a big, sometimes unwieldy movie. It’s two hours and 40 minutes long. Its majestic cinematic scope, grand scale and thorny theological themes will probably put it out of the mainstream, at least for a lot of viewers, down at the multiplex. And it doesn’t have one single note of music, even on the opening or closing credits; it begins and ends with the sounds of nature, a symphony of crickets and frogs.

But it looks gorgeous. Working with cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, his collaborator on Gangs of New York and Casino, and Oscar-winning production designer Dante Ferretti (Hugo, The Aviator, Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), Scorsese depicts Japan as a lush, sprawling wonderland. Even the film’s horrors have a savage, artful beauty, like modern-day movie paintings of Christian martyrs rendered on the big screen.

SILENCEAndrew Garfield is having a great run, coming off director Mel Gibson’s critically acclaimed Hacksaw Ridge and now right into this role, making a back-to-back pair of exceptionally strong performances that show his depth and range. Adam Driver continues to impress, and I was disappointed when his character was dismissed halfway through the movie to go his separate way. He’s a much more interesting actor than Garfield, but Garfield has better hair, so hey, I get it.

But one of the movie’s most memorable performances comes from Asian TV veteran Issey Ogata. As the ominously nicknamed Japanese “Inqisitor,” Inoue Massashige, he gives forceful pushback to Rodrigues and his message of Christian evangelism. By turns sinister and menacing, comical and humorous, and sympathetic and pragmatic, he’s one of the film’s most compelling, complex and pivotal characters.

“Am I just praying to nothing, because you are not there?” Rodrigues, near madness, asks God at one point. It’s one of the questions that ring deep and long in the powerful, potently quiet spaces of Silence, long after the last cricket chirp has faded away.

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Itsy Bitsy Spider

Marvel Comics’ wall-crawling teen hero has to fight for his own spotlight

Andrew Garfield

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone & Jamie Foxx

Directed by Marc Webb

PG-13, 142 min.

 

The other night on TV, a show featured an urban-legend-ish conversation about someone who’d been bitten by a spider and then discovered little spiders crawling out of the bump on his neck.

I couldn’t stop thinking about that as I watched this, the latest in the ongoing Hollywood franchise about a nerdy teenager, Peter Parker, turned into a wisecracking, crime-fighting superhero by the bite of a radioactive arachnid. Not only is the Spider-Man empire, with its deep comic-book roots that go back to 1962, built on the bite of a spider, but this now marks the fifth big-screen treatment of the tale, and the second notch of the new cinematic arc following the original Spider-Man cinema trilogy, starring Tobey Maguire, that ended in 2007.

Andrew GarfieldThose little spiders—they just keep coming. The problem is, now they’re in danger of getting lost in their own enormous web: massive productions with king-size star sizzle, mega special effects and north-of-$200-million budgets. This time around, the iconic wall-crawler (Andrew Garfield, reprising his role from 2012) has to deal with multiple villains, Peter Parker’s complicated relationship with girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone, also returning), and troubling questions about his deceased parents.

Director Marc Webb, who also directed 2012’s Amazing Spider-Man, throws a lot into the movie’s sprawling two hours and 20-plus minutes—eye-popping action, tender moments, romance, humor, and musings on life, death, love, longing, friendship, loss, hope and the importance of fighting “for what matters to you.”

906429 - The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Jamie Foxx as Electro.

It’s jam-packed, stuffed with too much of everything, especially bad guys—do we really need three of them? Jamie Foxx plays an electrical engineer with serious self-esteem issues who gets turned, via a freak high-voltage mishap, into the rampaging super-villain Electro. Dane DeHaan is Harry Osborne, Parker’s rich, preppy high-school friend with a mutant family gene that morphs him into the monstrous Green Goblin. And Paul Giamatti, who opens the movie as a Russian prison escapee, later appears transformed into yet another one of Spidey’s archenemies from the good ol’ Marvel Comic book days.

Andrew Garfield;Emma Stone

Garfield and Stone have natural chemistry as Peter Parker and girlfriend Gwen.

Garfield, 30, and Stone, 25, seem a tad old to be playing recently graduated high school seniors. But the two of them have great natural chemistry (they’re a real-life couple, too). And their scenes together, especially when Garfield is out of the Spidey spandex and playing plain ol’ Peter, provide the movie’s strongest human heartbeat. Webb, whose directing resumè also includes the indie charmer 500 Days of Summer, gives Pete ’n’ Gwen just as much of the story as Spider-Man, a wise move for making this movie resonate even more as a date flick.

Like most comic-based characters, superheroes never seem to age; Peter Parker/Spider-Man will always be eternally young. At least it’s that way in the movies, where time can be suspended, reset and rewound, and “old” actors, like Maguire, can be replaced by newer ones, like Garfield—who’s already signed on to star in the first of the two additional Amazing Spider-Man follow-ups.

Yes, those little spiders—they do just keep coming. Perhaps next time, the itsy bitsy spider won’t have such a hard time fighting for his own spotlight.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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