Rolling Thunder Revue (2019)

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Direction: Martin Scorsese
Country: USA

Celebrated filmmaker Martin Scorsese has shown his knack for music documentaries with solid works such as The Last Waltz (1978), Shine a Light (2008), and George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011). However, his efforts reveal disappointing results in Rolling Thunder Revue, a sort of mockumentary with real and fake footage and fabricated interviews about Bob Dylan’s legendary concert tour in the mid-70s. The series of concerts would allow Dylan to perform in smaller venues in a more intimate connection with the audience. The political context comes forward and goes well with the confrontational activism of the talented young musicians, who abandoned themselves to socially conscious, politically charged music.

While Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, and Allen Ginsberg were actually part of this American caravan, the unsatisfied filmmaker Stefan Van Dorp, event promoter Jim Gianopulos, and Rep. Jack Tanner are all fake characters played by actors. Moreover, Scorsese utilizes Sharon Stone, in flesh and bone, as tantalizing bait to his story, increasing the mordancy when she states, flattered, that “Just Like a Woman” was written for her. Conversely, the story behind the protest song “Hurricane”, written for boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter, is authentic.

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The music is great, yet this artful satire never really stood out as something really big, working more like a benign prankster spreading misinformation than giving a consistent insight about the topic. In a similar way, the interviews only served to make things more recondite, enhancing the artificiality of a make-believe that, at least, could have put an extra effort to be funnier. Rolling Thunder Revue doesn’t break any ground and proves more unimaginative than impressionistic.

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Silence (2016)

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Directed by Martin Scorsese
Country: USA

Widely respected American director Martin Scorsese, who gave us gems like “Taxi Driver”, “Raging Bull” and “The Last Temptation of Christ”, didn’t quite succeed in passing to the screen all the power of the account he depicts in “Silence”, an epic historical drama he wrote with Jay Cooks based upon the Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel of the same name.

The film, set in 17th-century Japan and focusing on the predicaments of a shaky Christianity, stars Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as two missionary Jesuit priests, Father Sebastião Rodrigues and Father Francisco Garupe, respectively, who set foot in Nagasaki to find the missing Father Cristóvão Ferreira (Liam Neeson). The rumors are that Ferreira, verged by torture, ended up abdicating of his faith.
For the trip, they rely on the guidance of Kichijiro (Yosuke Kubozuka), a tormented alcoholic fisherman whose disguised faith doesn’t make him less tricky.

Once in Japan, the two men are welcomed by a secluded group of local Christians who live hidden in underground caves. They try to escape the ‘inquisitors’ and their torture. 
Eventually, the resistant priests are caught, learning that coexistence between Christians and Japanese are impracticable. Their faith is put to test as they observe brothers and sisters being mercilessly burnt, drawn, humiliated, and both tortured and executed through dreadful methods.
Even when Ferreira finally shows his face, revealing new ideals, the film couldn’t leave behind its long-drawn-out development.

Religious faith topic was never better depicted as it was with Bergman, Bresson and Dreyer. Unfortunately, “Silence” didn’t allow Scorsese to be among them since faith doesn't live in it.
Even vulnerable in regard to flow and pace, he was able to create a minimally decent whole with the uneven parts. He achieved that by taking well advantage from the stunning cinematography by Denis Prieto as well as the strong acting.