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Live By Silence

Apologies for the late reviews. But as it's a national holiday today, I thought I probably should share my opinions on the two big releases that came out Friday. Two big wide releases today to review, both from two well-known and respected directors, both perhaps considered among the Oscar push from their respective studios. The first is Ben Affleck's period piece crime drama Live By Night, while the second film releasing today Silence, is also a period piece but features two very different leads than the former film's gangsters: two priests. These two films probably couldn't be more different in every way. We'll start with my thoughts on Live By Night.

About ten years ago Ben Affleck astonished the world and began his career comeback as a director with his fantastic Gone Baby Gone. In 2010 he proved he wasn't just a one-hit wonder with The Town and in 2012 he won an Oscar for best picture of his film Argo. All three of his directed films were huge successes, now enter Live By Night.

The film follows Ben Affleck's character Joe Coughlin as he enters the mafia world in the 1920's and his subsequent career in the years that followed. The film starts with promise but loses its way in the middle as it meanders in different side plot lines that you won't understand the relevance of until the very end. My mind wandered throughout and couldn't help but feel that the film could have been severely edited down to be more streamlined and able to get to the point. Affleck still shows promise as a director, though, as the really important scenes shine and are set up perfectly. Unfortunately, there were just a lot of scenes that seemed pointless (until the end.) Once the credits rolled a title card popped up that made the whole thing make a lot more sense: "Based on the novel." Of course this had been a novel. The structure was absolutely that of someone trying to shove a billion chapters of a book into the course of a two-hour-plus movie. Books and movies are two very different mediums and what works in one does not always work in another which ends up being a huge problem in Live By Night.

RATING: 6.5/10 out of pure disappointment. If I was feeling more generous I might be able to give it a 7...but right now I can't.

Let me just start off my review of Silence by saying that this film is clearly not for everyone. The story follows two young priests during the 1600's played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver who beg to go to Japan to find their lost mentor (Liam Neeson) who disappeared and was rumored to have gone apostate while teaching the people. The film is almost three hours long and full of ponderous moments throughout, and when it comes down to it really is all about one man's spirituality in the face of extreme adversity.

was a passion project by Martin Scorcese that not everyone will appreciate, but I thought it was beautiful. SilenceFor me, watching this movie was almost like watching some unknown passage of the New Testament being shown on the screen, and I found it incredibly fascinating. So many different facets of religion and spirituality were explored here, I really found myself glued to the screen which certainly would not be the case with everyone. I must admit though, that a large part of the film's success is due to Andrew Garfield's unwavering performance. He nails the role and pretty much carries the film on his shoulders. Without his earnestness, this film might not have resonated with me the way that it did. RATING: 9/10

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