Screened Out – Martin Scorsese’s Silence

By : Stephen Miller
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Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson

One can feel the devotion and love in Martin Scorsese’s historic fiction about Christian faith and doubt in feudal, 17th-century Japan.

However, like most people’s obsessions, if Silence were told with more enthusiasm and much more attention to its audience, it would be more successful. This is over 160 beautiful, careful, delicate, faithful, boring, slog-like minutes.

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Screened Out – A Monster Calls

By : Stephen Miller
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Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, Toby Kebbell, voice of Liam Neeson

Though there are certainly arresting, memorable moments, it’s difficult to understand who A Monster Calls is for. It’s certainly not a film I could imagine anyone wanting to watch repeatedly.

Conor, an English child (MacDougall), is witnessing his mother (Jones) slowly, painfully succumb to cancer. As a result, his grief leaves him damaged, unable to cope with a steely grandmother (Weaver), a mostly absent dad (Kebbell), and a few psychopathic bullies.

A Monster Calls is a special effects dream. It’s also a dark, dense, overwhelmingly depressing fairy tale with no moral. “Jump in the car, kiddies! We’re going to the movies! Be prepared to bawl your eyes out!”

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Screened Out – The Huntsman: Winter’s War

By : Stephen Miller
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Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, Nick Frost, Liam Neeson

Given that these movies are really only about effects, costumes, and fights – not good, solid, emotional storytelling – Winter’s War could’ve been worse. It also could’ve been much, much better.

Let’s start with the fact that everything is motivated when an ice queen, Freya (Blunt), bans love. She can control the weather (like Ice Man meets Game of Thrones) but she’s pretty stupid when it comes to human nature. She may steal people’s children and raise them as her own – into super-soldiers – but her ideas are so flimsy and her character so flat that even her subjects must laugh behind her neurotic back.

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Screened Out – A Walk Among the Tombstones

By : Stephen Miller
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Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, Brian “Astro” Bradley

Though it references Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe, A Walk Among the Tombstones lacks their panache. It never presents a well-muscled structure or brain-tickling complexity. Either of those things would have made this gritty, bloody thriller much more engaging and entertaining than it is.

That being said, Liam Neeson does a strong, world-weary turn here as an independent detective and badass. Dan Stevens is captivating in a role as far from Downton Abbey as this handsome man could get.

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Screened Out – A Million Ways to Die in the West

By : Stephen Miller
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Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman, Liam Neeson, Neil Patrick Harris

Blazing Saddles still claims the top spot. There have been very few comic Westerns over the years, and this movie may give us reason why. Even with some genuinely funny moments, this flick feels like a clever stand-up routine stretched into a two-hour skit of gross-out humor, violence, and dust.

MacFarlane’s over-extended jokes may work in a half-hour cartoon format (Family Guy), but they don’t hold up this aimless movie.

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