From the Archives: Grant Me the Strength to Sit Through All of Silence

From the Archives: Grant Me the Strength to Sit Through All of Silence

In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it. 

Without further ado, I present to you: FROM THE ARCHIVES.
Originally posted on Cinema76.

As I write this I am trying to decide whether or not to spend this snowy evening watching Marty Scorsese’s latest, Silence. It looks good, and even Scorsese’s worst films are still wandering in the realm of excellence, but for some reason I’m reticent. I think it’s because it’s just so long. Like soooooo long. Two hours and forty-one minutes, to be exact. That’s a lot of movie, but if anyone can fill this length of time, it’s Scorsese. And so I’d like to use the next few paragraphs to talk myself into seeing it. Here goes.

I can’t really think of a better time to go see it. There’s a winter storm, my girlfriend is at work, and if I don’t see this monster on the big screen I may never see it at all. If I wait to watch it at home it’ll become a much longer endeavor, given my shameful propensity to fart around on Twitter during my leisure hours, resulting in multiple rewinds and pauses for the sake of a hilarious GIF (I just now saw one where a particularly fat seal rolls uncontrollably down a steep hill), or a trip down a wiki-hole (usually consisting of checking each actor’s age and then comparing their relative accomplishments with my own).

If there is one thing that can sink a movie for me, it’s pacing. A poorly paced 80-minute film can feel like it lasts for days, while a 7.5 hour documentary about OJ Simpson can keep me locked in my seat from beginning to end. Yet, there is no formula to it. Good pacing is a “know it when I see it” kind of thing, and it’s only filmmakers (and editors) with good intuition and experience who can really pull it off. Scorsese is absolutely one of those filmmakers. Thelma Schoonmaker is absolutely one of those editors. And my goodness, Liam Neeson is one of those actors, as is Andrew Garfield, who kept me enraptured during the entirety of Hacksaw Ridge, another lengthy epic. Adam Driver, despite being the strangest looking non-muppet actor is always exceptional as well. But so many reviews I’ve read make mention of the pacing of Silence, even if the review is otherwise positive.

I am scared.

Why am I scared? Well first, there’s the snow. I’m going to have to walk to the theater. And then there’s the bathroom issue. I just drank one of those 99-cent Arizona teas, which won’t be content to sit in my bladder for the full length of the film. Or will it? Just last night I watched Boogie Nights in a single sitting after having had a Diet Coke. That flick clocks in at two hours, thirty-five minutes, just six minutes shy of Silence. Then again, I had the option to pause it for a bathroom break. This option doesn’t exist at the theater, which will surely trigger my neuroses just enough to make my bladder twitchy.

And those chairs. It’s always a bit tough to sit in the theater chairs for any extended period of time. Especially if it’s the one theater that smells like a bathroom.

And what if it’s crowded and I have to sit next to an older couple who feels the need to discuss the film as it happens?

Gahhhh and it’s a religion-based film too. If there are legions of Churchies, it could be really rough. But maybe the snow will fix that. Maybe it’ll just be me and a few other neurotic nerd-trons. But God help me if I overhear them discussing film and I disagree with what they say but am way to non-confrontational to chime in. I just can’t abide that.

But you know what? I think I’m gonna do this. Our own Ryan Silberstein loved it, and his review got me pretty pumped. I sat through all of American Honey with no problem and adored it. I sat in a crowded film festival screening of Manchester by the Sea and went bonkers for it. I can do this. I’ll hit the restroom before I leave my apartment, again when I arrive at the theater, and once more right before the movie starts. I’ll buy one of those black and white cookies during my final trip out of my seat and I should be good to go. If I’m feeling sassy I’ll put my coat on the seat next to me (thanks, snow) and pretend like I’m waiting for someone and then when the movie starts I’ll look over my shoulder as if I’m still waiting for my guest and then shrug like “well I guess it’s just me” in case anyone is watching. Then I’ll spread out across my hard-earned real estate and enjoy an epic film.

Unless it’s paced poorly and it destroys me.

No no NO. I can’t think like that! I’m doing this. Thanks for listening. This worked. I’m going to do it.

Or I could just hang out at home and get some reading done, maybe stream something.


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