The Look of Silence

Adi is an optometrist born two years after his older brother Ramli was brutally murdered in the 1965 Indonesian genocide. Having learned Ramli's fate from footage shot by director Joshua Oppenheimer when he interviewed death squads for "The Act of Killing," Adi visits the men responsible as he checks their eyes, daring to ask probing questions of men who are still in power, looking for signs of remorse to allow him to forgive in "The Look of Silence."

Laura's Review: A

This powerful companion piece to Oppenheimer's Oscar nominated documentary doesn't have the crazy basis of his earlier film, in which Komando Aksi members gleefully recreated atrocities in the guise of Hollywood genre films. Instead Oppenheimer focuses on one family of survivors. It's a quieter film, lyrically shot, Adi's occupation a stunning allegory for what he hopes to achieve. We see Adi visiting his parents in their humble, rural home. His mother, Rohani, claims to be over 100. She takes care of her mostly blind, deaf and senile husband, who was born in 1909, but claims to be seventeen (when asked to sing, he pipes up with 'You're so sexy! I can't stand it!). Rohani tells her son that he was born to give her a reason to go on living after his brother was killed. She's terrified when she learns that he's begun to face Ramli's killers. We see them, once again happy to recreate Ramli's bloody murder on the banks of the river where he was slaughtered. They pose for souvenir photographs making peace and thumbs up signs for the camera, admitting Ramli may have been innocent. 'It's in the past,' they say, a sentiment both perpetrators and many survivors repeat over and over. Ramli watches Oppenheimer's footage stone faced, even initially offering excuses for their behavior. But when summons the courage to challenge the actual killers as having spread propaganda (bolstered by the U.S.'s anti-Communist stance), he gets double talk and anger in return. One official suggests he may be a subversive hatching a new Communist plot. At home, Adi's two children laugh and play, showing little interest in the past as Adi tries to correct the warped history his son is being taught. Adi's wife, like his mother, is fearful. The film builds in power as Adi meets a killer with a daughter Adi's age. She's horrified to hear her father speak of drinking victim's blood. 'That's sadistic,' she murmurs, the first note of remorse Adi hears. She asks Adi to forgive her father and think of him as his own. The widow of another murderer, one who not only wrote a book about his acts but illustrated it, claims no knowledge of it, even when faced with Oppenheimer's footage clearly showing otherwise. Her sons get agitated. 'I invited you here Joshua, but now I don't like you.' says one. Fifty years after one million were butchered, murders and their victims' families live together uneasily, those in power believing everything's been restored to its natural state. Yet families like Adi's are still branded, unable to hold government jobs, living in far humbler surroundings than those who still benefit from their misdeeds. When Adi approaches his uncle's house, we notice its size, modern construction and ornate architectural details. He discovers a chilling family secret. Oppenheimer's early use of archival footage is also chilling, reflecting our own collusion all those years ago. This film required a high level of fortitude from its filmmaking team, many of whom are credited as 'anonymous,' and Adi, whose life is unimaginable. That Oppenheimer manages to find moments of beauty, love and laughter here is a testament to his skill, but the horrors he unfolds are the stuff of nightmares. Grade:

Robin's Review: C

Paul Crewe (Adam Sandler) had a sure thing as a pro football quarterback until he was charged with shaving points and banned from the game forever. Fed up with his go-nowhere life, he gets drunk and “borrows” his socialite girlfriend’s (Courtney Cox Arquette) Bentley. When she reports the car stolen, Crewe is arrested and sent to prison where his former sports prowess will once again come into play in “The Longest Yard.” In 1974, Burt Reynolds put his sassy charm and infective laugh to good use when he created the character of Paul Crewe for the original rendition of the Robert Aldrich’s “The Longest Yard.” There was a self-assured and selfish cockiness to his quarterback character that takes on the job of putting together a prisoner football team to play against the penitentiary’s semi-pro guard team. Reynolds’ Paul is only concerned with making his stay in prison as easy as possible and not get hurt playing the game. Adam Sandler, as the new Paul Crewe, is but a shadow of what Reynolds brought to the role. This brings up the question I have with the remake of The Longest Yard.” Why? The ’74 film, besides having a credible, amusing performance by Reynolds, was cast with veteran character actors such as Eddie Albert, Bernadette Peters and Michael Conrad that fleshed things out and made it fun and action-packed. The remake, by director Peter Segal, is just that. A remake. And, it’s one that is steeped in mediocrity. The screenplay by Sheldon Turner based on the film written by Tracy Keenan Wynn from a story by Albert S. Ruddy is nothing more than a carbon copy of the original. Rather than re-imagining the source work, the new “The Longest Yard” rubber-stamps it almost scene by scene. But, the real problem lay in casting Adam Sandler as Paul Crewe. Burt Reynolds was at the top of his form and gave a devil-may-care performance as a man who is changed by his experience. Burt put an arc on Paul that made his redemption in the end a rousing event. Sandler comes across, right away, as a nice guy and has nowhere to go with his character. The Paul Crewe you get in the beginning is the Paul Crewe you get in the end without much change. The supporting cast does an adequate job of recreating the original characters but, like Sandler, without giving any real depth. Chris Rock, as Caretaker (originally done by Jim Hampton who, you might remember, played the tin-eared bugler Hannibal Shirley Dobbs on TV’s “F Troop”), plays the prisoners go-to-guy and is okay as Crewe’s right hand man. Burt Reynolds gives “The Longest Yard” some credibility by taking on the senior prisoner Coach role so ably performed by Michael Conrad (think TV’s “Hill Street Blues” and “You be careful out there”). The rest of the players never get beyond the two-dimensional though Cloris Leachman does get some mileage out of her aged but still randy prison secretary, Lynette (originally done so well by Bernadette Peters in beehive hairdo and a smear of bright red lipstick). Techs are generally well done in “The Longest Yard” with the football action handled neatly. It would have been nice if the story and characters equaled the behind the camera efforts. As such, I would have been happier staying in on that stormy night I saw this remake and watched the ’74 original. If you like Adam Sandler, goofy comedy and football, I suggest seeing The Waterboy” instead.