Thursday 20 October 2016 3:44 pm

In Pursuit of Silence: a blissfully quiet film about our noisy world

James City A.M.'s film editor and a regular on both TV and radio discussing the latest movie releases

This intriguing, quiet documentary explores the effect our noisy society has on our well-being. Filmmaker Patrick Shen talks to various, disparate people including monks, authors and explorers to discuss the benefits of having space to reflect.

Initially feeling like a pitch for a wellness retreat, his film actually opens up an interesting discussion about how much our soundscapes are invaded. The distractions of media, infrastructure and technology take us further from ourselves, to the point where silence is presented as a key to discovering who we are. In essence, he argues, the 21st century represents a spiritual dulling of the senses. These are highfalutin ideas perhaps, but the contrast between calm fields and frantic cityscapes certainly underlines his point. Flawless cinematography further underlines the need for a more natural approach to the way we live.

The conversation eventually extends to the way we now perceive ourselves as a society. Mass individualism, the need for every opinion to be expressed and heard, has led to even more audible chaos. This point is accompanied by a cacophony of every day noise (phones ringing, traffic) which questions whether silence can really ever exist in the modern world.

At a time when even more thoughtful films deliver their messages increasingly loudly, this film is a true outlier. More wandering essay than manifesto, In Pursuit of Silence makes a valid point in an attractive fashion. Simply watching it is a self-fulfilling prophesy, its gentle soundtrack creating one of the most blissful viewing experiences of the year.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

12A, Dir. Edward Zwick
Tom Cruise is back as Lee Child’s military legend-turned-drifter. This time he’s out to save a young Army Major (Cobie Smoulders) who’s been framed by a military contractor, and a girl who he believes to be his estranged daughter.

The first film showed a different side to Cruise’s persona; still an unstoppable one man army, but with a more flawed, human edge. Smoulders makes an impressive counterpart, more ally than damsel in distress, while the addition of potential offspring adds a little bit of peril. Of course, you never quite believe that things are hanging in the balance, but who cares when the chases and Bourne-style fisticuffs come thick and fast?

A kind of grittier cousin to the Mission: Impossible films, Never Go Back doesn’t stray much from the Tom Cruise action formula, but that will be just fine for most.


U, Dir. Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohm
Yes, this is a movie about those toys we all had on our school desks growing up. Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake voice two very different Trolls on a mission to save their friends.

Crammed with pop covers (apparently supervised by Timberlake himself), it’s an energetic run at a familiar story that begins and ends exactly as you would expect. Quite obviously aimed at youngsters, the children’s TV-esque enthusiasm proves infectious and it would take a hard-hearted viewer to resist cracking a smile. It never threatens to do anything bordering on original, but the combination of Kendrick and Timberlake somehow makes it all come together as only an expensive family animation can.

The success of The Angry Birds Movie means there’s doubtless more of these tie-in movies to come. Trolls may be one of the more forgettable, but while it’s here everyone will be entertained.


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