Silence (2016) is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us a Martin Scorsese film about faith, some fantastic beasts, our own planet in HD, and much more.
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In my very first Five Cool Things article, I was excited about the trailer for Martin Scorsese's Silence.  I also noted that I had really enjoyed the book.  What I didn’t mention was that my copy of the book had a bunch of pages missing.  For the last 20 pages or so, every other pages was blank.  It was a horrible way to finish what was really a very good novel right at its conclusion. I learned what happened at the end in my class and always meant to buy another copy, but never did.

As I’ve surely mentioned numerous times around here, Martin Scorsese is one of my favorite directors. One of the really interesting things to me about Scorsese is that he comes to his films from a place of not only spirituality, but of religion.  He was raised in a very strict Roman Catholic environment and though I don’t believe he practices that faith any longer, it's still very much a part of who he is as a filmmaker.  Almost all of his films are infused with Catholic themes such as guilt and redemption, but Silence is very specifically a Catholic film.  As someone who has struggled with organized religion and my own faith, I appreciate films willing to tackle these heavy issues without oversimplifying them or coming up with concrete answers.

It stars Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as two Jesuit priests who travel to Japan looking for their mentor (played by Liam Neeson).  This is a time of great persecution for Christians in Japan and the book contained some very harrowing scenes in which the priests must decide whether or not to proclaim their faith and be killed or disavow it and live.  I’m really interested to see what Scorsese is going to do with the material.

It's gotten great reviews and I love those actors so Silence is a no brainer for my pick this week.

Also out this week that looks interesting:

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them:  The world of Harry Potter continues without its main characters.  Very loosely based on the book of the same name (my understanding is that the book was more of a text book, discussing various magical beasts in a reference sort of way), the film stars Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander a wizard who is more comfortable tracking down the fantastic beasts than talking to real people, magical or not.  It was directed by David Yates who did the last several Harry Potter films and he maintains the same look and tone of those films.  It's an enjoyable movie, but a fairly forgettable one.

Planet Earth II:  The good people at the BBC are once again taking a look into our planet's jungles, mountains, deserts, islands, and cities, all in HD.  The first one was an astoundingly beautiful nature show.  I have high hopes for this one.

Dead Or Alive Trilogy:  Takasha Miike’s nutso Yakuza films are not for the faint of heart.  I’m not entirely sure if I’ve seen all three of these but I’ve watched enough Miike films to know only to expect outlandish violence, sex, and extreme oddness.  Arrow has packed this set with their usual collection of awesome extras.

September Storm:  Silly adventure flick from 1960 gets a nice package from Kino.  Luigi Bastardo reviewed it a few days back for us and found it to be less than stellar.

20th Century Women:  Coming of age tale set in 1979 finds Annette Benning as a boardinghouse landlord who decides to use her quirky tenants as child raisers.  Also stars Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, and Elle Fanning.

Blow-Up (Criterion Collection):  Michelangelo Antonioni’s classic about a London photographer that finds something suspicious in the photos he’s taken of a mysterious beauty gets the Criterion treatment.

A Monster Calls:  A 12-year-old boy discovers a tree monster who helps him cope with a dying mother and bullying classmates.  Stars Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, and Liam Neeson.

Patriots Day:  Mark Wahlberg stars in this drama about the lead up to and aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

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