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Silence: Scorsese's masterpiece

Score: A

Rated R (for disturbing violent content) -- 161 minutes

"He who struggles with God"

To grasp the enormity of the subtext of SILENCE, a religious epic about 17th-century Jesuit missionaries, it would be my recommendation that before you step into your neighborhood movie theater, you first do a bit of research of "Jacob wrestling with the angel," from Genesis 32:22-32.

Then, gain an understanding of the motto of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits): "For the greater glory of God" – actually formed in 1540.

Only then will you be ready to attend the "Church of Martin Scorsese." The service is long, two hours and 41 minutes. The project took almost thirty years to complete. Hard to believe coming from the auteur of the American gangster movie. Yet a more careful examination of all of his movies reflects the reoccurring themes of his Catholic background. His films are full of suffering and martyrdom; good versus evil; life and death.

SILENCE is certainly a cinematic masterpiece and an astonishing artistic achievement. In my opinion, the two finest epic films of 2016 are SILENCE and Mel Gibson's HACKSAW RIDGE. Both films leave lasting images of horrifying torture and death and include some of the most brutal scenes ever presented on film.

Martin Scorsese has been nominated for an Academy Award as Best Director of the Year eight times in his career. TAXI DRIVER, RAGING BULL, THE AVIATOR, and HUGO are just the tip of the Scorsese iceberg. His films have received a total of 80 Academy Award nominations. Ten years ago, he finally won his Best Director Oscar for THE DEPARTED.

During the promotional interviews that are a part of all major Hollywood releases, Scorsese has talked about growing up in the rough neighborhood on Manhattan's Lower East Side during the 1950s. He was an altar boy at St. Patrick's Old Cathedral. He attended seminary school as a teenager. And at one time, he thought of possibly becoming a priest.

Las Vegas author Michael J. Gordon, in his just released novella -- "The Whale and the Cucumber Plant," writes the following:

"THROUGHOUT THIS BOOK WE WILL STUDY THE APPLICATIONS OF A PERSON WITH A RENEWED OBEDIENCE AND SENSE OF DUTY TO GOD'S VOICE."

That pretty much summarizes the obvious plot. What is not so easy to explain, is the meaning behind the word "silence."

SILENCE is adapted from Japanese novelist Shusaku Endo's 1996 historical novel of the same name. The story follows two Portuguese priests (played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) facing persecution for preaching Christianity in Japan. The screenplay is written by Scorsese and his occasional collaborator, Jay Cocks.

In addition to Garfield and Driver, other major roles include the remarkable Liam Neeson, Yosuke Kubozuka, and Issey Ogata. As good as Garfield and Driver are in this movie, I actually liked both of them better in their other 2016 film roles: HACKSAW RIDGE and PATERSON.

The cinematography of Rodrigo Prieto and film editor Thelma Schoonmaker at times is so exquisite, that you gasp looking up at the screen. Add in the sound, music, art direction, and film editing – SILENCE is deserving of a straight A.

PREVIEW OF COMING ATTRACTIONS

20TH CENTURY WOMEN and PATERSON.

Next week, I am honored to review 20TH CENTURY WOMEN and PATERSON – the last two movies of 2016 to open in Las Vegas.

Last week I gave HIDDEN NUMBERS a rave review with a solid A. Movie fans from around the country certainly agreed. HIDDEN NUMBERS was the #1 movie in America. If you have not yet seen this terrific and powerful film, be sure to put it at the top of your must-see movie list.


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