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Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Writer's Life 7/15 - Silence

IMDb lists 58 directing credits under Martin Scorsese's name. That includes shorts from early in his career and documentaries for the big and small screen. While I do not share the bleak, often cynical view of life many of his films portray, I admire his frequent forays into the uncommercial. Is there a single title in his impressive canon that qualifies as a blockbuster? Many of his movies have been successful at the box office, but he does not draw the big numbers of several of his contemporaries. The bulk of his audience seems to be those who prefer serious work that explores, in an uncompromising manner, the dark side of the human condition. Silence (2016) continues along this path. I caught up to it last night courtesy of Netflix. It is the story of two young Catholic priests who travel to China in search of their mentor, who has gone missing during savage persecution of Christians. The time is 1640. The silence is God's, Who, to those who believe He exists, are profoundly distressed at His idleness while human beings are being tortured and killed. Of course, there are echoes of the Bible in the narrative. Andrew Garfield is outstanding as the young priest from whose point of view the story is told until the last few minutes when a voice-over by a European trader acts as an epilogue. The narrative begs a question: why cling to faith when renunciation, apostasy - a simple sacrifice - will end the horrible suffering of others? The screenwriters, Jay Cocks and Scorsese, side with renunciation, as do I. The monsters that torment civilization use power to physically break or eliminate enemies, real or perceived, but they cannot get into hearts or souls, know what is there. They commit mortal sin. Those who renounce commit the venial. It can be argued that the film is a plea that faith remain a private matter. Adam Driver is solid as the other young priest, as is Liam Neeson, taking a break from action fare, as the older. YĆ“suke Kubozuka steals every scene in which he appears as the Judas-like character Kichijiro, which, according to a web source, translates as: "A person who has the potential to attain spiritual enlightenment." The piece was adapted from the novel by Shusako Endo. It's pace is deliberate. It runs more than two-and-a-half hours. The impatient should pass, as should anyone squeamish about violence. A significant portion of the dialog is in Japanese, subtitled. 54,000+ users at IMDb have rated Silence, forging to a consensus of 7.2 on a scale of ten. It faired miserably at the box office. Made on a budget of $46 million, it returned only $7 million+, all in the USA. lists no international results, suggesting that it wasn't released overseas, which seems odd given Scorsese's reputation. After so many years, he remains an artist of the highest integrity. Silence is a work that is likely to be respected more than liked - much more. Kudos. Here are Adam Driver & Andrew Garfield as they appeared in the film:

My thanks to the kind folks who bought wares today, especially the young woman who purchased A Hitch in Twilight, and Bad News Billy, whom I hadn't seen in months and who grossly overpaid for three DVDs a woman had just donated. The session was dominated by a meeting of the minds. B.S. Bob showed and spent darn near an hour right in front of the display. He went on at length about an idea for a TV series about four rich Bay Ridge widows, titled Moms, whose sons plot to keep them single so that the riches they stand to inherit will not be threatened by step-dads. Bob wants me to help. I hope he forgets he asked. At this stage of my life, I don't want to partner. I'm interested only in promoting my own work. Mr. Conspiracy joined the conversation about a half-hour later. He raved about his trip to Denmark, the ideal destination for a socialist such as himself. His presence gave me a chance to step away as the two went into a lengthy discussion about politics, often disagreeing, but also finding common ground, unlike during their bitter pre-election smackdown. I wouldn't have minded if they'd just moved over a bit. I didn't have the nerve to ask them to stand aside. Call me wuss.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

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