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NEW ON DVD: ‘Silence’ is an achingly beautiful religious epic

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STORY WRITTEN BY AMY LONGSDORF 
For Digital First Media

Based on Shusaku Endo’s acclaimed 1966 novel and set in 17th century Japan, Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” (2016, Paramount, R, $28) follows two Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver) as they travel from Portugal to Japan to investigate what happened to their mentor (Liam Neeson) who is rumored to have renounced his faith and taken a Japanese wife.
Running nearly three hours, “Silence” is a brutal, staggeringly beautiful movie that wrestles with themes of faith and pride. And yet Scorsese keeps the tale achingly human by putting us inside Garfield’s skin as he undergoes one harrowing trial after another. Every scene in “Silence” is stamped with Scorsese’s majestic cinematic personality and that alone makes it a must-see. Trivia note: Plymouth Meeting’s Father Jim Martin served as technical advisor. Extras: featurette.
Also New To DVD
Paterson (2016, Universal, R, $30 ): Not since “Jersey Boys” has a movie paid such lavish tribute to the Garden State. Writer/director Jim Jarmusch not only sets his look at an amateur poet/ bus driver named Paterson (Adam Driver) in Paterson but namechecks scores of hometown heroes (Lou Costello, Hurricane Carter, Dave Prater of Sam & Dave fame) and stuffs the movie with stunning shots of downtown Paterson and the Great Falls. While the pace lags from time to time, “Paterson” succeeds at being the cinematic equivalent of one of Jersey native William Carlos Williams’ poems. Acted with grace and shot with care, “Paterson” is a tribute to the poetry of the everyday. Extras: none.
***
A Monster Calls (2016, Universal, PG-13, $30): Dazzling special effects are the highlight of this family film about a youngster named Conor (Lewis MacDougall) who conjures up a giant tree monster (Liam Neeson) to help him face his fears. Conor, as it turns out, needs all the assistance he can get. He’s not only bullied at school but forced to move in with his cranky grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) after his mother (Felicity Jones) becomes ill. Director J. A. Bayona is dealing with big themes like death and forgiveness but the lack of a plot hobbles “A Monster Calls.” Still, it’s impossible not to be moved by Conor’s plight and inspired by the unique way he perseveres. Extras: deleted scenes and featurettes.
***
Youth In Oregon (2016, Sony, unrated, $15): Can a single performance redeem an entire movie? That’s the case with this family dramedy about a terminally ill physician (the great Frank Langella) planning a trip to Portland to end his life through assisted suicide. Reluctantly driving him across country are his boozy wife (Mary Kay Place) and wary son-in-law (Billy Crudup). As road trip movies go, “Youth In Oregon” is a full of missed turns and rocky detours. But Langella is in the driver’s seat, and he creates a cranky yet deeply human character. When Langella is on screen, “Youth In Oregon” seems to reverberate with loss. Extras: none.
***
Baby Boom (1987, Twilight Time, PG, $30): The first of four collaborations between Diane Keaton and Philadelphia’s Nancy Meyers, this delightful laughfest has some of the same snap, crackle and pop as classic screwball comedies. Keaton stars as a workaholic investment banker who is forced to upend her life after she winds up as the guardian of a distant cousin’s baby girl. Meyers and co-writer/director Charles Shyer invent lots of funny situations for Keaton to suffer through. And the actress meets the challenge wonderfully. She gives a loosey-goosey performance that deserves to be remembered alongside the best of Kate Hepburn, Jean Arthur and Irene Dunne. Extras: commentaries.
***
Love In The Afternoon (1957, Warner Archive, unrated, $20): Yes, Gary Cooper is about two decades too old to play a millionaire American playboy who casts a spell over an impressionable conservatory student (Audrey Hepburn) but once you get past that flaw, “Love” has oodles to recommend it, including elegant Paris locations, a witty performance by Maurice Chevalier and dialogue as sparkling as champagne. Being loved by Audrey turns Cooper into a better man and he knows how to portray that awakening. But this is really Audrey’s movie and she runs with it, remarkably finding a way to play a teenager capable of seeming both younger – and older – than her years. Extras: none.
***
What’s The Matter With Helen? (1971, Shout Factory, unrated, $30): Set in the 1930s, this involving new-to-Blu-ray thriller follows two women (Debbie Reynolds, Shelley Winters) who leave their tragic pasts behind to move to Hollywood to start over again. But their idyllic new life turns into a nightmare seemingly thanks to a menacing stranger who threatens revenge. A sometimes-bizarre blend of suspense and songs, “What’s The Matter” keeps you guessing even as the bodies start piling up. Extras: featurettes.
***
Multiple Maniacs (1970, Criterion, unrated, $30): Writer/director John Waters has long claimed that his second effort is his personal favorite of all of his films. It’s easy to see why. Sort of a greatest-hits of Waters’ obsessions, “Multiple Maniacs” follows the members of a traveling freak show as they scatter around Baltimore following the murder of a disapproving audience member. Shot on the cheap, the movie is chock full of sequences that are still wildly subversive four decades later, including an interlude in a church between Waters’ regulars Divine and Mink Stone that has to be seen to be believed. Extras: commentary by Waters and featurettes.
***
The Good Wife: The Complete Series (2016, Paramount, unrated, $118): Relive the trials of Alica Florick (Julianna Margulies), the wife of a disgraced States Attorney (Chris Noth), who decides to go back to work as a lawyer after her husband is sent to prison. The early seasons are far superior thanks to the explosive chemistry between Margulies and Josh Charles, who plays her former boyfriend and current boss; and the presence of Archie Panjabi as Kalinda, the firm’s mysterious fixer. But even as the show winds down, there’s enough fascinating cases and killer guest stars (Carrie Preston, Michael J. Fox) to keep things popping. Extras: none.
***
Wentworth: Season 2 ( 2013, Acorn, unrated, $60): Loosely based on the guilty-pleasure-classic “Prisoner Cell Block H,” this series finds Bea (Danielle Cormack) languishing in solitary while Franky (Nicole da Silva) runs the prison unopposed. But the arrival of a sadistic new warden (Pamela Rabe) threatens Franky’s reign at the top. A hit in its native Australia, the show is good and gripping. Extras: featurettes.

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