“Silence” and the Personal Perdurability of Faith

Silence is vintage Martin Scorsese.  The master’s techniques are evident in practically every frame, and his return to a religious subject matter is both fascinating and complex.  Nearly three decades ago, The Last Temptation of Christ showed that Scorsese was capable of delivering a nuanced treatise on spirituality, and he has done the same with Silence.  These topics are seldom tackled by Scorsese, so we should count ourselves lucky when the director is inspired by a story such as Silence, which has been in pre-production in some form for the last 25 years or so.

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The Foreclosure-Focused “99 Homes” Succeeds by Leveraging Powerful Performances Both Large and Small

Ramin Bahrani’s 2014 film 99 homes is yet another spectacular film to come out involving a plot inspired by the financial crisis of the late 2000s.  Instead of focusing on the macro-level of the crisis like Margin Call or The Big Short, 99 Homes is a more personal story favoring Main Street over Wall Street.  Hence, the narrative follows the families that lost their homes to bank foreclosures following the collapse of the housing market.  A key player in this story is a real estate agent named Rick Carver (Michael Shannon), who knows every angle and never saw a shady deal he didn’t like.  Set against him is the protagonist of the story, Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield), who is one of the “victims” of the foreclosures.  But, ultimately this is a film about financial hardship and the lengths that an honest man will go to in order to provide for his family.  It is about integrity in the face of hunger and failure, and the opportunism that emerges in the environment surrounding a profoundly rigged game.

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