New on Blu-ray
“Silence” (Paramount DVD, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99)
Every decade or so, Martin Scorsese directs a movie that challenges viewers to contemplate the divine and to confront the contradictions of religious faith. Just like “The Last Temptation of Christ” and “Kundun,” Scorsese and co-screenwriter Jay Cocks’ adaptation of the Shusaku Endo novel “Silence” may be a difficult experience for those who prefer the kinetic violence of something like “Goodfellas,” but for anyone willing to trust a master filmmaker, the rewards here are great. A slow-paced, melancholy story of 17th century Jesuit priests (played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) searching Japan for a reported apostate brother (Liam Neeson), “Silence” is a deep immersion in a distant, exotic, dangerous time and place where disciples grapple with whether Christian ritual supersedes basic human compassion. There are no easy answers here — only people struggling, dramatically, with what and how to believe.
[Special features: A half-hour documentary about the film’s long journey to the screen]
“The Blackcoat’s Daughter” (available 3/31)
Writer-director Oz Perkins lives up to his legacy as the son of Anthony “Psycho” Perkins with his feature debut “The Blackcoat’s Daughter,” an atmospheric supernatural thriller featuring a stellar young cast. Kiernan Shipka and Lucy Boynton play prep school students stuck on their creepy old campus over Christmas break. Emma Roberts is a transient with a mysterious connection to both the school and these two girls. Perkins keeps his story’s big secret in the shadows for as long as he can, taking advantage of an isolated location and intimations of a dark history to keep the audience unsettled long before the violence starts.
TV set of the week
“Planet Earth II” (BBC DVD, $35.99; Blu-ray, $44.95; 4K, $59.99)
There are few better ways to show off a top-shelf home entertainment system than to pop in one of the seven episodes of David Attenborough’s latest BBC nature docu-series, “Planet Earth II.” Shot in ultra-high definition, with the latest in aerial drone and steady-camera technology, this overview of the wildlife and climate of different regions — from mountains to deserts to cities — makes the real world look as vivid and fantastical as a science-fiction movie. Informative, colorful and surprisingly action-packed, this show gives viewers an intimate look at some places we rarely see.
[Special features: Behind-the-scenes looks at how the footage was shot]
From the archives
“The Wanderers” (KL Studio Classics Blu-ray, $29.95)
When filmmaker Philip Kaufman and his wife/co-writer Rose adapted Richard Price’s beloved semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel “The Wanderers” into a loose, rollicking motion picture in 1979, the project initially received a lukewarm reception. Time has been kind to “The Wanderers” though, which is now seen as one of an eclectic, underrated director’s liveliest works. A young Ken Wahl stars as an early 1960s Bronx gang leader watching helplessly as his buddies grow up and find better things to do with their time. At once energetic and elegiac, this is one of the last great American movies of the ’70s — which itself was one of cinema’s best decades.
[Special features: A Kaufman commentary track, a scholar commentary, extensive interviews and a longer earlier cut of the film]
Three more to see
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (Warner Bros. DVD, $28.98; Blu-ray, $35.99; 3D, $44.95; 4K, $44.95; also available on VOD); “A Monster Calls” (Universal/Focus DVD, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98; also available on VOD); “20th Century Women” (Lionsgate DVD, $19.98; Blu-ray, $24.99; also available on VOD)