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Entries in Martin Scorsese (42)

Monday
Sep212015

GoodFellas at 25: why it's cinematic perfection

David here celebrating 25 years of what might be Scorsese's masterpiece...

When I signed up to write about Goodfellas, the main motivation was simply that I hadn't seen it in years - the ideal opportunity to force a rediscovery before an overwhelming onslaught of new movies. When it came to actually writing this article, though, things didn't seem so simple any more. What could I possibly say that hasn't already been said? Pieces about things you 'never knew', about where the cast are now, about the making of the movie are already widespread across the fare internet shores, because the film remains one of the all-time favourites of the straight white male demographic that dominates both film criticism and film fandom. I mean, did you miss this New York Post article a few months back? Everyone else just doesn’t get it.

The fact remains, though, that Goodfellas is a classic, and incontrovertibly so.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug112015

Scorsese + Leo: With Six You Get Body Counts...

We knew they would work together again and now we have confirmation:  Leonardo DiCaprio will headline Martin Scorsese's adaptation of Erik Larson's bestseller The Devil and the White City. That's a true crime novel about serial killer Dr. HH Holmes who murdered dozens or possibly hundreds in Chicago in the late 19th century. H.H. Holmes was born just a couple of years before the events in Gangs of New York so they're returning to roughly the same time frame of their first collaboration (hello Oscar nominations in craft categories) 

This will be Leo's first serial killer role (if not his first villain) though it's always amusing to remember that Hollywood intended him to be our Patrick Bateman in American Psycho before history course-corrected and gave us the one we needed: Christian Bale. But let's not get sidetracked.

The Devil in the White City will be the sixth collaboration between the director and star. DiCaprio is still well behind Robert De Niro as Scorsese's foremost muse both in number of films and quality of films, but maybe some day he'll catch up to him? Scorsese turns 73 in November. Though he's definitely not Clint (85) or Woody (79) with the indefatigable prolificness neither is he all that slow. He averages about 5 movies a decade and Silence, currently in post, will be his fourth this decade already. By the time they release this one (2018?), we'll have our five for the decade unless Marty squeezes one more in somehow. But don't hold your breath. We first heard about this project way back in 2011 when they hired a screenwriter so there's finally a little bit of movement on it (presumably the script is written now) 

In honor of Marty & Leo's partnership, their five movies together ranked in four ways just because...

THE MARTY & LEO FILMS

In Order of Release Quality 
(Best to Worst)
Global Box Office Success
According to Oscar (Most Loved to Least)
Gangs of New York (2002) The Departed
great 
Wolf of Wall Street
$392 million 
The Aviator 
(11 noms | 5 wins)
The Aviator
(2004)
The Aviator
underappreciated at this point
Shutter Island
$294 million 
The Departed
(5 noms | 4 wins incl BP so really it's #1)
The Departed
(2006)
Wolf of Wall Street
divisive for a reason
The Departed
$289 million
Gangs of New York
(10 noms | 0 wins)
Shutter Island
(2010)
Shutter Island
meh
The Aviator
$213 million 
Wolf of Wall Street
(5 noms | 0 wins)
Wolf of Wall Street
(2013)
Gangs of New York
ugh
Gangs of New York
$193 million 
Shutter Island
(zero noms)

 

Have you read this novel? Do you look forward to a Marty/Leo reunion or do you wish they would move on?

Monday
Jun012015

Silence/Silencio First Look

Manuel here sharing first looks from two upcoming films from celebrated auteurs that happen to share a title, one which would urge us to stay quiet but when you’re talking about Martin Scorsese and Pedro Almodóvar, there’s no way you’ll get us to shut up.

Scorsese’s Silence, based on Shusako Endo’s 1966 novel, focuses on the persecution of Christians in 17th century Japan. It finished shooting last month and EW shared its first image a few weeks ago, which features Andrew Garfield and Shinya Tsukamoto. The still suggests we’re in for a more serious-minded effort than Scorsese’s last (The Wolf of Wall Street). The film also stars Liam Neeson, Tadanobu Asano and Adam Driver.

 

While Scorsese’s film looks to be an all-male ensemble, trust Almodóvar to use his newest film Silencio to return to his actressy roots. Filming for the director’s twentieth film began last month. In the vein of Volver, Almodóvar notes that Silencio centers on Julieta (Adriana Ugarte), a woman who is, to use the director’s parlance, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, the roots of which the film explores, offering us flashbacks to her life thirty years prior. The film also stars a number of Almodóvar newcomers like Michelle Jenner and Emma Suárez but it also features the gorgeous (and recent Cannes juror) Rossy de Palma.

Which “silent” film are you most looking forward to in 2016? And, seeing as that’s probably an unfair question given TFE’s actressexual proclivities, let us ponder this: does Garfield following up Ramin Bahrani’s 99 Homes with a Scorsese film getting you excited about his post-Spidey choices?

Wednesday
Apr152015

Best Shot: "Taxi Driver" Visual Index

For this week's edition of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" our series in which we invite everyone to watch the same movie and pick their best image -- "best" being in the eye of the beholder -- we flag down Martin Scorsese and he drives us right into the squalor of 70s era New York and further still into the head space of one Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro). Though Scorsese had already broken through as an important auteur, this controversial classic was the first of his eventual eight "Best Picture" nominees. It was only the third Director of Photography job ever for Michael Chapman and though Chapman didn't become Scorsese regular cinematographer, he did reunite with the director for another classic (Raging Bull)

Best Shots from Taxi Driver (1976)
14 shots chosen by 15 participating blogs
Click on the image for the corresponding article 

New York as the very embodiment of hell on earth...
- The Spy in the Sandwich

The protagonist as silent predator...
-Antagony & Ecstasy 


The movie is basically made up of perfect frames, over 150,000 of them...
-Nebel Without a Cause 

It’s voyeurism, and he’s the audience...
-Coco Hits NY

Is Taxi Driver suggesting that evil is contagious... as it transfers it directly from the auteur to his muse?
- The Film Experience 


Simple gestures can function as shorthand for multiple meanings...
-Manuel Muñoz 

As if his fate is already predetermined...
-A Fistful of Films

One of the things that I've always admired about this film is the omnipresence of the political campaign in the background..."
-The Entertainment Junkie 


'You do a thing... that's who you are..."
-Sorta That Guy 

 I saw it within him because I recognized it within myself..."
-The Film's The Thing 

Never more unsettling than when he stands in a crowd clapping and smiling...
-Zitzelfilm 

Robert De Niro, I will always love you."
-Paul Outlaw

Above all, it's a fascinating character study of its titular vigilante
-Film Actually 


 'like an angel' by Travis Bickle's own account."
-Queerer Things 

 

The looking and the longing..."
-Dusty Hixenbaugh 

 

THE END. And can we talk about the end? I have... feelings.

Next Week on Best Shot:
The classic comedy Nine to Five (1980). Have you ever considered how it looks? We're watching it because we're too excited for Lily Tomlin & Jane Fonda's new series Grace & Frankie to hit Netflix next month.

Wednesday
Apr152015

Taxi Driver is *about* the movies

Taxi Driver is about the movies. That's my thesis at least. Oh sure it's about a few other things, too. But consider this: as early as the very first shot of Travis Bickle's yellow cab on duty, it drives right across a movie theater marquee (showing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) via our low angle view. 

Cinematography by Michael Chapman

Massacre? An overstatement of foreshadowing perhaps but we will get to the killings in two hours. On the other hand, since we're in Travis Bickle's headspace even more than we're in the cab, you could argue that the massacres start much much earlier. In one of Taxi Driver's most famous images, Travis, alone in a theater trains his finger pistol on porn actors on the screen and begins to fire away. It's a frighteningly short jump from finger guns to actual guns and we watch him training them on random civilians in the street from a window as well as on actors on the television set.

But what prompts the descent into violent fantasy/reality?

I'd argue that the key to understanding Taxi Driver, this reading at least, is Martin Scorsese's racist, misogynist, and altogether terrifying presence in the backseat. About halfway through the movie Scorsese's unnamed fare directs Travis to sit with the meter running outside a building and the camera drifts up, on Scorsese's orders, to frame, quite literally, the target of the director's violence in a window, his supposed wife in silhouette. The director is directing and storytelling within his own directed story.

"I got some bad ideas in my head"The fare shares his violent fantasy of murdering the woman and her lover. From that moment on, Travis himself is caught up in his own violent fantasies. Is Taxi Driver suggesting that violence or evil is contagious and transferring it directly from the auteur to his muse? Or is Scorsese's fare the driver's own fantasy, a convenient projection in the rearview mirror. Many movie fans take the events of Taxi Driver literally, but I'm not so sure it's happening as we see it. Just as Travis sees it. Consider the epilogue in which he is regarded as a hero and even the girl who rejected him reevaluates. The last thing we see in the movie appears to be Travis looking at himself in the rear view mirror in a collision of quick cuts, jittery camera, and reflected street lights.

At one point in that disturbing director/muse fare/driver scene, the camera drifts from Scorsese's shadowed face to Travis's. As it lingers on Travis's face we're hearing Scorsese's voice "You think I'm sick don't you." In the very next scene Travis expresses concern to a fellow driver that he has bad thoughts in his head. Was this one of them -- Travis in conversation with himself?

best shot

Like Patrick Bateman decades later, maybe Travis 'doesn't exist' or doesn't want to. His co-worker tells him, "You become the thing you do." And the movie seems to agree.

Travis reduces his humanity throughout Taxi Driver, even physically, as he slims down to better hide how many weapons he's now carrying. Soon he is only violent fantasy. And then violent reality. This, my choice, for best shot tells us as much. Travis, whatever he was, is less and less that. Travis is a weapon. In a viewfinder. Scorsese is framing him for us but Travis Bickle is always staring right back in one of the most unsettling films of the 70s. 

 

TONIGHT AT 11 - THE FULL BEST SHOT INDEX