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#1 Izo

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Posted 01 December 2011 - 10:10 PM

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Quite possibly the greatest living American director, and a personal idol of mine, Martin Scorsese has never made an uninteresting film - and I'd argue further that he's never made a truly bad one, either. He has made, from Mean Streets to Goodfellas, from Taxi Driver to Raging Bull, from The Age of Innocence to Gangs of New York some of the most stunning films of the last 40 or so years. His career is so full of classics that it's easy to forget that he's still making some of the best films to come out of Hollywood. I personally regard The Departed as being one of his four or five greatest films. His most famous films are violent, bold, daring pictures that eschew narrative coherence for a deeper and more uncomfortable character study. He frequently steps out of this mold, though, to film biopics, adaptations of novels that are meaningful to him, or even a musical. Somehow, with every Martin Scorsese picture that is made, we learn more about the man himself. No matter what subject he chooses to film, it always means something to him, and we always feel that the film is first and formost A Martin Scorsese Picture.

Scorsese's latest film is a gorgeous family movie about a boy who lives in a train station. This part is fine, but it becomes obvious in the film's masterful second half that Scorsese's real interest in the story comes from the life and pain of pioneer filmmaker Georges Melies, played brilliantly (I'm really hoping for an Oscar nomination) by Ben Kingsley. Through flashbacks, film clips, subtle homage, and recreations of some of Melies' most extravagant films, Scorsese is able to tell a tale about a subject I thought unfilmmable: film preservation. "Time has not been kind to old movies," says the film's historian, who looks not unlike the bearded Scorsese of the late '70s and '80s. I won't spoil a thing for those who haven't seen the film, but it's an unashamedly sentimental look at The Movies' effect on us. It's almost unnerving to see Scorsese working in such a heartwarming, essentially safe mold, but he does it so perfectly that we stop caring.

Scorsese even manages to sneak in another obsession of his in the film: Django Reinhardt. See if you can spot the actor that portrays him.

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Forum:

The Last Temptation of Christ
Great Movies: masteroftheoneinchpunch on Taxi Driver

Roger Ebert Great Movies:

Mean Streets
Taxi Driver
Raging Bull
After Hours
The Last Temptation of Christ
GoodFellas
The Age of Innocence

#2 Izo

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 12:43 AM

Nothing in this thread? I'm shocked.

Kundun

A beautiful film that nevertheless doesn't quite involve us with its subject. It would be hard to find fault in the technical aspects of the film - which is true for a lot of Scorsese's work - but the film keeps you at arm's length in a way that Scorsese's other religious biopic, The Last Temptation of Christ, does not. This makes sense, of course, because Scorsese has a very different relationship with Christ than he does with the Dalai Lama, presented here as a truly perfect being. Structurally, the film probably is closest to The Aviator, though in that film Scorsese found a lot to be passionate about whereas here the general tone is one of detached curiosity and respect. In this way, the film sort of reminded me of Renoir's The River. So what I have here is a film that reminds me in so many ways of other films. It's stunning to look at, but there's just something about it that keeps me from being excessively passionate about it. In a way, that's kind of appropriate for a film about the Dalai Lama, isn't it?

MVP award must go to Philip Glass, who I've always thought to be the best of the minimalist composers, whose nearly-constant (particularly during the film's first half) score could is nearly a symphony. Glass' repetitive, hypnotizing style is a brilliant fit with the subject matter, and at times his score is nearly subliminal. Low woodwinds dominate much of the score, providing a sort of underscoring that mirrors the chanting heard elsewhere in the film. In other sections, oboe and flute elevate the imagery to breathtaking levels. Most brilliantly of all, a few times Glass incorporates the haunting throat singing heard in the film into his score, as in the funeral of the Dalai Lama's father, which is one of the very few scenes in the film where you feel an emotional connection with this untouchable man.

#3 mikesncc1701

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 01:28 AM

I do love Scorsese for better or worse. I think Goodfellas is entirely overrated while better films like Casino and The Departed are mostly unmentioned by most. I'll admit to being a sucker for Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and more recently, Hugo. I may talk trash about Goodfellas but it still seems sort of an in-between moment in his career and while not a bad film, still doesn't give me the kicks that everyone else seems to get out of it.

#4 Izo

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 01:38 AM

I'm curious. Why do you prefer Casino to Goodfellas? I love both, but Goodfellas gets the definite edge because Casino seems damn near like a sequel. Plus, Goodfellas doesn't have Sharon Stone.

#5 mikesncc1701

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 01:52 AM

I'm curious. Why do you prefer Casino to Goodfellas? I love both, but Goodfellas gets the definite edge because Casino seems damn near like a sequel. Plus, Goodfellas doesn't have Sharon Stone.

Casino just grabs me a bit more. The characters are a lot more interesting and the story more intriguing, inviting curiosity into the background of how everything works while Goodfellas simply tells a story trying harder to make the characters fascinating but it just doesn't work as well for me. Joe Pesci is the highlight in both but I quite enjoy James Woods and Don Rickles in Casino

#6 Izo

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 08:41 PM

Over the last couple months I've been catching up on some of the Scorsese odds and ends that I've missed for whatever reason. This includes television episodes, commercials, shorts, documentaries, and a couple of features that I've kept putting off - including Kundun, discussed above. Surprisingly, I have only disliked Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, but I also don't feel like I have a whole lot to say about them. In any case, for the sake of posterity, here's the list and I really hope someone has something to say about some of these:

What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?
It's Not Just You, Murray!
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
The King of Comedy
A Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through American Movies
- Adored this one.
A Letter to Elia
Public Speaking


As I said, I liked almost all of these. I loved the American Movies doc, and I found Public Speaking to be exceptionally charming, if somewhat slight. A Letter to Elia, I feel, would have had more of an impact if I were far more familiar with Kazan's films than I am.

Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More just featured too many characters I simply didn't like and I had a lot of trouble enjoying the film aside from the brilliant opening studio-bound sequence, which reminded me of the Fox house style of the late '30s. The film had good performances, but the characters were so irritating to me that I just couldn't force myself to care about anyone. In fact, Ellen Burstyn's character was so unrelentingly selfish that the only emotion I could feel was pity for her son. The restless, endlessly meandering camera reminded me of Robert Altman, but Scorsese just doesn't seem suited to this sort of film, in my eye, and it came off like half-assed early '70s feminist drivel.

The King of Comedy is an intentionally frustrating film, however, and one can almost sense Scorsese daring us to loathe everyone in it. It was depressing, sad, cynical, and in a strange sort of way, brilliant. It seems like the sort of film that would reward repeat viewings.

#7 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 03:32 PM

My ancient Taxi Driver review (some of my writing style has changed since then, some of it remains the same). This is one of my favorite films of all time and one I quote quite often. I've often used Travis Bickle when signing in hotels or needed for various full names (I often use Toshiro when giving out name for Coffee at various places). It is probably my favorite Scorsese film, though I have great love of several including The King of Comedy and After Hours.

"Loneliness has been following me my whole life." -- Travis Bickle

Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is one of the great ineffable anti-heroes of the twentieth century. He is analogous to Joe Christmas of Light in August. They are characters of great loneliness, confusion, and angst. However, they would take opposite paths in life. Bickle is a mysterious figure who applies for a taxi position, because of his long bouts of insomnia. He is a former marine, honorably discharged, and is distrustful of blacks. The taxi is Bickle's vessel of loneliness. His interaction with humankind is the meager conversations with cabby clients and the small talk with other taxi-drivers. Most of his time spent is driving in the urban maze of the city during the night. This is Paul Schrader's version of Hell.

One of the key scenes in Taxi Driver is when Travis Bickle is talking to Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) on a payphone after a disastrous date and the camera pans to an empty hallway. It is as if Travis's pain is too much for us to watch. Scorsese said that this was one of the most important shots in the movie. The scene also represents many transitions for Bickle. Betsy represents a possible happiness for him. However, with Betsy breaking off the relationship, Bickle goes into a state of monomaniac insanity. He shifts his focus from Betsy to trying to save Iris (Jodie Foster), a teenage hooker.

The relationship between Bickle and Iris was influenced by John Ford's The Searchers where John Wayne searches for his niece whom is living with a tribe of Indians. When he finally finds her, she does not want to be saved. He saves her anyway. This is analogous to Iris who is hesitant to leaving or staying, but her destiny is not in her hands. She is under the guise of a pimp named Sport (Harvey Keitel) who sports a quasi-Indian hairdo (Searchers allusion), has one red long fingernail (Lucifer allusion) and calls Bickle "cowboy" (Searchers allusion). He promises much for Iris, but will not let her leave. Bickle wants to help Iris, but she says that she does not need it. She can handle herself. Bickle will save her anyway.

Palatine is Bickle's embodiment of evil. He is a hypocrite who will not clean up the filth, the scum of the streets. He is also the controller of Betsy. Bickle can see the lies and the evilness of Palatine, yet Betsy will spend countless hours trying to elect him and will not return Travis's telephone calls. After the failed assassination attempt on Palatine, Bickle then goes after Sport -- the scum of the streets and the controller of Iris.

The chaotic bloodbath that follows is Bickle's catharsis and redemption. . "Here is a man who would not take it anymore." After he disposes of Sport and several other people, he sits down bleeding on a couch. The camera looks down and slowly scrolls away showing all the carnage. It is as if Bickle's spirit is floating away. What happens next really surprised me.

The camera slowly scans several newspaper clippings. Apparently, Bickle went into a coma and eventually came out of it. He is considered a hero. Travis gets a letter from Iris's parents and they thank him for finding her. Later he picks up Betsy as a fare and she seems apologetic and asks how is he doing. Nothing more comes of that, because Travis lets her off at her stop and just smiles and takes off without even collecting a fare. It seems that everything right is now happening to Bickle. This cinematic masterpiece actually ends semi-happy. A twist I hope Hitchcock could have approved of.

De Niro would receive an Academy nomination for best actor, but would lose to Peter Finch who would win posthumously for his performance in Network. Robert's performance is perfectly played. Before shooting for the role, De Niro actually got a taxi license and picked up passengers for several weeks. He borrowed the clothes from Paul Schrader. Many scenes are improvised including the famous "You talking to me?" which is one of the most famous cinematic lines along with Midnight Cowboy's "Can't you see I'm walking here?!". What I like most about this film, besides the great performances and the great musical score by Bernard Herrmann -- his last, is that it is like a Melville novel where there is allegory and the writing transcends a straight narrative. Many film critics have different interpretations for what the allegorical nature of this film is. Great films should be like that. Multiple viewing should be rewarded.
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#8 Izo

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 04:26 PM

It's probably my favorite Scorsese, master, and that's a really good review.

You mention After Hours, which I feel is possibly his most underrated work and is really one of his best. It won Best Director at Cannes but was apparently overlooked for the major awards otherwise.

#9 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 04:37 PM

It's probably my favorite Scorsese, master, and that's a really good review.

You mention After Hours, which I feel is possibly his most underrated work and is really one of his best. It won Best Director at Cannes but was apparently overlooked for the major awards otherwise.


After Hours is one of the "life in hell", where everything can and will go wrong (notice a lot of "life in hell" films take place in NY) subgenre films and easily one of the best (though compare it to Money Pit and it certainly looks that way).

I'm actually glad Scorsese ended it the way he did. I know there was some controversy and some critics and reviewers have stated they wanted it to be completely dark. But I like the fact it ends where it begins.

I found it very funny, which surprised me when I first saw it. It has also been a personal popular DVD lend as well. Since it is not on TSPDT 1000, I will call it an underrated film (seriously only on two official lists at icheckmovies).

This is one of those films that I want people to see if they only think of Scorsese as a "gangster" director. In fact my favorite films of his are not his gangster movies, they are ones like After Hours and Taxi Driver.
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#10 Izo

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 04:42 PM

I have a bit of a weird top 3 with Scorsese: Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The Departed. It's that third one that tends to surprised people.

#11 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 05:23 PM

I have a bit of a weird top 3 with Scorsese: Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The Departed. It's that third one that tends to surprised people.


Nothing surprising about Raging Bull :). I liked The Departed. That did not surprise me. I probably should watch a Scorsese film that I have not seen before like Boxcar Bertha or Who's That Knocking at my Door? soon.
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Previous Editions: 2,
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#12 Izo

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 05:34 PM

Boxcar Bertha is one of the final films I have left of his to see, and it's the only fiction film I haven't seen. I'm actually pretty fond of Who's That Knocking at My Door?, and it works best as kind of a proto-Mean Streets with reasonable expectations.

#13 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:05 PM

some small spoilers on The Color of Money:

I finally saw The Color of Money a few days ago. I wanted to compare Cruise back then versus the recently seen of mine Jack Reacher. I think Cruise's acting ability is better now (I thought he was completely out-acted in this film by Newman). But I also wanted to watch another unseen Scorsese. Did this feel like a Scorsese film? I do not mean in the cinematography aspect of it (this aspect it done quite well), but in story and feel. I enjoyed the start-up of the film, even if it takes the approach of mentor-student with Newman and Cruise. But then it took a meandering approach until the non-ending. This did not bother me as much as critics/reviewers like Leonard Maltin and Roger Ebert,* but the aspect that the student became the teacher (even while the teacher did grow in character at the end) in that Cruise became "The Hustler" (moving him away from a more pure approach to the game, even throwing the pool game toward the end) was a bit obvious and seemed forced to me.

* I liked the look on Newmans face when he knew he got his competitive spirit back, his monomania to be the best. He took the spirit from Cruise while Cruise took his. It seems among certain pool players that anything goes outside of the tournament, but their is a certain reverence to the tournament.

After I watch a few more of Scorsese's early films I will read Roger Ebert's book on him.
Under Construction:
My Criterion Collection (408; I Own and Have Watched):
1-16, 18, 19, 20, 21(2nd), 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51(1st & 2nd), 52, 52, 53, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86. 87, 88, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 105, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 121, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151(1st), 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 164, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 177, 180, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 201, 202, 204, 205, 206, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 224, 226, 227, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 237, 239, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 260, 263, 266, 267, 268, 271, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 297, 298, 300(2D), 301, 302, 304, 305, 306, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316, 317, 318, 319, 320, 321, 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, 330, 331, 332, 335, 336, 338, 339, 340, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 351, 352, 353, 354, 357, 358, 359, 362, 363, 364, 365, 366, 367, 368, 369, 370, 371, 372, 373, 374, 375, 376, 378, 379, 380, 383, 385, 386, 387, 388, 391, 392, 393, 394, 395, 396, 397, 398, 399, 402, 404, 405, 408, 409, 410, 412, 413, 414, 415, 416, 417, 418, 419, 420, 421, 422, 424, 425, 427, 428, 429, 430, 431, 432, 433, 434, 435, 437, 439, 441, 445, 446, 447, 448, 451, 453, 455, 456, 457, 459, 460, 461, 462, 465, 470, 475, 476, 478, 481, 482, 487, 490, 497, 498, 499, 500, 501, 503, 505, 512, 524, 525, 526, 528, 529, 530, 531, 539, 540, 543, 556, 565, 572, 578, 579, 580, 586, 596, 650, 664, 677

Previous Editions: 2,
Eclipse: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 23, 26, 33

“Empty your bladder of that bitter black urine you call coffee.” – The Tick

My HK movie reviews
My Amazon Reviews

#14 clydefro

clydefro

    waiting for the click

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 10:33 PM

I'd never seen The Color of Money until this week either. What struck me most of all was Newman's ferocity in picking up a character after such a lengthy hiatus and keeping him consistently cool and somewhat tragic. The scene near the beginning when Felson offers to play Cruise for $500 was a real eyeopener for me, and an indication that Newman wasn't opting to play it safe. Certain aspects of the script, particularly in the second half, did let him down a little but overall I found the film to be good and to have aged very well.

I don't know to what degree this would really be thought of as "Scorsese film" but I'm not sure it need be. I think, in truth, we're all still discovering what such a thing is anyway because you can't simply rely on the De Niro collaborations without losing a big chunk of a brilliant career. Scorsese had made a few atypical pictures in his career and The Color of Money is probably one of them, yet his influence still seems to have elevated it beyond its potential limitations. I found his depiction of people who are essentially losers blessed with fleeting exhilarations to be particularly persuasive. That's an aspect certainly not foreign to the rest of his filmography.

The Cruise character's rapid transformation from cocky and naive to cocky and unbearable is one of the low points but Newman's performance tends to balance a lot of it out well enough to avoid any major damage. For me, the saddest sequence was the one with Forest Whitaker, and it's also perhaps the most affecting, even more than anything involving Cruise.




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