07 August 2011


A. Quick survey of Martin Scorsese:
  1. Mr. Scorsese is a very well-known director, of the sort who can attract audiences merely with his name. He has also, like others of his kind (Stephen Spielberg and James Cameron come to mind) spent his career making hollywood blockbusters.
  2. Before the reviews, I will confess to never having seen several of Mr. Scorsese's most celebrated pictures. I have not seen Raging Bull, nor Goodfellas, nor The Departed, nor Gangs of New York.
  3. Some films:
    1. The Aviator: Lenny D. plays a thoroughly crazed Howard Hughes: doing stupid stuff, appearing before congress, crashing airplanes and spending what feels like half an hour of the movie alone in a private theater urinating into jars. I tend to like drawn out biopics (or "bio-epics" as I call them... e.g. Gandhi [5], Lawrence of Arabia [5], The Last Emperor [5]), but this one was infuriatingly boring. Alan Alda co-stars as the annoying character he usually plays. The only redeeming thing about this movie was Cate Blanchett, who does a fine rendition of Katharine Hepburn. (2)
    2. Taxi Driver: I was hoping for this to be something interesting, and at the beginning it really looked like it was going to be. Robert DeNiro plays a quirky night-shift cab driver in New York. He sees things about people and could make an interesting social commentator, but is distracted by Cybill Shepherd, a campaign manager for some senator. He becomes fixated on her, takes her to an adult theater on a date, and is dumped. Then he buys a bunch of guns and tries to become a would-be assassin ("You talkin' to me?") and attends several political rallies. The last plot arc involves Jodie Foster, a 12-year-old prostitute. DeNiro decides to save her from her pimp, and goes on a shooting rampage. He ends up in the hospital being thanked by her parents. The whole thing has a very disconnected, implausible and displeasing feel to it. We like DeNiro at first, and then he goes crazy. Meanwhile, the film goes nowhere, says nothing, does nothing. It just festers, much like the New York nightlife it portrays. (2)
    3. Shutter Island: I have already reviewed this one with the other SHs. DiCaprio's accent is bad. The backstory is intentionally confusing in a dissatisfying way. The one really awesome thing about this movie is that Max von Sydow plays the ex-Nazi psychiatrist. The disconnect between the old man we see on screen here and the young Swede of The Seventh Seal (4) is similar to the disconnect between Christopher Plummer's early and late career (cf. The Sound of Music [4] and A Beautiful Mind [4]) or the same with Angela Lansbury (cf. Gaslight [4] and Bedknobs and Broomsticks [3]). No one likes pointless ambiguity, but Scorsese gets away with it because it masquerades as profundity. Still, not altogether unenjoyable. (3)
  4. So I ask, what's that great about Martin Scorsese? What am I missing?
B. Regarding posts 80 & 81, a few points:
  1. The quotations at the beginning are taken from "Symphony No. 2" by Daniil Kharms.
  2. Clarice Sunrise does not exist, though of course Mr. Aronofsky (creator of the visual feast The Fountain [3] as well as the mind-bender Pi [3]) does, as does I [heart] Huckabees (2).
  3. More reflections based on Mr. Kharms' work may be presented at a later date.