Tag Archive: martin scorsese


Got to see this on the big screen last night. If this is presumably the last time we see these four (Marty, Pacino, DeNiro and Pesci) go into this genre that they didn’t invent but essentially defined, they’ve left us on a very pleasing note.

I have a vague memories as a kid of hearing the name Jimmy Hoffa with the immediate followup being he’s buried under Shea Stadium or something to that effect, so I knew it was a mob story. ‘The Irishman’ is the tale of the man who claims to have killed him (DeNiro), the mob bosses who protected him (Pesci) and the close relationship he built with Hoffa (Pacino) before he whacked him.

First, the effects. The first time they use it, the Uncanny Valley thing is there, but at least for me, there were only a couple of other times over the three and a half hours where I really noticed it. Most of the time it really looked like wigs and makeup (which might not be great for the makeup departments across town, but that’s another story).

Is Marty retiring? Cause I really felt like he brought back every bit player from his classic gangster flicks to fill out the bit parts here. Not even getting into Ray Ramano, Harvey Keitel, and seemingly 80 percent of the working New York actors who would fit into this world. This isn’t ‘Goodfellas’ or ‘Casino’ but in some ways it feels like the definitive Scorsese picture.

Which brings us back to the main guys. It’s a three and a half hour movie yes, but that translates into really living in the relationships between Pesci, Pacino, and DeNiro’s characters. Pacino’s Oscar is for ‘Scent of a Woman’, Scorsese finally won for ‘the Departed’, yeah… next year history might market correct and give them wins for a superior film. Not even counting Bob. Nominations feel like locks right now.

Definitely worth making time for when it starts streaming in a couple weeks.

 

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I’m not a man of regrets as most of you know, but I do wish I moved a little faster and had a film or a performance that was reviewed by Roger Ebert.  Along with Gene Siskel, he was America’s (hell, the world’s) film critic, and the new documentary Life Itself captures his personal and professional life tremendously well.

Chicago born and bred, the film uses Ebert’s autobiography as the backdrop of how this small town chubby kid from Southern Illinois became an American icon.  His perfect use of constructive criticism (which I certainly try to emulate) earned him generations of followers, both among the film geeks who would tune in weekly to his show, the studios who would come to have a mostly love (though it started as hate) relationship with him, and even a bond with many of the filmmakers who would become his peers (among them Martin Scorsese and Ava DuVernay, who both appear in this film). His most high profile relationship, with Gene Siskel, gets the appropriate coverage here (there was definitely some alpha dog fights between the two of them), along with the show they created that was Pardon the Interruption for movies wayyyyy before we had it for sports.

Life Itself also goes really in-depth to Ebert’s marriage to his wife Chaz.  How they met and how each’s family felt about interracial marriage; I’ll let you watch the doc itself to hear those stories.  A lot of the ‘present day’ scenes in the film are in the hospital, where we see what he (and she) dealt with on a daily basis when his body started to betray him.  I could do a whole separate post on marriages that work and what ‘for better or worse’ really means.  Those two clearly had it, and it’s really beautiful and inspiring and sad at times to see.

So as a film geek of course I’m absurdly biased on this one, but I think if you’re a Roger Ebert fan, you have to see this one.  In theatres now and streaming on iTunes and On Demand.

 

haroldramis

Today’s post starts on a sad note as Harold Ramis passed away Monday morning.  All day, a generation that includes Aaron and myself has paid tribute to a fellow Midwestern who made his mark on this business.  Today’s post is about the directors; in that role alone he gave us Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Groundhog Day, and Analyze This just to name a few.  The vast majority of filmmakers who do comedy would be thrilled to have just one of those on their resume when they’re done.  He will be missed.

On to the task at hand.  Here are the nominees for Best Director:

American Hustle
Gravity
Nebraska
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
Who Should Win
MALIK: A part of me twinges to say it, but the film I was most impressed with from a directing stand point was Gravity.
ART: I don’t twinge at all at saying that. I completely agree with the opinion. While the story itself was satisfying, yet paper thin, the visuals of Gravity – the Special effects, cinematography and physical camera movement/placement was top notch. From a directing standpoint, nothing else was as ambitious and attained more “wow” moments than Cuaron’s space thriller.
Who Will Win
MALIK: Cuaron or McQueen.  Two low key guys with great vision (which I naturally admire).  I think the Academy is going to lean toward Gravity here.
ART: Scorsese had fun making Wall Street and it shows. David O. Russell seems to be Hollywood’s darling. Alexander Payne and his low key Nebraska effort are the black horse candidates. But, I think Gravity takes it. To see the opening six minutes on Imax was one of the more memorable cinematic experiences of last year. Curaon should take this, and then take less than four years to make his next film.
Who We Want to Win
MALIK: Give it to my man McQueen!
ART: Cuaron. 12 Years had more emotional resonance than Gravity. No doubt. But, Cuaron’s effort was the only one I couldn’t see any of the other directors pulling off. Much respect.
Tomorrow, we cover the Supporting Actor & Actress categories.

‘Wolf of Wall Street’

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I was in as soon as I heard ‘Martin Scorsese’s new film’.  Doesn’t mean I’ll automatically love it (we’ll get to that), but I’ll see what he’s selling.

And Leo.  He’ll always have the blessing and the curse of Titanic, but as an actor, he almost always comes through with the parts (and choices) he makes.  Like DeNiro in his prime, working with Marty doesn’t hurt of course.

So that brings us to Wolf of Wall Street.  Marty and Leo take us through Wall Street before it came crashing down, when an ambitious kid learned how the system work (a great, great two scene contribution from McConaughey), then figures out where the loopholes are and takes advantage (until he inevitably gets caught).  It’s a very modern, American tale of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, with a lot of laughs (enter Jonah Hill) mixed into this ‘new school’ crime tale (this is still Scorsese we’re talking about).

My gripe with this film is a catch 22.  It’s three hours long.  And none of it is bad per se, but it is a 180 minute long movie.  As interesting as I think the world is, do I personally think we needed to stay here for a longer time than we spent with Goodfellas, The Departed, Raging Bull, the Aviator, Casino, or Gangs of New York?  Nope, I’d put all those films ahead of this one.  But who is going to tell Martin Scorsese how long his film needs to be?  Again, I don’t know if anything felt completely out of place, but at say, 2 and a half hours, I think it might have been in the same class as the six films I listed above.  Impossibly high standard I know, but he set it.

Let’s start the run toward this year’s Oscars with a look at a few behind the scenes categories:

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Who I Want to Win: Don’t really have a dog in this fight, I think they were all pretty well written.
  • Who Should Win: I’ll lean toward ‘Moneyball’ here as the least cinematic idea (building a baseball team with statistics) and turning it into a good film.
  • Who Will Win: I think this is the first of many awards that the Descendants will be taking home.

Best Original Screenplay

  • Who I Want to Win: ‘Bridesmaids’.  Hard for comedies to get props with this group as it is. Kind of surprised it got a nomination to be honest.
  • Who Should Win: The most purely original idea to be honest was ‘the Artist’, but I’d defer to one of my screenwriting friends to tell me if the screenplay was up to snuff.
  • Who Will Win: I think Woody gets some love here…

Best Direction

  • Who I Want to Win: The hardest film (in my opinion) to direct was ‘Hugo’ by a landslide, so I’d say Scorsese.
  • Who Should Win: I’ve said it before but this is as strong a top five as I can remember.  Now if we’re talking personal preference, don’t get me started on ‘Tree of Life’…
  • Who Will Win: Probably the director of ‘the Artist’. Probably…

Tomorrow we’ll cover the Actress categories…

 

Hugo

 

I went into Hugo with literally no expectations.  It was a Scorsese picture, but definitely not a typical “Martin Scorsese’ picture.  It’s a 3D film (bleh) but Hugo is a complete family film (by far the best use for that technology in my opinion).  I came out of Hugo not overwhelmed, but pleasantly surprised that the film I thought I walked into 5 minutes in, morphed into something more ambitious by the time I walked out.

An orphan boy lives in a train station and keeps the clocks tuned.  He’s constantly at odds and on the run from a local shopkeeper (played by Ben Kingsley) who accuses him of theft, and a beat cop (played with subtle humor by Sasha Baron Cohen) whose trying to send him straight to the orphanage.  The story of how these various men (and others) relate to and are connected to each other is charming, and another tribute to the master storytelling ability of Scorsese.  Like any of us have doubted that ability for the past 30 years!

Without giving away the plot points that I didn’t know about walking in, I will say it’s interesting to wonder if this is the direction Scorsese may be going next.  The Departed got him his Oscar but to me that’s not even among his top 3 crime films; recently he’s done more documentaries which are nice change of pace pieces.  Is ‘Marty’ going to take a cue from his buddy DeNiro and start doing more family friendly fare?  Hmm, don’t know how I feel about that but I guess we’ll see.

Regardless Hugo is a nice film that at the moment seems to be stuck in a year (or an awards season at least) of several high quality films.  I guess we’ll see where it lands…