Saturday, 4 June 2011

Encore’s Birthday Marathon: Day 18

CS had asked me which of Scorsese’s “periods” I prefer and I was reticent about pouncing unremitting faithfulness to the Scorsese/DiCaprio era. In theory I don’t think it’s his premier period but still I seem to have commitment to it. Regardless of whether or not it reveals poorness in my allegiance as a Scorsese supporter The Departed is my favourite of his films and The Aviator is probably the film of the last decade that I’ve dedicated most ink to. It’s as I’ve said before, 2004 was a watershed for me in terms of the movies and 2004 was all about The Aviator. But, more than that it was the beginning of the Scorsese love.
Periods is probably the best way to start the discussion on Scorsese. Both because Scorsese’s style – as continuous as it is – often seems to be divided systemically according to years. Then, the The Aviator (which is a great film for repeat viewings) does so many things with classical movie periods and camera use. I’m not overly pedantic about the expressly technical side of filmmaking, but Scorsese is the type of director who makes you appreciate the more meticulous aspect of the trade. It’s probably why the loudest of his naysayers always accuse him of brilliant segments, but a truncated whole. I’m almost always certain that they’re talking about Gangs of New York when they say that, but the truth is – they’re sometimes talking about The Aviator. I won’t re-re-review The Aviator, but I will say that the way in which Scorsese makes films insists on that fastidiousness which I suppose could come off to some as too much head and too little heart.
This is why I’m always surprised that The Age of Innocence, one of his best in my eyes, is so heavily glossed over or even excised from his 90s period. True, it’s meticulous in that sense of luminosity that the best of period pieces seem to retain but it’s also particularly organic and sincere. I don’t care to disprove or affirm the theory that Newland Archer, for all his ostensible quietness, is just as violent as the more notorious of Scorsese heroes – it’s debatable. What is significant, for me, is the dynamism of his talent which it reveals.
I’ll admit, that as a staunch supporter I often wish that Scorsese would do (more) comedy. I’m abysmal, perhaps, but I’ve still not touched on After Hours. Even his most gritty dramas Scorsese has such a handle on humorous situations which he manages to deliver without compromising the tension. The one that springs out to be first is the entire first day of Francine and Jimmy in New York/New York. I’ve never seen either Minnelli or DeNiro as comfortable doing banter as they are there, in another oft forgotten Scorsese venture. On the note of first meetings, the one between Howard and Katharine in The Aviator drips (deliberately, I’d presume) with that Cukor-esque form of humour which is *vastly underrated*. Or how about the cranberry juice in The Departed?
It’s not that The Aviator was the first Scorsese film I saw, but with all of the cinematic allusions of which it comprises it makes sense that it’d get me interested both in film and Scorsese. I’m still working my way through his filmography, and it’s a premature statement to make without having completed it. But, I’ve not seen a bad Scorsese film. Yet.
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore B/B+
The Aviator A
Cape Fear B+
 Casino B+
The Departed A
Gangs of New York B+
GoodFellas A
The Last Temptation of Christ B+ 
Mean Streets B
New York / New York B+
Raging Bull A
Shutter Island B
Taxi Driver A-
Pick a favourite, or three. What’s your least favourite?


TomS said...

It's hard to beat the energy and creativity of the Scorsese/DeNiro team. "Mean Streets" and "Taxi Driver" still appeal to me the most...they are the kinds of movies that I would have liked to create if I had a camera, editing equipment, and money. And "Goodfellas" moves like a speeding train.

I'm afraid I have not been as impressed with the later work...especially "Gangs..."

Runs Like A Gay said...

I could watch Raging Bull a dozen times in a row and still be amazed with it's quality every time.

I'm afraid I'd put Cape Fear as his least successful venture, mainly because it's a genre piece that he doesn't give the same level of commitment to as with Shutter Island.

Most of his work is exemplary though, including a level of mastery unparalleled in modern moviemakers.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

tom gangs always comes in for criticism. i love ddl in it especially.

ben i think his work with the actors in cape fear make me a bit more appreciative.

Paolo said...

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Goodfellas and The Departed, because I wanna give each decade a bone. Least would be Gangs. I love too many parts of Shutter Island to fully hate it.

Also, about Cape Fear, I remember the first time seeing it and I loved the rhythm and the visual has this drawn, shadowy feeling to them. Saw it two more times and felt that those things were too much.