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This month...I am watching every Martin Scorsese film 
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Post Re: This month...I am watching every Martin Scorsese film
Balaji Sivaraman wrote:
The Color of Money (1986) - 3 out of 4 (Full Disclosure: I have not yet seen The Hustler.)

Was that a Scorsese film? Of all the films I've seen so far, this is the only one that made me ask that question. I was constantly trying to see where Scorsese was; where he had left his handprint; how he had made this a singularly Martin Scorsese motion picture. Unfortunately I couldn't find any of those unique qualities we associate with the man. I still enjoyed the film a lot because I am a sucker for 9-Ball Pool, but this film could've been handed over to any other director and it wouldn't have made a whole lot of difference as far as the end product is concerned. The best thing about the film, as has been mentioned countless times, was Paul Newman's performance. This was old-school acting at its finest with every emotion being conveyed through eyes, facial expressions, and subtle changes in body language, never once resorting to histrionics. It was a truly terrific portrayal which was rewarded justly with the Academy Award.


I really liked The Color of Money. It was a vehicle for Newman, but still worked very well.

And it reminds me that Cruise was once an actor and not just a cult of personality.

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Mon Mar 25, 2013 5:19 am
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Post Re: This month...I am watching every Martin Scorsese film
Balaji Sivaraman wrote:
Was that a Scorsese film? Of all the films I've seen so far, this is the only one that made me ask that question. I was constantly trying to see where Scorsese was; where he had left his handprint; how he had made this a singularly Martin Scorsese motion picture. Unfortunately I couldn't find any of those unique qualities we associate with the man.


This was one of the few times (Bozcar Bertha and Cape Fear are the others) where Scorsese was working as hired gun. That's soemthing that happens to most directors aside from a very select few (Sayles (As most of us know he works as a writer-for-hire to get the financing for his movies), Jarmusch and a few others). Most do it from time to time, whereas quite a few start out as original filmmakers and devolve into that over time (John Singleton).

The Color Of Money is a good picture overall. But it isn't a great one and if you've seen The Hustler it definitely suffers in comparison. The Hustler is a full-fledged classic. I first saw it when I was about sixteen. My father suggested I watch it. I did so and liked it. Today I love it.

The Color Of Money isn't bad (Scorsese has yet to make a bad movie), But it is a lesser one.

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Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:47 am
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Post Re: This month...I am watching every Martin Scorsese film
The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) - 4 out of 4

I was going to give this a 3.5, but then I went to bed after watching it yesterday night and vivid images of Christ's crucifixion appeared in my dreams. It was nothing surreal, mostly images from the film, but still... I had to notch it up the extra half star after that. And FWIW I am not Catholic, keep that in mind when reading whatever I have to say about the film.

The simplest way to go about this would be to summarize the emotions I felt while watching the film . For the slow first half an hour, I felt, "Eh! This is OK but what's so great about it." For the next hour or so, I was intrigued and gave the film my undivided attention. And I was positively riveted to my seat and rarely blinked for the next 45 minutes. (I swear at one time I could actually feel my eyes going red and consciously had to blink in order to continue staring at the screen.) I was on my feet during the final 15 minutes when the mother of all payoffs hit me like a brick wall. I don't know about you but any film that can make me feel those emotions in that order is something else altogether.

The final sequence is one that has stuck with me since I saw the film. Could this be the only Scorsese character study where he actually gives his subject (and the audience) a highly emotional payoff? Possibly. In all his other films, there is payoff but it comes with caveats. For example, we are never sure whether what we see is really happening in Taxi Driver. In this film, however, Jesus is tempted with all sorts of worldly pleasures by Satan and comes out on the other side as a symbol of unblemished purity. When he says that immortal line, "It is accomplished.", he has actually earned the right to say it. It was a beautifully executed sequence of filmmaking.

Obviously, I ended up reading Ebert's review of the film in his Great Movies section and he speaks about that one famous shot where Jesus is looking into Lazarus' grave and the camera continues to zoom in until the screen is filled with black. When I was watching the film, I found this shot interesting not only because it called attention to itself but also because it brought out the dichotomy of Jesus' life (as shown in the film) perfectly. He is so unsure of his own self, his sense of purpose, and his place in the world as the Messiah. This is also evident in Willem Dafoe's intricate and nuanced performance. There are a number of scenes where he utters the lines with such conviction but his eyes give us a sense of all the self-doubt hidden beneath it. I wasn't enamored with his performance at first but he won me over by the film's end.

I cannot say the same for Harvey Keitel. For some reason, he always stood out for all the wrong reasons. The only scene where he came across as being earnest was in that dream sequence in the end. The rest of the time I felt it was terrible miscasting on Scorsese's part. That brings me to the role of Judas. I felt it was a fascinating exploration of history where Judas isn't shown as the betrayer but as someone who is merely following his master's orders. As Ebert says in his review, this is one major way in which Scorsese's film commits sacrilege. I found it intriguing nonetheless.

But what really grabbed my attention more than anything else was the meditation on what it means to struggle against all sorts of conflicts - both internal and external - and win them over. (Isn't that what most Scorsese films are about?) All human beings go through it every day of their lives. Some succumb to misguided temptations, some occasionally flirt with them, and some are steadfast in their refusal to be tempted. And by exploring the life of Jesus Christ who is always a splitting figure in history by virtue of being both man and God, and showing Him struggling with the same temptations before eventually winning them over, Scorsese has given us a definitive piece of cinema, one whose catharsis is very real and very powerful because of the aforementioned reasons.

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Fri Mar 29, 2013 6:15 am
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Post Re: This month...I am watching every Martin Scorsese film
"The King of Comedy" was totally ahead of its time. How many no-talent losers are out there today trying to achieve a quick path to fame? Granted, humanity has always looked for short cuts for getting what they want, but not everyone has the ability to sustain it.

In lesser hands, "After Hours" could've been just another goofball '80s comedy. Of course, it's still fundamentally a goofball '80s comedy, but it's like no other from that time.

"The Color of Money" is probably Scorsese's most conventional film. It seems like little more than a vehicle to get Paul Newman his belated Oscar for arguably the best performance of his career 25 years prior. Tom Cruise once again plays the same insufferably-cocky-young-punk-who-eventually-learns-to-tone-it-down he played in most of his other '80s movies. It's still good, but it's nothing special.

"Last Temptation" may be the best religious-themed film ever made. I remember all the religious fundies making a stink back when it first came out. :roll: Peter Gabriel's score is awesome as well.


Fri Mar 29, 2013 8:59 am
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Post Re: This month...I am watching every Martin Scorsese film
H.I. McDonough, Thanks for reminding me of Peter Gabriel's score. I knew I had forgotten something in the original post. It's been a long time since the music for a film was so inextricably linked with its themes. The opening track - The Feeling Begins - sets the tone beginning with a beautiful and serene piece before morphing into bombastic drum beats that hammer into your ears. If there has been another piece of music which so precisely highlights the character's inner conflicts and deeply troubled state of mind, I have not yet heard it. I ended up buying the album, Passion, on Itunes because it was just that fucking good.

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Sat Mar 30, 2013 2:04 am
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Post Re: This month...I am watching every Martin Scorsese film
The Last Temptation of Christ is probably third in line for me in my ranking of Scorsese's movies. While it isn't quite the laserlike character study that Taxi Driver and Raging Bull are, I think the subject matter shows just the same preoccupations of personal inadequacy--guilt, in this case.

I will admit that Keitel's performance can be distracting, but I will defend it in terms of his regular-New-York-guy choices. The real Judas spoke Aramaic with an accent that nobody today has ever heard, so that grants him a certain amount of license to choose how to play Judas in a way that first and foremost illustrates his personality.

I will also third the praise for Gabriel's score, which is terrific. In addition to the soundtrack album, he also put together a CD that collects some of the source music he had on hand while he was writing. It's pretty interesting.

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Sat Mar 30, 2013 8:59 pm
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Post Re: This month...I am watching every Martin Scorsese film
Goodfellas (1990) - 4 out of 4

Before I began this run-through, Goodfellas was my favorite Martin Scorsese film. After having seen the better half of his filmography, I can say that hasn't changed. I hate comparisons, so I don't want to go to that place where we discuss which of his three masterpieces is the better one. Most directors struggle to give us just one, but Scorsese has given us three wildly different films, let's just leave it at that. All I'm saying is if you put a gun to my head and ask me to pick one, it'd be Goodfellas.

Goodfellas may just be one of the best flat-out entertainers I've ever seen. I saw it originally about 3 years back when I didn't know anything about cinema and loved it. Yesterday, after having gained decent knowledge on films, I was positively floored by the film. There was moment after moment which left me exhilarated that I was exhausted by the end, just out of marveling at Scorsese's relentlessly brilliant execution.

The Copacabana tracking shot has been beaten to death, with obvious reason as it is one of the best things Scorsese has ever done. But I also loved the vibrancy with which the day Henry is caught was shot and edited. And of course, Goodfellas may just represent the best usage of rock and roll in a motion picture. Every single song Scorsese uses is a home run, but I particularly loved the Layla (Piano Exit) which played over the bodies being discovered, Tommy's shooting, and the end credits.

The only minor nitpick I have is with the fourth-wall breaking shot in the courtroom where Liotta steps off the witness stand and speaks directly into the camera. It is such an illusion-breaking shot that I have no idea why Scorsese used it. He might've had his reasons, but I would still like to hear them.

Also in yesterday's viewing, I realized how thematically similar Goodfellas is to The Godfather, with the obvious distinction being the latter looked at the bosses while Scorsese's masterpiece looks at the grunts. In both films, the major rift is caused when drugs come into the picture. Both films show how important family is to the mob, and the importance of Sicilian heritage is highlighted with major supporting characters. In that way, both films serve as companion pieces to each other by observing the same set of scenarios through different ends of the mob food chain.

Ultimately, Goodfellas is one of the two greatest gangster movies Hollywood has ever produced and remains the golden standard with which any similarly themed film will always be judged. It is also a film I simply cannot get enough of.

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Tue Apr 02, 2013 3:50 am
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Post Re: This month...I am watching every Martin Scorsese film
Coincidentally I rewatched Goodfellas for the 20th or so time on Sunday night.

It's incredible. Almost unbelievably good.

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Tue Apr 02, 2013 5:19 am
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Post Re: This month...I am watching every Martin Scorsese film
Well, I've been fairly vocal about my opinion of "GoodFellas" in this forum, and I stand by it again here. I really wish I could love this film as much as most of you do. But despite Scorsese's technical mastery, I just can't get myself to be genuinely invested in any of the characters; they're neither likable nor all that interesting to me. The possible exception is Joe Pesci's... but not only does his character not live to see the final act, you could argue that he's merely playing a more amped-up version of his "Raging Bull" character. De Niro's never played a blander character in a Scorsese film (though his scenery-chewing Max Cady in "Cape Fear" was worse :| ). The film also remains Exhibit A for me as to why Liotta never made it as a leading man. His Henry Hill has very little presence, despite being the main character. Fortunately, Scorsese would try the mob genre again - and get better results - with the darker, more depraved "Casino." But this one honestly falls somewhere in the middle of his filmography for me. :?

You're not reviewing "New York Stories" (or, at least, Scorsese's contribution, 'Life Lessons') I take it, Balaji?


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Tue Apr 02, 2013 6:41 pm
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Post Re: This month...I am watching every Martin Scorsese film
I recently bought the Goodfellas DVD and listened to to Henry Hill commentary. Insane the shit that really happened. Something else.

If I was forced to make a list of top films for me...it would have to be up there, somewhere for me. Sorry H.I.

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Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:42 pm
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Post Re: This month...I am watching every Martin Scorsese film
H.I., When I watch Goodfellas, I am not looking to empathize with any particular character but rather observe from afar the kind of violent culture being in a mob breeds.

The set up is outstanding in the first hour which romanticizes the mob much like The Godfather does. Henry is an outsider in the beginning, quietly observing all the gangsters strut out their stuff. He is in their thrall. I think this is a reflection of the way most kids/adolescents feel about the mob. Hell, after seeing something like The Godfather, I am sure we've all had fantasies of having that amount of power at our disposal. Henry wants to be like them because he thinks it will bring him power and respect. And it does. The Copacabana tracking shot is essential in showcasing all the perks that being in a mob entails, all in a span of 5 beautiful minutes of film. But nobody tells Henry of the caveats of being a gangster. Nobody tells him that you're always one second away from getting your head blown away by someone in a fit of rage.

By this point in the film, about an hour into it, Scorsese has set us up perfectly by showing us everything good about the mob. Everything we normally see in other movies and everything we fantasize about. Now he wants us to show everything we don't get to see. Everything nobody tells us about. He wants to show us the ugly and truthful side of being in the mob.

The downward spiral begins when Henry sees Tommy and Jimmy knock off a mobster who had simply annoyed them. You can see the shock on Liotta's face when both of them pummel into that guy in his bar. It is the first time he is actually witnessing such violence firsthand. He complies with them because he has to, because he has no other choice. And the film begins to take an ugly turn. We see people get knocked off just because somebody was pissed off (Tommy DeVito and the bartender) or somebody wanted to clear his tracks (Samuel L. Jackson). We see Jimmy's increasing paranoia have effect on Henry. Even people who've worked together for the better part of their lives start looking at each other with distrust.

I think that is essentially the way Goodfellas should viewed, as an observation of the ugly side of the mob. Henry Hill begins the film as a innocent kid who wants power and respect. By the end, he has gone to a life of secrecy where everybody he cares about doesn't know who he is or where he is. He has lost everything in life, including his wife and kids, his only family after he goes into witness protection.

Also I just felt like seeing Goodfellas day-before-yesterday. I'll probably get to New York Stories and Made in Milan (if it is available somewhere on the Internet) next.

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Wed Apr 03, 2013 7:40 am
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Post Re: This month...I am watching every Martin Scorsese film
Yes I agree. The first hour or so really makes it feel like you are Henry. You can completely empathise with his position, the way he is seduced by the glamour, the freedom, the money, the women, the lifestyle. I mean, who wouldn't?!!

Straight away you as the viewer are made to feel like the Mob is an extended family, and this also lets you empathise with Karen for exactly the same reason, although by this time you has the viewer have seen a bit of the rougher stuff. It's an amazing film.

Also, I don't think we ever see Henry as especially nasty or violent. Even when he attacks Karen's neighbour, there's a (semi) justified reason for it. He's just in it for the ride. Doesn't want anyone to get hurt, although tolerates it when they do. Then there's the obvious downfall. The kind of Catholic judgement you'd expect from Scorcese. Henry's worst fear - not death - but being an average nobody, realised.

F*cking hell, I hope MS has another Goodfellas up his sleeve before he clocks out!

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Wed Apr 03, 2013 9:33 am
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Post Re: This month...I am watching every Martin Scorsese film
Balaji Sivaraman wrote:
H.I., When I watch Goodfellas, I am not looking to empathize with any particular character but rather observe from afar the kind of violent culture being in a mob breeds.

When I watch a film in which I have no first-hand knowledge of the world/subject matter it covers, I rely on the central character(s) to bring me into said world. Henry and Jimmy never did that for me; they kept me at arm's length. They never really made me care about their plights. Unlike with "Casino" or "The Departed" (or even Scorsese's early small-time crime dramas "Who's That Knocking at My Door" and "Mean Streets"), I never really felt genuinely immersed in this criminal world. I'm fully aware of the unpopularity of my opinion regarding this film; it's merely a 'good' film to me, not a 'fucking brilliant' one. I hoped a subsequent viewing or two would make me change my mind (as it did with "Raging Bull"), but that hasn't happened (yet). I think every film buff has at least one film that's generally regarded as a cinematic masterpiece on which they're not really that high. "GoodFellas" is mine (well, and "Vertigo," too). :|


Wed Apr 03, 2013 8:23 pm
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Post Re: This month...I am watching every Martin Scorsese film
nice thread. when's cape fear?


Wed Apr 17, 2013 4:33 pm
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