I’ll get this out of the way straight out of the gate. In my opinion, Martin Scorsese is the greatest film maker working today. Possibly of all time. So I was predisposed to liking this. Having said that, if you can watch Italianamerican and not have the shit charmed out of you, you may not have a soul.
I guess I’d have to call Italianamerican a documentary, but that makes it sound a lot more elaborate than what it actually is; Martin Scorsese having dinner with his parents, Charlie and Catey Scorsese, and encouraging them to tell stories about growing up in early twentieth century New York.
If you’ve ever seen Goodfellas (and if you haven’t, what’s your problem, jerk? Stop reading this and go watch it right now), you know how adorable Scorsese’s mother is. In a movie filled with murder, mobsters, drugs and guns, her one scene is one of the most memorable. As the mother of Joe Pesci’s Tommy, she almost steals the movie. Watching her in Italianamerica, I had to wonder if any of her lines in Goodfellas were even scripted, or if Scorsese just pointed a camera at her and let he do her thing.
Even more impressive than Catey Scorsese, is the fact that her husband Charlie somehow manages to not be completely lost in her shadow. He holds his own and tells amazing stories about growing up in Hell’s Kitchen. This dude grew up sharing a two room apartment with thirteen other people. Not a two bedroom apartment, a two room apartment.
The Scorsese family should be on a billboard somewhere advertising the American immigrant experience. Catey and Charlie are both children of Sicilian immigrant parents who arrived in America penniless. Catey and Charlie managed to work themselves up to the middle class and were even able to send their son to film school. In three generations, the Scorsese’s went from poverty stricken immigrants to rich and world renowned film maker. They are the American dream.
Even at their most violent, excessive, flashy and gangster filled, Scorsese’s movies always come back to family. He’s obsessed with the little things that influence people and make them who they are. Italianamerican is an amazing look at the little things that made his parents who they are. It’s also an amazing look at how their influence produced the greatest film maker working today. Possibly of all time.
And as an added bonus, the end credits even include the recipe for Catey Scorsese’s amazing looking pasta sauce…
Singe an onion & a pinch of garlic in oil. Throw in a piece of veal, a piece of beef, some pork sausage & a lamb neck bone. Add a basil leaf. When the meat is brown, take it out, & put it on a plate. Put in a can of tomato paste & some water. Pass a can of packed whole tomatoes through a blender & pour it in. Let it boil. Add salt, pepper, & a pinch of sugar. Let it cook for a while. Throw the meat back in. Cook for 1 hour. Now make the meatballs. Put a slice of bread without crust, 2 eggs, & a drop of milk, into a bowl of ground veal & beef. Add salt, pepper, some cheese & a few spoons of sauce. Mix it with your hands. Roll them up, throw them in. Let it cook for another hour.