Tag: Martin Scorsese

MOVIE REVIEW | ***FOREIGN LANGUAGE WEEKEND*** Infernal Affairs (2002)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous syas: “I’ll definitely be watching the two sequels (prequels?).”

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The main reason I started this blog was to make me watch more movies, and to vary the kinds of movies I watched.  The first part of that has been well and truly accomplished with me watching hundreds of movies for the first time, instead of falling back on old favourites over and over again.   But l’m not sure if I’ve varied my selections enough.  I still watch mainly American movies, with directors, writers and actors that make them a pretty safe bet. So this year, I’m forcing myself to seek out more international movies.  With Foreign Language Weekends, every weekend(ish) during 2016, I’ll review two(ish) non-English language movies.

“Remember this, if you see someone doing something but at the same time watching you… then he is a cop.”

As a wannabe movie nerd, I know there’s a real hole in my knowledge of and appreciation for Hong King cinema, specifically Hong Kong action cinema.  I think before now, John Woo’s Hard Boiled might have been the total extent of my Hong Kong viewing.  And even then, I was a little underwhelmed by what I’m lead to believe is a bit of a bench mark in the genre.  Maybe I’d seen too many derivative American knock offs to really appreciate what Hard Boiled had to offer, but it didn’t compel me to see more.  What did compel me to see more was knowing that Martin Scorsese’s The Departed was a remake of the Hong Kong movie, Infernal Affairs.


Tony Leung is Chan Wing-yan, a cop who goes undercover to infiltrate a gang of triads, he’s the Leonardo DiDacprio of Infernal Affairs.  Andy Lau is dirty cop Lau Kin-ming, on the payroll of the same triads, let’s call him, Matt Damon.  Their shared triad boss is Eric Tsang’s Hon Sam, AKA Jack Nicholson.  If you’ve seen The Departed, you know this is a cat and mouse game where Leung and Lau are both constantly cat and mouse at the same time.  Each is hot on the other’s trail, trying to uncover their deception, while all the time knowing they’re also being pursued by one another.  It’s an ouroboros, snake eating its own tail kind of deal. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Color of Money (1986)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says:The Color of Money is three masters of their craft at work.”

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“You gotta have two things to win. You gotta have brains and you gotta have balls. Now, you got too much of one and not enough of the other.”

Once actors reach real mega stardom, it becomes easier and easier to take them for granted, or even dismiss them completely.  But more often than not, the reason they became mega stars in the first place is that they’re really good actors.  Good looks and natural charisma only take people so far, but to really breakthrough, they have to have some chops.  Tom Cruise has been one of Hollywood’s biggest mega stars for three decades, and he’s often tossed off as an empty vessel.  But there’s a reason that Tom Cruise has been one of Hollywood’s biggest mega stars for so long, he’s a really good actor.  Which is something I’m reminded of when I watch his older work, movies like The Color of Money.

A quarter of a century after The Hustler, ‘Fast’ Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) is back.  No longer playing pool himself, he hustles by financing and mentoring the next generation, people like John Turtorro’s Julian.  One night, Julian is convincingly beaten by a new face in town, Vincent (Cruise).  Immediately, Felson realises this kid has raw talent that can make them both more money than ever before. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #4. Raging Bull (1980)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.

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“You’re very smart, Joey. You’re giving me a lot of answers, but you ain’t giving me the right answer. I’m gonna ask you again: did you or did you not?”

Ordinary People was the second ever review I posted here on Bored and Dangerous. That was around two and half years and 1,200 odd reviews ago. In that time, I’ve never missed an opportunity to shoehorn in a reference to the fact that the tele-movie, cheap emotional manipulations of Ordinary People somehow managed to win the Best Picture Oscar over Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull. There have been reviews that had nothing to do with either movie or a single person involved with them, and I have found a way to bitch about Ordinary People and its Academy Award win. And now that I have just re-watched Raging Bull, that Oscar cock up pisses me off more than ever.


In the 60s, a fat, old, washed up Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro) awkwardly rehearses corny jokes, bad puns and an overall terrible cabaret act backstage somewhere that you can just tell is low rent. Forcing the words through his mangled nose, this is obviously s man who has fallen from grace. Cut to the early 40s when LaMotta was lean, rock hard fit and taking on all comers in the ring as professional boxer, the Bronx Bull. Always at his side is trainer, manager, sparring partner and brother, Joey (Joe Pesci). At home, LaMotta is dismissive to his wife at best, abusive at worst. When the teenaged Vickie (Cathy Moriarty) catches his eye at the local pool, Jake has to have her. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Shutter Island (2010)

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“Which would be worse, to live as a monster, or to die as a good man?”

Martin Scorsese has never made a bad movie.  That’s the kind of Scorsese fan I am.  I truly believe that.  And even when I don’t necessarily love a Scorsese movie, like, say After Hours, or New York, New York, I blame myself, not Saint Marty.  Or, in the case of New York, New York, I blame his coke dealer.  But I firmly believe he’s one of the greatest film makers of all time.  I even love Gangs of New York.  Yeah, I said it.


Even when you ignore the hallowed classics, like Taxi Driver, or Raging Bull, or Goodfellas, the middle ground stuff by Scorsese standards, is still better than almost any other movie you’ll ever see.  So when I call Shutter Island middle ground, it’s only when using Scorsese as his own measuring stick.  Because in the big scheme of things, Shutter Island is first class horror, suspense, psychological thriller stuff. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #52. Taxi Driver (1976)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.

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“Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.”

Martin Scorsese has a real knack for bringing iconic characters to the screen.  Joe Pesci’s benefitted from this more than once, Daniel Day Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio have several each under their belts, and there are notable one offs like Ray Liotta and Willam Dafoe.  But one man is responsible for more memorable Scorsese characters than anyone else.  Robert De Niro steals Mean Streets from Harvey Keitel, he won the Oscar for Raging Bull and is one of the most bizarrely sympathetic, terrifying, and goofy characters ever committed to film in The King of Comedy.  But above all of those, one De Niro role in a Scorsese movie reigns supreme; Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver.


Plagued by headaches and insomnia, Travis Bickle (De Niro) takes a job working 12 hour shifts, six days a week, driving a cab. This is 70s New York at its dirtiest, seediest and most dangerous, and Bickle is one of the few drivers who’ll go to any neighbourhood and pick up any kind of passenger.  The people and places he sees fuel monologues about the filth of the city needing to be washed away.  But he does see the odd bright spot, including Cybill Shepherd as Betsy. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #92. Goodfellas (1990)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.
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“You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe, but I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?”

Bored and Dangerous is usually all about movies I’ve watched of the first time. Sometimes I’ll cheat and re-watch something I haven’t seen in years and remember nothing about.   But as I make my way through the AFI 100, it’s inevitable that I’ll run across a few things I’ve seen multiple times. Some, maybe dozens of times. Not only is this one that definitely ranks in the “dozens” category, it’s a movie that only gets better with age. I would even go as far as to say it may be, in my opinion, the greatest film ever made. Screenplay, acting, direction, music, editing… Top to bottom, I love every single detail of Goodfellas.


It’s 1950s New York, and while his father works a thankless, low playing job, young Henry Hill (Christopher Serrone) is obsessed with the local gangsters in his neighbourhood. It’s not long before he’s taken under the wing of local street boss Paul Sicero (Paul Sorvino) and notorious street soldier and killer, Jimmy “the Gent” Conway (Robert De Niro). By the time he’s a young adult played by Ray Liotta, Henry is living the wise guy dream, taking and doing whatever he wants, along with Jimmy and fellow gangster wunderkind, Joe Pesci’s Tommy DeVito. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Hugo (2011)

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“Maybe that’s why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn’t able to do what it was meant to do… Maybe it’s the same with people. If you lose your purpose… it’s like you’re broken.”

I love Martin Scorsese. He might be the greatest film maker living and working today. He’s definitely my favourite film maker living and working today, or ever. And while I liked Hugo when it came out a few years ago, I always felt like I didn’t give it enough attention at the time. It didn’t stick with me, and because I’m a super fan, I blamed myself, not the movie. Usually this blog is all about movies I’ve watched for the first time, but I’m making a rare exception here, because Scorsese is the best.


With a mother (presumably) killed in the Great War, young Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) lives with his clock making father (Jude Law) in 1920s Paris. But because kids can’t become heroes in movies without first becoming orphans, his dad dies in a museum fire and Hugo is left in the care of is drunkard uncle (Ray Winstone). Living within the walls of a grand railway station, Hugo does his uncle’s job of keeping the many clocks running, while his uncle abandons him to go drink. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | My Voyage to Italy (2001)

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I’m sure there are people out there who love movies and everything cinema as much as Martin Scorsese. But I don’t think there’s a single other person out there who can talk about their love of movies and everything cinema as well as Martin Scorsese. I’d seen and really liked Elia Kazan’s East of Eden, A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Water Front before. But I didn’t actually appreciate them for how amazing and important they really are until I watched Scorsese’s documentary, A Letter to Elia. When it comes to Italian cinema and neo realism, I’ve seen even less than I have of Kazan’s work. Luckily, Scorsese’s got me covered there too, with My Voyage to Italy.


Opening with a brief history of Scorsese’s own family as his grandparents on both sides moved to New York from Sicily, he makes sure the “my” in My Journey to Italy is justified, without becoming indulgent. It’s a story not only common to Italian immigrants of Scorsese’s own generation, but of the entire post-war world, when so many European people sought better lives in various far off lands. For a seven year old Martin Scorsese in New York, the Italian films of the time were the link between the old world of his grandparents, and the new world he himself lived in. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | A Letter to Elia (2010)

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Biographical documentaries can be tricky.  Generally, for someone to be interest enough in a particular subject to make a film about them, that interest is going to lead to a certain level of subjectivity.  They either love their subject so much, the film maker wants everyone else to share that love.  Or they are so angered by something, they want to make sure the subject doesn’t get away with it.  When one of the world’s greatest living directors makes a biographical documentary, there’s also the concern that it might be an indulgence that only they would ever get the green light to make.  I was a little worried that might be on the cards with Martin Scorsese’s A Letter to Elia, but I needn’t have worried. After all, Scorsese is one of the world’s greatest living directors.


Before watching this, I knew two things about director Elia Kazan.  He made On the Water Front and he named names during the McCarthy communist witch hunts.  Now, I know he was also responsible for a few other movies l’ve seen and liked, without ever knowing he was involved.  Movies like East of Eden and A Streetcar Named Desire.

A Letter to Elia comes overflowing with Scorsese’s adoring subjectivity, but that’s also one of its greatest strengths.  We get a quick recap of Kazan’s pre film making life.  As the son of Greek immigrants, as moderately successful actor, as the stage director who was the first to put up productions of classics Death of a Salesman and A Streetcar Named Desire.  But all of this is kept to an absolute minimum so Scorsese can focus on what matters to him, the movies.

Scorsese takes us through Kazan’s filmography, but he focuses on two in particular, the two that affected him most.  On the Waterfront, and even more so, East of Eden.  Waterfront makes sense, it’s set in the neighbourhoods Scorsese himself grew up in.  It focuses on gangland power and corruption, the kinds of subjects Scorsese has become most famous for in his own career.

But it’s the passion Scorsese has when talking about East of Eden that really brings A Letter to Elia alive.  The stories of Scorsese’s own childhood and interactions with local small time organised crime are well documented.  And his relationship with his parents was covered in his awesome documentary Italianamerican.  But here, his personal connected to Eden tells a story of his childhood, his family, and his relationship with his brother, that had never even been alluded to in the several books I’ve read about Scorsese.

The pleasant surprise at this aspect of A Letter to Elia is almost outweighed by it’s one major shortcoming, the glossing over of Kazan’s dealings with communist witch hunts where he named eight people who had been fellow members of a communist organisation with Kazan in the 30s.  It basically comes down to Kazan felt like he had to choose between two shitty options, so he picked the easier one.  That’s about as deep as the discussion goes, whereas I could have watched an entire documentary dedicated only to that.

One of Martin Scorsese’s greatest strengths is his infectious enthusiasm.  It’s the kind of thing that makes you somehow love Henry, Jimmy and Tommy in Goodfellas even though they are terrible, terrible people.  And when he brings that enthusiasm to the documentary world, it’s even more effective.  If you watch A Letter to Elia, you’ll definitely want to dive into Kazan’s own filmography.  Even if those movies only have half the effect on you they had on a young Martin Scorsese, you’ll be more than satisfied.

A Letter to Alia
Directed By – Kent Jones, Martin Scorsese
Written By – Kent Jones, Martin Scorsese

MOVIE REVIEW | American Hustle (2013)

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David o Russell has always been an interesting film maker, but his career was pretty rocky for a while there.   Early movies like Flirting With Disaster found appreciation over the years, but are still mostly unseen by the masses.  Then there were leaked videos of onset screaming matches with his cast, and a lost movie that was shut down multiple times before disappearing all together.  But a few years ago, something happened and David O Russell became a bankable, Oscar nomination regular.  First the Fighter, then Silver Linings Playbook, and now a movie that seems like it’s sure a thing for a few categories, including Best Picture and Best Director, American Hustle.

Christian Bale is Irving Rosenfeld, a small time con man who falls in love with his new accomplice, Amy Adams as Sydney Prosser.  Unfortunately, he’s already in a loveless marriage with Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence).  Even more unfortunately, Irving and Sydney get caught in an FBI sting by Bradley Cooper’s Richie DiMaso, that leads to working for the feds, trying to take down bigger targets, including Jeremy Renner as small town New Jersey Mayor, Carmine Polito.

Once the many balls are in the air, the multiple plates are spinning and various wheels are in motion (trust me, the complex, but never convoluted, story really does deserve that many metaphors), American Hustle plays out as an amazingly effective combination of drama, action, suspense, mad capped caper and broad comedy.  And Russell really deserves all the credit for making these conflicting tones work with each other, instead of collapsing into a big mess.

A lot of American Hustle is about lies people tell to others.  But even more of it is about lies people tell themselves just so they can survive.  Irving knows his comb over isn’t fooling anybody, but he tells himself it makes a difference because running a confidence scam is all about having confidence.  Richie knows he’s a substandard agent living a substandard life, but he tells himself he’s smarter than everyone else around him, hoping that one day he might actually believe it.

While Carmine might not be lying about doing everything for the good of his New Jersey constituents, you can see him tyring to justify his actions to himself as much as to anyone else.  And as Irving’s bored and otherwise clueless housewife, Rosalyn is the only one completely self-aware of all their lies, internal and external, even getting a nice little rant about how we all tell ourselves whatever we need to just get through the day.

I’ve read a few comparisons between this movie and Goodfellas.  And while American Hustle never attempts the real darkness of Scorsese’s masterpiece, I understand the link.  The most obvious being the multiple character voiceover and meticulous period setting.  But it’s more than that.  A lot of the camera work, music choices and editing also make me think Russell has seen Goodfellas more than a few times.  I don’t want that sound like I’m saying he ripped off Scorsese.  I think it’s more of a respectful homage.

Bale, Adams, Cooper and Lawrence were all nominated for Oscars the last time they were in David O Russell films, and even though I think Bale, Cooper and Lawrence should all get another shot with American Hustle, I’m not sure if they will.  The Academy really has a stick up its ass when it comes to great comedic performances.  And even though they all get deep, dramatic moments too, they made me laugh way too many times for the prestige-addicted Oscar voters to give them a chance.

American Hustle
Directed By – David O. Russell
Written By – Eric Singer, David O. Russell

MOVIE REVIEW | ***DIRECTOR DEBUT WEEK*** Scorsese: Who’s That Knocking at My Door (1967)

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Mean Streets gets all the love as Scorsese’s first proper movie.  Sure, it sets up a lot of the themes and film making flourishes that would go on to be the traits most associated with his career, but before Mean Streets, there was a pretty fun and better than it had any right to be exploitation picture, Boxcar Bertha.  And before Boxcar Bertha was Scorsese’s true debut as a feature film maker, Who’s That Knocking at My Door.

It’s also the first film by a jarringly baby faced Harvey Keitel as JR, a New York neighbourhood guy who meets and falls in love with a local neighbourhood girl played by Zina Bethune.  He decides she’s the one and that he wants to settle down and get married.  Until he learns a secret from her past that he can’t live with.  That is basically the plot of Who’s That Knocking at My Door, and I use the word ‘plot’ very loosely.

This is by far the most experimental, artsy movie by Scorsese, with a very loose narrative strung together by a series of stand alone scenes and vignettes.  It also has a drawn out feel that could put down to either a young film maker indulging in all their worst art house pretentions, or a young film maker desperate to get their short film to feature length and using as much slow motion and as many musical montages as possible to get there.  And some of the rambling conversations make me think Richard Linklater, Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarrentino might all be fans of Who’s That Knocking at My Door too.

None of that is say that I didn’t like Who’s That Knocking at My Door, because I really did.  But watching it 45 years later, with the hindsight of his amazing career since then, it’s hard not to look past Scorsese’s rough edges in places.  But for every rough edge he thankfully lost in later years, you see several that have gone on to become some of his greatest, most defining traits as a director.

A great soundtrack of current (at the time) pop songs, a kind of street language and street life that just seems so much more real than other movies, an obsession with the minutiae of his character’s life where even the most mundane activity somehow becomes fascinating.  You can see it all there, Scorsese just hadn’t quite figured out how to best present it yet.

The same can be said for Keitel’s performance.  A little awkward and stagey at times, you can still see the potential for him to become the amazing actor he would be just a few years later.  I know every one misses the days of Scorsese teaming up with Robert DeNiro, but when I think about this and Mean Streets and Taxi Driver and The Last Temptation of Christ, I miss the days of Scorsese teaming up with Keitel.  They really did some amazing work together.

At first I started watching Who’s That Knocking at My Door as a bit of a curiosity.  A student film level collection of student film level conceits from the man who would go on to be possibly the greatest film maker of all time.  But as it went on, I did find myself really getting into the characters and the world.

Who’s that Knocking at My Door
Directed By – Martin Scorsese
Written By – Martin Scorsese

MOVIE REVIEW | Infernal Affairs (2002)

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As a wannabe movie nerd, I know there’s a real hole in my knowledge of and appreciation for Hong King cinema, specifically Hong Kong action cinema.  I think before now, John Woo’s Hard Boiled might have been the total extent of my Hong Kong viewing.  And even then, I was a little underwhelmed by what I’m lead to believe is a bit of a bench mark in the genre.  Maybe I’d seen too many derivative American knock offs to really appreciate what Hard Boiled had to offer, but it didn’t compel me to see more.  What did compel me to see more was knowing that Martin Scorsese’s The Departed was a remake of the Hong Kong movie, Infernal Affairs.


Tony Leung is Chan Wing-yan, a cop who goes undercover to infiltrate a gang of triads, he’s the Leonardo DiDacprio of Infernal Affairs.  Andy Lau is dirty cop Lau Kin-ming, on the payroll of the same triads, let’s call him, Matt Damon.  Their shared triad boss is Eric Tsang’s Hon Sam, AKA Jack Nicholson.  If you’ve seen The Departed, you know this is a cat and mouse game where Leung and Lau are both constantly cat and mouse at the same time.  Each is hot on the other’s trail, trying to uncover their deception, while all the time knowing they’re also being pursued by one another.  It’s an ouroboros, snake eating its own tail kind of deal.

Co-directors Wai-keung Lau and Alex Mak really know how to turn the screws on a story and wring out every drop of tension in a given scene.  Even though I’d seen The Departed and knew where the story was ultimately headed, I couldn’t help getting caught up in the suspense of it all.  Every time one cop almost caught the other, I was genuinely invested in and excited by what came next.

For a movie that seems so reliant on its Hong Kong setting, characters and history, it’s amazing how faithful Scorsese’s Boston centric remake was.  The Departed really is a beat by beat remake with only a few changes.  The most obvious being the pacing.  If you thought The Departed crammed a lot of plot, twists and turns into 151 minutes, you might get whiplash watching Infernal Affairs tell the same story in just over 90.

In The Departed, we see Damon’s character as a young boy when he meets Nicholson’s for the first time.  We see DiCaprio introduced to Nicholson’s gang, we see him stuck on the edges of the gang, we see him gradually earn the trust and acceptance of the gang.  Infernal Affairs starts with Leung already ten years into his undercover assignment and Lau already working for Tsang.  We’re dropped in the middle of this thing and expected to hit the ground running.

As faithful a remake as The Departed is, having already seen Scorsese’s version in no way means the shine has been taken of Lau and Mak’s original.  In fact, having seen The Departed so many times made me appreciate Infernal Affairs even more.  It’s really interesting and entertaining to see how another culture approaches a story like this, the different rhythms and techniques of film making lead to a really unique film, even if the plots are almost carbon copies.  I’ll tell you this much, I’ll definitely be watching the two sequels (prequels?) that come with the Hong Kong original.

Infernal Affairs
Directed By – Wai-keung Lau, Alan Mak
Written By – Alan Mak, Felix Chong

MOVIE REVIEW | Italianamerican (1974)

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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.

Italianamerican
Directed By – Martin Scorsese
Written By – Lawrence D. Cohen, Mardik Martin

MOVIE REVIEW | Heaven’s Gate (1980)

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It’s one thing for a movie to bomb so bad it ruins a director’s career.  It’s another thing for a movie to bomb so bad, it almost ruins the studio that made it.  Heaven’s Gate was director Michael Cimino’s follow up to The Deer Hunter, which had won him a Best Director Oscar.  It’s also seen today as one of the movies that killed the American auteur system of the 70s.  People like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Dennis Hopper, Peter Bogdonavich and Warren Beatty had all had a great run making personal films that created critical buzz and decent box office returns.  Then Cimino crapped all over it with this shit bomb that went way over schedule and way over budget.


Actually, that’s harsh.  Before watching it, Heaven’s Gate had a mythical status for me as that shit bomb, so I had some pretty strong preconceived notions.  Preconceived notions only made stronger when I saw it came with an almost four hour running time.  Seriously, four hours?  If you can’t tell your story in two and half, three at the absolute most (and your movie had better be a ball tarer if you’re gonna take three hours of my life), maybe you should look at making a TV series, not one of film.

And that’s the thing, while I was watching, I checked the clock a few times, but not constantly, so the running time wasn’t a huge issue.  But when I think back, I can’t recall four hours worth of story.  It opens with main character James Averill, played by Kris Kristofferson, graduating from Harvard in 1870, in a sequence that could have been done in ten minutes, but goes for closer to thirty.  It then jumps twenty years ahead to the midst of land disputes between American land barons and European immigrants.   Kristofferson is on the side of the immigrants because he’s banging an immigrant whore…  Oh, that and because he’s a top bloke with principals and stuff.  About an hour in (just over a quarter, if you’re doing the maths), we meet Nate Champion, played by Christopher Walken, Kristofferson’s rival for the whore’s golden heart.  It’s great to see Walken before he became “Walken”.  No weird line deliveries, no creepiness, no “quirk”.  Just a solid, subtle performance.  That really is the broad strokes of what fills the four hours, it’s not a complicated story, though the characters are.

Watching Heaven’s Gate, it’s easy to see where all the money and time went in its making.  It looks absolutely amazing.  Shot on location in a Montana national park, every exterior shot has the most amazing, natural backdrop of deep valleys, snow capped peaks and wild frontier.  In a modern world of movies full of slapped together CGI, this really is one of the most impressive looking movies I’ve ever seen.  And more than just the natural wonders, Cimino adds an almost gold filter to the majority of the film.  Some scenes are somehow monochrome, but full of deep, rich colour at the same time.

On one hand, I can understand why it wasn’t a huge success on release, but on the other, I think it is a legitimately awesome piece of film making.  And the best part, the title comes from a roller skating rink seen several times throughout the story.  Yep, this epic tragedy is named after rolling skating rink.  I can only hope if a movie is ever made about some terrible time in my hometown’s past, they have the forethought to call it Skate Haven.

Directed By – Michael Cimino
Written By – Michael Cimino