Scorsese is hailed as one of the best directors of all-time, and sadly I’ve only seen a handful of his movies. From what I’ve read, he likes to focus a lot on male characters (especially Robert DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio) coping with their own inadequacies, mirroring his own struggles and fantasies. Regardless, his directing abilities are as hailed from what I’ve seen. The camera always seems to be in the right place, and he gets exceptional performances out of most of his actors. I haven’t been a huge fan of the stories he chooses, so I’m a bit hesitant to just plow through his lengthy filmography. Of course, I’ll take recommendations from my lovely readers.
The Departed: While I like this film, I’m definitely in the minority for not thinking it’s one of the best of all-time. Currently, it is ranked #49 at the IMDb. Roger Ebert gave it four stars, though he did seem to give every movie four stars in the last several years of his life. The Departed is a remake of a Hong Kong film called Infernal Affairs, where one boy recruited by the mob (Matt Damon) infiltrates the Boston police department, while one boy recruited by the Boston police department (Leonard DiCaprio) infiltrates the mob. It’s a fun, tangled web, and DiCaprio is superb, but I just never really got into the movie. I felt Jack Nicholson gave an uninspired performance as the mob boss. The police psychologist’s motivations felt completely unbelievable to me. And I felt little attachment to any of the characters, leaving me not all that interested in how it ended. Ebert says the movie is a lot about Catholic guilt, something Scorsese is intimately familiar with. Perhaps if I understood that I would have enjoyed it more.
Hugo: A charming fantasy about an orphan boy in 1930’s Paris who lives inside the walls of a train station and has to solve a mystery surrounding one of his father’s automatons. Asa Butterfield, who plays the boy, is excellent, ultimately believable. The always delightful Chloe Moretz is great as well, making Hugo possibly the best assembly of pre-pubescent acting I’ve seen. Ben Kinglsey, not quite pre-pubescent, is also solid. Unfortunately, the plot itself lost my interest about half-way through. The excellent acting, directing, and cinematography kept me going through the end.
The Color of Money: I haven’t seen this movie in a long time, and my memory has faded. What I do remember is that I loved Paul Newman’s performance as the old-school pool hustler. The story has its ups and down, and there’s no payoff to the mentor/pupil cliches, but it’s enjoyable to watch. What I need to do is watch The Hustler with Newman and Gleason. Someday..
Goodfellas: For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster. Ray Liotta narrates the first line of this epic gangster movie that rivals The Godfather in many ways. Liotta dreams of having the freedom he believes he’ll have if he can get into the mafia. He works his way in, generally happy as he’s working his way up the hierarchy, but then the shit gets really real and he wonders whether this is really the life for him. Based on the life of Henry Hill who worked with Liotta, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci while the film was being made. The acting is tremendous all around, with special props to Pesci, who is so good you can easily forget his comedic characters while watching. If you liked The Godfather, there’s a good chance you’ll like this as well.
Other Martin Scorsese Films You May Have Seen
The Last Waltz
The King of Comedy
The Last Temptation of Christ
Gangs of New York