Now middle-aged, mobster Murray looks back at his humble beginnings as a bootlegger and his rise to becoming wealthy and highly influential. Through it he talks about how much of his ...
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Now middle-aged, mobster Murray looks back at his humble beginnings as a bootlegger and his rise to becoming wealthy and highly influential. Through it he talks about how much of his success and happiness is due to the support of his "friend" Joe. Unfortunately the only one who blindly believes Joe is anything close to a friend is Murray, because it's obvious to everyone that Joe back-stabs him at every chance and is sleeping with his wife. Written by
Ira Rubin plays Murray, who at the start of the film basically all about him- with an amusingly self-conscious camera (like a mockumentary of sorts)- he's dressed up extra nice, showing off his wares, and it's pretty clear he's a gangster. That cleared up, he tells his story in a free-form way in the narration skipping and scatting over time, including his good, good friend Joe (San De Fazio, funny in a straight-forward way), and his sting in making Gin. But then he goes to jail, meets his nurse-wife, makes a good gig doing musicals (Love is a Gazelle being the big hit, the funniest part of the film for me), and then finally it all collides into, what else, an 8 1/2 homage. Scorsese and co-writer Mardik Martin have something here that is genuinely clever, as it goes through various forms of comedy, all set to a very keen, specific rhythm.
And there are so many riffs and styles that it all somehow comes together through Scorsese's professional style of shooting. This isn't amateur hour here. Sometimes we get the physical comedy (the police raid), or just a wacky spoof or send-up (the musical sequences, quite ingenious overall), lampooning the movie-making process itself ("hey, sound-guy, turn down the sound", Murray says in one scene when Joe wants to talk private with him), and things of family (Scorsese's mom, of course, serving spaghetti to his son even through the gate in jail) and culture (gas masks in Jersey, ho-ho). All in all, it fills its time very well, with a style of comedy that almost reminded me of a lighter, though still quite witty and off-the-wall, version of the humor that would come in After Hours. Rubin is also very good as the title character, smarmy, self-satisfied, and charming in a sleazy way that Scorsese probably relates to from people in his neighborhood.
Plenty of film-making gusto to go with the laughs, this is a really cool little short film that I was very happy to seek out- even if this and his other NYU short film aren't as great as some of his later shorts like Big Shave and American Boy.
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