4 items from 2010
There are a few filmmakers we wish could also be our film professors. But none more so than Martin Scorsese, who at least has given us film history lessons in the documentaries A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies and My Voyage to Italy. Now he's back with collaborator Kent Jones for a one-hour "mini-masterclass" about the works of legendary director Elia Kazan (On the Waterfront; East of Eden). Its title is A Letter to Elia, and we're happy to debut the one-sheet, which you'll find in full after the jump.
The doc focuses directly on Kazan's films, what they mean to Scorsese and what they tell us about the man who made them. "Maybe you learn more from the work than the man," Scorsese says about why interviews and biographies aren't enough for a study of an artist. As for how Kazan's films affected his own life, »
- Christopher Campbell
This week one of the great "unseen" American films, Nicholas Ray's Bigger Than Life (1956), makes its debut on Criterion DVD and Blu-Ray. Over the years, it has been selected for things like Film Comment's best movies unreleased on video, Jonathan Rosenbaum's 100 greatest films, and Jean-Luc Godard's ten greatest American films. Martin Scorsese included a tantalizing clip of it in his great 1995 documentary A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies. In 2002, a screening of it turned up in my town. I saw it along with about 100 other lucky people and was able to confirm its greatness.
What's peculiar is that it came just a year after Ray's big hit Rebel Without a Cause, which is one of the best-known and most iconic of all American films. So what happened to Bigger Than Life? Why has it become such a rarity? I'm not really sure, save to say that it was extremely controversial, »
- Jeffrey M. Anderson
Scorsese triumphs with a powerful noir pastiche that sends Leonardo DiCaprio into a world of madness and paranoia
Susan Sontag greeted the centenary of the cinema with an essay proclaiming its "ignominious, irreversible decline". She added that "the commercial cinema has settled for a policy of bloated, derivative film-making… every film that hopes to reach the highest possible audience is designed as some kind of remake". How does that sound 15 years later? Well, the two most striking films this week, Shutter Island and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and the one we're most looking forward to next month, Polanski's The Ghost, all centre on troubled protagonists lured to remote islands to investigate disappearances and past mysteries that threaten their lives. Is this chance, the mythic underpinning of narrative, or cultural exhaustion?
- Philip French
Name a happy family in a Martin Scorsese film. Or a stable couple, even. In Cape Fear, the director is asked to update the scenario of J. Lee Thompson’s 1962 thriller, in which the ideal household is terrorized by an evil-incarnate maniac. “One for them, one for me,” Scorsese says of the rotation between personal projects and commercial assignments artists are often forced into. Sandwiched between Goodfellas and The Age of Innocence, this would clearly be “one for them,” the “them” being star Robert De Niro and executive producer Steven Spielberg. As an addition to De Niro’s sadistic rogues gallery and Amblin Entertainment’s portraits of threatened suburbia, the project may have seemed like a sure bet. But Scorsese is too much of a self-consciously anguished aesthete to take a smooth detour into Blockbuster Road. In his documentary A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies, he would »
4 items from 2010
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