Martin Scorsese

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Brian C
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:58 am
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Re: Martin Scorsese

#401 Post by Brian C » Thu Jan 21, 2021 12:40 am

I prefer Casino too, and I like what HinkyDinkyTruesmith says about the film putting these characters against a backdrop of history. It benefits from the same way that Chinatown benefits from setting its story against the backdrop of LA's water struggles - the historical fiction is interesting in its own right, but also adds a mythic layer that is immensely satisfying to me thematically.

I was chatting with a friend about Casino recently, and it also occurred to me how much my estimation of Stone's performance has grown over the years since I first saw it in its original release. In addition to the "he hates my guts" scene that HDS references, I also find very meaningful her admonition when Ace proposes to her, and how she tries to talk him out of it. I think about what her relationship to men had likely been like all her life, and how she must have bristled with both condescension and envy at the wives who were "respectable" but also tied down with unfaithful and uncaring men who were spending a fortune on her. And now here's Ace, wanting to make such a woman out of her, both elevating her and in his way making a mark of her at the same time, with the allure of respectability that she's never had, and her revulsion towards him and what being the "good wife" means in her eyes, and the self-loathing that she feels from her past, and on top of it all her survival instinct that recognizes a shot at a payday unimaginable even to her. And through all the internal conflict, she tries to talk him out of it! To go back to just being Ginger.

(In chatting with my friend, I came up with an entire back story for her, with a mom from a poor family who was exiled from a conservative small town after getting knocked up by the scion of the town's rich family, in the process dashing her fantasies of marrying the rich kid and living a glamorous life. She moved to a bigger city and had a rough time making her way with a young daughter, who she resented for ruining her chance at happiness and luxury, and subsequently took up with a series of abusive men, who only too eagerly took advantage of young Ginger with her mom's tacit and resentful consent. Ginger ran away as a young teen, turned to prostitution, and eventually fell in with Lester, who she recognized easily enough as a scuzzball, but at least he wanted her around, whatever his motives, and before long the pair made their way to Vegas. Lester's backstory, meanwhile, was that he was an awkward and insecure kid who became forever bitter towards women when the prettiest girl in his eighth grade class turned him down for the school dance ... and that's pretty much it.)

In comparison to GoodFellas, well, there is no comparison. As much as I like watching GoodFellas, it's missing that kind of element almost completely. Bracco's character isn't as central - she's mostly an afterthought in the film's second half, really - and isn't half as compelling.

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knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Martin Scorsese

#402 Post by knives » Thu Jan 21, 2021 7:31 am

I’ll be a third booster and focus on the narration this time. I think it was Matt who said the narration here comes closest to convincing him of the possibility of a Das Kapital adaptation. In a way it’s the clearest lesson he learned from Rossellini’s history films as the narration allows absolute intimacy through exposition on the setting. That this is how Ace would convey X speaks volumes about Ace. Contrary to the empty vessel I find him thanks to the narration, and some other quirks, one of Scorsese’s most relatable and complex heroes for reasons already stated.

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captveg
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Re: Martin Scorsese

#403 Post by captveg » Thu Jan 21, 2021 5:06 pm

HinkyDinkyTruesmith wrote:
Wed Jan 20, 2021 11:42 pm
And at the end of the day, I love the rhythm of Casino, which is like a non-stop freight train until it finally does with a resigned sigh of a finish, one of my favorite endings and last lines in cinema.
I'm curious to hear your thoughts about how the time frame the film was made in ties into this ending and the film's legacy. Las Vegas 1995, where the city is trying to become a family destination, seems to me a weird blessing of when this film got made, as it keeps the conclusion centered on Ace's perception in that exact moment. That Vegas turned back to its reputation as Sin City (though minus the overt gangsterism) in the 2000s made this "for all ages" entertainment attempt a very small window for this exact context of the film's conclusion.

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HinkyDinkyTruesmith
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Re: Martin Scorsese

#404 Post by HinkyDinkyTruesmith » Thu Jan 21, 2021 9:15 pm

I don't know that I really have much to say on that subject. I don't know that the 'family friendly' thing was as significant to me as the sense of it as an amusement park for adults, something that resonates both with New York's near-simultaneous makeover and even through today's DIsneyfication of all life. The end resonates with me moreso because of the sense of paradise lost, of being too ambitious or too greedy, and the pleasant melancholia of being humbled.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Martin Scorsese

#405 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Jan 22, 2021 12:21 am

Revisited Casino again tonight, still don't love it, but I do think it gets more entertaining each return. Ace's "I want an equal amount of blueberries in each muffin" is a hilarious moment I always forget when discussing the film, and speaks to the child's impulse in all of us to assert our agency to demand a fair world.

beamish14
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Re: Martin Scorsese

#406 Post by beamish14 » Fri Jan 22, 2021 12:12 pm

I was very late to the party with Casino, as I'd wanted to see it in 35mm, and I didn't have the opportunity to do so until 2019. I love how freewheeling it is; it breaks with so many Hollywood narrative
conventions in favor of truly letting its characters breathe. It's also got some of the best and most audacious needle drops in Scorsese's oeuvre; he was clearly listening to a lot of Devo at the time, and the "Whip It" scene is just hysterical.

Saul and Elaine Bass' title sequence is a masterpiece; it's like a cross between a Bond opening and Dante's Inferno

Constable
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Re: Martin Scorsese

#407 Post by Constable » Fri Jan 29, 2021 3:29 pm

So the consensus (albeit not unanimous) here seems to be Casino is no weaker and possibly better than Goodfellas. I myself am also a big fan of the film. That's why I wonder why it's critical reputation is not on par with GF. My guess is it's just because they're similar and GF came first.



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knives
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Re: Martin Scorsese

#410 Post by knives » Tue Feb 16, 2021 7:48 pm

To an extent. There are a lot of great streamers out there like lecinemaclub, bynwr, and criterion who are addressing his issues.

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TheKieslowskiHaze
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Re: Martin Scorsese

#411 Post by TheKieslowskiHaze » Tue Feb 16, 2021 7:53 pm

knives wrote:
Tue Feb 16, 2021 7:48 pm
To an extent. There are a lot of great streamers out there like lecinemaclub, bynwr, and criterion who are addressing his issues.
He mentions this, saying he prefers streamers like Criterion who actually curate their films.
IndieWire wrote:Scorsese adds, “Curating isn’t undemocratic or ‘elitist,’ a term that is now used so often that it’s become meaningless. It’s an act of generosity — you’re sharing what you love and what has inspired you. (The best streaming platforms, such as the Criterion Channel and MUBI and traditional outlets such as TCM, are based on curating — they’re actually curated.) Algorithms, by definition, are based on calculations that treat the viewer as a consumer and nothing else.”

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hearthesilence
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Re: Martin Scorsese

#412 Post by hearthesilence » Tue Feb 16, 2021 10:37 pm

"Of course, it’s hardly surprising that artists such as Godard, Bergman, Kubrick, and Fellini, who once reigned over our great art form like gods, would eventually recede into the shadows with the passing of time."

Translation: "I remain unmoved by Film Socialisme, Goodbye to Language and The Image Book. He's dead to me!"

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colinr0380
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Re: Martin Scorsese

#413 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Feb 17, 2021 4:54 am

The danger of relying on the streaming services to preserve their own titles, especially if they cannot properly curate them, felt like a good take away from his comments, which are perhaps similar to his comments back in the day warning about not entirely relying on the Hollywood studios to preserve their silent and classic film collections for future generations if they find no discernible short term economic benefit in doing so.

As an audience member I am never going to be upset that there is too much stuff to have to wade through rather than too little (and not being a regular cinema goer I long ago came to terms with the philosophical problem of 'cinema' sharing the same screen with cat videos), but at the same time it would be nice to have some shape or context (or at least a comprehensive searchable index!) to go through rather than just having random titles thrown at you. If the Algo-rhythms project has taught me anything, it is that algorithms are good for the initial push into exploration but themselves are bounded by their own limitations and should never be relied upon as the be all and end all of recommendation. It still requires even just the smallest human finessing touch to add context and relevance into what gets thrown out.

"If you like that, you'll like this...", or "Up next in queue..." is also a rather deadening way of exploring culture, literally getting towards a 'mindless consumption' mentality. (Or as put in one of the numerous Red Letter Media videos about the timelines of Star Wars and Marvel series of films being announced years in advance: "Don't ask questions, just consume product and then get excited for next product"), and the process has sped up so much that it seems as if audiences are bombarded with the next thing before they have finished with their current viewing. Going from binge watching to a more of a bulimic approach to binging and purging to make room for the next non-nourishing item, which is a mentality that it seems terrible to have people come to a film with, even something that may be actively designed as disposable entertainment such as a Star Wars or the latest *shudder* Adam Sandler film.

I was wondering recently what Roger Ebert would have made of streaming. I would bet that there would have been a dedicated section of his site towards everything being released there. Maybe everything coming out through those different platforms with little fanfare seems so overwhelming due to how sped up the process has been over the last year, with many films bypassing the traditional publicity cycle (but also as a consequence the general audience awareness cycle) completely but no particular neutral publicity system in place to advertise things to a wider audience beyond each streaming service's gated community, that contrasts against the way that cinemas seemed to not entirely be beholden to showing films only from one particular studio (at least before Disney bought everything!).

I still have hopes however that we might be entering a new age of media criticism in response to that deluge. After all there is so much 'content' now that it could sustain a raft of new critics each tackling different areas with little to no overlap in interest. But of course whilst online criticism is booming and everyone has a voice (creating the same issues of being overwhelmed by 'content' rather than 'quality content') in order to have sustainable careers and be able to focus on their role critics themselves need platforms that value their work and pay them reliably.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Wed Feb 17, 2021 5:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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TMDaines
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Re: Martin Scorsese

#414 Post by TMDaines » Wed Feb 17, 2021 7:08 am

hearthesilence wrote:
Tue Feb 16, 2021 10:37 pm
"Of course, it’s hardly surprising that artists such as Godard, Bergman, Kubrick, and Fellini, who once reigned over our great art form like gods, would eventually recede into the shadows with the passing of time."

Translation: "I remain unmoved by Film Socialisme, Goodbye to Language and The Image Book. He's dead to me!"
We all know that Godard died decades ago.

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Brian C
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Re: Martin Scorsese

#415 Post by Brian C » Wed Feb 17, 2021 10:01 am

To me, the problem with the algorithms is basically summed up by the fact that I’ve been a Spotify subscriber for a decade now and they’re still trying to foist the goddamn Dave Matthews Band on me. Forget movies and music - I shudder to think that people get their actual news this way.

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jazzo
Joined: Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:02 am

Re: Martin Scorsese

#416 Post by jazzo » Wed Feb 17, 2021 12:25 pm

Your Spotify story reminds me being a member of Columbia House Music Club back in university, which is what uncurated streaming services may most resemble these days. This, for the younger members of the forum, was a mailorder service where the label (Columbia or BMG) sent you their CD selection of the month, which you could keep and pay for, or send back at your own cost, and which was almost certainly the largest release of the month and already dominating mainstream radio airplay, so there was really no need for the extra sales push.

Worse, these selections were completely unrelated to any actual musical selection history you might have had with them, and there was no way to seek out independent artists the label may have had buried somewhere, scuttling, I'm sure, a bunch of smaller-but-deserving musical careers.

Relying upon an algorithm to make selections for you with any uncurated streaming service is pretty much the same as only having access to their printed catalogs, and removing the search function from your home screen.

Your Dave Matthews Band was my Jann Arden here in Canada. They must have sent me her fucking debut CD three times before I had to contact them with a cease and desist.

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dustybooks
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Re: Martin Scorsese

#417 Post by dustybooks » Wed Feb 17, 2021 12:46 pm

I was still doing some work as a music critic for an alt-weekly when I first subscribed to Spotify about ten years ago and would sometimes use it to double-check something or to hear an album that I couldn't get a review copy of, and because there wasn't (or I wasn't aware of) a "private mode" in those days, I still get hugely off-kilter recommendations as a result of reviewing albums I would never recreationally listen to!

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FrauBlucher
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Re: Martin Scorsese

#418 Post by FrauBlucher » Wed Feb 17, 2021 12:47 pm

jazzo wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 12:25 pm
Your Spotify story reminds me being a member of Columbia House Music Club back in university, which is what uncurated streaming services may most resemble these days. This, for the younger members of the forum, was a mailorder service where the label (Columbia or BMG) sent you their CD selection of the month, which you could keep and pay for, or send back at your own cost, and which was almost certainly the largest release of the month and already dominating mainstream radio airplay, so there was really no need for the extra sales push.
Oh God, I remember that. You would initially get to pick 8 or maybe less CDs, I don't remember, for a discounted price to join. Then they would send a selection each month which had nothing in common with your initial selections and the cost was practically double what you would pay in a record/CD store. What a crazy gimmick that was.

I totally understand Scorsese's frustration, but the ship has sailed. There won't be any going back. In 20 years who knows where the industry of movies and cinema will be. Scorsese sees himself and his way of loving film as approaching the bygone era.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Martin Scorsese

#419 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Feb 17, 2021 1:00 pm

dustybooks wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 12:46 pm
I was still doing some work as a music critic for an alt-weekly when I first subscribed to Spotify about ten years ago and would sometimes use it to double-check something or to hear an album that I couldn't get a review copy of, and because there wasn't (or I wasn't aware of) a "private mode" in those days, I still get hugely off-kilter recommendations as a result of reviewing albums I would never recreationally listen to!
Hah, same here, only not as a critic but for streaming a lot of music that I didn't like but was giving second or third chance. (Much easier than downloading them or checking them out at the library.)

Which reminds me, I used to keep a lot of new music in my iTunes library - it was basically stuff to explore, nothing curated in terms of quality (just stuff I hadn't heard across all genres) - and I found out teachers and classmates were often streaming them from my laptop, believing I was keeping them there as personal favorites. That produced some comic moments.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Martin Scorsese

#420 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Feb 17, 2021 1:03 pm

FrauBlucher wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 12:47 pm
Oh God, I remember that. You would initially get to pick 8 or maybe less CDs, I don't remember, for a discounted price to join. Then they would send a selection each month which had nothing in common with your initial selections and the cost was practically double what you would pay in a record/CD store. What a crazy gimmick that was.
That's one of my favorite and most dated jokes on The Simpsons!

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