Thursday, December 16, 2004

TV: Scorsese on Scorsese

Richard Schickel keeps himself busy. He’s writing for TIME magazine, supervising the restoration of classic films, and directing this Turner Classic Movies documentary. Which is in no way intended to promote the pending release of THE AVIATOR.

It’s essentially a ninety-minute interview punctuated by film clips, which means it’s impossible to screw up. Nobody talks movies like Scorsese.

He describes his great love of noir, saying how happy he was that Warner Brothers picked up MEAN STREETS because they made the best gangster films. It’s strange, then that his one overt attempt at making a movie in that mode – CAPE FEAR – is a misfire. The psychology of the characters may have been updated, but the movie is overheated and overwrought, with direction that calls attention to itself. The 1962 version, directed by journeyman J. Lee Thompson, is simpler, cleaner, and better.

A few of Scorsese’s films are given short shrift here. CASINO is only discussed in passing. There’s no mention of NEW YORK, NEW YORK, AFTER HOURS (for which he won Best Director at Cannes) or BRINGING OUT THE DEAD. But time is spent on my favorite Scorsese movie, 1983’s THE KING OF COMEDY. I watched it repeatedly in high school while everyone else was hung up on PORKY’S. No wonder I didn’t go to the prom.

Noticed: Bumper Sticker

Saw this on the back of a car festooned with Darwin fish –


I object to this on both political and pop cultural grounds.

Miscellaneous: Link

Sidney Lumet, master of the New York police thriller, will finally receive a much-deserved Oscar. I doubt we’ll see clips from A STRANGER AMONG US, starring Melanie Griffith as a cop who goes undercover in the Hasidic community, in the highlight reel. But you never know.