Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Get Ready for Scorsese: a Retrospective

Do you like Scorcese? I do. But what is exactly that I like? It's mainly the romantic idea of a director-producer who is working non-stop for so many years and is not done yet. I remember the first Scorsese I saw was  -what a surprise- Taxi Driver; somewhere in central Paris, while strolling with my sister, we decided to plunge in the master's wild world. A critical point in his career, and a good point to start with, as a viewer. Or maybe a tricky one. 

Then came Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed. Especially for this last one, I was unable to grasp why it was so acclaimed; probably I have to give it a second try -but, is it such a glorious thing for a not-so-young-Scorsese to do something fresh? For those who finally gave him the Best Achievement in Directing Oscar, the answer is a loud yes.

To sum up, why is he so big? As far as I am concerned, after that "Are you looking at me?" line, he never impressed me to the same extent. This does not imply that the rest of his oeuvre is not worth it, not at all. But, would he mean so much to me if this film did not exist in his filmography? I don't think so. Of course, every collaboration with Robert de Niro, his strong directing hand and his vision gives him extra credits. Then, there's Alice, that does not quite fit the scheme. Hugo, as well -still in my to-do list. Hmm. 

That's why I'm truly happy in the prospect of the up and coming Scorsese Retrospective. I know I have not been curious enough myself to solve the mystery that he is, but now the Cinematheque in Luxembourg will cater for me. I finally have the chance to see the best of his career on screen over the following months -good pace, don't you find? Let's not Scorsese-oke ourselves to death with a mortal dose of machismo. Let's take it easy. Today is the Opening Night "Made by Scorsese"; it includes a cine-conference on his work by  Michel Cieutat, reviewer at Positif and the screening of his first coup de force: Mean Streets (1973).

Join me, even if it's late notice. If not, come back later to read more on the event and the film!

RECAP: Michel Cieutat is actually a wise man, cinema-wise; having written extensively on Scorsese, Kapra, the giants Pacino and De Niro, Audrey Hepburn and on many topics and periods of the American cinema, it was a pity he could share so little with us. I was happy to know more on how Catholicism traumatized Scorsese -which became rather obvious in the film to follow- and his distinct personal path. We can clearly make a division between his more personal films -that consist of a form of expression for him "I am the films that I make", he said- which offer his sharp impressions from Little Italy, the Mafia and their ways, they portray tortured individuals, always torn between their passions and their religious or other constrains; then they are his Hollywood films. Made with an auteur's touch a Hollywood film is still precious, but, the Scorsese that impresses me is clearly the real one; the one who chooses his themes and elaborates on them with no fear for graphic violence or sex depictions. (and just like that, miraculously, the mystery is solved. The big audience knows Scorsese in his  less personal version, but that version is the less interesting one). His personal side, though, is the one that the Cinematheque's Retrospective will try to convey to the public par excellence.

Mean Streets falls in this category and is more than you ever expected. A true depiction of couple of Mafia-to-be guys, starting off as small-time-crooks, really, their obsession with honour, their hidden tenderness, their fear of God or their need to defy every set of rules they could get hold of. The performances by young Harvey Keitel and De Niro left me aghast; they really made me wonder how natural talent makes a difference; and occasionally can win over technique.  Believe it or not, Mean Streets is incontestably my favourite Mafia film, even if I this genre is not particularly of my liking (no Godfather for me, thanks) I higlhly recommend it. 

1 comment:

TheOtherJack said...

Thumbs up! really a good initiative on this eclectic film maker. i won't miss it! from ragging bull to after hours, passing by the gangs and the aviators or a taxi driver, I like the way he always makes it interesting to be seen. And you're right, de Niro is an extra bonus - it makes a 2 in 1!