…And possibly disappointment. After Gangs of New York, Scorsese hasn’t made a movie as great as that one, or any great movie for that matter, and even the docs don’t work. This guy used to put out great works every what, two or three years? Now, I don’t know what he’s doing.
Here are my reasons (for each movie since Gangs) why they aren’t great, though some are still good:
THE AVIATOR- Feels safe and routine. Drags on too long too.
THE DEPARTED- It’s reaffirmation that he can still do gangster movies, not a whole new experience altogether.
SHUTTER ISLAND- I just don’t like this movie.
HUGO- A celebration of celebration, though this is the best of this lot.
Agree or disagree? Type away…
Hugo felt like it dragged out during the middle portion and picked up pace as it neared closer to the whole discovery. Sometimes I think Scorsese went too childishly sentimental with the characters, the way that his friend Spielberg tends to do.
Shutter Island was pretty intriguing and atmospheric the whole time, keeping me guessing and immersed in the performances, like a film noir.
The Departed went a little too overboard with the violence and the macho acting that it didn’t feel as smart and witty as Goodfellas or Casino. It felt too commercial in its approaches and storyline.
The Aviator is my favorite of his films in the previous decade; it’s not overly violent or bad-mouthed, relies more on the colorful visuals of the mise-en-scene and the psychological demons of Howard Hughes, which is not all that different from psychological turmoil we’ve seen in earlier Scorsese films.
You could probably throw in Kundun and Bringing Ot the Dead as inert, lefless films as well (And the scenario of Gangs of New York becomes a mess in its last hour). Looking at those three, I actually feel that his recent ouput has been an improvement.
The Aviator: A near classic, spoiled by a bit too much CGI, spot the star mentality and a slow start. It justifies the collaboration with DiCaprio (Who is outstanding in this), has a remarkably done plane crash scene and is an interesting study of obsession.
The Departed: A step backword. Not bad, but very weak sauce compared to his gangsters of yore. The changed ending doesn’t make any sense and Scorsese must have been intimidated by Nicholson, who just eats scenery like it’s an all you can eat buffet.
Shutter Island: Too long, awful accent by Dicaprio and a cop out Shamylan style ending. Compared to work like Shock Corridor, this isn’t new ground.
Hugo: His best in a long while. It’s sentimental, but I think that Scorsese redeemed it. His use of 3D and CGI to recreate Melies’s sequences is masterly and theres genuine heart in the end. I can forgive some of the lapses and Sacha Baren Cohen. There’s a genuine nastiness underlying it and he’s adapted the book quite well.
I think that a lot of these films are attempts by Marty to escape being pigeon hold as the "Made man’ guy. They haven’t all worked, but this isn’t even close to his weakest period.
In my opinion The Departed is a masterpiece. Even better than the original Infernal Affairs.
Aviator and Shutter Island are both good movies too.
Haven’t seen Hugo yet.
Hell, I adore Hugo, Gangs of New York, and the Departed. Shutter Island floored me, I just thought it was going to be a standard horror film, but Scorsese added some depth to it.
I don’t know if it so much “decline” as a shift in subject matter. Hugo reminded me cinematically of Age of Innocence and was equally well done. He still makes great movies even if he no longer presents such a sharp edge.
I’ve seen all these films under discussion save for “Hugo”. For me they’re all bad, maybe average at best. Doesn’t surprise me. Rare is the filmmaker who can sustain excellence through a long career and into old age.
Add GANGS OF NEW YORK to the mix as well — there’s a lot less than meets the eye. Scorsese’s decline has been sharp and decisive and seems irreversible, but I did get a lot out of the George Harrison documentary, so there may be hope yet.
Is it really so unusual for a director to have a period where they reach the heights of their talents and then not reach those heights again? Scorsese had an amazing run of almost 20 years from Mean Streets through Goodfellas. Isn’t THAT more remarkable than the fact that his output has been more spotty since?
Of course, in that time, he’s still managed fine releases like Age of Innocence, Casino, The Departed, Shine a Light and Hugo; but he’s not the Scorsese he used to be. (but then, Frenzy was no Psycho either.)
@Nadafingah: Agree with you on Kundun, but I do like Bringing Out the Dead. Its view on spirituality, bolstered by the always-excellent Paul Schrader’s writing, feels fresh even though Scorsese has done it many times before.
What do you think is his weakest period, then?
@Dzimas: He has always shifted in subject matter: After Raging Bull, he put out After Hours, The King of Comedy, and The Color of Money, three movies that don’t share the same subject matter with Bull. My point is while Scorsese has always made a great movie out of everything (save for Kundun, his weakest one in my opinion) before post-Gangs, but his recent output hasn’t been consistent with that greatness. I’m probably being unfair that I’m expecting a lot from this man, but if he makes ONE memorably great movie after Hugo, I’ll be happy.
@Bobby Wise: That’s a great idea for another forum: “Directors who in old age still made excellent movies in their long careers”
Hugo is his most personal film and his greatest imo. I don’t mind if he retires tomorrow.
Now that I think about it, it’s hard to really pinpoint a “bad period”. I think he kind of sold out after The King of Comedy and before Goodfellas, but then right in the middle is the short film Life Lessons which is the best thing Nick Nolte’s ever done.
I could pick on the period between Casino and The Aviator, but that’s really only a few films and would have to exclude his masterful Film essay My Voyage to Italy. I think I’d probably go with that period.
My problem with Bringing out the Dead is probably Cage, who just seems wrong there to me. I never got the feeling that he had been going through this for years. I do feel that the film started to lose direction toward the end as well. Forgot it was a Schrader script.
The wild acclaim centering on HUGO just mystifies me — yeah the Melies stuff was nice enough, but it doesn’t mitigate the tedium of that fucking kiddie movie that takes up the remaining two hours I was sitting there.
“(but then, Frenzy was no Psycho either.)”
Slow down now! “Frenzy” is absolutely brilliant. A triumphant return to form.
“That’s a great idea for another forum: “Directors who in old age still made excellent movies in their long careers””
I think we did make a thread based on that, somewhere lost in the forest of dead threads.
DECLINE!?!?!? You must be smokin’ reefer.
It’s growth, it’s reaching out in different directions, in the case of HUGO, it’s PURE MOVIE MAKING. He’s a genius who reaches new heights with every movie (even the overblown debacle that is SHUTTER ISLAND)
And who said GANGS OF NEW YORK was all that great? It’s a masterpiece of production design to be sure with a great performance by DD Lewis. It’s also marred by miscasting L. DiCarpio & C. Diaz (neither of whom had the gravitas to carry their roles). Scorsese’s decision to film at Cineceta was a mistake…there is NO feel for old New York whatsoever. Stylized is good when it’s intentional, but I’d argue that this was not intentional.
Nevertheless, Scorsese is hardly in any decline, THE AVIATOR was high gloss entertainment with so much to offer (from the specatular work by R RIchardson to the great performances by DiCaprio, Blanchette, Baldwin, Alda, etc). And to be clear, Scorsese has released two of his BEST (THE DEPARTED & HUGO) in the last ten years.
Will he ever hit the heights of TAXI DRIVER, RAGING BULL, THE KING OF COMEDY or GOODFELLAS? Maybe not, but decline is an ugly and wildly unnecessary word here.
“After Gangs of New York, Scorsese hasn’t made a movie as great as that one, or any great movie for that matter, and even the docs don’t work.”
After Gangs of New York? How about after Casino? I’d say he’s been on decline for a couple decades.
“Directors who in old age still made excellent movies in their long careers”
If “Shutter Island” is an overblown debacle (which it is), maybe these new heights he’s reaching aren’t so worthwhile. “The Departed” as one of his best ever? Oh man, I’m really missing out on something in that film.
I did like the George Harrison doc but the better question to me is, “How is this guy still making films?” Friedkin, De Palma, Bogdanich – they’ve pretty much given up filmmaking and only sporadically release a new movie. Scorsese on the other hand seems to only be increasing his output when his age should suggest he slow down.
^your comment tells me how grown up you are.
“your comment tells me how grown up you are.”
I adored Hugo by the way, and I found the “kiddie stuff” that the poster so derisively named to be heartfelt and truthful — he captured the idealism of childhood perfectly, as well as feelings of uncertainty and displacement when you’re an orphan.
“^your comment tells me how grown up you are.”
Your response speaks volumes about you, too.
Glad folks found the kiddie movie plot to be so heartfelt and truthful. I found it tedious and mechanical — lacking all human warmth, settling for Zemeckis-level emotional button-pushing and suspense-free Big Set Pieces — that final chase scene is one of the laziest climaxes in movie history.
“that final chase scene is one of the laziest climaxes in movie history.”
Funny, because the chase scene was NOT the climax to me. It was when the guard finally catches him, and asks him if he has a family, and he can’t answer if he does because he is so confused about how he fits with the new family that he’s found.
Is it a common theme of children’s stories? Yes. But the execution was well done for me.
But I can hear what you’re saying — to each his own, I guess.
I don’t know, the only people I know that use “kiddie” seriously are people going from pre-school to elementary school.
^To be fair, does not invalidate his criticism though, as much as I disagree with his verdict.
Exir — point taken about where the “climax” of the story may wind up being, I meant it more in the sense of the Big Final Chase scene feeling more “climactic” than anything else that was going on — it certainly did come out of nowhere and seemed like one last chance for a big SFX 3-D CGI BLOWOUT. Certainly if I’d been at all engaged by the story of that miserable brat Hugo, as embodied by the listless Mr. Butterworth, I’d probably see the film differently. Folks do seem to be engaged by this tedious little movie in ways that I never was.
Malik — sorry the word “kiddie” bothers you. Shall I just replace it with “juvenile”?
Dude, I think it is more a question of what you like. I too prefer his earlier films. They were more gritty, drawn from his New York experiences. Even when he ventured beyond the confines of NY like in Alice Doesn’t Live Here in Anymore or The Band’s Last Date, he still brought his edginess to these films. But, I still think he makes great films. Compare Hugo to The Artist. Scorsese made a much better film than Hazanavicius in every way. Martin still makes very entertaining movies.
>>Folks do seem to be engaged by this tedious little movie in ways that I never was.<<
I thought the overall visuals and history of of film/Melies portion were so strong, I was able to (mostly) forgive the weakness of the child performers (or that they’re given nothing interesting to do) and the unfortunate casting of Mr. Baron Cohen.
The Aviator (aka. The History of Color Cinematography) is teriffic. Especially for the plane crash sequence as Marty doesn’t like to fly. It’s his worst nightmare realized.
The Departed is a “run for cover” project. Marty gets to work with Jack. That’s about it.
Didn’t care for Shutter Island much at all.
Hugo is a MASTERPIECE! — one of the best films Marty has ever made. it’s right up there with Raging Bull, Casino and The King of Comedy
“Hugo is a MASTERPIECE! — one of the best films Marty has ever made. it’s right up there with Raging Bull, Casino and The King of Comedy.”
Glad you think so, and youi’re certainly not alone in thinking so. I can’t put it anywhere that level of accomplishment. For me it is among his very worst films, down there with LAST TEMPTATION and COLOR OF MONEY.