Well, I certainly don’t hate him, but I think Scorcese has been a spent force for more than a few years now. People seem to praise him almost reflexively, without much consideration, but he has been banging the same drum for years.
Bring it on.
Kundun, The Age of Innocence, Bring Out the Dead, Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Shine a Light — that’s definitely not banging the same drum, whatever else might be said.
Worst film of the 1980s: “Do the Right Thing,” a pointless inter-racial screaming contest set in the cleanest ghetto you’ll ever see.
I agree that Kevin Smith and PT Anderson’s movies could probably be better, but they are definitely not the worst things that have come out.
That distinction belongs to Batman and Robin, and Phantom Menace.
If I could take a sledgehammer to every copy of these films, and erase my memory at Lacuna Inc., I would probably still have nightmares about these movies, and I use the term movie loosely. I’d go further but I’d start crying.
I second OIiver’s nominations.
Scorcese has relied on the same stylistic tricks for the last ten years, usually, now, in the service of sub-par scripts. So the cinematic swirls—the speed of his shots, the frenetic pacing, the hyper-attentiveness, the blaring music—to what end, when the scripts have been so feeble? The Departed, even Gangs of New York—did anyone give a damn about these characters? At any rate, I didn’t, and at the end of the day these are personal responses, aren’t they.
I can see your point, Wendy, to at least some degree. The material does not always seem to have engaged Scorsese, and is not always well served by his signature style. But when it does work, when the material does connect with him, his camera comes alive and the film takes on considerable intensity. I did not, for example, much care for The Aviator through the first half; it was a standard Hollywood biopic that seemed to have no real reason for being. When Howard Hughes gets in trouble, however, that’s when the movie suddenly woke up — here was the lone man with whom Scorsese has always identified, the outsider, not unlike Travis Bickle, the intensely, obsessively private man who finds himself having to wage war against his foes in public. It suddenly felt like a real movie, and a real Scorsese movie at that. I disagree with you strongly on The Departed, as I thought it was captivating from the first frame to the last, and yes, I did care rather a lot about the characters played by Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen and Mark Wahlberg. I thought William Monahan’s screenplay took the Chinese crime film on which it was based and crafted it into a Boston-Irish Catholic mob epic. Scorsese the film student was also in evidence, as it had strong noirish overtones of Polonsky’s “Force of Evil.”
Fargo. Perhaps the most painful movie I’ve ever watched. I actually don’t like the Coen Brother’s all that much. The only Coen Bro’s movie I can stomach is Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? Other than that. I wish they’d stop making movies all together.
I wonder Rodney if it’s a gender division—don’t want to make too much of this, because I don’t think I could fully defend it, frankly, but part of the reason The Departed meant little to me is because I saw the same brutish, excessively mannered male characters—Nicholson, mainly—doing their butch bravado shtick. The eternal variation on ‘You talkin’ to me?’ Call it the Bickle Effect. And the sole female character in The Departed was, to my mind, wholly pointless. And I also got the sense that the film itself existed almost entirely so that Scorcese could devise new ways to see his characters killed. His bloodlust has always been keen, and in lots of films it’s served him well.
…but I’m in a mood. And I must admit that I liked DiCaprio in The Aviator when he starts to lose his mind…impossible not to have sympathy.
Well, first of all, I disagree on the gender level for just this reason: I saw it at the theater, called my daughter and told her she HAD to see it, went to see it again with her, then she saw it again herself and wound up buying the DVD. So there’s a chick who loves it, if that means anything. I do tend to agree regarding Vera Farmiga’s character in The Departed. It wasn’t really very fleshed out. (She’s a great actress though — did you see her in “Down to the Bone”?) I guess we part company on whether the rest was macho schtick; I never got the feeling those characters were mere types. They seemed genuine to me.
The Departed took a couple fo viewings to really get me. I was a big fan of the original and i kinda took that versions route. But upon multiple viewings you can see how Scorsese took their story and gave it a whole new life and different meaning. The movie works on many levels and although it is not his best work. It still get’s pretty close to his other classics. His bar is pretty high and the pacing of this film takes us back to his taxi driver and goodfellas days all rolled into one.
“Fargo”? “Do the Right Thing”? Wow. You guys hate some masterpieces!
Reading Ebert’s new book on Scorsese just now. Hope to post more later.
It’s interesting, isn’t it, how all of these conclusions are based, finally, on whether we’re moved by something. Or someone. How to argue whether DiCaprio was moving in Departed? It’s a personal investment we make as viewers, or we don’t. I have to say it’s also to do, for me, with speed: I’ve thought for a long time, as I said earlier, that Scorcese uses freneticism as a substitute for character development, but I couldn’t possibly defend this, if in fact you ended up being moved by those characters. But I think generally filmmakers today have a stark terror of slowing down.
..good to see the chicks getting behind Martin, though, I suppose.
You must have missed all of the scenes in Do The Right Thing, of the characters sweeping or kicking garbage throughout the entire picture……And anyway, this (very old argument) has always been rather dubious, why must we insist that a black community isn’t authentic if it doesn’t look a landfill?
*like a landfill
Wendy — Totally agree with your comment about filmmakers today having a morbid fear of slowing down. That’s why I love Olmi and Ozu, who adapt very easily to the pace of ordinary life and still make interesting films.
Kifah — I’m not saying it has to look like a landfill — but must it look like the set of Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long” video? I’ve never been more disappointed in a picture than I was “Do the Right Thing,” as I was a total fan of Lee’s earlier work, which seemed so charged with life. “Do the Right Thing” by contrast just seemed to meander from thing to thing, and never seemed to have any point to make, and at the end, with those contrasting quotes from Malcolm X and MLK, it just seemed impotent. Some people liked that about it, I guess, that it offered no answers. But instead all you have is a movie that just kind of boils with directionless rage. The response the movie received from all corners totally baffled me. I know I’m alone in this. Anyway, I quite like a lot of Lee’s other films. My favorite is “Bamboozled.” I like him best when he knows what he wants to say and just says it.
I hate Michael Bay, and I pretty much always have. I CANNOT believe that Armageddon, of all the other wonderful movies in the world, has a Criterion edition. His movies are horrible and formulaic (or just horribly formulaic), and I can’t believe he’s still surviving as a filmmaker, which makes me quite sad. And he is remaking The Birds (his title has moved from director to producer on the project, but still). I really dislike remakes, but it bothers me even more that someone is even attempting to remake a Hitchcock film.
Add to this my recent realization that he and I share the same birthday, and I want to go sit in a corner somewhere and cry until someone tells me he has stopped making movies.
That was therapeutic, to say the least.
Hatred for multicultural feel-good Oscar-bait sub-thread:
Catherine, I’m with you all the way on Michael Freaking Bay, and why “Armageddon,” of all films was given the Criterion treatment is absolutely beyond me.
Hate, though. That I can get into. Let me clear my throat.
I absolutely hated “As Good As It Gets” - a film I found just plain loathsome. I still can’t believe people dug it. Pretty much anything with John Travolta. I hate that dude (as an actor, mind you, I know nothing of him as a real person). I entirely blame his renaissance on QT, whom I otherwise dig.
-Anything by Hal Hartley. Nothing personal, fella, but the pacing of your stuff makes me want to jab hot forks in my eyes.
-“Dead Man.” Ditto, with the pacing stuff. I don’t mind “Stranger Than Paradise” and “Down By Law” but after that Jarmusch totally loses me.
-Anything by Joel Schumacher. It seems as if Hollywood has finally figured out he can’t make a film to save his life.
-“Righteous Kill.” Lord, that was a piece of crap. Of all the bad things DeNiro and Pacino have done separately in the last decade, their collective effort trumped them all. Even the title sucks.
-“Vicky Christina Barcelona.” Hate is a bit strong - I didn’t absolutely hate the film — but I can’t fathom how people don’t find it a complete bore, a film Mr. Allen has made countless times and with each incarnation, a little less inspired. He really needs to leave Scarlett alone for a while.
Oh, and I’m totally with the original poster on this thread: Kevin Smith’s stuff is always so sloppy and lame, I’ve given up on the dude.
Thanks, I really needed that.
Babel, Crash, 21 grams, :::shudder::: this shit is the worst.
Oh Kirsten Dunst. How I loathe you. From your weird teeth, to your intolerable “acting”. I mean, how can someone take Mary Jane Watson (a seemingly easy role) and completely dismantle it? I mean, when you call Peter “Tiger” there is no emphasis on it. No passion, no heart! THEN THEN, you ruin a story that should be great (The Cat’s Meow) with your..your….actually, I have no real reason for hating you in this, BUT I DO! Gah, I can’t stand you.
Can we parse ‘shit’ here, just a bit? What’s it mean? I don’t have too much to say for Babel or 21 Grams, largely because I thought the earnestness overwhelmed the craft at every turn; but much of Crash I’d be willing to get behind. But perhaps since this is the Hate Corner—my favourite so far—explaining the hate is out of this scope.
David Fincher…Richard Linklater…Lynn Ramsey…why are these people aloud to make movies? Oh, and I hate people who hate Kevin Smith.
Also, Rodney, I’m with you on Do the Right Thing, absolutely—people far too easily mistook that closing violent burst as Lee’s political treatise, but this film finds him fence-sitting on the issue of violent vs. nonviolent resistance throughout, and then asking us to congratulate him for his fence-sitting finesse.
That being said, I found it exciting throughout, which is something. Not everything; something.
Kevin Smith. I hate you. Please die.
My favorite quote regarding that HACK – Kevin Smith:
“I reserve my hatred for the Kevin Smiths of the world: people who have magically ascended to relevance despite a total lack of imagination and a failure to achieve minimal competence at any of the dozens of things that make up filmmaking.”
Crash is the most smug example of phony issue-white elephant film making I can think of this decade. The characters are ridiculous, the film finds racial antagonisms behind every closed door, without much complexity (which is the opposite of do the right thing, where antagonisms and friendships often linger and intertwine) and it is generally a white liberal fantasy cooked up by a T.V hack who got car jacked one day and decided he had to make sense of it. Is having Matt Dillon rape a girl then have him save her life supposed to be a nuanced view of a complex psyche or is it just trumped up t.v style melodrama?
I think you two are bonkers about the ending of Do the Right Thing; by offering the king and x quotes he is invoking the single greatest cultural and political debate among the African American community during the civil rights era, and he’s suggesting the King/X dichotomy is still a debate worth having. he doesn’t need to pick a side. There was no one way to interpret say, the Howard Beach incident or Rodney King, so I don’t see why Lee had to take one side or the other, he was asking the audience to think about a very complex set of events.
and speaking of Rodney King, how is it that these people live in a racially vitriolic L.A (a rather dated notion if you ask me) and Rodney King isn’t mentioned once? These people don’t live in the real world, they live in a sitcom fantasy.
and by the way Bed-Stuy Brooklyn has been a relatively safe and increasingly gentrified nieghborhood for the last 20 years, so complaining that it doesn’t look like East Beruit is a rather silly argument that I’ve never understood. I think the production design in that movie is quite lively.
Well, I’ll take a breath first, all in the interest of civility.
Dillon’s character raped no one; he copped a long feel. He was a pig, but not entirely; that’s Haggis’ point. Even vile sacks of shit can contain multitudes. Trite to you, moving to me. So it goes; such is film.
As for Lee, of course he doesn’t have to take a side; but I would appreciate him so much more if he didn’t assume, as he seems to in every film I’ve seen of his, that I need an education in racial or religious dynamics. The issue is complex and two-sided. Is it really, Spike? Thank you; it hadn’t crossed my mind.
I’ve lived in Beirut; if Lee wants a lesson in the damage that competing ideologies can do, he’s welcome to call me.
Besides, even-handedness doesn’t suit Lee. He’s a polemicist, and he’s at his best as a filmmaker—I think—when he embraces this.