It’s only rock ‘n roll!
Martin Scorsese is on my shit list this holiday season. Big time. I used to run out to see Scorsese movies as soon as they were released. The Last Waltz is a major reason I’m still so obsessed with rock ‘n roll. At 17, I sat in the second row of a packed theater for Raging Bull. The two of us knew exactly what that movie was getting at. I simply mention that movie to her to this day and our bond is confirmed. He didn’t miss a beat with left turns, like The King of Comedy and After Hours. Even The Color of Money paid off.
I walked through picket lines to see The Last Temptation of Christ. I saw Goodfellas the day that came out, in the company of E. Pluribus Gergely and our soon-to-be brides. What a movie! Then came Casino. As soon as I saw the trailers for that movie I thought, “This looks like a rehash of Goodfellas. I just saw Goodfellas, and I don’t need to see a Scorsese movie with Sharon Stone!” Scorsese entered his midlife crisis years, in which the greatest director with minimal need for women in his films suddenly started chasing all the blond cheerleader types who wouldn’t give him the time of day when he was in high school: Jessica Lange in Cape Fear, that preposterous version of an already mediocre B-movie; Michelle Pfeiffer in that film of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence; and Cameron Diaz in that 19th century Irish mobster near-musical, the most blatant cheerleader grope of Scorsese’s career.
Leonardo DiCaprio has replaced Robert DeNiro as the director’s go-to guy. I’ve got no beef with DiCaprio. He can be really good. He was great in Catch Me If You Can. He was really good as Howard Hughes, in that mostly unnecessary Scorsese movie. He’s great at playing an engaging creep, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do anything beside that. He doesn’t give off much emotional range, at least not in the Scorsese movies I’ve seen him in. Now Scorsese’s cast him as an asshole investment guy from the ’80s in The Wolf of Wall Street. Three of hours of the ’70s scenes from Goodfellas set in the ’80s, instead. Three hours of hotshots snorting coke off hookers’ asses. Hey, it may be a fantastic movie, but I get no sense that it’s going to deliver the redemption that was at the heart of all the great Scorsese movies. It looks to me like another Casino, another movie in which Marty’s characters toss Benjamins around and the camera pans in quickly, just because he can do it and we can’t! It looks to me like another midlife crisis movie from an 80-year-old master who should make one more film with DeNiro before they both die. I need my Scorsese to calm the fuck down and make a 2-hour meditation on death, with DeNiro playing an old man version of one of his classic Scorsese characters. No blonds. No Irish-Catholic gangters from Boston. No DiCaprio. No offense to blonds, Irish-Catholic gangsters from Boston, and DiCaprio. The movie must check in at less than 2 hours 15 minutes.
A few days ago the Rolling Stones’ “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll” came on the radio, and I couldn’t change the station fast enough. I have come to loathe that song, even more than I dislike “Angie,” despite the fact that I don’t mind the music of “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll,” its groove, it’s production. I just seems like the Stones’ version of Casino, like they felt they’d worked long and hard enough and just wanted to trade Sharon Stone an Oscar nod for a roll in the hay.
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