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.
Not exactly related, but on Monday a friend suggested I see American Hustle, which I almost talked myself into seeing on Sunday. There are no movies out that I really want to see, and yesterday I really wanted to see a movie. This may shock you, but I’ve got a really bad attitude about seeing this movie. I’m annoyed by both the seeming Goodfellas ’70s scenes shown in the trailer as I am the trailer for Scorsese’s new movie. I don’t need 3 hours of hotshots strutting about. I’m not having a midlife crisis. Scorsese is OLD. He needs to make his career-capping confronting death movie, starring DeNiro, not DiCaprio in old guy makeup. He needs to stop trying to impress fourth-generation hotshots who don’t know the difference between Taxi Driver and one of those celebrity vodka ads. The rest of the movie world needs to stop acting like fourth-generation hotshots, with dramatic camera pans on stacks of bills being tossed in the air.
I’m afraid that American Hustle is going to make me think too much about the following:
- How sick I am of Scorsese
- How overrated I thought Jennifer Lawrence was in the surprisingly good Silver Linings Playbook
- How decent Bradley Cooper is for being a good-looking guy
- How much I like Bradley Cooper just a little bit more because he grew up a few miles from where I went to school (ie, homerism)
- How low Amy Adams’ neckline is plunging in that jumpsuit and how I wish I could like her in another movie as much as I did in that one where she played a princess
- How much Christian Bale looks like Tom Cruise (even looking like Cruise’s fat studio boss in that Ben Stiller warm movie farce that went on for way too long)
- And so forth.
In short, I’ll probably wait to see American Hustle when it’s out on DVD or showing on AMC.
As you probably know about me, this collective beef is my own burden.
I hope to eventually get out to see Nebraska (although the thought of seeing Bruce Dern as Nick Nolte is not appealing) and Inside Llewynn Davis (although the Coen brothers aren’t too far behind Scorsese on my list of favorite directors who need to calm the hell down).
Last night, rather than going out to see a movie we weren’t sold on, we watched an early Cary Grant movie called Topper. That was excellent. We’ve now seen a couple of films with Constance Bennett. She was a fireball! The guy who played Topper was very funny as well. Topper was not “only rock ‘n roll.”