The man with the blue-cards, James Lipton, has the honor of interviewing one of the most critically acclaimed directors in recent history, Martin Scorsese. Carrying out this noble task in front of his usual gaggle of prospective film students live on stage.
Now Martin begins this interview by elaborating on his early childhood in ‘Little Italy’, and how his asthmatic condition gave him the opening that he needed, to express himself though his love of sequential art, storytelling, and film.
You see, inadvertently, due to his confined lifestyle, Martin became obsessive with all aspects of the cinema. To the extent that he started devoting his time to either watching films with his father, or contemplating a more biblical pursuit in the Catholic Church. Thankfully, over time, film beat God. Giving Martin the gumption of enroll into a media studies program held at NYU.
Next, once Martin managed to gauge a bit of critical acclaim with a couple of short films that he made at college, Hollywood came a calling – most notably Warner Brother’s director, Roger Corman. Though, to maintain this meager status, Martin still had to ply his trade in documentaries and fledgling film projects (like 'Boxcar Bertha' and 'Alice Does Not Live Here Anymore'), before he could make a more personal film of his own devising, 'Mean Streets'.
Well, at the time, Martin thought to himself that ‘Mean Streets’, plus his subsequent film, 'Taxi Driver', would not be relevant enough for the filmic elite to take very seriously. He was wrong. Since then, he has managed to amass a number of film projects which have been close to his heart, whilst also giving him the opportunity to work with such actors as Harvey Keitel (his alter ego), Robert De Niro (his symbiotic brother in arms), and Jodie Foster (a very professional lady).
In great detail, Martin then explains the minutia of such films as ‘Taxi Driver’, 'Goodfellas', 'Raging Bull', 'Casino', 'Cape Fear', 'Age of Innocence', 'The Color of Money', and 'Kundun'. Plus he does this whilst stating facts relating to his inspirations (Kazan, Presburger, and Cassavetes), directing (writing, design, and AD’s), actors involved (a few mentioned above), as well as his own personal life (most notably, his Mother and Father).
To close this show, Martin talks about his then most recent film project, ‘Gangs of New York’, before James asks him a number of questions posed from the Bernard Pivot structured questionnaire. Here, we learn that Martin does not want to be a studio executive, as he subsequently answers questions the students ask him on topic’s such as ‘his attraction to actors’ and ‘what inspires him now’.
Here are a couple of quotes taken from the show:
- I thought my view from the window of my Grandmothers apartment was the best view in the world.
- What connected me with the family, is because to due to my ill health, they did not know what to do with me.
- The camera I had was bigger than the place I was shooting.
- If anybody wants to know what it's like to live in Little Italy during my time you can see it in 'Mean Streets'.
- A producer once said to me 'Do you know that you can get paid of this?'.
- Robert said to me that he saw Travis as a crab.
Now what can I say about this great man, Martin Scorsese, that other more notable film critics have not said before me? Hmmm? That his eyebrows are very bushy and that he talk’s like someone is pointing a gun to his head? Err? Maybe? But lets not worry about other peoples perceptions for the time being shall we. Instead, let us just concentrate on this rather spiffy interview that he gave to our lovable bearded dwarf, James Lipton.
OK, so what have I learnt from watching this program? Quite a lot actually. For example: (1) Martin is a product of his time, and has the ability to use his advent childhood to hone his love for cinema and film. (2) Martin is a scholar in the field of film, and has an encyclopedic knowledge on the subject. (3) Personal films are worth telling, though only through a focused lens that manages to distill the story-line to it's essence. (4) Sometimes improvising is a good thing to do, because it allows the actors and the director the advantage to figure out what a particular subject matter is all about. (5) Narrow-mindedness is what narrow-mindedness does. It is always better to be a bit more flexible with your intentions. (6) Research is a very amicable tool when you partake in any endeavor, as you can gauge upon these resource to find out a more meaningful truth. (7) Life can steer you in the most strangest of directions at times. But it is always your upbringing that can give you a stability and understanding of things. And (8) Martin Scorsese does have very hypnotic eyebrows.
Listen, If you have not guessed by now, I am a big Scorsese fan. Since watching 'Goodfellas', I have followed his works from film to film, and studied nigh on everything he has done. Yes. Even 'Woodstock'. So how can I be subjective about Marty boy, huh? Simply put. I can't. Within his movies he touches upon many aspects that I can relate to both on a personal and a spiritual level. Powell and Pressburger. Sergio Leone. Seventies music. European cinema. Mediterranean roots. How illness can curb your outlook on life. People telling you to stop talking too fast. Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera.
All in all, if you haven't guessed by now, I really did like watching this show and hearing Martin speak. It was like listening to a crazy old uncle explain about how things used to be better in the ‘good old days’, whilst referencing such actors as De Niro and Keitel. Also, I could tell that Martin is really one cleaver chap too. He has an almost instinctive nature about his craft, and he feels things on a much deeper level than your normal run of the mill ‘director of the month’.
Personally speaking, I found it just fascinating how Martin literally had to plough his way though the film industry before he became famous. And in addition to this, I liked how positive and uplifting he seemed about the actors he has worked with as well as the people whom inspired him. OK, I know that sometimes in this interview he does appear somewhat over critical with his own work. But he is a perfectionist, right? And I would not expect any thing else from him.
Bless you Martin and James. Together, you made this seventies film junkie want to dance. Come on – lets...
THE RATING: A