Entries in the Category "martin scorsese"
Golden Globes Recap
This will be shorter and less detailed than my usual next-day awards show extravaganza. I had family visiting this weekend, and both my mom and aunt joined me for the Globes viewing, so we were able to crack jokes and comment on the clothes in real time, which sort of took away some of the excitement of doing it here. What can I say? SO SORRY INTERNET. We still have the Oscars.
Movie Reviews: The Boxer as Everyman
See my previous entry on Hoop Dreams, about how sports narratives, despite their inherent strength, are virtually lost on me, and this entry will all make a lot more sense.
It fascinates me, honestly, that two extremely iconic American movies are centered around boxing, which seems to me to be such a marginalized sport. You don’t see it on TV that often. You don’t see celebrities made of boxers the way you see celebrities made of football players, baseball players and basketball players. (With some exceptions, i.e., boxers I have heard of: Mike Tyson, Muhammed Ali, and the guy Russell Crowe played in Cinderella Man. That is all.)
Watching two boxing movies because the AFI made me was an interesting experience, then. As I watched and mused on how gross boxing is, I questioned why people (men mostly, probably) find the story of the boxer so universal. Part of it is primal, I’m sure: the urge to blot out the competition of another male of the species by pummeling him, injuring him, shaming him. Rocky in particular positioned the sport as being uniquely blue collar, a sport for working class schlubs, which seems appropriate for the 70s, which I always imagine was a very scrappy decade. Scorsese, with Raging Bull, seemed to find something very poetic about De Niro destroying himself in the ring while he unraveled outside of it. Hit him with a metaphorical punch in the street and then drive it home with a literal punch in the ring, basically. Again, narratively effective.
But I won’t explore that too much. For my own part, I find it hard to remove my own feminine experience from movie watching. That’s why you’ll never hear me say that Rocky or Raging Bull (or Saving Private Ryan, or Platoon) is my favorite movie; I’m going to name a movie with some incredible actress like Katharine Hepburn in it, that has themes that I can relate to intimately. That’s what makes a movie a favorite, as opposed to great. All critics agree on this, incidentally; the best movie in the world is not necessarily one’s favorite.
Raging Bull had, to put it bluntly, nothing to offer a woman. The culture of this movie was patriarchal Italian life, where women were for making sons, or to be hit when they said something disagreeable. Where when something important had to be discussed, it was demanded that they left the room. I respect Martin Scorsese as a director—and not just because he made the incredibly woman-friendly The Age of Innocence, but also for Goodfellas and The Departed, both of which I loved—but the environment that was so vividly portrayed in Raging Bull was rather offensive to me. There’s really no other way to put it. I’m glad that people and critics have connected with the movie as much as they have, that they find something universal in its message. It was utterly lost on me, I’m afraid.
On the other hand, I didn’t mind the experience of watching Rocky at all. The underdog story kind of got to me—the first time I saw him try to run up those steps, and he didn’t make it, I thought, “Oh, you’ll do it eventually! I’ve seen that.” Rocky’s fumbly little romance with plain Jane Adrian was really quite sweet.
The thing I did not like about the movie was that Stallone sold himself out to such an extent later. There’s a moment in Rocky, where Burgess Meredith the old trainer offers to coach Rocky since Rocky has been challenged by Apollo and suddenly has earning potential. Rocky shouts that the guy should have coached him when he was younger and could have made something of himself because now he’s all broken down. He’s approaching 30 and he’s not in top shape for the game anymore. It’s a poignant moment.
Until the sequels. Then he wins. He wins all the time. And by the fourth movie he’s pulling a damn bobsled and felling ancient trees. And then it’s thirty years later and he’s still fighting! Too bad Stallone didn’t have the guts to let the first Rocky speak for itself; he might’ve had a very different career if he’d made a different choice. But whatever, he didn’t consult me about it.
My favorite kind of boxer:
Entertainment Weekly's 100 New Classics: Summed Up
I’m coming closer and closer to finishing up the AFI lists—with the most minimal effort it will happen this week—but before that happens I thought I would sum up the EW list with my two favorite things, opinions and statistics.
Here’s how I felt about the list:
Most enjoyed: A Room with a View, Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Ed Wood, Glory, Hannah and Her Sisters, In the Mood for Love, Schindler’s List, The Incredibles, The Lives of Others
Most enjoyed (pre-list favorites): Back to the Future, Clueless, Donnie Brasco, Edward Scissorhands, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Fargo, Ghostbusters, L.A. Confidential, Lost in Translation, Memento, Men in Black, Moulin Rouge, Office Space, Rushmore, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, The Naked Gun, The Silence of the Lambs, The Truman Show, Thelma and Louise, Witness
Additionally, I’ve been compiling a list of Notable Omissions--movies which were released between ’83 and ’07, and thus eligible for the list, but which are unaccountably absent. The list will appear in a future entry (or, if it keeps expanding, in two of them).
Here’s some stats that interested me:
The breakdown of the list by decade is 30 films from the 1980s, 45 from the 1990s and 25 from the 2000s. Even so, the majority of the films I watched were from the 1980s, which is easily enough explained: while my movie coverage has been adequate in the ‘90s and ‘00s, I’m still playing catch-up to movies that came out when I was a child.
The directors whose films I watched the most of were Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Alfonso Cuaron, Sam Raimi and James Cameron, at 2 films each. Cameron actually had 3 films on the list, but I had already seen Titanic (January 1997, the afternoon after I took my SATs, in case anyone cares). Other twice-appearing directors were Tim Burton, Rob Reiner, and Paul Thomas Anderson--each of whom had one movie I had seen previously and one movie which I watched this summer for the list--and Martin Scorsese, Peter Weir, Ridley Scott and the Coen brothers, each of whom had two films I had already seen.
One benefit of the EW list which I have mentioned previously is that its horizons extended beyond American-made movies. Another feature of the list, which I didn’t notice until I began compiling these stats yesterday, is that the EW list includes female directors--only five of them, but that still trounces either AFI list at zero and zero, respectively. Three of the female-helmed movies were massive hits: Shrek (co-directed by Vicky Jenson and Andrew Adamson), Clueless (Amy Heckerling) and Big (Penny Marshall). I had seen all of those movies, multiple times on multiple occasions.
The other two were critical darlings, and represent the only two Oscar nominations for Best Director that have ever happened to women. Ever. [Edited to add: I have since checked IMDb and realized that I misread Jane Campion's biography. One other woman received a Best Director Oscar nomination, Lina Wertmuller in 1975. My indignance is, I think, still warranted.] Those movies are The Piano (Jane Campion, in 1994—this was a list movie) and Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, in 2004, already seen). Though neither woman won the directing award, both took home the same consolation prize: Best Original Screenplay. At this rate, another woman should be due to lose Best Director in another five years. That’s not a fault of the list, of course, but of Hollywood standards in general.
One final observation: the Entertainment Weekly list feels, in general, darker and more gothic than the AFI lists. It seems densely populated with drug movies, mob movies, serial killer movies, sci-fi creature-on-the-loose movies. I don’t think this is necessarily because those darker genres are being made more of today. Look again at my Ed Wood entry and all those movies Bela Lugosi made.
The difference is that genre movies are becoming increasingly more respected; probably Francis Ford Coppola started things off by making operatic mob movies (popular since the 1930s) which so effectively utilized the concept of the American dream that the Corleones became a part of our cultural fabric. These days, any serious director can make a critically-acclaimed crime movie (see last summer’s The Dark Knight, or, from two summers ago, Zodiac). On the flip side, so-called “feelgood” movies are losing respect. Too many brainless romantic comedies which force two patently unlikeable characters to kiss in the rain and get married as the end credits roll, too many of those disposable kids’ movies where the kid discovers his dog can fly and that helps him stand up against a bully, or whatever.
Basically, it’s hard to scrounge up the sincerity that elevates a movie like It’s a Wonderful Life above its Hallmark-y premise, and they just don’t do it that much anymore.