Tag Archives: Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese Films Ranked

In the lead up to The Irishman’s release, I wanted to go through most of Martin Scorsese’s filmography. Now that I’ve seen all of his movies including The Irishman, I decided to create a ranking of all of his feature films. It wasn’t particularly easy, especially with 25 movies to go through, but I’m pretty firm on my placings for the time being.

Scorsese’s has an impressive body of work and even today is still making incredible movies. Of the filmmakers active since the 70s who are still making movies today, he’s by far the best of them, continuing to challenge himself, trying new things, and evolving with the times. Most of his movies are great, and even those at the bottom of this list aren’t necessarily bad. With a few exceptions, I’d say that most of the movies on this list are well worth watching.

25. Boxcar Bertha

Martin Scorsese’s second movie wasn’t the best progression for him as a filmmaker. While it is a technical improvement over his first movie, Who’s that Knocking at My Door, it didn’t feel like one of his movies, it felt like a Roger Corman exploitation movie, because that’s what it really was. It ticked the boxes of an exploitation movie, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll get what you want. But for the rest of us, we aren’t exactly left with much.

What ultimately elevates this movie to being above average was a lot of what Scorsese manages to do with his direction. You can tell that although it has to meet the criteria of a Roger Corman movie, its being directed by someone quite capable. The climax of the movie particularly takes quite a turn and starts to feel like a Scorsese movie, as he takes the plot to a dark place. Some of the performances here are also good, especially from the lead performance by Barbara Hershey. Although I think that Boxcar Bertha is by far and away Martin Scorsese’s worst movie, there is some merit to it. However, unless you’re really into exploitation movies, I’d say only check it out if you’re wanting to watch every single movie in Scorsese’s filmography.

My review of Boxcar Bertha

24. Who’s that Knocking at My Door

Let’s face it, if you’re considering watching this movie, it’s only because Martin Scorsese directed it. Indeed, it actually takes quite a bit of probing and searching to even find a copy of this to watch. Now he didn’t start off his career firing on all cylinders with his debut movie, it’s very low budget and unpolished, it drags at points, and has its fair share of issues. It’s nothing remarkable all things considering, going into this movie definitely requires looking at it like it’s a student film, and as that it’s quite good.

You do see shades of what Martin Scorsese would have later in his movies, from his great use of music to the scenes, to some prominent themes like catholic guilt. As a dialogue driven movie (written by Scorsese as well), it’s actually solid and feels rather genuine and real. Also the lead performances from Harvey Keitel and Zina Bethune ultimately carry much of the movie. On its own I’m not sure I can call it a good movie, but if you’re interested in seeing where Scorsese started, then give it a watch.

My review of Who’s that Knocking at My Door

23. New York, New York

New York, New York was Scorsese’s musical experiment, and it was definitely one I was very curious about as I didn’t know what to expect from him. Unfortunately, it’s a little bit of a mess. For one, it’s trying to be a tribute to musicals, but it also attempts to deconstruct them, and the two really clashed. The more unpleasant aspects of the movie surrounds Robert De Niro’s character, who plays one of the most unlikable (co) protagonists I’ve seen in a movie. While I get the feeling that the lead relationship (between De Niro and Liza Minnelli’s characters) is deliberately toxic, it still makes it really hard to watch. I couldn’t get invested in the lead characters, and so the movie suffered for it, it mostly felt uncomfortable more than anything. Lastly, Scorsese movies can be long, but you really felt the 2 hour and 40 minute runtime, and it dragged at many points. Overall it wasn’t easy to sit through.

That’s not to say that this movie is bad, there’s a lot of good parts to it. Liza Minnelli was really good, whether it came to her singing and performing, or the more dramatic portions. Additionally, while I bagged on De Niro’s character, he does play the role really well for what he’s given to work with, maybe a little too well. The musical sections elevated the movie up when they happened, when Scorsese is just going for a tribute to musicals he actually excels greatly at it, and I actually wish that New York, New York was more like that. The last 30 minutes of the movie I thought were handled well, both in terms of the musical side and for where the characters end up. New York, New York was a rather mixed bag unfortunately, but there’s still a lot of good to be found there if you’re willing to give it a try.

My review of New York, New York

22. Gangs of New York

Every rewatch of Martin Scorsese’s films that I’ve seen before have been quite positive, with me liking each film even more than the last time I saw it. Gangs of New York is unfortunately the exception, and was actually rather disappointing. Despite the likes of Steven Zaillian and Kenneth Lonergan working on it, the script is rather messy, with so many characters and subplots, most of them not particularly well developed in interesting in the slightest. It’s also one of the rare movies of Scorsese’s where it just drags. Even some of the cast are a mixed bag. However it seems like much of the film’s problems can be attributed to that of producer Harvey Weinstein, who seemed to have interfered heavily with the production. From the cutting of an entire hour to certain directional and technical decisions seeming not like Scorsese at all, even if the movie still would’ve been very flawed, I can’t imagine that most of the problems weren’t because of him.

It’s not all bad though. The setting and premise certainly was interesting, we haven’t seen that time period shown in movies much so it definitely had potential. Had the movie focussed a lot more on that and lessened the focus on some of the characters’ subplots, it might’ve worked a little better. A lot of Scorsese’s talent shines through very well, it feels like on a grand scale, and the production design, costumes, etc, are all fantastic. There are even some moments of the film that are truly excellent, and it definitely picks up in the second half. Some of the actors also do well, but the highlight is Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill the Butcher, with his performance making this film essential viewing. Gangs of New York may not be Martin Scorsese’s worst movie, but it’s definitely his most disappointing, especially as this was a movie he’s been meaning to make for decades beforehand. It’s still worth watching, but it’s rather flawed.

My review of Gangs of New York

21. After Hours

After Hours is one of Martin Scorsese’s weirdest movies, but on the whole it’s really good. There’s not necessarily a bad thing with the movie, however I feel like it’s missing something. While I was rather entertained by the movie, I was wondering what the point of everything was. Not that every movie needs to have a point, but I got the feeling that the movie was trying to say something, and I haven’t picked up on what that is yet, even after two viewings. But it’s hardly an actual flaw, nonetheless I can see myself liking the movie a lot more if that aspect is resolved for me.

After Hours is straight forward and simple, a nightmarish and surreal representation of a night that never ends, with the lead character coming across disastrous event after even more ridiculous incidents. While at first it seemed like it would be a tense thriller, it features some effective comedy which makes it rather entertaining. It’s also a stunning movie, and Scorsese really captured the setting very well. The cast of unique characters were also good, anchored by a solid everyman lead performance by Griffin Dunne. Even if I don’t consider After Hours amongst Scorsese’s best movies, I’d say that it’s still very much worth watching. In fact, I’d say that every movie in this list from this point upwards is worth seeing.

My review of After Hours

20. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

This is one of Martin Scorsese’s lesser known movies. You wouldn’t think that between Mean Streets and Taxi Driver that he would take on a family drama, but that’s what he did with some really good results. Outside of a few parts that dragged a little bit and a needless comic relief character, this movie is really well made and deserves a lot more attention than it had received.

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is a genuine and emotional journey with a mother and son as they try to find a new life together. While it easily could’ve felt melodramatic, it feels sincere enough that you’re able to stay on board for the entirety of the story. The cast was great, from the likes of Diane Ladd, Kris Kristofferson, Harvey Keitel and others who perform their parts really well. But it’s Ellen Burstyn’s central performance as Alice that stands out, this is ultimately her movie. If anything, this movie is essential viewing for her Oscar Winning work alone. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore really should be seen by more people.

My review of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

19. Cape Fear

A remake of the 60s thriller Cape Fear after making the now classic Goodfellas seemed like a not so exciting move from Martin Scorsese, but he still manage to add a lot to the material that most directors probably wouldn’t have done. It’s a genre movie for sure and at times is a little ridiculous, but at least you get the feeling that Scorsese knew that and played on that quite well. Additionally, he still managed to give the movie much more complexity, making it more compelling on the whole.

Cape Fear is a slow burn thriller that’s constantly engaging all the way through, with the tension building up as it progresses, culminating in a thrilling final act. The cast was fantastic, with Robert De Niro made for a very menacing and memorable villain, at least being on part with Robert Mitchum’s Max Cady from the original, albeit very different. However the most noticeable upgrade is with the family characters. Their actors with Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis play their roles exceptionally, but also the characters are much more complicated and flawed compared to the typical and clean family from the original. This made the movie not only a tense thriller, but a modern family drama. Cape Fear may not reach a level above being a solid thriller, but it didn’t need to be much more than that, and there are some surprises in there as well.

My review of Cape Fear

18. Mean Streets

Mean Streets is the movie that put Martin Scorsese on the map as a filmmaker to pay attention to. Sure it’s very rough and loose, but at the same time there’s something endearing about it, and it actually kind of works for the nature of the plot, characters, and the world they exist in. Even though I couldn’t really emotionally connect to the plot and characters, I was still somewhat interested to see where it was going, and more importantly see how far Scorsese progress as a filmmaker and how he started.

Part of what made Scorsese known so much when this movie came out of it was just the amount of energy he added to it. Sure he hasn’t reached the technical skill yet for future films like Raging Bull, the direction is a little rough and the budget was quite low, but from this film alone you can definitely tell that the director behind the camera is very talented. There are a number of memorable scenes in the movie, and much of it is because of how well it’s directed. The cast is also good, with Harvey Keitel in the lead role giving one of his best performances. And then there’s of course Robert De Niro, in one of his most explosive and memorable roles as Johnny Boy, marking the first (and not last) collaboration between him and Scorsese. Martin Scorsese has for sure made plenty of better crime movies as well as movies on the whole, but this is undoubtably one of his most important films of his career.

My review of Mean Streets

17. The Color of Money

The Color of Money is sometimes looked at in a negative way and dismissed as just a pointless sequel to The Hustler, which was known as a classic. Aside from the fact that I liked this movie a lot more than The Hustler (I just think that was okay), I really liked the movie on the whole and it surprised me quite a bit. It may not be anything too special, but it’s just too well made to skip out on.

As someone not super into pool games, if a movie about that really gets you invested in it throughout, you know that it’s good. It’s written sharply and is very well paced, never allowing for a moment for you to lose interest. The trio of Paul Newman, Tom Cruise and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio are great and work perfectly together. However the reason why this movie works so well is the direction, and it’s outstanding on a technical level. Everything from the camera movements, the cinematography and the editing were on top form, the pool scenes are particularly engaging and entertaining to watch. The Color of Money isn’t anything special, but it’s just so entertaining and excellently made that it’s really worth checking out.

My review of The Color of Money

16. Kundun

All I knew about Kundun going in was that it was about the Dalai Lama and that Martin Scorsese directed it. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was really surprised at how great it was. I guess maybe some of the early portions were a little slow and the plot didn’t have any real structure, but at a certain point I was engaged all the way through to the end, and I was constantly impressed at how fantastically made the whole film was.

As someone who didn’t know much about Dalai Lama, it was a very interesting and informative experience, and I learned a lot about him and the history around him. It certainly helped knowing that the script was written based on interviews with the real life Dalai Lama. So it’s already interesting, but what made it even better was how it worked on a technical level. Martin Scorsese’s masterful direction, Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing, Roger Deakins’s gorgeous cinematography and Phillip Glass’s grand and haunting score all work together flawlessly. I was constantly astounded at how well this movie was made, it was on such a grand scale and handled with such care, it was really impressive. Whether you’re here for the story of the Dalai Lama or to see a very well made movie, you should definitely see Kundun.

My review of Kundun

15. The Age of Innocence

The Age of Innocence is quite different to Martin Scorsese’s other movies, but it’s still rather impressive overall. I’m not sure I can quite say that I love it quite yet, it does take a while to get into the movie, and the voiceover explaining everything can be annoyingly overbearing at times. However there’s a lot here that I appreciate, from his direction, to the story, to the great lead performances.

After the first half an hour or so, I become invested enough with the characters and the story, more than I thought I would. On a technical level, it was stunning to watch, the production design, costumes, were all well made, and it was just very well directed on the whole. The trio of Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder also give some great performances at the centre of the film. I think there’s a lot to this film that there is to unpack, and I only experienced some of it on my first viewing. I get a feeling like I’d get a lot more out of it on a second viewing, but even now I’d say that it’s definitely worth seeing for yourself.

My review of The Age of Innocence

14. Hugo

Hugo was the first film I saw from Martin Scorsese, I liked it back then but it’s a movie that older audiences are likely to ‘get’ more. As an older person now, I can definitely say that I appreciated much more of the movie, and there’s a lot more to the movie than it initially appeared to be. Aside from some unneeded comedy (mostly surrounding Sacha Baron Cohen’s character), it’s a great movie.

8 years later, Hugo is still visually gorgeous and stunning to watch, Martin Scorsese really used CGI in the right way to create an exciting environment for the film to take place in. While it is a bit of an adventure, it’s not the kind that you’d expect it to be. Hugo is secretly Martin Scorsese’s tribute to cinema, and particularly to the silent era, a period of cinematic history that’s not usually talked about. The cast was good, with every performer doing their part, even if they are only in a few scenes (or in Jude Law’s case, just one). Of the bunch, I’d say Ben Kingsley stands out the most as Georges Méliès, with this remaining his best performance in a very long time. Hugo doesn’t get a lot of praise nowadays but it’s good, it still really holds up well.

My review of Hugo

13. The King of Comedy

The King of Comedy started off being one of Martin Scorsese’s forgotten movies but over time has been receiving a bunch of recognition and has built up quite a following. Despite the title, it’s not necessarily funny (at least not much of the time), it’s unnerving, and unfortunately still relevant to today’s culture with regard to celebrity and fame obsession.

The King of Comedy is quite an original movie, and is greatly written. The only disappointing part of the movie that the direction by Martin Scorsese was quite good, but there was nothing too special to it, it certainly wasn’t very flashy and you didn’t really notice it throughout. Robert De Niro here is in one of, if not his weirdest character as Rupert Pupkin. It’s a performance like no other he’s taken on before. The rest of the cast also did well, including a solid performance by Jerry Lewis. The King of Comedy may be uncomfortable to watch, but it’s great and is among the essential Scorsese films to watch.

My review of The King of Comedy

12. The Aviator

The Aviator and Gangs of New York are the closest thing to ‘award baiting movies’ that Martin Scorsese has made, and the former certainly seemed like it would be just that, with it being a biopic of a famous person. However, watching The Aviator again more recently really reminded me how fantastic the movie actually is, and doesn’t deserve to be lumped in with the group of ‘just another biopic’ movies. Incredibly ambitious, detailed and great on a technical, and acting level.

Biopics can be hit or miss, as their can often just follow conventions and structures. However Scorsese treating the biopic of Howard Hughes like a character study (which Scorsese is familiar with the likes of Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, etc) went quite a long way to making this work. Along with the setting being interesting, Scorsese makes it entertaining and interesting as we go through some decades of Hughes’s life. At 2 hours and 50 minutes, of course there are small portions which may drag a little, but on the whole I was thoroughly engaged in the movie. The acting is great, with all the performers with the likes of John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda, Kate Beckinsale and more delivering their parts, and of course Cate Blanchett who’s fantastic as Katharine Hepburn. However it’s Leonardo DiCaprio, who is at the centre of the whole film as Howard Hughes. He and Scorsese brought this person onto the big screen and captures so many sides to Hughes and all of his nuances. DiCaprio has a number of fantastic performances but his work here is a strong contender for his best. The Aviator is quite a lot to take in, but I do think that it really should be seen.

My review of The Age of Innocence

11. Bringing Out the Dead

Another one of Martin Scorsese’s forgotten movies, Bringing Out the Dead is really great and I personally think it’s among his best. A strange, haunting and disturbing yet fantastic movie.

This movie is a Paul Schrader written character study on a very different protagonist for Scorsese, and it was very well made. It’s even surprisingly darkly hilarious at points, actually making it entertaining and not as depressing as it seemed like it would seem at first. Martin Scorsese captures a haunting and gloomy New York, and getting you into the head of the barely sane protagonist. Nicolas Cage gives an outstanding performance at the centre of the movie, and its one of his best. Throughout he really conveys someone who’s burnt out and haunted. And yes, his iconic brand of craziness (which shows at points in the movie) works perfectly for his character. Definitely a movie worth seeing.

My review of Bringing Out the Dead

10. Shutter Island

Martin Scorsese’s psychological thriller from the early 2010s still holds up pretty well. On the first viewing it’s a great mystery thriller, it’s engrossing and captivating, as has some twists, turns and suspense, keeping you guessing until the very end. Martin Scorsese directs it incredibly well, placing you right at that gothic location effectively, with some gorgeously dark and gloomy cinematography fitting the tone of the movie so well. The cast are all good, with Leonardo DiCaprio giving a spectacularly great performance, especially in the third act. So on the whole, it’s already great as a one time viewing.

However, you really get the full experience on a second viewing, when you know everything that really happens, it’s almost a different movie and an even better experience when watching it. Outside of an explanation of a reveal towards the third act that isn’t really handled the best, on the whole it really works well. Check it out if you haven’t already and if you have seen it once, give it another viewing when you can.

My review of Shutter Island

9. The Last Temptation of Christ

I wouldn’t have guessed before watching that The Last Temptation of Christ would rank among my favourite Scorsese movies but here we are. There have been plenty of movies about Jesus, and it seemed like it could very well be more of the same. With this very realistic and human take on Jesus however, I was rather invested in it.

Even on a lower budget, Martin Scorsese delivered incredibly well on directing this, from the cinematography to the production design and the editing. The performances were also great, particularly an outstanding Willem Dafoe as the very human and conflicted Jesus. Even if you’re not particularly interested in religion, I’d say that it’s really worth watching The Last Temptation of Christ, there’s a lot to admire about it.

My review of The Last Temptation of Christ

8. Raging Bull

Raging Bull was Martin Scorsese’s comeback after the disappointing performance of New York, New York, and it ranks amongst his best work. is a hard watch for sure, but it’s undeniably so well made that it really needs to be seen. It’s a classic for a reason.

Raging Bull is directed wonderfully by Scorsese, in fact this is one of his best directed movies. From the black and white cinematography, to Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing, it’s a masterclass in filmmaking. The acting all round is good but it’s Robert De Niro who’s front and centre as the self destructive Jake LaMotta. Such a transformative and excellent performance, and even in a much lesser movie, it would be watching for his work alone. Raging Bull is brutal and excellent, and essential viewing.

My review of Raging Bull

7. Goodfellas

It’s easy to see why Goodfellas made a massive impact on its release. No other gangster movie beforehand had been like this, so full of energy and put together in this way, and this launched Scorsese’s career even further.

Even at 2 hours and 30 minutes, Goodfellas is incredibly fast paced, never allowing for a moment for you to grow even slightly bored. Taking you through the life of Henry Hill, it throws you into his lifestyle of thrills and excess and gives you a glimpse into why people like him would get into crime. The performances by Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and more are great too, all playing their parts excellently. Although there’s still quite a number of his movies I consider better than Goodfellas, it’s one of the most essential Scorsese films to watch.

My review of Goodfellas

6. The Wolf of Wall Street

This is the closest that Martin Scorsese has made to a full on comedy, and he did a great job at this. A different kind of crime movie, this time taking place with white collared criminals, it’s well written, darkly hilarious and entertaining, and just incredibly well made.

Martin Scorsese directed this on such an impeccable level, filled with an incredible fast pace and high energy, really getting you into the headspace of our main characters (who unfortunately are real people). It’s incredibly entertaining and memorable. While some people have definitely taken the movie the wrong way in thinking that this movie endorses them (both resulting in backlash and unintentional support with people celebrating the main characters, which wasn’t the intention), Scorsese actually does pretty well balancing all the elements and telling the story as it is, just like he did with his gangster movies. The cast are all good with the likes of Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Jon Bernthal, and more, but it’s Leonardo DiCaprio who really stands out, giving a career best performance as Jordan Belfort. The Wolf of Wall Street is a reminder about how excellent of a filmmaker Scorsese still is.

My review of The Wolf of Wall Street

5. Silence

Silence is not easy to watch at all, but it’s incredibly well made and essential viewing. Scorsese’s latest film about faith is very well put together, and I’d go so far as to say that it’s at least a near masterpiece.

Silence is an extraordinary movie in just about every aspect. Martin Scorsese is very restrained with his direction, and his work here is beautiful. The acting across the board is great, from Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Shinya Tsukamoto, to Issey Ogata and more. However it’s Andrew Garfield’s show, he’s in almost every scene of the movie, and the movie follows his journey throughout. It’s by far the best performance of his career. Silence is one of Scorsese’s least rewatchable movies, with the pacing and how gruelling it can be, but it’s also one of his finest put together films.

My review of Silence

4. The Departed

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The Departed is what gave Martin Scorsese his first Best Director and Picture Oscars, but despite what a lot of people say about it apparently being makeup awards for him, the acclaim was well deserved. It’s a great crime thriller, very entertaining and very well put together, and it still holds up for the most part.

Although it’s a remake of a foreign movie, The Departed really worked well for what it is. It is greatly written, incredibly memorable and with very quotable dialogue. There’s also an outstanding ensemble cast, with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, and more, all delivering on their parts very well. 14 years later, The Departed remains one of Scorsese’s finest films.

My review of The Departed

Now these next few films are interchangeable.

3. Casino

Bringing this down from number 1 was incredibly difficult. Casino was the movie that got me into film as an art form, even at the age of 15 and not fully understanding everything in the movie, I knew that what I was watching was something special. I wondered how differently I would view this movie watching it 4 years later, but I only love it even more now.

To briefly address this the obvious, yes, I do like it noticeably more than Goodfellas. Although there are many similarities, I liked the larger scale, it was more ambitious and I even though Joe Pesci was better here (despite playing a similar character). It’s directly excellently as well, and Scorsese managed to make that 3 hour runtime fly by. The cast was also great, with the trio of Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci working excellently and at the top of their game. Casino unfortunately gets labelled just Goodfellas all over again, but it deserves a lot more praise than that, I think it’s one of Scorsese’s best.

My review of Casino

2. Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver is a psychological thriller that made quite the impact on its release, and it has held up well over 4 decades later. It’s masterfully made on pretty much every level.

An excellent character study, effectively written by Paul Schrader. Scorsese directed this incredibly well, the city of New York is captured so well, and you effectively feel dirty and disconnected throughout. Robert De Niro gives possibly a career best performance as Travis Bickle, completely embodying the unstable and deranged protagonist of the film. I know that many of Scorsese’s movies could be called masterpieces, but Taxi Driver really is a masterpiece.

My review of Taxi Driver

1. The Irishman

Maybe it’s a little premature to put this at the top of his list, but having seen this movie twice, I’m reasonably confident in my decision. The Irishman is some of Scorsese’s finest work, and it really shows how much he’s evolved as a filmmaker.

While The Irishman is another gangster movie from Martin Scorsese, it’s a fresh take on it that he hasn’t done before. From start to finish, The Irishman is excellent. Despite being 3 and a half hours long, it actually flies by and done greatly. For the first third or so it’s Scorsese in familiar gangster territory, and he’s particularly great at that. After that point however, it becomes something entirely different. The Irishman is about looking back at life, mortality and regret, and that last act is some of Scorsese’s most emotional work yet. The cast is outstanding, with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, all 3 legendary actors, giving some of the best performances of their career. Unsurprisingly Scorsese handled all of this excellently, all his decades of filmmaking experience have led up to this movie. The Irishman is a spectacular movie, and one of the best films of the last decade for sure.

My review of The Irishman

What’s your ranking of Martin Scorsese’s films?

Shutter Island (2010) Review

Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Teddy Daniels
Mark Ruffalo as Chuck Aule
Ben Kingsley as Dr. John Cawley
Max von Sydow as Dr. Jeremiah Naehring
Michelle Williams as Dolores Chanal
Emily Mortimer as Rachel Solando 1
Patricia Clarkson as Rachel Solando 2
Jackie Earle Haley as George Noyce
Director: Martin Scorsese

Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), two US marshals, are sent to an asylum on a remote island in order to investigate the disappearance of a patient, where Teddy uncovers a shocking truth about the place.

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Shutter Island was great when I saw it some years ago, and I’ve been meaning to give it a second viewing for some time. The acting was really good, it was greatly directed, and it was an effectively suspenseful thriller with some effective twists. I can confirm that Shutter Island works an even better level after the first viewing.

There are plenty of movies with some twists and reveals, and then people say that apparently you’ll see the movie completely differently on a second viewing. Shutter Island is one of the strongest examples of a movie that really holds up to that. There is so much in this movie that I can’t reveal, so I’m basically forced to keep some things vague. It’s a movie that has a number of effective twists and captivates you from start to finish. You really are following along with the main character and trying to figure out the mystery of what’s going on. The only problem that I had with the movie was how they handled a certain reveal in the last act. They spend a lot of time outright explaining it right after saying what really happened, and it sort of dragged on for a little too long, killing much of the shock and tension that was originally generated. I liked what direction the plot in and especially the ending, but that portion was a little messy.

Leonardo DiCaprio gives one of his best performances as lead character Teddy Daniels. It’s extremely difficult to talk about why his performance is so great without giving much away, it’s effectively emotional and he fits into the role perfectly. The supporting cast is also good, with Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Jackie Earle Haley, Ted Levine adding quite a bit to the movie. For the sake of not revealing too much, I won’t talk too much about them either.

Martin Scorsese directs Shutter Island excellently, creating a dark and unsettling atmosphere. He also does well at giving the feeling like you’re right in a noire movie. Robert Richardson’s cinematography is stunning, gorgeously dark and gloomy, it really places you on this gothic island that just doesn’t seem right. Speaking of which, the production design is very effective and detailed. There are some dreamlike and hallucination scenes that are among the best I’ve seen in a movie. Shutter Island is the closest thing to a horror movie that Scorsese directed, and makes you uncertain about a lot of the things you see. The music choices are also great, and using Max Richter’s On the Nature of Daylight is never going to stop hitting me right in the feels.

Shutter Island is a fantastic movie that for whatever reason often gets placed among ‘lesser Scorsese’ films, I consider it at least in his top 10 for the time being. The story and premise might be a little typical of many other thrillers, but Martin Scorsese really gives something special to this one, the plot is gripping and suspenseful, and the acting is great, particularly from Leonardo DiCaprio. A second viewing only elevates the movie further, knowing what’s really going on the whole time. Definitely worth seeing if you haven’t watched it already. And if you have seen it once, check it out again, it’s a completely different experience.

The Aviator (2004) Review

Time: 170 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains adult themes
Cast:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes
Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn
John C. Reilly as Noah Dietrich
Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner
Alec Baldwin as Juan Trippe
Alan Alda as Senator Owen Brewster
Ian Holm as Professor Fitz
Danny Huston as Jack Frye
Gwen Stefani as Jean Harlow
Jude Law as Errol Flynn
Willem Dafoe as Roland Sweet
Adam Scott as Johnny Meyer
Director: Martin Scorsese

Billionaire and aviation tycoon Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a successful public figure: a director of big-budget Hollywood movies such as “Hell’s Angels (1930)”, a passionate lover of Hollywood’s leading ladies Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) and Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale), and an aviation pioneer who helps build TWA into a major airline. But in private, Hughes remains tormented, suffering from paralyzing phobias and depression. The higher he rises, the farther he has to fall.

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I remember when I saw The Aviator for the first time, I watched it because Martin Scorsese directed it and Leonardo DiCaprio was in it. I thought DiCaprio was great and the movie was pretty good, but didn’t remember much from the film, except that it was really long. I knew that I’d appreciate it a lot more when I got to around to watching it again and that’s certainly what happened. I was interested in it a lot more this time, and I think it’s a really great film.

The Aviator is very long at 2 hours and 50 minutes, yet it’s much faster paced than I remember it being. After while you began to notice some parts where it dragged but if you were invested in it as much as I was, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. A successful biopic makes you learn about the real life subject, both what they did and what kind of person they are, while also making you interested to learn about them through further research. The Aviator succeeds at this at flying colours, showing a large portion of Howard Hughes’s life. Part of why Scorsese did so well with this biopic was that he treated it like it was a character study, like some of his past films. Over time we get to learn more about Hughes and his life, as we see him at different stages of his life, at highs and lows.

There is a large and talented cast, and they’re all great here. Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance as Howard Hughes has to be among his all time best work. DiCaprio portrays many sides of Hughes, the filmmaker, the entrepreneur, the aviator, the businessman, as well as his eccentrics and OCD. This entire movie surrounds him, and the work that he’s done here is nothing short of excellent. Cate Blanchett is another standout as real life actress Katharine Hepburn. Although I’ve never seen Hepburn in a movie, Blanchett seemed to have captured the mannerisms, voice and overall character of her perfectly. Kate Beckinsale, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda and Ian Holm make up a strong supporting cast and give memorable performances as well. Even some brief performers like Jude Law, Willem Dafoe and Adam Scott play their parts well.

Martin Scorsese’s direction of The Aviator is excellent as expected. Robert Richardson’s cinematography is outstanding, and the editing by Thelma Schoonmaker here also ranks among one of her best works in a Scorsese movie. While indeed the scenes involving planes and all that are filmed and edited very well, it also works in other regards, such as when Howard Hughes has some breakdowns and issues with his OCD. There are some parts where the CGI really hasn’t held up all that well in the plane scenes (this movie is from 2004 after all), but thankfully these moments don’t last for too long, and don’t take away too much from the overall movie. There aren’t a ton of plane scenes, but the ones in this movie are very well filmed. The score by Howard Shore is also quite solid.

Although it’s recently being regarded as one of Martin Scorsese’s lesser films, The Aviator is great and is worth seeing at least once. On a technical level it’s fantastic, Scorsese directs it incredibly well, and its shot and edited to near perfection. On the whole, it’s also an interesting biopic about a fascinating man, that’s well paced despite its very long runtime. It’s worth seeing even just for Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance here.

Gangs of New York (2002) Review

Time: 167 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Amsterdam Vallon
Daniel Day-Lewis as William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting
Cameron Diaz as Jenny Everdeane
Jim Broadbent as William “Boss” Tweed
John C. Reilly as Happy Jack Mulraney
Henry Thomas as Johnny Sirocco
Liam Neeson as “Priest” Vallon
Brendan Gleeson as Walter “Monk” McGinn
Director: Martin Scorsese

When his father is killed in New York City, Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) returns in 1863 to hunt down his father’s killer, the ruthless Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis). It’s not easy for Amsterdam as gangs roam a corrupt New York City, with Bill Cutting ruling over everyone.

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Gangs of New York was a movie I was curious about re-watching. I remember seeing it many years ago for the first time and liking it, but I didn’t remember a lot about the movie. Whenever I hear about this movie, people seem to either regard it as one of Martin Scorsese’s best movies, or one of his worst. In a lot of my recent reviews where I revisit Scorsese’s filmography, I often talk about how I like the movie more on a second viewing. Gangs of New York is sadly the exception. It’s not a bad movie by any means, I’d even say that it’s rather decent and has a lot going for it, but there are just so many problems that hold it back from being as good as it should’ve and could’ve been.

Gangs of New York is quite ambitious, the idea of the plot and the setting are interesting. The script is written by Jay Cocks, Kenneth Lonergan and Steven Zaillian, and while they are great writers, the writing present in the movie weren’t all that great. There’s a lot of thought put into the gangs and how things are organised in the city, if the movie was focussed a lot more on that it could’ve been even better. However the movie is bogged down with some subplots, mostly focussed on characters that aren’t made to be particularly interesting for the most part. The thing is that you really see potential at points. There are some legitimacy great scenes here, and you can really see what Gangs of New York could’ve been all the way through. The second half still has problems, but it felt a little less messy than the first half, and it focuses up a little more. I think I should probably address the elephant in the room, that being Harvey Weinstein, and all of his interference of the film. Now its not known specifically what changes he made but what we do know is that at an hour was cut out because of him. Some of the weird decisions however I can sort of see him mandating, perhaps in an attempt to be more award friendly (and perhaps that worked, with the movie receiving 10 Oscar nominations, but it still led to a worse movie). If I didn’t know an entire hour was cut out, I’d say that this movie is too long at 2 hours 40 minutes. Most of Scorsese’s longer movies are well paced but this is not one of those cases. With that said, it might’ve actually been better with a longer runtime if it meant a much more complete movie. It really feels like it’s lacking something, it’s a movie that tries so hard to tackle so many themes and to be so many things, but ultimately ends up not being much. On top of that, much of Gangs of New York feels a little too Hollywood, and is a little too grand and operatic for its own good.

If you’re going to watch Gangs of New York for one reason only, it should be for Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill “The Butcher” Cutting, who is outstanding here. This is among his best performances, and knowing Day-Lewis, that’s saying a lot. Any time he was on screen, he made the scenes instantly better. Some people have talked about how Day-Lewis’s performance made everyone else look like they are bad at acting. While I wouldn’t entirely agree, he is working on a totally different level compared to everywhere else in this movie. Gangs of New York marks the first collaboration between Leonardo DiCaprio, and as we all know it’s not their last. Though it’s nowhere near his best work, he still gives a solid performance with what is given. However he, like a lot of actors in this movie, have accents that are all over the place, in fact Daniel Day-Lewis and the actual Irish actors are the only people in the cast who don’t have accents that slip up. Still, DiCaprio plays the role reasonably well. Cameron Diaz on the other hand… she doesn’t fair so well. She didn’t fit into the movie well, and I hate to say it but she was rather miscast. In all fairness she wasn’t necessarily terrible, but she did not work in her role. It doesn’t help that the movie focusses so much on a romance between DiCaprio and Diaz, and that just didn’t work at all. Maybe it could’ve worked, but the two actors don’t share any chemistry, and you don’t even see why the two characters would be together. It’s a distraction more than anything. Some of the supporting cast are good, some roles like that played by John C. Reilly could’ve been played by anyone. Jim Broadbent, Brendan Gleeson are among the supporting actors who fare better.

Martin Scorsese’s direction is on showcase in many parts of Gangs of New York. The production design and costumes were handled really well, and the cinematography was really good. This is Scorsese’s most ambitious and large scale movie and you can feel it throughout. I talked much about Weinstein’s interference, and I’m pretty sure that extended to the direction. There are some aspects that don’t work, and I’m just going to assume that he had a part to play in these issues. The editing goes from working really well to being rather choppy, and since this is Thelma Schoonmaker working on the movie, I’m just going to assume that some mandated decisions were made. What comes to mind immediately is the opening battle scene, no idea why it was edited like that. Then there’s the forced narration from Leonardo DiCaprio, definitely one of those instances where the narration doesn’t work at all and is generally used for exposition, though there are some moments that worked fine enough. However there is one aspect that makes me convinced some decisions were mandated by Weinstein. The opening scene features a few notable characters played by the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis, John C. Reilly and Brendan Gleeson. After the time jump when it shows the return of these characters from the opening sequence, it briefly cuts a flashback to them in that opening scene to remind the audience, even though anyone paying attention to the early portion would be able to recognise them. It really felt out of place, even though its just a small part of a very long movie, it doesn’t seem like a very Scorsese thing to do, and indicates that not all the decisions were made by him.

Gangs of New York for all its potential doesn’t completely work. There’s still a few movies of Martin Scorsese that I consider worse than this one, but this is definitely his most disappointing. Even putting aside some of the studio interference that no doubt affected quite a lot of the movie, the script has a ton of problems, and the movie operates on such a grandiose level that it doesn’t work as well as it could’ve. However it’s not a movie that I’d dismiss outright. Despite some mandated choices that don’t feel like Scorsese, it’s directed well, there are some scenes that are good, it picks up in the second half, and Daniel Day-Lewis gives an extraordinary performance. So I’d still say that it’s worth watching.

The Irishman (2019) Review

Time: 209 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, cruelty & offensive language
Cast:
Robert De Niro as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran
Al Pacino as James Riddle “Jimmy” Hoffa
Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino
Ray Romano as Bill Bufalino
Bobby Cannavale as Felix “Skinny Razor” DiTullio
Anna Paquin as Peggy Sheeran
Stephen Graham as Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano
Harvey Keitel as Angelo Bruno
Jesse Plemons as Chuckie O’Brien
Director: Martin Scorsese

In the 1950s, truck driver Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) gets involved with Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) and his Pennsylvania crime family. As Sheeran climbs the ranks to become a top hitman, he also goes to work for Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) – a powerful Teamster tied to organised crime.

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The Irishman wasn’t just my most anticipated movie of 2019, it was also one of my most anticipated movies ever. The trio of actors of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci all working together was already fantastic, but additionally it was for a gangster movie, and one directed by Martin Scorsese no less. I’ve been hearing about this film being in development for years, and that it had problems being made, mostly because no studio wanted to finance it. I didn’t know whether it would end up being made, neither did De Niro and Scorsese, who were really pushing for it. But after long last, it finally happened and I couldn’t wait to see it. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been going through almost all of Scorsese’s filmography, watching those I haven’t seen beforehand, and re-watching those that I’ve already seen (barring a few) in anticipation. The Irishman is an incredible movie in every regard, incredibly ambitious, but Scorsese and co. really delivered on something special, one of the highlights of the decade for sure.

The Irishman is based on a biography called I Heard You Paint Houses (which as it turns out, was the title which opens up the film), so it’s at least mostly based on real facts and events. Much has already been said about the very long runtime of The Irishman. The longest that Scorsese’s feature films have run was around 3 hours for Casino and The Wolf of Wall Street. The Irishman on the other hand is at 3 and a half hours long, and that certainly sounds intimidating. I wouldn’t say that it flies by and that you don’t feel the length at all. However, it does a lot to keep your attention. The movie actually managed to not be boring, it’s just that you feel overwhelmed by the length and the amount of things going on. There’s a lot to take in, and I’m sure that the movie definitely gets better and better the more you watch it. I will say that although the first half is pretty good, it’s the second half where it really picks up. At that point, there are a lot of moving pieces and rising tensions. In the first half or at least the first third, The Irishman seems like standard Scorsese gangster stuff. That’s not necessarily a bad thing however, as even standard Scorsese gangster territory is pretty great.

Plenty of people who hear the premise but haven’t been looking into it might just think that The Irishman is just another Scorsese mob movie. However it’s much more than that. Goodfellas and Casino are very fast paced, and focusses a lot on the excess and thrills. With The Irishman, gone is the thrill from the environment, the money and the violence. Even the violence (even though it’s not nearly as graphic as his other gangster movies) are without any possible enjoyment, portraying it as what it is, very ugly and unpleasant, and not stylised at all. This story is from the perspective of an aging and dying man, looking back at his life as how it was, with plenty of regrets. Not to mention that lead character Frank Sheeran already operated like a machine or soldier basically, taking no pleasure in the crimes that he had to carry out. So, this is definitely new territory for Martin Scorsese to play within. This is a movie that technology aside, Scorsese couldn’t make back in the 90s amidst his other gangster movies. It required an older man’s handle of the whole story, and he handled it all pretty much perfectly. And for those who still believe that Scorsese somehow endorses their flawed (to say the least) gangster protagonists and their lifestyles, I don’t even see how they’d be able to make that criticism for The Irishman. For a movie that can be sad and dark, it actually has quite a lot of effective humour throughout. The script by Steven Zaillian is really great, with some effective and memorable dialogue, with plenty of interesting things going on. The last hour takes quite a sombre turn, and the last half an hour in particular is particularly sad, as the consequences of everything that Frank has done finally catches up with him. The final shot of the movie in particular is effectively crushing.

For the acting, let’s start with the main trio of actors. Robert De Niro plays Frank Sheeran, a hitman and the titular Irishman. He’s on screen for almost all of the movie and follows him throughout his life. With that said, the movie doesn’t necessarily do a whole lot of exploring of the character, and it’s on purpose. De Niro gives an incredibly subtle performance, he’s not as distinct as you’d think, and does at times almost seems like he is overshadowed by the cast surrounding him. However this seems to be the point, this is type of person that Sheeran was in real life. This is one of De Niro’s best performances, especially within the last hour, where he delivers some truly heartbreaking work. Al Pacino plays Jimmy Hoffa, and this is the best performance I’ve seen from him since the late 90s. Yes it’s showy and loud, and very much like some of his over the top performances in the 90s like in Heat, however that seems to fit Jimmy Hoffa, and he seems to have effectively captured the personality and character of Hoffa. Pacino isn’t just shouting the whole time, he also gives quite an emotional centre to his performance as well, especially with his very close connections to Sheeran, and also Sheeran’s daughter Peggy. Joe Pesci had been in retirement for years, so it’s amazing seeing him back on screen again, and he’s still got it. His other collaborations with Martin Scorsese have been angry, violent and profane filled characters, especially with their gangster movies together. This time his character of Russell Bufalino is a mob boss, who was known in real life as ‘The Quiet Don’, and he’s a lot more subtle here. He’s very controlled, calm and gave the impression of a man who carefully selects every word before he speaks. He actually comes across as friendly, and his friendship with Sheeran feels very genuine. At the same time there’s still a coldness that can be seen within him, and you never forget how dangerous he is. A lot of people cite Goodfellas as his best performance, I’ve always considered his work in Casino to be better. However after seeing this movie, I do believe that his performance as Bufalino is the best work of his career, and if this is indeed the last film that he acts in, then this is the perfect point to end it on.

The rest of the supporting cast is also good, with the likes of Ray Ramano, Bobby Cannavali, Jesse Plemons, and Harvey Keitel showing up briefly and doing some good work in their scenes. Stephen Graham is also a notable player during the movie, as Tony Provenzano, a notable Teamster, whose conflicts with Jimmy Hoffa play a part in the story. Graham was a scene stealer, and more than holds his own against actors like Al Pacino. Much has been said about the lack of female characters, and that the most prominent female character doesn’t have a lot of lines. That character is that of one of Frank Sheeran’s daughters in Peggy, played by Lucy Gallina as the younger version and Anna Paquin as the adult version. It’s been flying around that Paquin basically only had one line in the movie, and talking about her that way is a disservice to the movie, and to the performances. I’ve heard plenty of people saying that she could’ve been removed from the movie and you wouldn’t notice, I couldn’t disagree more. She might not be consistently focussed on like Jimmy Hoffa was in the movie, but she’s nonetheless a constant and significant presence throughout the movie. You don’t get to really know what kind of person Peggy is, because Frank doesn’t know who she is, he wasn’t close with her. What he does remember however are her looks towards him, and those looks are very telling and memorable, as she very clearly knows what he does for a living. The performances by the two actors is incredibly subtle yet powerful, as they convey so much with just a single glance.

Martin Scorsese directs this film excellently as expected. Sure, at first it’s not as crazy as Goodfellas and Casino, but that’s not just because he’s getting old and can’t do that or anything of the sort. His direction feels deliberately restrained, which was absolutely perfect for this movie. As previously mentioned, it doesn’t have a focus on excess and the violence is not stylised at all. Some can talk about how the colour palette isn’t remarkable, I just personally mark up that up to being the fact that it’s an old man looking back at his life through that lens. The cinematography on the whole was great, and Scorsese’s camera movements are remarkable, definitely a master of his craft. Even though his direction is definitely restrained, that’s not to say that The Irishman is without some style. Additionally, when some characters are introduced, text flashes on screen with their name, and how they died and when. Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing is great as usual, and The Irishman ranks amongst her best work on a Scorsese film. Without an editor at her calibre, this movie would feel even longer than it is, but she keeps everything moving from scene to scene. The music is well picked and fits the scenes they are placed in, as per usual for Scorsese. However unlike Casino and Goodfellas (noticing a trend here?), they aren’t quite as memorable, and are much more quieter, appropriate for the movie. Much of the musical highlights of the movie comes from the score by Robbie Robertson, whose score is great throughout. The main theme especially is sinister, and fits perfectly with the tone of the movie. Fittingly, The Irishman utilises silence very well, allowing for the characters to reflect and contemplate.

Time to address the elephant in the room, the CGI used for the de-aging or youthificiation of the main cast. I should note that I saw this on a screen at home on Netflix, not in a large cinema, and from that situation I definitely noticed a lot less problems through that experience. With that said, I’d say that it’s the best use of de-aging I’ve seen in a movie. Even the best use of de-aging in movies I’ve seen like in Blade Runner 2049, they’ve used it in brief moments and not for the entire movie. The closest was with Samuel L. Jackson in Captain Marvel, who was de-aged from start to finish. However The Irishman is a whole other level, with actors nearly in their 80s that need to look as young as their 30s or 40s at least. I know some people said that it would’ve been better to just cast younger actors for the parts, but considering that the entire film is about growing old, that wouldn’t have worked at all. The delay of making the movie if anything was a blessing, because by the time they made it, the de-aging technology had advanced much more than in the early 2010s. The CGI on Al Pacino and Joe Pesci looked pretty much perfect and seamless. In fact there’s a moment where Pesci looks like he was ripped out of the 90s, it was incredibly uncanny. Out of the 3 main leads, it was De Niro that suffered the most, in that early on looked it wasn’t quite perfect. It wasn’t bad it just seemed a little off. With that said, it didn’t bother me as much as it seemed to bother others, I wasn’t too distracted by it. Even if you are distracted by it, you settle into the movie relatively quickly. There is only one complaint I have about the de-aging, and it’s not about the visual effects, but more the movement of the actors. Obviously, they have to make it look like they’re younger men through the way they sit, walk, etc, and a lot of attention has definitely been put towards that, that’s great and all. Occasionally though, you’ll get a scene where you really see the actor’s age. The biggest example is a scene where Sheeran/De Niro beats up a guy in the first half an hour of the movie, the scene is captured mostly in a wide shot and his movements are clearly from a man in his mid 70s and it kind of took me out of the scene. So there are a few scenes where they probably could’ve handled it a little better, but thankfully it doesn’t happen too often.

The Irishman is yet another fantastic film from Martin Scorsese, and is firmly one of his all time best achievements. It’s restrained, reflective, and devastating, featuring great performances, especially from the of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, giving some of the best performances of their careers. There is a lot to take in with this movie, and I definitely intend to revisit it within the next month or so. If you can watch it on the big screen, take that opportunity. You don’t necessarily need to see it in a cinema to love it however, I really loved it with my setup. However if you do it in this way, even if you take a break during viewing, I implore you to not watch this movie over a number of days or anything. It may a Netflix movie but it doesn’t mean that it’s a mini series, it’s meant to be seen as a movie. With that aside, The Irishman sits firmly as one of the all time best films of the year thus far.

Bringing Out the Dead (1999) Review

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Nicolas Cage as Frank Pierce
Patricia Arquette as Mary Burke
John Goodman as Larry
Ving Rhames as Marcus
Tom Sizemore as Tom Wolls
Marc Anthony as Noel
Cliff Curtis as Cy Coates
Director: Martin Scorsese

Frank (Nicolas Cage), a mentally strained and overworked paramedic from Manhattan, tries to maintain his sanity as he tends to various emergencies and hallucinates about all the people whose lives he could not save.

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I watched Bringing Out the Dead some years ago for the first time. I remembered it involving paramedics, Nicolas Cage and it was directed by Martin Scorsese, and I recall liking it. Of course, with The Irishman coming out, it was only appropriate that I check it out again, I wanted to be sure of what I thought about it. Watching it again, I not only consider this to be one of his most underrated movies, it could be among his best films as well.

Paul Schrader wrote Bringing Out the Dead, with this being the last collaboration between him and Scorsese. With that fact, there are comparisons with this movie to Taxi Driver, and indeed this movie is a bit of a companion piece, following a troubled protagonist who narrates the story. It really conveys the strain that someone has in the line of work as an EMT. It also doesn’t have much of structure and mostly focuses on the main character as a character study, I can get that a bunch of people would find it to stretch on for too long with not much happening. However I was both riveted and entertained throughout. One of the biggest surprises on this repeat viewing was the dark comedy, I don’t remember this movie being as funny as it was, and it’s definitely intentional and works with the very off kilter and strange tone throughout. Nonetheless it is effectively off putting and exhausting at times, just as the main character feels over the course of the plot. Whenever something really horrific and graphic happens, you really feel it. Despite it possibly being one of Scorsese’s darkest movies, it’s also strangely one of his most empathetic.

Nicolas Cage gives one of his best and underrated performances as lead character Frank Pierce. This movie surrounds this character, and he absolutely delivers and convinces in his role. So much of it is in the eyes, every time you look at him, he just looks tired, burnt out and exhausted, on the edge of sanity. Frank is haunted by the people that he’s failed to save, and partway into the movie he realises that his job is less about saving lives, and more about bearing witness to their deaths. He occasionally slips into some crazy moments that Cage is known for, but it actually really worked for the character. Having seen him here, I can’t see anyone else in this role. He’s definitely the star of the show but the supporting performances shouldn’t be overlooked, especially considering the number of memorable characters that Pierce encounters. Frank’s partners are played by John Goodman, Ving Rhames and Tom Sizemore, and they share great chemistry with Cage. Rhames is particularly a scene stealer and is hilarious. Other performers like Patricia Arquette and Cliff Curtis also do solid work in their roles. Scorsese himself also provides his voice for the dispatcher and he really fitted the role.

Martin Scorsese directs this and it’s no surprise that he does some great work here. Like with Taxi Driver it’s set in a very dark and grimy city, however here it feels even more unsettling and haunting. He does a good job at getting you in the head of Cage’s character. Robert Richardson’s cinematography is stunning, there’s a desaturated dull look to it that works oddly perfectly for the movie, the use of colour was quite effective. The soundtrack was great, with a solid lineup of songs that accompany the film perfectly.

Bringing Out the Dead is haunting, disturbing, darkly comedic, and all around fantastic, one of Martin Scorsese’s most underrated movies. Scorsese directs this with just the right amount of style, the character’s journey was a journey I liked being on, and the acting is great from everyone, especially from Nicolas Cage who does some outstanding work here. Definitely not one to miss.

Kundun (1997) Review

Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Tenzin Thuthob Tsarong as the Dalai Lama (Adult)
Gyurme Tethong as the Dalai Lama (Age 12)
Tulku Jamyang Kunga Tenzin as the Dalai Lama (Age 5)
Tenzin Yeshi Paichang as the Dalai Lama (Age 2)
Director: Martin Scorsese

In 1937, a two-and-a-half year old boy from a simple family in Tibet was recognized as the 14th reincarnation of the Buddha of Compassion, and destined to become the spiritual and political leader of his people. Director Martin Scorsese brings to the screen the true story of the Dalai Lama. Told through the eyes of His Holiness, “Kundun” brings to life the account of the Dalai Lama’s early life, from childhood through the Chinese invasion of Tibet and his journey into exile.

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Kundun was the remaining Martin Scorsese movie that I hadn’t seen yet (with the exception of The Irishman), and I didn’t really know what to expect from it. All I knew about the movie was that it was about the Dalai Lama and that it caused Scorsese and some other people who worked on the movie to get banned from China. When it comes to his filmography, Kundun isn’t really brought up often, and it’s a shame because it should be talked about more, it’s really good.

As someone who doesn’t know anything about the Dalai Lama, I found the movie to be quite interesting throughout. It’s also worth noting is that screenwriter Melissa Mathison wrote this movie with her interviews with the real Dalai Lama becoming the basis of the script. So if you’re wondering about accuracy, there you go. I will admit that I wasn’t totally on board with the movie from the beginning, but it got better after the first half an hour or so and I was reasonably invested throughout. It’s a long movie at 2 hours and 15 minutes, and while you do feel that length, after the early section of the movie I didn’t find it to drag often. Someone described this movie as being made of episodes, not a plot, and that’s an apt description. It’s a little loose with the plot and is basically telling about the Dalai Lama’s real life without much of a structure, but it’s not a problem if you’re invested or interested in what’s going on.

None of the cast here are professional or known actors, but they definitely played their roles well. They all fit in very well into their roles with no one really seeming out of place (though some of the much younger actors struggle a little but you can look past them). The only thing that’s a little distracting is that everyone here mainly speaks English and I wasn’t really expecting that, nonetheless you get used to it after a while.

This is one of Martin Scorsese’s most different movie, and he did well at changing his filmmaking style, his work here is excellent and underappreciated. The production design, costumes and everything in that area was just right for the movie. Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing here is among her best work, and that’s really saying a lot. Roger Deakins’s cinematography as usual is fantastic, this is such a gorgeous looking movie, with the entire film looking like a painting. In the opening credits I recognised Philip Glass’s name for his work on the Candyman score, and that score is amongst the most distinct horror themes I’ve heard. So I knew that he’d deliver something spectacular with Kundun’s score and he definitely does. It’s really large and epic, and really complements the cinematography perfectly. These 4 aspects work perfectly towards the finale in such a tremendous way, probably the highlight moment of the film, and that’s saying a lot.

Kundun is probably one of Scorsese’s lesser known movies, but it should be seen just like the rest of them. The actors play their parts well and it’s an interesting story for sure, but it’s even worth seeing just for the technical masterclass that’s on display, with Scorsese, Schoonmaker, Deakins and Glass really creating something special. Definitely a movie worth checking out.

The Age of Innocence (1993) Review

Time: 139 Minutes
Age Rating:
Cast:
Daniel Day-Lewis as Newland Archer
Michelle Pfeiffer as Ellen Olenska
Winona Ryder as May Welland
Director: Martin Scorsese

Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a lawyer who is happily engaged to May (Winona Ryder). His life however turns upside down when he meets and falls in love with May’s scandalous cousin, Ellen (Michelle Pfeiffer).

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I’d been meaning to watch The Age of Innocence for some time, it seemed like it would be something interesting. Sure, it had Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder, but what was interesting to me was Martin Scorsese directing this, a period piece of all things. Not to slam period pieces, and he has occasionally tried different things (New York, New York and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore for instance) but I didn’t know what to expect from him with this. I actually liked it a lot more than I thought, and it really deserves a lot more love than its been receiving.

The Age of Innocence quite a long movie at under 2 hours and 20 minutes, I will admit that I started off watching the movie not really fully invested but it grew on me as it progressed. I think part of my initial problem was the fact that a bunch of information is being thrown at you through narration early on and there’s a lot that you have to know, but after everything was established and set up, I was on board with the movie through to the end. The screenplay from both Martin Scorsese and Jay Cocks was really great, you wouldn’t normally think of Scorsese as the right person to take on a story about an upper class affair scandal period piece drama, but he actually fits in very well. The Age of Innocence remains one of his most effectively passionate and emotional films, he’s actually called this his most violent movie, and even though there isn’t a drop of blood, he’s correct. As someone who doesn’t usually watch period pieces (not that I dislike them or anything), I was quite invested in what went on. The ending is also perfect for the film, couldn’t think of a better way to end it.

The talented cast did very well in their roles. Daniel Day-Lewis is really good as per usual, I wouldn’t consider this to be one of his all time best performances, but he’s nonetheless great. Michelle Pfeiffer gives one of the best performances of her career, and Winona Ryder also gives a great and complex performance. There are also some minor supporting performances from the likes of Richard E. Grant and Jonathan Pryce, who don’t leave as strong of an impression but are good enough in their brief roles.

Martin Scorsese did a very good at adapting his directional style to one that works for a period piece, and his work here is once again nothing less than fantastic. It’s a stunning movie, very well shot and edited. Scorsese really captured the time period excellently, and showed off the great production designs, locations and the costumes well. If there’s one aspect of the direction I wasn’t loving, it was all the narration. As time went on, I grew into it, but I remember being put off early on when there was a bunch of exposition and explaining done over voice over. A lot of it was explaining all the characters and while I get that it’s partly necessary with so many characters, it went a little overboard. After everything was established though, I thought the narration was used at the right level.

The Age of Innocence might not be among my favourite of Scorsese’s films, but there’s a lot here to be loved. His direction was outstanding, after the first 30 minutes or so I was invested in this story and the lead characters well enough, and the performances (mainly from Day-Lewis, Pfeiffer and Ryder) are all really great. I’d strongly recommend at least giving it a chance. The more I think about The Age of Innocence, the more I think I’m going to love it the next time I watch it again.

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) Review

Time: 163 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Willem Dafoe as Jesus
Harvey Keitel as Judas Iscariot
Barbara Hershey as Mary Magdalene
Harry Dean Stanton as Saul/Paul of Tarsus
David Bowie as Pontius Pilate
Director: Martin Scorsese

Jesus (Willem Dafoe), a humble Judean carpenter beginning to see that he is the son of God, is drawn into revolutionary action against the Roman occupiers by Judas (Harvey Keitel) — despite his protestations that love, not violence, is the path to salvation. The burden of being the savior of mankind torments Jesus throughout his life, leading him to doubt. As he is put to death on the cross, Jesus is tempted by visions of an ordinary life married to Mary Magdalene (Barbara Hershey).

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I heard about The Last Temptation of Christ for some time, mainly that Martin Scorsese directed it and that it was really controversial when it was released. I really had no clue what to expect going in. I like Willem Dafoe and Harvey Keitel, and of course I’m a fan of Martin Scorsese. However with the story that has already been done many times before, I didn’t really know what Scorsese would really do with it. I really didn’t expect to love it as much as I did, but it really was fantastic.

The Last Temptation of Christ was actually based on a novel of the same name, which in itself was already pretty controversial. There have been plenty of movies about Jesus, so I wondered what would make this one stand out. The film actually begins with a preface that it’s not based on the gospels and not necessarily biblically based, so you should probably know that going in. The thing that immediately got my interest was the more human take on Jesus, he’s even started out not really sure if he’s truly the son of god, and he’s very much a flawed person, like most people are. I can tell that for some people that would be a deal breaker but if anything for me, that’s what got me on board with the movie from the beginning. This whole movie is a character study following him, and I was invested throughout. Then there’s the last 30 minutes to an hour of the movie which was probably the most controversial part to a lot of religious people at the time. For those who don’t know about that section, I won’t reveal it, but it’s not like The Passion of the Christ where it’s from a bunch of endlessly violent scenes (even though this movie does have some violent scenes). It also never feels like it’s being controversial for the sake of controversy. It’s mainly the exploration of Jesus as a human being, and I found that compelling. This is quite a long movie at 2 hours and 40 minutes, so you have to prepare yourself for that. Thankfully I was wrapped up with what was happening, but if you aren’t invested early on, it might be a bit of a chore to get through.

Willem Dafoe as Jesus Christ does seem like an odd casting for many reasons, but I have to say that his performance here as the conflicted Jesus is amongst his best work. He’s the main lead of the movie, and the movie relied heavily on him working, and thankfully he brought this performance to life and really anchors the whole movie. The most prominent supporting actor is Harvey Keitel who plays Judas, and it’s a different portrayal of him than most are used to. Yes, Keitel is playing the only Brooklyn Judas (and he keeps his accent) and with that he seems a little out of place at times, but he acts his part really well. The rest of the cast do well, including Barbara Hershey as Mary Magdalene, Harry Dean Stanton as Saul/Paul of Tarsus, and David Bowie in a surprise one scene appearance as Pontius Pilate. Now there comes the obvious when it comes to the casting, the Romans sound like Brits and the Hebrews like New Yorkers. While that’s definitely distracting at first, it’s definitely an intentional choice that paid off in the end.

Martin Scorsese directed this excellently as he usually does. For a budget of 7 million dollars, this movie really looks outstanding and still holds up over 3 decades later. The cinematography is stunning, and the production design and costume design is fantastic. Overall on a technical level, it’s really great.

The Last Temptation of Christ is outstanding and one of Martin Scorsese’s finest films. Scorsese’s direction was excellent, the acting was great (particularly Willem Dafoe), and Scorsese’s take on the story is thought provoking and effectively emotional. Even if you’re not interested in religion or the topics, I think there’s a lot that you can appreciate about it, even if it’s just on a technical and acting level. However there’s a compelling story at the heart of it that I’m sure most people can connect with.

After Hours (1985) Review

Time: 97 minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Griffin Dunne as Paul Hackett
Rosanna Arquette as Marcy Franklin
Verna Bloom as June
Tommy Chong as Pepe
Linda Fiorentino as Kiki Bridges
Teri Garr as Julie
John Heard as Bartender Tom Schorr
Cheech Marin as Neil
Catherine O’Hara as Gail
Director: Martin Scorsese

A New York office worker (Griffin Dunne) has “a very strange night” when he ventures for a late night date with a woman he just meets (Rosanna Arquette), which turns into a waking nightmare when one mishap after another strands him in a hostile neighbourhood in his quest to return home before morning.

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I remembered After Hours as being a bit of a weird movie in Martin Scorsese’s filmography, albeit entertaining. I wasn’t certain about it when I first saw it year, but I was sure to remember to revisit it at some point in time, to see how I’d feel about it in the future. Upon rewatching it I found it to be largely the same as when I last saw it. Now I don’t exactly love it and I guess I can say that it’s one of my least favourites of his films (though by no means amongst his worst) but there’s a lot of things in here to like.

After Hours is like the personification of an endless and escalating nightmare that never ends, in a good way. It’s quite a weird movie, which only gets weirder and weirder as it progresses, the term is overused but it borders on being Lynchian. So I’d recommend not knowing too much going in or watching the trailer or anything like that. Despite the description it’s not a dreadful experience, in fact with the exception of The Wolf of Wall Street, this is the closest thing to a straight up comedy that Martin Scorsese has made. There was quite a lot of dark humour in the movie, and I thought most of it was good. It’s fairly plotless and pretty much just following one character for all the time, and as that it succeeded for the most part. It’s very fast paced and is just under an hour and 40 minutes long, still by the end you feel like you just experienced a whole night. This movie doesn’t necessarily do a lot wrong, but I didn’t personally get anything out of the movie or see what it was trying to say thematically. I just saw it as an entertaining and darkly comedic thriller, though I have an idea that Scorsese was also trying to say something, I just can’t figure out what it is. That’s probably the main thing that’s stopping me from loving After Hours, or at least at the same level as most of Martin Scorsese’s other movies.

Griffin Dunne is the lead character and the movie surrounds him the entire time, and he more than holds his own. He pretty much personifies the everyman caught in one crazy incident after the other, and you can really see him losing it as the night goes on and never seeming to get any break. The supporting cast was good as well, with many of them playing some weird and memorable characters, with the cast including Rosanna Arquette, Verna Bloom, Thomas Chong, John Heard, Catherine O’Hara and more.

Martin Scorsese’s direction is great as usual. Even though he generally makes great looking movies, I was taken aback at how stunning this movie looked. The New York City’s Soho is very well captured, and Scorsese effectively conveys a dreamlike and surreal atmosphere excellently. The synth score by Howard Shore also accompanies the movie rather well and it’s a constant presence throughout the movie.

After Hours isn’t among Martin Scorsese’s best movies, but there’s a lot of things here to like. It’s weird, dream-like and entertaining, very well directed and it has a bunch of memorable characters along with Griffin Dunne’s central lead performance anchoring the movie. It’s a unique movie that’s worth a watch.