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At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Irishman’

25 November 2019
... and moves more confidently towards an old man in a wheelchair, seen from the back. The camera circles round him and pauses in the air close to his face – too close for any plausible human view. MartinScorsese – this is the opening scene of his new film The Irishman – likes this kind of shot. At the beginning of The Age of Innocence (1993) the camera zooms slowly in to the face of a singer on ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’

6 March 2014
The Wolf of Wall Street 
directed by Martin Scorsese.
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... for $25 million because of his portrayal in the film. He hadn’t liked the way he looked in the book but the film depicts him as … er … a criminal. In many ways The Wolf of Wall Street replays Scorsese’s Goodfellas. There is a voice-over narration – some of it brilliantly mixed into the present moment, so that DiCaprio is telling the story in an impossible tense, a now that is already a then ...
8 March 1990
Emotion Pictures: Reflections on the Cinema 
by Wim Wenders, translated by Sean Whiteside and Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 148 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 0 571 15271 6
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Scorsese​ on Scorsese 
by Martin Scorsese, edited by David Thompson and Ian Christie.
Faber, 178 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 9780571141036
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... out there’. He is alienated, lonely, capable of violence, and in this he is like a figure from an American cinema at the opposite pole from Disney’s – like another namesake, Travis Bickle, MartinScorsese’s vigilante and Taxi Driver of 1975. The contrast between the characters is representative of the respective timbres of the directors’ work. Scorsese’s Travis takes out his frustration ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: Scorsese

16 November 2006
The Departed 
directed by Martin Scorsese.
October 2006
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... probably on purpose. What he means is he has never had a moment of unease in his life, but he knows how the story goes. The real point of the crown is that your psychosis has the world to itself. MartinScorsese’s Goodfellas (1990) opens with three gangsters on the road and a noise coming from the boot of the car. There is a corpse there who is not quite dead. The two older gangsters (Robert De ...

At the Party

Christopher Hitchens

17 April 1986
Hollywood Babylon II 
by Kenneth Anger.
Arrow, 323 pp., £5.95, January 1986, 0 09 945110 7
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Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan 
by Robin Wood.
Columbia, 336 pp., $25, October 1985, 0 231 05776 8
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... a valediction, a challenge or even a joke. Wood takes it as a licence to ‘read’ practically anything into a motion picture, and to read in a very imperious manner. How’s this for a point about MartinScorsese and the absence of family life in Raging Bull and Taxi Driver? ‘The only family in Taxi Driver is Iris’s (strictly off-screen and marginal); neither Jimmy Doyle nor Francine Evans appear ...
10 February 1994
The Age of Innocence 
directed by Martin Scorsese.
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The Age of Innocence 
by Edith Wharton, introduced by Peter Washington.
Everyman, 308 pp., £9.99, September 1993, 1 85715 202 6
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... Nothing in MartinScorsese’s film is quite as good as its first 15 minutes, but those 15 minutes are astonishing. You feel the movies are being invented; or at the very least that Scorsese has rediscovered a medium that has been lost since The Magnificent Ambersons. The camera pries and pulls back, sweeps and turns, picks up faces and gestures and furniture, putting itself (and us) in ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Peeping Tom’

2 December 2010
The Peeping Tom 
directed by Michael Powell.
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... see the film on a Criterion Collection DVD with an excellent commentary by Laura Mulvey, or you can walk out yourselves from the Curzon and other cinemas, where it is now showing in a restored print. MartinScorsese, a great admirer of the film, says it is about the ‘madness of making movies’, a view not entirely at odds with all the disgust, just more interested in comparative madness. The film ...

The Bloody Sixth

Joshua Brown: The Real Gangs of New York

23 January 2003
TheGangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld 
by Herbert Asbury.
Arrow, 366 pp., £6.99, January 2003, 0 09 943674 4
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Gangs of New York 
directed by Martin Scorsese.
December 2002
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... nails, constructed of brass’, making the toughest Bowery Boy’s blood run cold when she ‘screeched her battle cry and rushed biting and clawing into the midst of a mass of opposing gangsters’. MartinScorsese’s Little Italy childhood was spent a short distance from the no-longer Points, and though the stories in Asbury’s book started a thirty-year obsession to transform The Gangs of New York ...

Going Wrong

Michael Wood

7 March 1996
Casino 
directed by Martin Scorsese.
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Heat 
directed by Michael Mann.
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Seven 
directed by David Fincher.
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... adding that Las Vegas is to Americans what Lourdes is to Europeans: a place where you look for miracles to take your pains and blemishes away. You dream of healing and you leave lots of money behind. Scorsese’s Casino is full of shots of money in close-up, in its solid, countable form, thousands of coins, thousands of bills, swilling through slot-machines and off gaming-tables into a tiny armoured back ...

Diary

Stephen Frears: That's Hollywood

20 December 1990
... our case, Actor C was younger and less cynical than the character in Donnie Brasco, and it made sense to take this into account. We also talked about GoodFellas. ‘My friend Marty’ is the director MartinScorsese, who had produced The Grifters. His fine film GoodFellas had just opened, and Donnie Brasco strayed into its territory. We had missed each other in New York and Los Angeles, but eventually ...
23 May 1991
The Dylan Companion 
edited by Elizabeth Thomson and David Gutman.
Macmillan, 338 pp., £10.99, April 1991, 0 333 49826 7
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Bob Dylan: Performing Artist. Vol. I: 1960-73 
by Paul Williams.
Xanadu, 310 pp., £14.99, February 1991, 1 85480 044 2
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Dylan: Behind the Shades 
by Clinton Heylin.
Viking, 528 pp., £16.99, May 1991, 0 670 83602 8
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The Bootleg Series: Vols I-III (rare and unreleased) 1961-1991 
by Bob Dylan.
Columbia, £24.95, April 1991
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... have never even bought a Dylan record. It’s also interesting to note to what an incompatible range of other artists he appeals. Surely the only thing in common between Samuel Beckett, Miles Davis, MartinScorsese, Philip Larkin, Frank O’Hara, Bob Marley, would be their shared interest in his music. His songs have been more widely covered by other musicians, ranging from Frank Sinatra to Jimi ...

A World of Waste

Philip Horne

1 September 1983
The Proprietor 
by Ann Schlee.
Macmillan, 300 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 333 35111 8
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Slouching towards Kalamazoo 
by Peter De Vries.
Gollancz, 241 pp., £7.95, August 1983, 0 575 03306 1
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Marcovaldo 
by Italo Calvino, translated by William Weaver.
Secker, 121 pp., £7.95, August 1983, 0 436 08272 1
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The Loser 
by George Konard, translated by Ivan Sanders.
Allen Lane, 315 pp., £8.95, August 1983, 0 7139 1599 4
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... the deliberate vivacity of Slouching towards Kalamazoo, whose blasphemies are cosily half-hearted rather than ‘outrageous’ (the blurb’s word), will fill us with a gloom like that discerned by MartinScorsese in the worn features of the aging funnyman played by Jerry Lewis in his splendid recent film King of Comedy. The stories in Italo Calvino’s Marcovaldo (1963), a collection of 20 urban ...

Hitchcocko-Hawksien

Christopher Prendergast

5 June 1997
Projections 7 
edited by John Boorman and Walter Donohue.
Faber, 308 pp., £11.99, April 1997, 0 571 19033 2
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Cahiers du cinema. Vol. I: The Fifties. Neo-Realism, Hollywood, New Wave 
edited by Jim Hillier.
Routledge, 312 pp., £65, September 1996, 0 415 15105 8
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Cahiers du cinema. Vol. II: The Sixties. New Wave, New Cinema, Re-evaluating Hollywood 
edited by Jim Hillier.
Routledge, 363 pp., £65, September 1996, 0 415 15106 6
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Cahiers du cinema. Vol. III: 1969-72. The Politics of Representation 
edited by Nick Browne.
Routledge, 352 pp., £65, September 1996, 0 415 02987 2
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... In MartinScorsese’s Casino, Ace Rothstein (Robert De Niro) remarks that Las Vegas is about ‘selling people dreams for cash’ and, in a memorable elaboration of this cliché, that ‘it does for us what Lourdes ...
20 December 1990
... Why are there people like Frank? Why is there so much trouble in this world?’ The answers come partly from within, from a recognition and rejection of human alikeness between watcher and villain. MartinScorsese’s brutal, dazzling film about everyday life in the lower ranks of the Mafia, GoodFellas, plays with this gothic scheme of the watcher drawn into the criminal underworld, but with an irony ...

Bourgeois Nightmares

Gilberto Perez: Michael Haneke

6 December 2012
... is a violent melodrama about a respectable family set upon by nasty criminals, much as in The Desperate Hours (1955) or Cape Fear (1962). (Both films were remade in the 1990s, by Michael Cimino and MartinScorsese respectively; Haneke himself remade Funny Games in Hollywood in 2007.) The difference is that the criminals in The Desperate Hours or Cape Fear have a motive for assaulting the family ...

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