Movies

Martin Scorsese Is a Grumpy Old Fart—and Wrong About the State of 'Cinema'

As his $159 million new movie, The Irishman, hits theaters, the legendary director avers today is "brutal and inhospitable to art."

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I'm a big admirer of Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese—I thoroughly enjoyed his recent Bob Dylan "documentary," Rolling Thunder Revue, and I look forward to watching his newest narrative film, The Irishman, when it hits Netflix later this month after a limited theatrical run (more on that later). But the 76-year-old genius behind Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, and many other modern classics is sounding more and more like just another entitled, grumpy old man, bitching and moaning not just about the vulgar popular taste of everyday moviegoers but the supposed sacrificing of serious art films at the altar of crass commercialism. "The situation at this moment is brutal and inhospitable to art," declares Scorsese amidst an immense and sustained proliferation of quality film, video, TV, music, books, and other forms of creative expression. He sounds almost as delusional as his signature characters Travis Bickle, Rupert Pupkin, and Henry Hill.

Scorsese's sort of critique has never fit comfortably in a Hollywood setting—no art form is more deeply entwined with commercial culture than motion pictures—but it's also flat-out wrong from a spectator's perspective. If you like movies, you've never had as many choices of types of films, video, and series to watch or, even more important, as many ways to watch and enjoy them. Whether we're talking quality or quantity, we've never had so much good stuff to consume, most of it available at our fingertips.

A few weeks ago in an interview, Scorsese denounced big-budget superhero movies, saying, "That's not cinema….It isn't the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being." In a New York Times op-ed published Monday, Scorsese expanded on his attack on contemporary blockbusters, making an invidious comparison between "franchise films" (e.g., all those Marvel blockbusters) and an "art form" (such as movies by Hitchcock, even though he concedes that they may have a tedious "sameness to them"). Growing up in the '50s and '60s, Scorsese recalls a time when movies were still dismissed as mere entertainment. "There was some debate about that at the time, so we stood up for cinema as an equal to literature or music or dance," he writes. That argument was of course settled long ago, in favor of movies (and TV, rock music, and other forms of popular culture), but Scorsese, apparently scarred by the battle, just can't take the win. Yet nobody seriously claims anymore that film is not as worthy of study as literature (which only fought its way into the college curriculum for real in the 20th century). Gatekeepers have now moved on to questioning whether video games are art (the short answer is, yes, they are, and will become even more interesting and compelling over time as their creators self-consciously develop their aesthetics).

Even as Scorsese repeatedly says that his dislike of superhero movies is simply his personal taste, he can't stop himself from dismissing them as something more sinister, a marketing ploy designed to placate both corporate overlords and what H.L. Mencken called "the great boob public." "Everything in [superhero movies is] officially sanctioned because it can't really be any other way. That's the nature of modern film franchises: market-researched, audience-tested, vetted, modified, revetted and remodified until they're ready for consumption," he writes. "Many films today are perfect products manufactured for immediate consumption."

That's an uninformed take at best, especially when considering films such as 2018's Avengers: Infinity War and this year's Avengers: Endgame, in which a number of major characters (not to mention "half of all life in the universe") are killed off. On the face of it, that hardly seems like the move a calculating studio head would greenlight. Consider, too, Joker, the controversial film based on the Batman archvillain and filled with homages to Scorsese's own King of Comedy. This moody, violent tale—made for about one-third of the budget of Scorsese's latest, which cost a reported $159 million!—stretches audiences in all sorts of emotional and aesthetic directions. The same can and should be said about Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, which is easily as profound a meditation on violence, social decay, and justice as anything Scorsese has produced.

I'd like to suggest Scorsese's aesthetic critique—which by his own admission is uninformed—is simply mere snobbism. Despite film being a relatively modern medium, it's a very old and unconvincing canard to oppose commercial culture with "real" art. The funding of a particular piece of creative expression ultimately says precious little about its aesthetic value or cultural meaning. I'm happy to stipulate that many—most, actually—superhero movies are terrible. The same can also rightly be said about "serious" films (defined however you see fit). From the audience's viewpoint, whether a film is produced in the name of making a buck or trying to be the next Citizen Kane is beside the point.

Scorsese further argues that the success of franchises such as The Avengers or The X-Men comes at the expense of worthier films, squeezing them out of a dwindling number of theaters:

Why not just let superhero films and other franchise films be? The reason is simple. In many places around this country and around the world, franchise films are now your primary choice if you want to see something on the big screen. It's a perilous time in film exhibition, and there are fewer independent theaters than ever. The equation has flipped and streaming has become the primary delivery system. Still, I don't know a single filmmaker who doesn't want to design films for the big screen, to be projected before audiences in theaters.

As it happens, there are more movie screens in America—41,172, according to the latest count—today than 20 years ago. And the number of movies released annually has been climbing too—from 478 in 2000 to 871 last year. It's hard to find data on the distribution of non-franchise films per se, but my experience runs counter to Scorsese's supposition that such movies are harder and harder to come by. For almost all of the past two decades, I lived full- or part-time in Oxford, Ohio, a small college town (home to Miami University) situated about 30 miles north of Cincinnati. In my experience, which I think is representative, it has only became easier to see what used to be called art house movies in a theater, especially outside big cities. For chunks of time when I lived there, Oxford was home to a small four-screen theater, which typically reserved one of its screens for something other than a blockbuster. More relevantly, bigger and better theaters popped up both in Cincinnati proper and its suburbs. Theater chains such as AMC and Cinemark may not be "independent" in the way Scorsese prefers, but they have revivified the moviegoing experience by offering better sound, projection, and amenities while showing more types of movies than used to be available in the sticks. After three decades away, I moved back to New York City a year ago and it seems easier than ever to see all sorts of films.

Then, of course, there is the streaming revolution, which builds upon the rise (and fall) of video-rental stores that brought the world's film archives to everyone with a few dollars and a VCR. Blockbuster and other chains and independent video stores gave way to the early iteration of Netflix, in which subscribers received DVDs in the mail. Now Netflix and Amazon, among others, are major film studios, underwriting all sorts of projects that never would have seen the light of day even a few years ago.

Indeed, as Scorsese emphasizes, The Irishman is itself a Netflix production. He is, he avers, "thankful" for the collaboration, which "allowed us to make The Irishman the way we needed to." Still, he grouses that his movie will not have as long a run in theaters as he would like, and that watching video on streaming services is not how any "filmmaker intended her or his picture to be seen."

As it happens, ticket sales in the United States have been flat over the past 25 years, despite the increase in screens. If the bottom-line-driven heads of studios were actually so great at manipulating our behavior, that wouldn't be happening, would it? A better explanation for flat box office is that consumers—including those of us who spend a hell of a lot of time watching films and other forms of visual art—have changed their habits. We're more likely to view things on demand and at home, where our TVs are bigger and better than ever. This isn't because we're philistines or imbeciles who only want juvenile action flicks. It's simply more convenient for us. And if the incredible array of movies, series, comedy specials, online videos, you name it that we're consuming every day is any indication, Scorsese's conviction that "this moment is brutal and inhospitable to art" is patently absurd.

And it's not necessarily shared by his peers either. Last week, I interviewed Errol Morris, the Academy Award-winning documentarian whom Roger Ebert called the equal of Hitchcock and Fellini, for an upcoming video and Reason Interview podcast (subscribe here!). Morris said the current moment is absolutely the best moment in history to be making documentaries, a genre that has always had difficulty finding theatrical distribution (in fact, Morris had to wait a year after its initial festival release to get his Steve Bannon doc, American Dharma, into theaters).

I sympathize that Scorsese can no longer dictate the exact terms on which his films are consumed these days. But when he inveighs against the marketplace, the public's taste, and the loss of a particular cinematic experience that he grew up with, he's mistaking the passing of his time in the sun for the end of the world.

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  1. Nick Gillespie totally whiffs a chance to have made this entire article’s content:

    Ok Boomer.

  2. Follow the money. Scorsese made a deal with Netflix, and Marvel’s movies are going to Disney’s rival streaming service.

      1. After reading the synopsis I decided it would be best to begin self-harming.

  3. Last week, I interviewed Errol Morris, the Academy Award-winning documentarian whom Roger Ebert called the equal of Hitchcock and Fellini

    Just so you know, The Equal of Hitchcock and Fellini made a fawning documentary about Elizabeth Holmes which… should be in the Did Not Age Well hall of fame.

    1. Bumpin’

      Gibney asked for Morris’s input, but he declined to comment, reportedly telling Gibney that he “couldn’t make him talk,” even saying, “For God, there is no off the record, and he can be a very unforgiving person.” This reticence runs contrary to Morris’s stridently expressed beliefs about the pitfalls of paradigmatic thinking and relativism. With the benefit of hindsight, reviewing Morris’s Theranos commercials sheds light on the contradictions in the ideology that serves as the bedrock for his work.

    2. Morris has made two good movies in his career The Thin Blue Line and The Fog of War. The Fog of War was over ten years ago. I am embarrassed for Gillespie seeing him compare Morris to Fellini and Hitchcock. That is just idiotic.

      1. Gillespie seriously thinks there has been

        an immense and sustained proliferation of quality film, video, TV, music, books, and other forms of creative expression.

        So, you, know, he’s fucking retarded. Of course who would expect anything less from the sad sack boomer faggot desperately trying to stay hip in his mid 50s who unironically said that totalitarian thought policing on the part of government and private actors was perfectly excusable because his genetically-disgraced retard children can watch South Park.

        1. there’s way more quality TV than ever before, books too. Music not so much.

      2. I found that comparison weird too.

        Hitchcock and Fellini are to film what Mozart and Beethoven are to music.

      3. Gillespie wasn’t making the comparison, Scorcese was. Nick’s faith in our reading comprehension is clearly misplaced.

  4. One of the worst things this site has ever published. Genuine auteurist talent is being stamped out by the sameness of corporate product. But that’s okay, because it’s the free market at work or something.

    Such a depressing way of looking at art.

    1. I don’t know about stamped out. Seems like plenty of artsy-fartsy stuff is being made these days.
      But I haven’t seen a new movie in years, so what do I know?

      1. What’s missing are the “mid” range movies, like the original Die Hard.
        It’s either “indy/artsy”, low budget, or blockbuster.
        Movies made just to entertain and make a little money… not so much

    2. Genuine auteurist talent is being stamped out by the sameness of corporate product.

      Disagree. People have been saying this my whole entire life. Music supposedly died when Paul McCartney sued the Beatles in 1970.

      I think the train that left the station while Scorsese was busy remaking his old movies over and over with different titles is that serious has been taken over by the small screen.

      If Scorsese wants to really dig into characters (something he’s actually not that good at), why settle for 2 hours and spend $150M doing it? If you’re going to spend that much, I want to see a spaceship zoom out of an exploding planet.

      If you want to develop “serious” characters and “serious” plots addressing “serious” issues? Make a series. Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Six Feet Under, The Wire. All of these things blew the shit out of anything Scorcese has done since the mid-’90s.

      Why does Scorsese insist on continuing to dabble in video short stories when we’re in the middle of a full-blown renaissance-of-the-video-novel?

      Lastly, there’s a reason Hollywood is less fixated on the “genuine auteurist talent” these days.

      1. Yeah, Scorsese is totally remaking his own movies. That’s not at all what the MCU is about.

        Enjoy all the slop, kids!

        1. Yeah, Scorsese is totally remaking his own movies. That’s not at all what the MCU is about.

          Sarcasm? It can be hard to tell sometimes. Because I agree with the non-ironic version of this statement.

          What has Scorsese done lately that isn’t exactly what he’s done before a dozen times? He’s one of the most mannered and predictable directors in the business.

          Marvel Studios makes a point of taking a different approach to each film, and casting further and further into different genres to try to keep them fresh.

          Have you actually watched the Marvel movies?

          Disclaimer: my tastes are heavily tempered by having a twelve-year-old.

          1. Disclaimer: my tastes are heavily tempered by having a twelve-year-old.

            Having the IQ of a sub-average 12 year old probably doesn’t hurt either.

            1. Okay, Goldie.

          2. Essentially Scorsese is lamenting the loss of Hollywood’s stranglehold on film production allowing directors like him to make an occasional thoughtful film and have it do well in theater’s. That’s just a fundamental misunderstanding on his part of where ‘art’ films have gone.

            Theater’s are now essentially Disney outlet stores, and you can see how much sway Disney has over them with how they approach negotiations with the big theater chains. I think that’s what he has a problem with, but he fails to notice that NetFlix and other online platforms are more than happy to buy up any ‘art’ flick he cares to point at.

            In fact, NetFlix is so desperate for content they’re bleeding themselves dry which is why he managed to get a deal with them in the first place. They’re practically starving for Hollywood acceptance, and poaching a Scorsese film (regardless of the quality of his product) is a big win for them.

            1. Agreed. One even wonders whether this is part of a deliberate posturing strategy on the part of NetFlix.

            2. “Theater’s are now essentially Disney outlet stores, and you can see how much sway Disney has over them with how they approach negotiations with the big theater chains.”

              Well, Disney – and China

          3. Marvel movies are well executed, but extremely formulaic.
            It’s kinda their strength – the audience knows exactly what it’s getting and how it will be delivered.
            They’re well done cartoons

            1. That’s a good way to put it. Having a background in Medieval and Renaissance literature, I have an appreciation for well-executed formula.

      2. If you want to develop “serious” characters and “serious” plots addressing “serious” issues? Make a series. Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Six Feet Under, The Wire. All of these things blew the shit out of anything Scorcese has done since the mid-’90s.

        I find myself thinking the same thing these days. Movies are very, very short. That being said, The Joker really reignited my love of the 2 hour film format. I forgot that so much can be said in 2 hours.

        1. Is the Joker really that good? I never see comic book movies. But I am starting to think I should make an exception for that one.

          1. Yeah, it was. It’s basically a movie about mental illness and societal breakdown that uses Gotham as a backdrop. It’s actually quite a sad movie overall.

            Overall, it’s probably a 7.5 or 8 out of 10. But Juaquin Phoenix’s performance is worth the price of admission.

            1. Totally agree. It was a bit too long, but was almost entirely character-driven. And Phoenix was awesome.

            2. The Joker and sadness configuration.

              Who woulda thought?

        2. If it takes much longer than ~90 minutes it means you included too much bullshit or you should have made a show or miniseries.

          There are exceptions, but few and far between. LOTR did ok with 2+ hour long films, but they are contemporary masterpieces of film
          making. It’s not even fair to use those movies as a foil for anything.

          1. I’m not so sure here. For example, compare the 140-minute version of Terry Gilliam’s _Brazil_ to the 90-minute version. The former is great, the latter is mostly incomprehensible if you haven’t already seen the 140-minute version.

            1. Like I said, there can be exceptions but Marvel films aren’t the exception we’re looking for here. They are so weighed down with filler it’s astounding. They can be enjoyable, I’m not a full blown Marvel hater, but there are also tons of scenes that simply don’t need to be there by weight of the ‘expanded universe’ alone, not even taking into consideration other factors like action bloat.

              Cut the action and ‘big finale showdown’ out of Marvel films and I’d wager you’d approach the 90 minute mark. Probably less for non-tent pole films.

              Thor: Ragnarok is an example of an otherwise fine film being bogged down by a terrible and unnecessary plot lines, and it’s pretty common.

              1. True
                Good ending though
                If for nothing else than Immigrant Song…

                1. The opening of Thor: Ragnarok was everything great about Marvel films. The ending was everything terrible about Marvel films. That’s one of the reasons I bring it up a lot; it contains both extreme’s with the middle being mostly good character driven moments.

                  You could entirely trash the evil queen plotline and it would only improve the film. It even had two villains, one for the typical ‘safe’ plot (the queen) and one for the atypical ‘weird’ plot (Goldbloom).

                  That’s a camel for you, though. It was going to be a horse before the committee got to it.

      3. yeah. I think the quality of theatrical movies has dropped considerably over the last 20 years. There are still good movies, just not as many of them as their used to be. The quality of mini series and full series TV, however, has exploded. There is no comparison between what used to be made and what is made now.

        1. “I think the quality of theatrical movies has dropped considerably over the last 20 years.”

          Meh, I think this impression is caused by two things: 1) When we were younger, derivative schlock was new to us, but when we see the same today, we pass and 2) we forget how much shit there was 20 years ago.

          Crocodile Dundie? Tootsie? Three Men and A Baby? Twister? Independence Day? Men in Black? Who Framed Roger Rabbit? All of those were…ok. Not great, just ok- and they were in the top 20 money makers of the 80s and 90s. We totally forget shit like Ishtar, Romancing the Stone II: Jewel of the Nile, Iron Eagle, Friday the 13th 18, Critters, CHUD, and the myriad other movies that are only watched today because of MST3K or Riff Trax.

          1. Independence Day???

            Get. Out

            1. Independence Day is still awesome.

              Will Smith + Jeff Goldblum + Bill Pullman + HARRY CONNICK JR!!!

              Mic drop

          2. Iron Eagle! I forgot about that movie – holy shit that was bad!

            I may need to change my Plan 9 From Outer Space recommendation.

      4. Not everyone likes being fed regurgitated SJW shit like a waiting baby bird like you do.

        1. And that’s not what’s in the popular blockbusters?

          1. … you’re having a hard time keeping up aren’t you? It’s popular blockbusters that Square is defending as high art.

            1. It’s popular blockbusters that Square is defending as high art.

              And it’s not FAIR!

            2. Yeah, buddy, that’s what he was doing.

              And I’ll admit I lost the thread a bit there.

        2. Not everyone likes being fed regurgitated SJW shit like a waiting baby bird like you do.

          Hey – whatever your mommy feeds you is just fine by me! Taste is a personal thing.

          1. Oh my god bro. Just stick to being a contrarian pseud, you can’t do clever.

            1. Just stick to being a contrarian pseud, you can’t do clever.

              Pardon me while I dismiss your opinion out of hand.

        3. Says the cretin that has done nothing in this whole thread but shitpost.

          1. I’m becoming more and more convinced that it’s performance art.

            1. It just reminds me of the Anton Ego review near the end of Ratatouille:

              “We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.”

          2. By all means let’s seriously discuss how Marvel comic book movies are on equal footing with Taxi Driver.

            1. Taxi Driver? No. The Departed? Yes.

              But you’re impressively stupid, so I’m not surprised that you missed that.

              1. Fun fact, The Departed was a movie about cell phones.

              2. Agree. And what’s with Scorsese’s hard on for DiCaprio? The most overrated actor since Brad Pitt.

            2. I haven’t said anything about any Marvel movie in this entire thread, dumbfuck. As usual, you’re attacking the hobgoblins your deluded mind has invented.

      5. It’s all shit. I have yet to see Joker, but I heard it is like a homage to films like Taxi Driver so that may say a lot.

        As for making a series, that’s something different than a movie. If you have to make an entire series that’s over 60 hours long to tell a story riveting enough then Scorcese wins because he could do it in 2 hours.

        1. If you have to make an entire series that’s over 60 hours long to tell a story riveting enough then Scorcese wins because he could do it in 2 hours.

          Que moderniste!

          Not everything needs to be Hemingway. There’s also a place in the world for Tolstoy.

          1. But then the end of Game of Thrones happens

            1. I’m pretending it didn’t.

              1. Well, at least we have the consolation that Rambo and Terminator go on forever. Fucking. Forever.

    3. I don’t think its being completely stamped out, but a lot of major big budget movies could be so much better if they would just let the artists create their vision rather than swapping in and out directors and writers a million times. Its the writing and directing by committee that is causing a lot of major franchise films to lose steam.

      We can all be free market advocates while still recognizing when a particular business is killing itself with poor decision making.

      Luckily, Netflix, Hulu, Prime, etc. are here to make actual good films. I enjoy more well-made movies and shows today than I ever have in the past. I’ve also been visiting the theatre less and less these days — and that’s not because I want to stay at home — its because most of the movies that come out in theaters look like they were made in some sort of market testing lab. Half of everything is a sequel that you know won’t be as good as the first movie or they’re a “reboot” that won’t be as good as the original movie or they’re a sequel to a “reboot” from several years ago which was never that great in the first place.

      Get off my lawn!

      1. a lot of major big budget movies could be so much better if they would just let the artists create their vision rather than swapping in and out directors and writers a million times. Its the writing and directing by committee that is causing a lot of major franchise films to lose steam.

        And this is one of the things I like about the Marvel Studios approach – for a long time now their approach has been to settle on writer, director, and cast first, and then let them govern the process.

        1. Disney is pretty willing to shoot themselves in the foot for SJW causes, a la James Gunn, but it turns out not just anyone can make fun films anymore and they had to suck it up and rehire him.

          The shocking part is that Disney didn’t think an ex-troma guy might have some skeletons in his closet. Did they ever actually watch his movies before hiring him or did they only watch what he made post-2000?

          1. I think Disney cares about SJW causes exactly to the extent that they impact their bottom line. They took a huge hit in the ’90s being behind the times on feminism and critical race theory, and have been scrambling to put together woker products ever since.

            The moment their movies start losing money because they’re too woke, they will reverse course. It’s a big ship, though, and doesn’t course-correct easily.

            1. Yep, absolutely agree. Disney knows how to pay lip service, but notably when the rubber met the road they rehired Gunn even though they fired him previously.

              I do think their attempts to mollify the SJW crowd will eventually hand them some box-office losses though, they just aren’t there yet. Frankly I’m kind of surprised that Captain Marvel did as well as it did, but it seems people just can’t get enough spandex punching.

              I’ll tell you this though, the most enjoyable ‘comic book’ movie I’ve seen in the past few years was Shazam. And the reason why is because it didn’t take itself so damn seriously. I’d say the same of Ant-Man as well. I’m sick of Earth almost being blown up or whatever. I like the smaller stakes character driven stories, and it seems comic movies are pivoting at least partially to that format.

              If you’re looking for movie review/entertainment, I highly recommend the below if you don’t already know about them. They’re amazing.

              Red Letter Media

              Their Star Wars prequel reviews were…hilariously bad but so on point it was cathartic.

              1. “even though they fired him previously.”

                Pretty sure that didn’t happen that way. I think they knew he wasn’t going anywhere and they just waited until it blew over to the point where announcing he was directing only resulted in a day’s worth of news coverage.

                1. That’s possible, I guess, as some bizarre public relations stunt but it seems improbable. Gunn was reportedly looking at doing other projects with other studios, with competing studios even, after he was fired so I’m not so sure that’s the case.

                  I suspect that Disney didn’t want Gunn defecting over to Warner Bros. like Shyamalan did but you never know. He was even a director of color!

                  1. Gunn was reportedly looking at doing other projects with other studios, with competing studios even, after he was fired so I’m not so sure that’s the case.

                    He in fact signed onto another project – Suicide Squad 2, because of which Guardians 3 production is delayed.

                    1. I forgot about that one! I avoid Will Smith movies as a general rule these days, so the first one passed me by thus my interest in the second one was basically non-existent.

              2. Frankly I’m kind of surprised that Captain Marvel did as well as it did, but it seems people just can’t get enough spandex punching.

                I thought it was actually quite good. There were some eye-rolly moments, for sure, but as origin stories go I think it was one of the better ones, if also one of the more humorless ones. The hero is not very likeable, but that’s sort of the whole Marvel thing – flawed heroes.

                There are some signs, though, that people aren’t taking to Brie Larsen all that warmly, and there are rumors that Captain Marvel has been scaled back from what she originally signed up for.

                But I agree 100% that the best ones of late have been the more cheeky ones – Ant Man, Spider Man, Thor: Ragnarok. Haven’t yet seen Shazaam, because my daughter has no interest, but I’ve been meaning to. I enjoyed Infinity War-Endgame, but yeah – the biggest flaw was the super-serious tone, which made them drag at times.

                Thanks for the recommendation on the site.

                1. Capt. Marvel was okay as a generic film (or even a phase 1 film), but vastly inferior as a third phase MCU movie. In the end, I think it’s because the character arc just wasn’t compelling.

                  1. Capt. Marvel was okay as a generic film (or even a phase 1 film), but vastly inferior as a third phase MCU movie. In the end, I think it’s because the character arc just wasn’t compelling.

                    Yeah – there have been better ones in recent years, for sure. That’s why I say ‘for an origin story,’ since those tend to be second-rate all around.

                    I think the trouble with the character’s arc was that the recovering-from-memory-wiping story line was interesting, but that combined with the one-note cockiness of the character made the story less compelling than it could have been.

                    1. I think the trouble with the character’s arc was that the recovering-from-memory-wiping story line was interesting, but that combined with the one-note cockiness of the character made the story less compelling than it could have been.

                      Agreed. There was never a feeling that there were significant personal stakes in the challenges she was supposed to overcome. In retrospect, I think it would have been better to turn this into a ‘flipped’ Captain America story – spend time building up the camaraderie with her squad and her loyalty to the kree and identity as a kree soldier, then rip it all away when she discovers she’s the ‘baddie.’

              3. Deadpool 2 FTW

                But prior to that: Blade

                1. Thanks for the reminder – I haven’t seen Deadpool 2 yet. I haven’t seen Blade since it came out. May see it again – don’t remember it that well. I was intoxicated.

          2. It’s probably a good thing that the people that funded the Lord of the Rings movies never watched Meet The Feebles.

    4. Oh hey, look guys, it’s the divine messiah of true culture come to rescue us from our benighted and backwards tastes.

      Alternatively, you could take a look at the bewildering variety of content on offer these days, discover more things for you to like than you can possibly have time to watch, and be content to sneer at the philistines over the internet like the rest of us.

    5. There’s no talent getting stamped out. There are more people making movies than ever before. It creates the illusion of lower quality because of all the dreck in between the good movies.

  5. The universe of characters that gets wiped out in Infinity War gets revived in Endgame. There are few serious consequences in these movies, and one of the actual death scenes they feature (Black Widow’s) was handled atrociously.

  6. Scorsese should make a movie with Meryl Streep,and only Meryl Streep, she who declared that only movie actors are true artists. But would she lower herself to work with a mere director?

    1. Meryl Streep on Meryl Streep. I like the concept.

      1. “Meryl Streep on Meryl Streep”

        Would she be wearing a Streep-on?

        I’ll let myself out.

      2. I mean, they cast Will Smith twice for the same movie, so you could probably persuade them to fill an entire stadium with Streeps.

        “Coming in November . . . Take to the Streeps!”

        1. “Coming in November . . . Take to the Streeps!”

          Oh my God don’t give them ideas.

          1. To my lifelong regret, i just watched The Laundromat. Honestly i should have known better, and have only myself to blame. But God, the horror. You have been warned.

  7. I sympathize that Scorsese can no longer dictate the exact terms on which his films are consumed these days.

    And let’s face it – that’s because Scorsese has been phoning it in for a couple of decades now.

    He’s casting around for some reason for his waning influence other than “I don’t make good movies anymore.”

    1. Russians. It must be Russians, right?

    2. And all his films are full if Italian stereotypes. So stereotypical, his Irish guys are played by Italians.

      1. Sounds problematic indeed. I bet his movies don’t even pass the Bechdel test.

      2. “Mama mia, I mean begorrah, that’s-a a spicy meat-a-ball, I mean a well-seasoned baked potato!”

    3. LOL. Scorsese phoning it in. Go watch The Wolf of Wall Street, bucko.

      1. Go watch The Wolf of Wall Street, bucko.

        ?

        Serious question – what did you think of Gangs of New York?

        1. Gangs of New York to me was interesting because I’m a bit of a history buff and I think he did a good job of capturing New York and the corruption of Tamany Hall at that time. I felt the love-interest in the movie felt forced and the movie would have worked perfectly fine– completely writing Cameron Diaz out of the film would have barely been noticed.

          It’s been too many years since I’ve seen it, but from an emotional response, I haven’t had any desire to re-watch the film which is a marker of a good film to me. I will watch Good Fellas every time it’s on. Every time. I’ve probably seen that movie in full or part nine, ten times? I’ve had no such desire to revisit Gangs even though I wouldn’t declare it a poor film.

          1. Sorry, writing while solving a problem on the phone– *movie would have worked perfectly fine without the love interest angle.*

          2. I think for me Gangs of New York was ruined by high expectations, and in fairness, I think this is why I like the Marvel movies – I have no expectations of them, and so I’m generally pleasantly surprised that they aren’t shit and that some actual effort goes into them.

            When Gangs came out, I would have ranked Scorsese among my favorite directors, and I was excited for Daniel Day Lewis’ return to the screen. Not only did I think Lewis’ performance was an embarrassment, but I felt like the movie was just a hot mess in plot terms and read almost like self-parody with all the cartoonishly over-the-top violence. Seeing the historical figures represented is always interesting, though.

            Which is so much as to say that I may have reacted over harshly to it (which I also did with Mulholland Drive, which I hated, hated, hated, despite [or maybe because of] being a big fan of Lynch’s ’80s stuff), but I think your litmus is pretty good – I have absolutely no desire to sit through it again, while I, too, will get glued to Goodfellas whenever it comes on.

            1. Now I want to know what you thought of the new Twin Peaks.
              I quite like Lynch’s later weirdness.

              1. Honestly I’ve been sort of boycotting Lynch since Mulholland Drive.

                Prior to the second season of the original Twin Peaks I ranked Lynch among my favorite directors. I thought the first twelve episodes were revolutionary television, but it seemed like he was counting on being too weird for TV and getting cancelled, and when he got super popular instead, he suddenly had to figure out where that story was going for 24 more episodes.

                I just felt like that second season of Twin Peaks was largely improvised and flailing, and he was just trying to out-weird himself to no real purpose. Fire Walk With Me was just painful, and I haven’t like anything he’s done since, and have felt like he’s just remaking Blue Velvet over and over again.

                A friend talked me into seeing Mulholland Drive on the premise that he was back in form. I didn’t agree.

                I’ve heard enough people I respect recommend the new Twin Peaks that in theory I may check it out, but I have other things I’m more interested in at the moment.

                1. The second season of Twin Peaks was weak. I think a lot wasn’t written or directed by Lynch. Then it got all weird again right at the end.
                  If you hated Mulholland drive, you might not love the new Twin Peaks. But maybe not. I don’t know why you hated it.
                  The new Twin Peaks is a pretty big departure from the original series and a lot darker in mood. And less coherent as far as plot continuity goes, like much of his more recent stuff. Though not quite as much as Mulholland or Lost Highway.

                  1. In fairness, I think Mulholland Drive had some great scenes in it, several of which I find myself recalling even still from time to time. Lynch has a feel for the eerie that no other director quite has.

                    Partly I think I felt like after Eraserhead he had really peaked out on weird/surreal plotless dream meditation and neither Lost Highway nor Mulholland Drive really achieve the same thing, but they both take way longer trying. The way he had developed in the several films he made after Eraserhead, Lost Highway and Wild at Heart felt like steps backward, and I started to feel like we was using surrealism as an excuse not to have a plan, but just to string unrelated, but often great, scenes together ordered more by mood than anything else.

                    It’s definitely a taste thing – I think he’s a genius, I just don’t care for the direction he’s gone in.


                2. A friend talked me into seeing Mulholland Drive on the premise that he was back in form. I didn’t agree.

                  I think this wins ‘understatement of the day’ in my book. That ‘film’ was preening garbage in my view, and it’s colored my opinion of Lynch ever since and I already didn’t have a terribly high opinion of him.

                  And I absolutely agree on Twin Peaks as well. My roomie in college made me watch it, and in all honesty it could have been great but he badly fumbled all the things that were actually interesting about that show to me. I’ll also never really forgive him for essentially killing off Cooper.

                  X-Files took the same premise, only they made the concept good (until they went off the rails, anyway).

                  1. preening garbage

                    Yeah – that’s kinda how it felt to me at the time. But I was trapped in a theater, and didn’t realize going in that it was like four hours long. I think that also fueled my hostility.

              2. I’m a bit of a weirdo, I think Lost Highway was one of Lynch’s best films. That movie creeped me the fuck out.

                1. That’s the Lynch I love. But I am a weirdo.

                2. I actually think Dune was Lynch’s best movie. I am not popular in film circles or in SF circles with that opinion, lol. But I love the book, and I think Lynch was a good choice to make the movie in a way that a lot of other contemporary directors just weren’t equipped to be.

                  1. I actually think Dune was Lynch’s best movie.

                    Brother from another mother! I’ve seen that movie probably 20 times. People complained that it made no sense, but Lynch said he simply didn’t make it for people who hadn’t read the book.

                    Best, I don’t know – I think I would go with Blue Velvet, but Dune is definitely his most underrated movie.

          3. Rewatch it for the costumes and sets alone. The attention to detail was amazing. Lighting too.

        2. loved it i watch it some of it most times it’s on

  8. “It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

    Thank God.

    Martin, baby; I went to the (movie) theaters for entertainment.
    If I want a bunch of political correctness and socialism shoved down my throat, I will actually tune into a “debate” out on the the democrats.

    Of course, now I don’t have to go to a theater where a bunch of self centered idiots bring their cellphones and squally brats and chat along like it was their own living room. I can fire up the incredibly theater-like big screen TV and see damn near everything ever done.

    1. If I want a bunch of political correctness and socialism shoved down my throat, I will actually tune into a “debate” out on the the democrats.

      Or, you could watch the new Marvel movies. Or the new Terminator movie. There is a good Captain Marvel movie that’s coming out that won’t interest you.

      1. Yes, certainly no political correctness in Captain Marvel

        How does it feel to be so fucking stupid you can’t even comprehend when you’re getting pissed on?

          1. He sounds like Scorsese’s permanently pissed-off retarded brother.

        1. Wow, you clearly read my comment wrong. If you could get past your own blinding rage, you’d see that I was agreeing with you.

          Quit being a child.

    2. For my two cents, I recommend getting a good short-throw projector. If you’ve got a good place to set it up, you can easily have an effective 130″ screen or so with extremely high picture quality, and most of them are much cheaper than comparable high end 70-80″ TVs.

  9. Ed Norton had an awesome quote about these sort of films….

    “That’s the stuff that gets handed to us that’s some combo of high fructose corn syrup and Xanax and it’s not intended to really engage us. It’s intended to opiate us. And that’s fine. I think there’s a certain fast food value in that. But I don’t think that the things that really land deeply in any of us ask us to be passive”

    Marvel movies have become mindless drivel. Enjoy your cultural xanax.

    1. That’s a pretty good way to put it. And there’s nothing wrong with that kind of easy entertainment. I wouldn’t want it to replace everything with a bit more to it, but I’m pretty sure that’s not happening. It’s just not happening as much in major studio films with wide promotion and distribution.

    2. Ed Norton had an awesome quote about these sort of films

      Did he say that before or after he collected his check for The Incredible Hulk?

    3. Endgame was one of the most tedious films I’ve ever sat through in my life.

  10. With these franchise blockbuster movies, the US audience may not even the primary market the studios are looking for success in. So those movies are looking for cross cultural appeal, but that does not mean his type of movies have no place and frankly movies have always had a mass appeal division. There does seem to be a dearth of good storytelling in the past decade or so.

    1. the US audience may not even the primary market the studios are looking for success in

      ^ This. Much ink has been spilt on the level at which tent-pole movies are courting Chinese audiences.

      1. And funded by Chinese money

        1. Oh, no doubt.

          I completely agree with what you said above about having lost the midling, localized market for movies rather than anything non-arty being a global tent-pole terrified of offending Chinese sensibilities. There’s a niche there to be filled, and hopefully the lower and lower barriers to entry in production will allow people to start filling that niche.

    2. That’s a good thing. Foreign films have been interesting in ways that U.S. films are not for several decades.

      I’m not saying U.S. films are uninteresting. I’m just saying that foreign films do things differently and its awesome to see the stuff they come up with!

      1. Except that what’s actually happening here in reality is that movies are being sanitized to cater to the tastes of bloodthirsty murderous regimes responsible for tens of millions of lives being obliterated. Xinnih the Pooh appreciates your pathetic subservient fealty though.

        1. Wow, tell me how you really feel about Japan and South Korea.

      2. Foreign films appear more interesting because the dreck isn’t worth translating and subtitling and dubbimg, so never shows up outside its home country.

        If you had the same access to ALL French films, or German, or British, or Chinese, you’d see just as much dreck.

        It’s the same reason golden oldies seem to have more hits than the current pop 40 top 40, or old cars get so many ooohs and ahhhs.

        1. Yeah – that struck me the first time I went to England and watched the stuff that gets shown on the BBC that doesn’t get picked up by BBC America.

          Ho. Ly. Shit.

        2. If you had the same access to ALL French films, or German, or British, or Chinese, you’d see just as much dreck.

          More, actually.

        3. I was looking through the list of Billboard #1 singles the other day. There’s an amazing amount of complete dreck in there. Stars On 45, anyone?

          1. I don’t think there’s been a time in the history of Top 40 that the Top 40 hasn’t sucked.

            1. True, but at the same time a decent amount of the best music ever made was in there as well. I was going through it because I was curious how many of my personal favorites hit #1– the answer was around 1 in 10, which actually is slightly more than I anticipated.

              Trivia: Stairway To Heaven never made the Billboard Top 200 singles chart, because it was never released as a single.

              1. Trivia: Stairway To Heaven never made the Billboard Top 200 singles chart, because it was never released as a single.

                True. None of their singles, IIRC, were release with their consent. They didn’t advertise, they didn’t do interviews, and didn’t even put their name on their album covers. All word of mouth.

        4. ANd it’s also why people always think SNL used to be so much better in the past. You only remember the good skits.

          1. YES.

            And – you were high.

        5. So you’re saying most media is armature bullshit?

          I’m not oblivious to that fact.

  11. Scorsese is just a bitter old white male who realizes his time has come and gone. He’s clearly jealous of younger, more diverse filmmakers like Ryan Coogler, whose magnum opus Black Panther is officially the greatest film of all time.

    1. Blank Panther was, in fact, better than anything Scorsese has done since Goodfellas.

      1. Of course nothing beats Blacked.com amirite?

        1. You should move that chip to your other shoulder – you’re going to cause yourself scoliosis.

      2. No, Black Panther was not better than Casino. It’s not even better than Wolf of Wall Street. It was fine, but the fact that it’s considered to be in the top tier of the MCU shows how mediocre those movies are overall.

        1. No offense, but Casino bored me to tears. I don’t see aesthetics as being an objective thing, though, so to each his own.

    2. Now this… is trolling, OBL. This is how it’s motherfuckin’ done.

      A+ with five gold stars. OBL wins the internet todizzay.

  12. For the record, there are very good films that are being made now, there’s just a disparity in hype and box office.

    I’m perfectly happy to place Marvel Movies (for example) into a different category from other films. Essentially in my estimation, the films Scorcese is talking about still very much exist, right alongside the others. They exist at the same time: Both conditions are true.

    1. Like Schrodinger’s cat, true art is both alive and dead at the same time.

      (Yeah, I left the thing off of the top of the “o.”)

    2. The Current War, for instance, was a pleasant story.

    3. I’m perfectly happy to place Marvel Movies (for example) into a different category from other films.

      But that’s it right there – Marvel makes movies, Scorsese makes fillums. He’s an artiste, you see, anything the hoi polloi enjoys can’t possibly be high-brow enough to suit his delicate sensibilities. All this “artist” crap is pretentious if you ask me – you’re a storyteller, tell me a story. Not every damn story has to be Dostoyevsky, Donald Westlake wrote some good stuff, too.

      1. If you wish to write a grand opera about a prostitute dying of consumption in a garret I suggest you contact Mr lbsen in Oslo… I’m sure he can furnish you with something suitably dull.

      2. When Shakespeare was alive his plays were considered middlebrow entertainment at best. His first play,Titus Andronicus, was considered a schlocky gore fest.

    4. This whole thing is like debating whether Italian food or Japanese food is objectively ‘better.’ I watch Marvel films when I want to feel good about humanity. I watch Scorsese when I want to watch the world burn. They can’t be compared.

      1. Yeah, that’s fair.

  13. old man is grouchy film @11

    1. “I miss the good old days, when you could screw a wannabe starlet and nobody made a GD federal case out it.”

    2. No kidding. He sounds like a 3-star chef that’s personally offended that people eat at Outback.

  14. Maybe, just maybe, people like a break from the high-minded bullshit to be entertained by explosions and action from time to time.

      1. were you saying BOO or BOO-urns?

      2. “Go ‘way,” etc.

    1. That’s good an all, but the high-minded bullshit has been severely lacking. I can’t recall the last time I sat down to watch a movie so I didn’t have to think and the movie wound up making me think and I was very pleased about that happening.

    2. I agree, but damn those movies with explosions and action scenes could really stand to make some improvements. They all feel safe and boring these days. Give me some risk!

  15. I read Martin Scorsese’s article, I thought he had some interesting things to say. When it comes to major theatrical motion pictures – a lot of films really do feel like they were made by committee these days. They check all the correct opinion and nostalgia boxes, are given a huge amount of CGI and marketing budget, reviewed for any wrong-think and then they’re shoved out the door. They seem to lack a unifying vision that typically can only be found in films that had one or two artists directing and writing.

    This has resulted in a lot of big screen movies playing it safe and therefore becoming incredibly boring. There are no risks!

    Regarding super hero movies – If you really think the Avengers movie took risks by “killing” off characters and “killing” off half the life in the universe – then you either didn’t see Endgame (they magically bring everyone back) or didn’t realize that none of the characters are actually killed off at the end of Endgame (they’re just passed down to a more diverse cast). And, I’d add, you should’ve seen all that shit coming! It would have been truly bold and risky to have the thing end at Avengers Infinity War, or to have the followup movie make the deaths permanent and show the aftermath of what happens when half the world’s population disappears without giving our heroes a magical way out.

    The Joker succeeded because it had a unifying vision limited to just 2 artists. It was the exact opposite of a movie directed and written by committee. That’s why it was interesting, real and visceral. Its unsanitized realness created actual emotion in its audience which is why it reviled critics and captured audience members around the world.

    Its true that there are more movies than ever to pick from, and more movies getting made that would have never been made under the old studio system, but lets be real – there is a lot of bullshit happening right now in the movie scene and a lot of it has to do with how franchise films are made these days. Currently, the business side seems to dominate the production of major motion pictures. There’s room for the business side to have a say, but I think they’re digging their own businesses’ graves by making the artists compromise their vision so thoroughly and often.

    1. They seem to lack a unifying vision that typically can only be found in films that had one or two artists directing and writing.

      I love the out-of-control director stories. They always warm my heart.

      1. There’s some great stuff in the bonus features on the Monty Python and the Holy Grail Disk that really highlight what a nightmare Terry Gilliam was (and again, just for the record, I think he’s one of the all-time greats).

        There’s one scene where they’re filming on this moory hillside and Gilliam insists that the camera has to start from 500 feet away and pan down into a ravine before coasting up and focusing on King Arthur’s face.

        It takes a stupid long time for everyone to explain to him that that would consume the entire budget for the movie just to get that one shot.

        IIRC, he threw a little tantrum and stormed off.

        I actually think we’re on the downside of of the pendulum swing that started with Heaven’s Gate, when studios once again decided directors needed to be leashed.

        I think the high (or low) point of directors-on-leashes was the early ’00s, and we seem to be coming back into having individual visions again.

        1. And Terry Jones was there trying to co-direct and just wanted to get some funny scenes filmed well.

        2. Check out Lost in LaMancha if you want to see a documented epic failure of Gilliam’s. And I do love Terry Gilliam.

          1. I saw an extended preview and have been meaning for years and years to see it, but just haven’t found the time/occasion. I don’t think it was ever in doubt that his career would eventually end in some spectacularly colossal budget bust of an art movie.

            The great tragedy, of course, being that we don’t have the absurdly expensive Gilliam/Depp Don Quixote, although Borges-style, maybe it’s better in concept.

      2. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven's_Gate_(film)

        I’ve watched portions of this movie at various times.
        They killed 4 horses.
        Actually killed them, some with dynamite.
        Not sure it was intentional

    2. Clearly, libertarians should support a mega-corporation like Disney and not some enterprising individualist trying to make a film that represents their own distinct vision. Ain’t nobody got time for all them fancy themes and big ideas!

      1. You want to support some enterprising individualist? Great!

        Who’s stopping you?

        1. Hurrrrrrrr if you don’t like Facebook just raise half a trillion dollars, poach all the advertising clients they have on exclusive contract and drive 2 billion users to your website durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

          1. “The government won’t give me a successful business and it’s not FAIR!”

            1. LMAO. You can’t even construct a legitimate strawman. God it must hurt being that stupid.

              1. You can’t even construct a legitimate strawman.

                lol

                You realize you didn’t actually make a point in the first place, don’t you?

                Of course you don’t!

          2. This isn’t the ‘pissed about social media’ thread, dumbfuck.

    3. Remember the opening scene from The Departed with Jack Nicholson doing the narration? That set a perfect tone for the film and people are too afraid to do that today.
      The end result is a boring picture.


    4. If you really think the Avengers movie took risks by “killing” off characters and “killing” off half the life in the universe – then you either didn’t see Endgame (they magically bring everyone back) or didn’t realize that none of the characters are actually killed off at the end of Endgame (they’re just passed down to a more diverse cast).

      Pretty much this. There was no risk involved except the risk that the new cast wouldn’t be as good as the old cast. Which in all honesty seems incredibly likely at this point. They couldn’t do anything about it, though, since contacts were up and some of the actors are so overpaid it’s absurd. I’m sure they’re happy to shed Downey Jr. for one.

      I predict their next cast will be milquetoast and bland, but ethnically diverse and LGBTQ+ virtually across the board.

    5. “The Joker succeeded because it had a unifying vision limited to just 2 artists. It was the exact opposite of a movie directed and written by committee. That’s why it was interesting, real and visceral. Its unsanitized realness created actual emotion in its audience which is why it reviled critics and captured audience members around the world.”

      It also succeeded in what it did by large part because, by their own words, the people who made it didn’t want to do a superhero film, they wanted to do a “real film” that would be passed off as a superhero film.

      Which is ultimately how all good art works — the genre is only good in as much as its a good vehicle for something more universal, rather than the point in itself. This is something the people on committee-driven products don’t understand and a part of why Scorcese is correct to understand them as trying to make a product. Often you see attempts to put in meaning, but as afterthought (“lets make this movie about superheros themed on heroism”), and only ultimately because they feel it makes it better drama, will keep people in their seats, and pull better reviews, and as an afterthought, because its ultimately not the point of the movie.

    6. Infinity War and Endgame did the exact same thing as The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Put a big hurt on your characters, then make them earn back what they lost.

      I think the number of people who had been following the story in the the MCU who expected the people to stay gone was zero. The number of people who expected the Rebels to stay scattered and Han to remain frozen in carbonite forever was also zero.

      The point is what does the way back look like? What does it cost? In Endgame, quite a lot, actually.

  16. Scorsese expanded on his attack on contemporary blockbusters, making an invidious comparison between “franchise films” (e.g., all those Marvel blockbusters) and an “art form” (such as movies by Hitchcock, even though he concedes that they may have a tedious “sameness to them”).

    This, too, is hilarious in that at the timeHitchcock was pilloried as mass-market corporate pandering.

    1. Hitchcock was an auteur who made stuff that confused people but also entertained them. Disney churns out contemptible product that’s skin-deep and extremely limited in scope. The comparison makes no sense.

      1. Hitchcock was an auteur who made stuff that confused people but also entertained them.

        In the ’60s, yes, when he started getting weird. His stuff from the 40s-50s not so much.

        Don’t get me wrong – I think Hitch is one of the great directors, and I agree that Disney epitomizes corporate schlock-by-committee (although I would isolate both Pixar and Marvel Studios from that).

        I just find it amusing this narrative Scorsese has constructed that casts Hitch as some sort of Fellini when the Scorseses of the ’50s were saying about him exactly what the Scorsese of today is saying about Marvel movies.

        1. and I agree that Disney epitomizes corporate schlock-by-committee

          I like how Disney believes they can fix their problems by changing committee members.

          1. They’re going to find that Dream Team any year now.

              1. I found it amusing that Disney wouldn’t fire her because no one else wanted to take it over, since they feared her holdover lackeys would sabotage them. So Disney is stuck with the shitgarden they planted.

                  1. Please don’t make me remember the new Star Wars films. Please?

                    Except for Solo. Yeah, it wasn’t necessary and had a lot of problems but it was the first non-major Star Wars film that seemed to figure out how to make a small story that wasn’t black-on-white saber smashing (the new Trilogy) or blank-palette mannequins doing things for no reason with no emotion (Rogue One, I’m looking at you).

                    More heist movies set in the Star Wars universe, please!

                    1. Exactly! I don’t get why no one liked Solo. I think it’s been the best of the new round. It was actually a light, fun movie that developed its characters but didn’t take itself too seriously.

                      I’m sad they’re not making another one.

                    2. Solo didn’t do well for the same reason that Looney Tunes: Back In Action didn’t do well: the previous movie poisoned the well.

                    3. Rogue One was so astoundingly bad I am indeed wary of any new Star Wars films. Solo partially redeemed their ‘Star Wars stories’, but it still has a long, long way to go to make up for Rogue One. Also I watched it on NetFlix, so I didn’t even see it in theater’s and that was definitely because of Rogue One.

                      If you’re going for a romantic tragedy / redemption story, maybe have character driven plots or actors that actually have lines and/or chemistry. Also maybe have a plot that wasn’t known since 1980. There wasn’t even a twist at the end that some of them escaped. Nope, all toast forever. Just like they said in 1980.

    2. at the time Hitchcock was pilloried as mass-market corporate pandering

      As was Shakespeare, now that I think of it.

      Which brings me to another pet peeve, which is this notion that ‘capitalism’ has destroyed art because before there was this purity where art was just art back when it was only ever funded by aristocrats who were paying to be flattered and to help consolidate their power.

      1. Art is only ever just art when it’s just someone doing it because they like to. Or I guess if someone is famous enough that people will buy their stuff no matter what they do. Otherwise, it’s work for hire.

        1. I think you pretty well just lit on the three broad categories of art. To a lot of people, only that first category counts – i.e. the “pure” expression of the individual creating their personal vision in an economically disinterested way.

          The second category makes me think of some of the modernist satires of people like Duchamp and Picasso. There’s a great story about Picasso’s mural for the Chrysler Building where the contract allowed him total creative freedom as long as he signed it. So he painted the wall white, put a red dot on it, and prominently signed it – indelicately pointing out that this was the only thing his patrons cared about.

          But work for hire can also be art. Shakespeare is a great example of that. Critics and scholars for centuries have tried to romanticize Shakespeare, but you just can’t get around that he did what he did for pay. And was very successful. Once he got rich, he retired and never wrote another word.

          I personally think it’s a holdover from aristocratic culture to think that art is somehow compromised if it’s done for pay.

          1. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and all the rest mostly made works for hire.

            1. Haydn wrote over 200 pieces for baryton. Because he like baryton and found it an inspiring instrument? No. Because his patron played baryton, and he had a job description.

              It’s even been speculated that Haydn’s ridiculous creativity was driven in no small part by his employment constraints. One year the prince decided to fire the wind section, so there’s a set of Haydn symphonies that have no winds. You make do, and sometimes your greatest inspiration comes from having to do things in a way someone else picked.

          2. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Work for hire can also be great art. I’m always encouraging my more talented artist friends to sell out.

      2. The time and distance filters filter out the dreck. When you only see or remember the good stuff, or the so-bad-it’s-good stuff, of course old or foreign stuff seems better.

        1. I’d go so far as to say that the bad stuff from the 50s-80s at least was way worse than the bad stuff now. Based on a very limited sampling. Though I have seen a few things in the last 20 years that were so bad I was embarrassed for everyone involved in making them.

          1. That brings up an interesting point. What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?

            For me, it was a movie starring Bo Derek called Ghosts Can’t Do It, where seeing her nude was the only worthwhile part of the entire movie. It won a number of Golden Raspberries, including Donald Trump for Worst Supporting Actor, playing: Donald Trump.

            1. Depends on how you define bad. Under the ‘so bad it’s great’ category, no one beats Ed Wood. Plan 9 From Outer Space is an achievement in cinematic incompetence.

              1. I’m not talking about ‘so bad they’re good’ movies, after all I like things like Death Race 2000. I’m talking about movies that you’d rather gouge your eyes out than be forced to endure watching again.

                Worst I saw in the theater: Tomcats. A T&A movie with absolutely no T or A. Utterly and abjectly pointless and inane.

                1. That’s a harder one because I tend to flush those movies. The honest-to-god-most-painfully-bad movie I ever saw was some movie from about 1950 that I can’t remember the name of and remember hardly anything about because it was just so, so – so so bad.

                  If I had to pick one that I can still recall that I would still say ‘painfully bad would never watch again’ – The China Syndrome.

                  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

    3. Is that what Scorsese said? I have to admit I kinda missed what he said because I was too distracted by the 159 million dollar pile of fucking money he was sitting on at the time.

      1. Yeah – he’s not exactly Captain Self Aware.

  17. He’s vague about which era he is comparing today’s movies to, but 99% of movies from the 50’s and 60’s were shit. Absolute schlocky shit. 95% from the 70’s and 80’s too. We have shit now too, including the Marvels, though lots of people like them, but let’s not pretend the good old days were that good.

    1. Yeah – that’s pretty consistent for any art form. We no longer bother with all the really, really shitty movies that were made in the ’50s. If you’re going to watch a movie from the ’50s, you’re going to choose a good one.

      This leads to the impression that they only made good movies in the ’50s.

      There’s a lot of really bad drama that was written in London in the 1590s, too.

      1. *Picks nose* Captain Marvel is The Seventh Seal of the 2010’s *drools*

        1. Umm . . . yeah.

        2. Idiot does his bad “pissed off Homer Simpson” routine, fails.

  18. There has literally never been a better time to be an aspiring filmmaker. When you can make a movie with your smartphone and upload it to YouTube who cares where Hollywood producers want to toss their money, if you’re an artist you don’t need it

    1. Yes because you can totally shoot a quality feature film on an iPhone.

      1. You are amazingly stupid, and sort of a dick.

        1. Coming from a nose picker who thinks Marvel comic book movies are high art I’m not shocked you think it’s possible to shoot a feature film on an iPhone.

          For what it’s worth, you’re a retarded drooling cunt and a subhuman piece of shit and if I saw you get killed on the street I’d piss on your body, jack off with your blood, and cum in your wounds.

          1. Thanks for proving my point, Goldie.

          2. OK, this is definitely some kind of performance art.

            Or an extremely stupid asshole. Never underestimate stupid assholes.

          3. Yeesh.

            Get a load of the joker there.

          4. Maybe you should try just being a better person first?

          5. Oof, looks like Square = Circle hit the nail on the head with his assessment of you.

    2. The man made ‘Clerks’. He knows.

      True story: I never watched a single Fast & the Furious flick.

      Am I bad?

      1. Some people aren’t into fast cars, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    3. A full-frame cinema camera is going to run you over 15K. You’re probably going to need at least 6 of those. Then throw in audio and lighting.
      Once you do that on an iphone and upload it to youtube for free you’ve gone broke if you’ve made anything decent and your actors are going to vanish because money is needed to buy food.
      Taxi Driver had a 2 million dollar budget.

      James Charles videos aren’t art.

  19. also thanks for the Cameron Diaz shot.

  20. Scorsese sounds like a pretentious old fuck bloviating about the state of “art” while sniffing his own farts.

  21. People still go to theatres?

    I want to vomit every time I come near one.

    All the people….yuk.

    I find myself watching film noir movies only. Or silver screen classics. I find the plots and compelling characters riveting and worth spending a couple of hours watching.

    1. Something I like about the classics like that is that there really was a different approach to making movies. Everything didn’t have to be super-realistic. More like a play in some ways. Realism is great, but it’s not the only way to tell great stories.

    2. “People still go to theatres?

      I want to vomit every time I come near one.”

      Scorsece is probably more disturbed by such attitudes than anything put out by Marvel Studios. To him the theatre is like a church and the experience of being part of an audience in front of a big screen is a spiritual one.

  22. I think Scorsese having The Band speak under the Canadian flag in ‘The Last Waltz’ a pivotal move in documentary history.

    /Van Morrison kick.

    1. was a pivotal

      Keep being cheap bastards and not adding an edit button Reason decision makers.

      1. You could have left it. Works either way.

        1. I would have liked you as my English teacher.

  23. Scorsese should have watched Avengers Infinity War and Endgame. Lots of emoting going on.

  24. ‘Art’ is nothing more than popular culture that has hung around for a couple hundred years.

    Except for Moby Dick. Because nobody liked that book ever. I’m still convinced that hailing it as a classic is an epic troll by 1920’s literature nerds.

  25. Scorsese’s new movie relies heavily on digital de-aging effects, which were pioneered in the very comic book movies he loathes. I find it very amusing that this fact is entirely lost on him.

  26. This one’ called Martin Scorsese
    He makes the best fucking films
    If I ever meet him I’m gonna grab his fuckin’ neck and just shake him
    And say thank you thank you for makin’ such excellent fuckin’ movies
    Then I’d twist his nose all the way the fuck around
    And the rip off one of his ears and throw it
    Like a like a like a fuckin’ frisbee
    I want to chew his fuckin’ lips off and grab his head and suck out one of his
    Eyes and chew on it and spit it out in his face
    And thank you thank you for all of your fuckin’ films
    Then I’d pick him up by the hair swing him over my head a few times
    And throw him across the room and kick all his fuckin’ teeth in and then
    stomp on his face 40 or 50 times
    ‘Cause he makes the best fucking films he makes the best fucking films
    I’ve ever seen in my life
    I fuckin’ love him
    I fuckin’ love him

  27. Much of Nick Gillespie’s editorial is just ‘reverse snobbery.’

    The average person going to see a Marvel film isn’t seeing it as art, even if he enjoys it nonetheless as entertainment. Most people see a difference between something that’s ‘just’ entertainment and something that’s art, and the difference isn’t necessarily as simple as the fact that the art is ‘serious’, although it can be a factor. What something that’s purely entertainment is for is something that can keep you in your seat for two hours. It doesn’t need to have brilliant writing, or visuals, or themes, or characters. It just needs to have enough chases, plot twists, jokes, etc. to move the experience along for two hours — that’s why Scorcese compares it to a theme park ride. Something that’s good as a time-waster, but not necessarily ‘worth seeing’ on its own merits. Art is ‘worth seeing’ on its own merits.

    Most people, again, understand the difference, and can enjoy both. But then we have ‘reverse snobs’ that lecture us and tell use we’re wrong and should view the theme park stuff as art, because they know better. Its the same for games, btw (and what gamer refers to them as “video games” anymore?). Some games are art, some are just time-wasters, but are entertaining nonetheless. People can tell the difference.

    The thing about the rise of Marvel movies btw is not that taste suddenly changed and the public suddenly loved superheros. They started dominating the market when the movie industry started losing money to other sources of entertainment; whether it be cable TV, games, the Internet. So the industry started falling back on different formulas to attract audiences. One common formula was to do movies that would have a ready-made plot and built-in audience, and could be extended into sequels. Anything from Harry Potter to the Divergence series. Superhero movies were of the same fibre, except they were even more predictable because the plots are more or less formulaic and were more of the ‘theme park’ ride experience Scorcese was talking about.

    Even so, lately, the market has worn thin and a lot of superhero movies have been failing at the box office. You wouldn’t know it by critics’ reviews which treat them super seriously as if they were high art, but two of the last big ones, Aquaman and Captain Marvel, only succeeded on the market because they were heavily marketed towards families with kids. You would get marketing towards parents specifically telling them to take their kids to see them. Aquaman was a movie marketed for boys and Captain Marvel marketed for girls. It also helps that rest of the market for family entertainment isn’t that good at the moment.

    However, the flip side of this is there are a lot of high-quality adult shows on cable TV. Some decent stuff on streaming services, too, but the best ‘art’ lately has been serial dramas on premium channels.

  28. This is going to sound pretentious but I think the majority of the best modern films I’ve seen in the past decade or two have been foreign.

    Korean cinema in particular is awesome. They are everything great cinema in this country used to be: art, entertainment, engaging stories. Hollywood nowadays is like “pick one”

  29. Comic books were invented in an era when many people were illiterate.
    Today’s movies based on comic book characters are largely CGI sequences stitched together with the barest of dialog.
    Have to agree with Scorsese here.

    1. What it comes down to is that no matter what meaningful themes you try to put into superhero movies, most are just about people running around with underwear outside their pants fighting and chasing each other.

      There are a percent of them that are OK-to-good, but even most of the OK ones would be better off as animated features, because its easier to suspend disbelief if its a cartoon that doesn’t take itself too seriously. For example, I still like Batman: The Animated Series better than any of the Batman movies, even those by Christopher Nolan. When Christian Bale is wearing a dorky batsuit designed to make himself look muscular, having awkward fights, and disguising his voice to sound tough to a guy in clown makeup, it just comes off as goofy, not serious.

  30. super hero / video game movies are for a lazy baby huey generation that wants to drink mt. dew and refuses to grow up.

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