We’re happy to announce a new ongoing feature on Screened: the Director Movie Club. It’s like a book club but for movies, see—a grand idea—except this one’s got a slight hint of a twist. Instead of picking random movies to watch each week, we’re going to be navigating through a director’s filmography in chronological order, essentially from start to finish.
There are plenty of great directors out there, and great directors tend to make a lot of films, but how many of us can honestly say we’ve seen every Steven Spielberg film, for instance, or every Stanley Kubrick effort, or every Woody Allen flick? We see the ones that manage to find their way onto our laps—the big blockbuster releases; the ones that run on basic cable every second hour—but every director has a number of deep cuts, hidden gems that fly under the radar and go unappreciated. Of the films Martin Scorsese has directed, I have only seen seven. Scorsese is responsible for twenty-two major releases. Not all of them are masterpieces, sure, but I’m missing over half of his catalog, and it’s a guarantee that there are some great works in there.
And that’s the idea behind this whole thing: to watch these pictures, convene here, and discuss them. Each Friday I’ll have a recap of the week’s movie/s. Comments are, obviously, welcomed. And we can go through these pictures as a group, sort of as a miniature endurance run, if you’d like to call it that. For the time being we’ll stick with artists that are in the mainstream, if only because it’s easier to get hold of their work. You’ll definitely be able to find these movies through the likes of Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, other popular streaming services, Redbox, iTunes, and probably your local video store (if that’s still a thing in your locale). I’d like to have a more interactive component going, but I’m not entirely sure what that might be. I’ve toyed with the idea of doing a podcast, but I don’t want to make any false promises. We’ll see how it goes.
What is absolutely certain is that we’ll be leading off with one of the best directors of our time: Martin Scorsese.
Scorsese has, of course, been tremendously influential. That statement is so self-evident as to almost be meaningless; Wikipedia informs us that the likes of David Fincher, Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson have taken leads from him, but that list is short and hardly representative of the man’s reach. Scorsese has not only influenced people; he’s influenced and shaped genres and, in certain respects, the medium itself. If you’re watching something to do with the Italian mafia (or gangsters in general), odds are it owes its existence to Goodfellas, which essentially recharged and revitalized the gangster genre. Scorsese invented his own way of doing period pieces, a style that is now utterly recognizable and widely aped: lavish sets, loud and iconic music cues, and gregarious semi-caricatures. He has also had a guiding hand in the careers of individuals—the bulk of Robert De Niro’s major roles came with Scorsese behind the lens.
As aforementioned, Scorsese has been prolific: twenty-two films in a forty-five year career, along with numerous documentary and television projects that aren’t counted here. We can’t hope to go through all of them, and, simply as a practicality, there’ll be some weeks where we cover two films. Here’s a shortlist of his works I’d like to go through:
- Who’s That Knocking at My Door (1967)
- Mean Streets (1973)
- Taxi Driver (1976)
- Raging Bull (1980)
- The King of Comedy (1983)
- The Color of Money (1986)
- Goodfellas (1990)
- Cape Fear (1991)
- Casino (1995)
- Bringing Out the Dead (1999)
- Gangs of New York (2002)
- The Aviator (2004)
- The Departed (2006)
- Shutter Island (2010)