Martin Scorsese, whose directorial style in the world of cinema has placed him in the absolute pantheon of some of the all-time greats past or present, celebrates his 70th birthday today!
The works of Scorsese are held in the highest regard, the running themes for the most part of his still on-going filmography have points mired in guilt and ultimate salvation through redemption, mostly by way of extreme violence or some sort of characterization which breaks down (lifts up as?) naked, exposed as shameless or triumphant, but in its uncomfortably organic foundations. Themes of alpha males in trouble, or self-abuse that manifests itself to the destruction of themselves and characters around them, usually done for the most part in an Italian-American milieu. Scorsese never makes things easy, he never makes watching his films easy, in fact quite the contrary, when one embarks on watching one of his works they have not seen before, there’s always a backburner with the reminder that a Scorsese production is going to get jarring, it’s going to get intense, it is going to be visual and with the upmost respect and passion for filmmaking as an art as well as taking care of its narratives. With a Scorsese film, with a Scorsese production, whether the end result is satisfying or not, and the entire Scorsese filmography for certain has peak high and valley low all over it, there’s still going to be an instant stamp on it, a branding that only this Italian-American pioneer has mastered in his own right.
The list of movies on his filmography read like a virtual Best of the ’70s and ’80s list of classic cinema (all with Robert DeNiro):Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, Goodfellas, the remake of Cape Fear. All of those films have the Scorsese in your face seal of approval. Then there are lesser known ones that have somewhat equal weight and impact: After Hours, New York, New York, The Color of Money, Bringing Out the Dead, and Shine A Light, the documentary on The Rolling Stones, a personal pet project for him. He’s even done a family film, Hugo, and TV too, the pilot of Boardwalk Empire to name one. Scorsese also finally snared an Academy Award for Best Director (something that eluded him through many of his productions though the years, which were won by films that arguably most regard as not as good or equal to the Scorsese film in contention that year) for The Departed, which for many, solidified Scorsese as not only the consummate director for this generation, but for generations that have passed and generations to come.
Scorsese continues to make cinema; his passion for and love of film is in many ways unequaled in a Hollywood unconsciously jaded and overdosing on formulas that are crippling itself in the creative department. He’s like the Italian version of Woody Allen, also diminutive in physical appearance and seemingly nervous and anxious, yet metaphorically strong as an ox in many respects, especially on the cinema landscape. Like Allen, Scorsese also drafts love letters to New York City in most of his productions, and like Allen, a Scorsese production has the instant visual, aural, and classy feel to it, the self-assured direction and course steering in the murky waters of filmmaking that is as much of an eye-opener and stunner as the films themselves. Scorsese doesn’t cut corners, he sculpts new inroads and throughways, he tunnels and makes his own roads and directions, and while he may not have gotten a real good script in quite some time to develop a picture as revered as many of his best, he still brings that 100 percent of energy and intensity. Most directors 40 years younger than him are still learning new tricks from the master all the time.
So here’s to Martin Scorsese as he reaches his seventies, a craftsman like no other, a unique artist who is never afraid to show his personal side, transmit his personal side, use it as his foundation for his works, to show us his dark side, the dark world we live in and ultimately, an expose of just what belies inside all of us. Happy Birthday, Marty!