Watch: Martin Scorsese’s Urban Murals In Motion

Watch: Martin Scorsese’s Urban Murals In Motion

If David Lynch is American filmmaking’s Surrealist, and Michael Mann is its Impressionist, then certainly Martin Scorsese is its Abstract Expressionist. There has been no director before or since who could equal the unbridled energy, awareness, and imagination of early films like ‘Taxi Driver,’ ‘Mean Streets,’ or ‘Raging Bull’; the films’ leaps, swoops, dives and feints were carried out within the context of a crucially American vision, of what it meant to be lost, unmoored, within the complexity of a culture that was and would forever be bigger than its individual components. This beautiful animation of the opening monologue of ‘Taxi Driver’ by Piotr Kabat brings out this restless, relentless, churning, hundred-eyed aesthetic of Scorsese’s with memorable elegance and suspension, momentarily making one wonder what would have happened if Scorsese would have made a swerve and gone into animation.

Watch: Martin Scorsese Embodies a Clash Between Neo-Realism and Postmodernism

Watch: Martin Scorsese Embodies a Clash Between Neo-Realism and Postmodernism

The Film Theorists have hit on something crucial about Martin Scorsese in their newest video essay, which is that his movies rely on the tension between the everyday, the grit, the grim, the signs of humanity at its worst, and an ongoing desire to transcend that element through cinematic technique. In ‘Goodfellas,’ we see the humble upbringings of the titular thugs contrasted with outsized violence, outsized dreams, outsized immorality. In ‘Raging Bull,’ we see the simplicity and primacy of boxing itself re-cast with outrageous camera angles, distended perspectives, drip-slow motion. And on and on. The makers of the video describe this tension in terms of the director’s lineage, his roots in the neorealism of Rossellini and Fellini, and the explosion that occurred when the director discovered these paradigms could be subverted–but the tension could be more integral than that, perhaps something within Scorsese himself that, like many geniuses before him, is able to maintain two contrasting ideas in mind at the same time. 

Watch: Michael Powell’s ‘Peeping Tom’ Painted the Perversity Born of Loneliness

Watch: Michael Powell’s ‘Peeping Tom’ Painted the Perversity Born of Loneliness

Of course Martin Scorsese championed Michael Powell’s ‘Peeping Tom.’ Scorsese knew a fellow connoisseur of isolation when he saw one. This video essay by the Weld Art Collective deftly explores this classic, teaching a little bit about its remarkable director, as well as his frequent collaborator Emeric Pressberger. Without films such as this story of a murderous, perverted photographer, the films of Brian DePalma, David Lynch, Ken Russell, and other similar directors would either be different or would not exist. Powell’s films have an enduring mystery about them, possibly because he takes on subjects which are themselves, in a sense, depthless. 

Watch: Martin Scorsese’s Best Slow-Motion Sequences… In Three Minutes

Watch: Martin Scorsese’s Best Slow-Motion Sequences… In Three Minutes

Martin Scorsese has acquired many trademarks over his 50-year filmmaking career. Perhaps the trademark he is best known for, something we are sure to expect when viewing a Scorsese picture, is his renowned use of slow motion. Nowadays, slow motion shots are a dime a dozen, being utilized by everyone from Michael Bay and Zack Snyder to Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson. When discussing such a popular (and possibly overused) technique, what makes Scorsese’s methods stand out and stick with us?

While the many blockbusters of today use slow motion to extend action and create drama, Scorsese seems to mostly use slow motion in order to enhance subjectivity. For example, the slow motion used during the quaalude-fueled beer pong match in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ allows us to experience the sluggish high of the characters. In "Shutter Island", Teddy’s flashbacks, dreams, and hallucinations contain slow motion in order to emphasize his false beliefs. While these two examples utilize obvious slow motion, Scorsese’s slow motion is perhaps best when it goes almost unnoticed. When Johnny Boy makes his famous entrance in ‘Mean Streets,’ minor slow motion is used to create tension on an almost subconscious level. As Travis Bickle watches Betsy from afar in ‘Taxi Driver", she glides through the crowd just slow enough to stand out a bit. This allows us to instantly feel Travis’ admiration–"They…cannot…touch…her." Scorsese does not use slow motion to to add style to his films; he uses it to tell us something. Here is a look at Scorsese’s use of slow motion throughout his prolific career.

Who’s That Knocking at My Door (1967)
Mean Streets (1973)
Taxi Driver (1976)
New York, New York (1977)
Raging Bull (1980)
The King of Comedy (1983)
After Hours (1985)
The Color of Money (1986)
The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
Goodfellas (1990)
Cape Fear (1991)
The Age of Innocence (1993)
Casino (1995)
Kundun (1977)
Bringing out the Dead (1999)
Gangs of New York (2002)
The Aviator (2004)
The Departed (2006)
Shutter Island (2010)
Hugo (2011)
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Jacob T. Swinney is an industrious film editor and filmmaker, as well as a recent graduate of Salisbury University.

Watch: Martin Scorsese’s Films Have a Lot of Crucifixion Poses. Why Is That?

Watch: Martin Scorsese’s Films Have a Lot of Crucifixion Poses. Why Is That?

What do Travis Bickle, Howard Hughes, Jesus Christ, Rupert Pupkin, and Jordan Belfort have in common? Apart from being crucial figures in Martin Scorsese’s films, they have all made a gesture that could be described as a prototypical Scorsese gesture: arms outstretched, body (more or less) upright, body language that says to the universe: Do what you wish, think what you wish, say what you wish. Here I am. The gesture also, though, looks a great deal like a crucifixion–and in the case of Jesus, was one. Milad Tangshir examines the recurrence of this image in Scorsese’s films and, in so doing, makes one wonder if, by isolating and exposing his male figures this way, from ‘The Last Temptation of Christ‘ to ‘Taxi Driver‘ to ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ he is in fact, in a sense, crucifying them.