Watch: Martin Scorsese’s ‘Goodfellas’: How That Last Scene Works

Watch: Martin Scorsese’s ‘Goodfellas’: How That Last Scene Works

Martin Scorsese’s classic ‘Goodfellas‘ was made for post-viewing anecdotes. Remember the scene in ‘Goodfellas’ where they’re eating dinner after they wacked that guy? Remember the scene in ‘Goodfellas’ where Joe Pesci thinks he’s going to be made, and then…? Remember the scene in ‘Goodfellas’ where Lorraine Bracco has that spat with Ray Liotta? Hey, you think I’m funny? Do I amuse you? I’m funny, like a clown? Similarly, the last sequence, in which Liotta’s Henry Hill crams as many frustrating tasks as he can into one very long day and then concludes the sequence (along with his time as a goodfella) at the business end of a police officer’s gun, is indelible and can be compared easily to a lot of high-stress situations in daily life. Julian Palmer’s latest video for 1848 Media‘s ‘The Discarded Image’ series takes a very close look at this scene, analyzing its camera angles, its narrative construction, and its links to other films (by Cassavetes and others), the sorts of realistic dramas whose inheritance gives Scorsese, in Palmer’s estimation, his greatest strength.

Watch: Martin Scorsese’s Career Highlights, Shown Through Close-Ups

Watch: Martin Scorsese’s Career Highlights, Shown Through Close-Ups

Though one would not typically associate Martin Scorsese with the close-up shot, given that he is more recognizable as a director who paints with an extremely broad brush about large personalities, large crimes, and large deficits, brought to the screen with majestic, aggressive, quintessentially American camera work, this startling compilation of close-up shots by Jorge Luengo brings another side of the director’s work to light, one which accentuates imperfection, difficulty, the ugliness of conflict, the difficulty of simply existing. To look at this video, you’d think you were ruminating on a different director, and not the man who simultaneously brought us ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘Hugo,’ ‘Raging Bull’ and ‘The Aviator,’ ‘Cape Fear’ and "Goodfellas.’ Take a peek at it, and see if your thoughts on Scorsese aren’t changed.

Watch: What If Lou Bloom of ‘Nightcrawler’ Is Travis Bickle’s Lost Son?

Watch: What If Lou Bloom of ‘Nightcrawler’ Is Travis Bickle’s Lost Son?

Dan Gilroy’s ‘Nightcrawler’ is fascinating for a number of reasons: its cinematography, its exploration of a large city’s night-world, the transformative performance of Jake Gyllenhaal, its eccentric and at times overly specific script. But it is also interesting for its seeming revision of Martin Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver,’ another film which, by showing us a man, driving, at night, managed to suggest how far loneliness might push an individual. Is it so eccentric, given everything, to suggest, as Jorge Luengo does in this chilling piece, that Lou Bloom could be Travis Bickle’s progeny, the product of some anonymous tryst? The two men have a great deal in common: creepiness, an excess of aggression, solitude… Why couldn’t Bickle have passed on his genes to Bloom?

Watch: Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Age of Innocence’ Tells a Story Through Concealment

Watch: Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Age of Innocence’ Tells a Story Through Concealment

When Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Age of Innocence’ was released, I was stunned. I knew him as a fabulist of gangster tales, mired firmly in the present or the not-so-distant past. It did not seem to me that he would be able to handle delicacy or nuance, at least in the form delivered in Edith Wharton’s great novel. Wrong I was! This film turned out to be a masterwork of great subtlety, among the more complex of Scorsese’s films. Milad Tangshir does the film great justice with this beautiful 17-minute examination, which includes commentary from Scorsese and also from Thelma Schoonmaker, his wondrous collaborator in the editing room; among the many good points he makes here is one which he keeps coming back to, which is that Scorsese used the camera in his film as a way of both telling the story and expressing his emotional involvement with the book itself. Additionally, the essay makes the very good point that concealment, ritual, lace, formality, and all such associated restrictions heighten the eroticism in the story, rather than squelching it.

Watch: How Are Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ and Orson Welles’s ‘Citizen Kane’ Related?

Watch: How Are Scorsese’s ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ and Welles’s ‘Citizen Kane’ Related?

Both The Wolf of Wall Street and Citizen Kane show
men accumulating wealth, acquiring mistresses, divorcing their wives
and succumbing to decadence and power. But where Scorsese significantly
differs from Welles’ vision is in the ending. Welles may have lamented
Kane’s loss of innocence by materialising it in a sled, but Scorsese
exposes materialism itself. His film closes with an image of Jordan
Belfort’s captivated audience wishing to learn his secrets of success.
That final image is an unflinching mirror of us, the audience secretly
wishing for our own Belfort-scale wealth.

Steven Benedict is a writer, producer and director of multi-award winning films. He is also a contributor to several shows on Newstalk106. Having lectured for several years in
University College, Dublin, the National College of Art and Design
and the National Film School, he recently graduated with First Class
Honours from the Staffordshire University MSc in Feature Film Production

Watch: A Video Essay on the Links Between Martin Scorsese and Elia Kazan in THE DEPARTED

Watch: A Video Essay on the Links Between Martin Scorsese and Elia Kazan in THE DEPARTED

Cole Smith’s recent video essay on the links between Martin Scorsese and Elia Kazan brings a few important things to light, with an unusual amount of command and fluidity. One of these is the turbulent story of Kazan himself; Smith includes footage of the 1999 Academy Awards, at which Kazan received a Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Scorsese, and at which only some of the audience members clapped. Why was this? Well, it was because, as many know, Kazan worked with the House Un-American Affairs Committee to name many Hollywood professionals suspected of having Communist leanings; it’s been said that On the Waterfront was an apology of sorts for this misstep. Smith leapfrogs over this moment to look at the Kazan film itself, along with A Streetcar Named Desire, to show how important the assumption of different points of view is for telling a story in these works, as in the contrast between Blanche DuBois’s and Stanley Kowalski’s vantage points in Streetcar or Terry Malloy’s and Johnny Friendly’s vantage points in Waterfront. It’s an easy transition, then, to a discussion of The Departed, one of Scorsese’s most successful films of recent years, and an examination of the way in which playing off Costigan’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) point of view against Sullivan’s (Matt Damon) point of view heightens suspense, stretches it to an almost wire-thin degree. Indeed, Scorsese’s films are at their best when they are taking us inside someone, whether it’s Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, Henry Hill in Goodfellas, Teddy Daniels in Shutter Island, or, more recently, Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street. Without that voyage into a character’s interior, there can be little empathy, and without empathy, the story can’t come to life inside viewers themselves.

Watch: What If RATATOUILLE Met THE WOLF OF WALL STREET? Two Trailers, Merged

Watch: What If RATATOUILLE Met THE WOLF OF WALL STREET? Two Trailers, Merged

So here’s the thing: the most resounding criticism of Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street was that its rambunctious, excessive, extreme, vulgar manner was not, in fact, satire but an endorsement, and in fact a glorification, of Wall Streeters’ behavior, without filter, without restraint, loud, in your face, and utterly unapologetic. No one made similar accusations of Ratatouille, for a number of reasons. It was a cartoon, so its viewers knew what to expect. Its storyline was not the sort of storyline that attracts such rage. Oh, and of course, lest I forget: Ratatouille was about RATS! In all other respects, though, the two films are quite similar. Could have been by the same director, in fact. And as if to prove it, we have Harrison Allen’s ingenious mix of the two films, right here. Once you watch this, you’ll wonder how you could have ever thought the films were all that different…

Watch: A Video Essay on the Structural Beauty of Martin Scorsese’s THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

Watch: A Video Essay on the Structural Beauty of Martin Scorsese’s THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

What Milad Tangshir has done with this extremely well-researched and well-edited video essay on Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is actually several things. On the most basic level, he has broken down one of Scorsese’s best films of recent years into its components: a tightly structured plot; nuanced narration; camera techniques which allow us to inhabit the transformation at the heart of the movie. On another level, Tangshir places the film within the context of Scorsese’s other films, most directly Raging Bull and Mean Streets, showing us how, in films externally quite different from this one, Scorsese’s mind manifests in the way the film is pieced together, and is consistent. And on still another level, the piece shows how this film can be linked to other similar films from throughout film history, from Citizen Kane forwards. The essay might help diehard fans of Scorsese and his work renew their appreciation for Wolf–and it might help the many people who found the film bothersome appreciate the method at the heart of what is a maelstrom of satirical, Satyricon-worthy madness. Tangshir shows us Jordan Belfort’s ecstacy and his tragicomic decline in equal measure, taking us on a frightening ride through what Scorsese intimates, in one of the interview clips presented here, is our collective mind.

Watch: A Video Essay Ode to Martin Scorsese’s BRINGING OUT THE DEAD

Watch: A Video Essay Ode to Martin Scorsese’s BRINGING OUT THE DEAD

For the last year or so, Scout Tafoya has been posting a fantastic series of video essays called "The Unloved" at The series takes as its subject films which were underappreciated  at the time of their release and which deserve, in Tafoya’s view, another look; other films in the series have been Alien 3, The Village, and John Carter. With each piece, Tafoya shows a great deal of passion for the work that goes into making these films, as well as for the passion of the directors themselves. Tafoya’s most recent installment was on Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Dead, a film describing the crazed and vaguely hallucinatory careenings of a New York ambulance driver played by Nicolas Cage, thrust up against life and death at their most intense. Tafoya gets at the heart of a couple of irreplaceable elements in this film. One is the presence of New York, shown as only Scorsese could film it: dark, dangerous, wild, uncensored, gleeful, mournful, desperate, cacophonous, deathly silent. The other is Cage’s terrific performance, possibly one of his best in Tafoya’s estimation. The video essay does a beautiful job of making a point at its outset and following it through, managing to interrogate that point at various junctures along the way without going off course–and also managing to speculate meaningfully on why the film was not as critically revered as some of Scorsese’s other films have been. When presented in this light, its neglect becomes hard to understand.

VIDEO ESSAY: Women in the Works of Martin Scorsese

VIDEO ESSAY: Women in the Works of Martin Scorsese

The first time I saw After
(the first of 9 or 10), I was 15, and I had no idea who Martin
Scorsese was, or even that he had directed the movie. I saw it in a shopping
mall in north Dallas, an unlikely place, perhaps. I was surprised, as a 15-year-old boy, to discover a
man had directed it; I had assumed it was directed by a woman.
Why? Because women ruled the show. The female characters in the film—Catherine
O’Hara’s manipulative Samaritan, Rosanna Arquette’s vulnerable and elusive
temptress, Linda Fiorentino’s frequently topless sculptor, Teri Garr’s
threatening sociopath with a beehive—lorded it over the men. Who represents
“the stronger sex” in this film? Griffin Dunne’s hapless wanderer, John Heard’s
sad-sack bartender, and, two pieces de
, Cheech and Chong’s local burglars. The film chronicles a trip
into the New York demimonde, as such a place ruled by women. And how does the
journey end? Dunne is sealed in a plaster statue—by a woman. He manages to
break free, but still. Such it is with many of Scorsese’s films: while we
cannot call these works matriarchal, by any means, in the struggle between men
and women, everyone gets punished. No one comes out on top. Scorsese rolls out
dramas for us to behold, in which men act badly towards women, women are
aggrieved, men charge off in a cloud of exhaust, and there is no indication that
the director, in the background, has chosen a side.

And so it is with many of Scorsese’s films. When Lorraine
Bracco’s Karen chews out Ray Liotta’s Henry Hill for standing her up in Goodfellas, she doesn’t do it privately:
she does it publicly, in front of a rapt crowd, the most rapt audience member
being Hill himself, half-smiling as his future wife screams at him. Even the
ever-so-famous restaurant tracking shot, in which Hill leads his girlfriend
into a mobster-hangout restaurant through the back way, showing his knowledge
of the place off to her and then showing her off to his friends, presents as a
grand, performative display, too over-the-top to be believable as anything but
a subtle critique of the way men may place women on pedestals in an effort to
cripple them. In Scorsese’s films, this doesn’t work, or at least not smoothly;
most of the men in Goodfellas,
indeed, end up either dead or emasculated. Scorsese pulls an even grander stunt
in Taxi Driver; the two main female
characters in the film, Jodie Foster’s teen prostitute and Cybill Shepard’s politician,
serve little other purpose than to cast Travis Bickle’s tremendous personality
problems into relief. He views these women as icons of purity, figures of worship,
points of escape—but in reality his interactions with them only drive him
further downwards by reminding him of how far upwards he has to climb.

And yet throughout these films, Scorsese watches: he does
not opinionate. In one of the most seemingly humiliating scenes from Wolf of Wall Street, a woman is covered
in money, quite literally, but she notably remains standing and even banters
with her sleazy Wall Street assailants during the process. When DiCaprio’s
Belfort dares his wife to throw a glass of water on him, the moment is
near-comic: Belfort is scared, genuinely scared, of a glass of water. Could he,
despite his success, be powerless in this arena, in some sense? Yes, he could. And
when his wife states that the skirtage around the house is going to be “really
short” after a heated argument, it’s no joke, rather a statement of power, an
assertion of privilege.

Regardless of how raffish, aggressive, or un-controlled
Scorsese’s characters may be at times (and Wolf
of Wall Street
has come under heavy criticism for just this quality), his
dramas take place on a grand scale, in which largeness is the point. When
Sharon Stone’s Ginger struts through Casino, she knows all eyes are on her, and
Scorsese knows it, too, and yet his camera is not objectifying her: he’s
showing our objectification to us. Her collapse, similarly, is immense, and
theatrical, and threatens to swallow the movie at moments—and yet this fall
from grace is a stage in a story, not a stage in a director’s thought process.
It is appropriate that the film that put Scorsese on the map, or at least
pushed him towards it, was Alice Doesn’t
Live Here Anymore
, the tale of a woman’s slow journey towards self-respect. Viewed this way, historically, we come to a surprising conclusion: that a man whose films have largely been about a male-dominated world might have been showing us that world only to reflect women’s views of it.

Nelson Carvajal is an independent digital filmmaker, writer and content
creator based out of Chicago, Illinois. His digital short films usually
contain appropriated content and have screened at such venues as the
London Underground Film Festival. Carvajal runs a blog called FREE CINEMA NOW
which boasts the tagline: “Liberating Independent Film And Video From A
Prehistoric Value System.” You can follow Nelson on Twitter

Max Winter is the Editor of Press Play.