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February 26, 2010


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That link isn't working.

Glenn Kenny


The Confidence Man

OK, I know that the guy on the right isn't Lee Harvey Oswald, but ...


Beat me to it Confidence Man!
Looks like Truffaut is saying "Mannlicher Scpamlicher I would have used a handgun".

Lou Lumenick

The $75 million pricetag claimed by Paramount for "Shutter Island'' is AFTER 25 percent Mass. tax credits. That doesn't include the cost of prints, publicity, and substantial interest costs incurred in holding the movie on the shelf for another six months. This is a beautifully crafted movie but was hard for me to escape the feeling that Mr. Scorsese was mostly interested in having some genre fun after a string of Oscar-bait flicks.


The Departed was Oscar bait?

Talk about retroactive labeling. You had prognosticators like David Poland claiming deep in the season that there was no way it could win because of all the language and violence , and it wasn't released at the end of the year for maximum awards hype. Scorsese may have assembled a pedigreed cast, but I don't think there was anything about that film that screamed Oscar. A remake of a Hong Kong action film? One could argue that Shutter Island is more baity, considering previous Lehane adaptation Mystic River heavily contended for the big awards, and that the cast is stacked with even more previous Oscar winners and nominees than The Departed.

While The Aviator certainly looks like a pretige project, it was done as a favor to DiCaprio after Michael Mann stepped down. So it's not like Scorsese originated the project as a statue collecting machine. And of course, Gangs of New York was a highly personal project he had worked on for over 20 years.

Point the finger at Clint Eastwood instead, a guy who only seems to make Oscar bait. He appeared in one of the first "testimonial" awards season commercials (where we see him talking about how Mystic River isn't "all about special effects" intercut with scenes from the film), and after losing that year for Pic and Director worked double overtime to get Million Dollar Baby out before the end of 2004, followed by a 2006 where he releases TWO World War II films and then 2008 with both a period piece set in Los Angeles about child abduction and a story about racism where he gets to play a Christ figure. All this while consistently acting like he's above all the awards fuss. There's your whore.

Glenn Kenny

Even so, Lou, just looking at the thing I figured something in the $125 million range.

Dan Coyle

Nice to see you plant your boot on the ass of Kick-Ass, at least indirectly. It's a truly smug, repulsive, condescending work of satire-but-not, a Starship Troopers for the superhero age. And I'm just talking about the comic itself. Think Wanted was painful? Pally, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Lou Lumenick

Lazarus, that was Warners' (highly successful) Oscar strategy, to label "The Departed'' in advance as of non-Oscar caliber.

Glenn, "Shutter Island'' may well have cost the equivalent of around $125 million if you figure in the tax breaks, fuzzy studio math and the reported hefty gross participation of Messrs. DiCaprio and Scorsese.

Aaron Aradillas

Paranormal Activity cost like, what, $15,000. Does that mean it has more integrity than Shutter Island, Lou? Who cares about price? The movie is what matters. (For the record, I consider Paranormal Activity one of the best films of last year.)

the "outrage" over Kick-Ass gives me a headache. Were there this may Op-Ed pieces written when Stand By Me came out? Are people really shocked when they hear kids curse in movies?

I would be curious to know what James Cameron thinks of Kick-Ass. I remember on the T2 commentary him being very proud that he didn't show the young John Connor (Edward Furlong) fire any weapons. He made it a point that he only load and clean the weapons. Cameron finds it immoral to show kids firing guns in movies. I'm guessing he isn't a big Cloak & Dagger (1984) fan. Or, for that matter, Stand By Me.

Showing representatives of the American military being slaughtered is cool as long as kids aren't doing it.

--This snark-filled post is brought to you by David Demby.

Glenn Kenny

I was gonna say that I hardly thought Lou L. was mounting an attack on "Shudder Island"'s integrity, but then I read your postscript, Aaron. Highly amusing and meta.


Lou, regardless of what WARNERS' strategy was, that still doesn't explain what's intrinsically baity about The Departed. It was only a favorite because every other contender fell by the wayside and had too many detractors. Scorsese's film won because it was a smash hit with great word-of-mouth, played just as well on home screeners, and had over 90% on the RT meter. Not because of what kind of film it was or what buttons it pushed, the latter being many of the same uncomfortable ones that had prevented his films from going down smoothly with voters before.

But way to single out the one element I mentioned that wasn't under Marty's control.

Chris O.

If a director has technical competence and internal meanings in the films but their style is due more to practical reasons (budget, etc.) rather than personal preference, are they still considered an "auteur"? Not that the examples in the post are examples of this.

And reading Schickel's piece on "Raging Bull" in Vanity Fair also inspires to re-examine the theory since the film should be -- or at least began -- as much De Niro's as it is Scorsese's. (Seeing Lucas wear the T-shirt "Guido Shot First" on the set of "Indy IV" makes one wish for Scorsese to wear one stating "Um... De Niro Moved The Steak".) I guess the term/idea will always be stretched and snapped and kneaded and aerated again and again.

Glenn Kenny

Yeah, Chris O., it's not as if Scorsese himself hasn't said, more than once, that it was De Niro who brought him the "Raging Bull" script, that it was De Niro who said "we can do this," that it was De Niro who insisted that they go to the Caribbean and rewrite the script. And that when the two worked together, particularly on "Bull," they were unusually close creative collaborators. I think I read all about it in the first edition of "Scorsese on Scorsese" in 1989, but I guess that didn't count. Now that Lord High Poobah RICHARD SCHICKEL has made this information available in an article in VANITY FAIR, we are therefore obliged to re-examine the entire auteur theory, because said theory apparently, by its very nature, invalidates the creative contributions of everybody involved in a film save the director. Yeah, I'll get right on that.

Chris O.

How seriously can you take a comment that erroneously refers to Lucas' shirt as "Guido Shot First" rather than "Greedo"? (Sorry, I'd just seen a blog post referencing "Jersey Shore".)

My tone here is misunderstood. I wasn't knocking any of your comments to begin with (nor overpraising Schickel's, though maybe I shouldn't have used the word "inspires").

Jeez. Did I accidentally post at HE?

Glenn Kenny

Touché. And fair enough. Now that I've had what Lindsay Wagner would call a "recuperative sleep," allow me to say it's not you, it's Schickel. Who, like David Thomson, has a way of recycling old material and acting as if it's a mother lode that he alone hit, that really gets up my nose.

Chris O.

Understood. No, it's fun. Without rambling on and getting into a big validity/weakness of the theory or who is/who isn't, the concept(s) had just been swimming around my head lately due to the culmination and synchronicity of these pieces as well as... 1) my wanting to see "Shutter Island" for Richardson's work as much as Scorsese's, and how that turns it into a co-authorship in a sense (and, by the way, to the "Shutter" haters crying "stylized," the argument goes out the window the moment Richardson's hired)... 2) how many people in the Altman oral biography talked about how even though he may be one of the most collaborative directors in the history of the medium, he was ultimately still very much the author... 3) a friend of mine read an academic book recently on Fuller and how a few things he did were more a result of happenstance than intent, but I don't remember examples or whose book, so I'll have to follow-up... 4) Kevin Smith (who is considered an auteur in many circles and whom I'm surprised you didn't mention in your original post), released his first film that he didn't write, and the technique/look of which I would imagine, as an action pic, is probably much different than anything he's done... 5) when some filmmakers follow the "one for me, one for them" career template in order to support their personal projects do the "ones for them" make them any less the "auteur," particularly if their stamp is there but ever so faintly.

So much for not rambling. Anyway, the back-and-forth has gone on for decades now and these thoughts do seem really silly as I'm typing them, but at least it also kinda transcends the passivity of the act of goin' to the movin' pitcher shows.

Tony Dayoub

"...5) when some filmmakers follow the "one for me, one for them" career template in order to support their personal projects do the "ones for them" make them any less the "auteur," particularly if their stamp is there but ever so faintly."

I always find that the directorial stamp is even more pronounced in the technique used to craft these boilerplate films. It's almost as if, consciously or not, the auteur is still trying to assert his control over a project he didn't completely originate himself. I'm thinking along the line of Coppola's THE GODFATHER, Altman's POPEYE, Kubrick's THE SHINING, De Palma's THE UNTOUCHABLES, and Scorsese's CAPE FEAR, pre-sold properties that already had a certain level of renown or notoriety with audiences before these filmmakers took them on.

Or maybe it's just that our knowledge of the central story pre-adaptation allows us to more clearly distinguish the director's contributions from the original author's.

Mike D


I think the last line uttered by DiCaprio in "Shutter Island" is so graceful, so perfect, it is the final notch, in what I think to be one of Scorsese's most stirring pictures.

Chris O.

Interesting point, Tony. This isn't a good example, nor an "auteur" one, but, because I just watched it last week, it reminds me of EDGE OF DARKNESS. I thought it was easy to see William Monahan's literary-reference flourishes, particularly with Ray Winstone's character, in an otherwise pretty standard procedural thriller.

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