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February 05, 2010

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Tony Dayoub

Wells couldn't have written your Auteurs piece in a more Wellsian (NOT Wellesian) voice himself. I bow in deference.

Fuzzy Bastarrd

So you've now vowed to stop snarking at colleagues... what are we, up to five vows now? I mean, assuming New Year's resolutions don't count for two points.

Griff

Uh, Glenn, I believe the current in vogue comment of this sort is "TOLDJA!"

Glenn Kenny

@ F.B.:
Hey, thanks for checking in, Jiminy Cricket.

Look—if you don't care to draw any distinction between enraged and self-defeating ad hominem attacks and having a little amusement at the (meager) expense of a self-congratulating Oscar prognosticator while concocting a pastiche, I'm not gonna waste my time trying to persuade you that such a distinction might, in fact, exist. As for Wells, if you must know, we're not quite what you'd call friends, but we're cordial acquaintances, and we both get a genuine kick out of this Fred Allen/Jack Benny routine we've developed and sometimes indulge in.

Tom Russell

I certainly approve of the first half of what I hope is your actual middle name.

Glenn Kenny

Thanks Tom. All actual. Fun Facts About Me: Middle name, Thomas, is actually my baptismal name, as there's no Saint Glenn (yet—don't laugh), so by Catholic doctrine, I'm actually Thomas Glenn Kenny; Allen (or is it Allan? I keep getting mixed up in my old age) is my confirmation name, which I took from my dad.

Tom Russell

Allen is also my brother Jeffrey's middle name; he was named after the fence company that installed a fence at our house the day he was born.

Fun Fact about my name: My grandfather-- my father's father-- fought in both World War II and Korea In WWII, his life was saved by a man named August Wolfgang, and my grandfather promised this man he would name his first born son August Wolfgang Russell. Well, nearly twenty years later, my father was born-- the first boy but the fifth child-- and my grandmother wasn't about to name her child August Wolfgang on account of some promise made years before. And so he was named Tom Russell.

When my mother and my father got married, and my mother was with child (that's me!), my grandfather offered them ten thousand dollars to name me August Wolfgang and make good on a promise made forty-odd years ago. Obviously, the end of the story is, I was named Tom Russell after my father. My father was pissed, though: they were hurting for money and it would have made quite a bit of difference. But, after a couple of weeks, he relented and signed his name on my birth certificate.

I was always kinda bitter about that growing up-- I could've been an Augie, like Augie Doggie (who, as we all know, is the absolute coolest) instead of just another Tom.

bill

Fun fact about my name: it is Bill.

Tom Russell

Bill wins.

buck.swope

whatever happened to that bluray of the color of money? it's over a year later and no word. i know i'm going to get slammed on here, but that is my favorite movie of all time (to live and die in LA is probably top 40 as well). if it helps, i was in high school in the late 80's, i was WAY into pool then, and a lot of it was filmed in my hometown (Chicago, where not a lot of movies were being filmed at the time) but i still find it fascinating. even more so, i'm overly protective of it now because every scorsese fan pretty much hates it. i find it unconscionable that there isn't one extra on the standard def DVD. i guess i shouldn't expect any new special features on the blu...

Glenn Kenny

@Buck: You know, I presumed, as did T. Schoonmaker, that the High Def transfer was for an upcoming Blu-ray, but the actual release of said disc was never announced. I imagine the master is in reserve for just such a thing, or maybe some Disney/ABC High-Def movie channel or some such. I'll check into it...

buck.swope

glenn, are you in said majority that think Money is one of the "bad" scorsese movies?

Glenn Kenny

No, I think it's pretty good, except for the eye exam shots at the end, which always bug me for some reason. I enjoy the ways he tries to squeeze some Scorsese-ness into it—the motel scenes for instance. I also like all the pool stuff. The Forest Whitaker bit. "Werewolves of London."

Back in the '80s I used to spend a lot of time at Julian's pool hall on 14th Street. Between games (my girlfriend at the time had her very own cue!) I would play video trivia, and I noticed that in the movie category there was one guy who had all of the high scores, initials "MS." I always wondered if Julian's was where Cruise practiced his game, with Scorsese passing the hours playing the movie trivia game...

lazarus

Great post, Glenn. Until you quoted Lex G, who doesn't need any more publicity.

Glenn Kenny

I understand your qualms, Lazarus. But in certain respects the whole point of such a project is to go where one would rather not...

lazarus

I understand. "This is gonna hurt me more than it hurts the blogosphere".

@ buck.swope: My friends and I also got heavily into pool in my late high school years (coincidentally enough, also in the Chicago area), and we watched The Color of Money more times than I care to remember. I shudder to think of all the times we did Vincent's cue-stick moves (stabbing the air and wiping the "blood" on the underside of the table) or spouted those Grady Seasons taunts at each other ("It just keeps getting worse and worse.")

It probably is minor Scorsese, but if that's him slumming or taking a paycheck he does it about as well as anyone else. One of Cruise's better performances, and sadly an Oscar-winning turn by Newman that has become rather underrated.

Love all the stuff Glenn mentioned, but I'd also add the parade of victims which includes Iggy Pop and I think Marty himself, the lightning editing of the table shots, that Western showdown shot where Newman, Cruise, and Mastrantonio walk into the pool hall in overlapping profile, and that reflection-in-the-ball thing at the end is fantastic. Not sure if I think the final freeze-frame is as cool as I used to think it was, though.

buck.swope

@lazarus: good stuff. being a junior in high school at the time, scorsese's name didn't mean much to me. hate to say it, but it probably was cruise at the time that was the biggest draw for me (*shudder*). it's pretty funny to me how many errors there were in the pool sequences (i.e. balls shot out of order in 9 ball). in fact, the reflection shot you're talking about it actually incorrect as his image isn't reversed in the shot. still, who cares, really? the book was written by the late, great Walter Tevis (The Man Who Fell to Earth) and it is entirely different. There is no Tom Cruise character, and Fast Eddie is reduced to playing exhibition matches in shopping malls against Minnesota Fats. dimmer commercial prospects, for sure, but that would have been an interesting film.

bill

The last time I saw COLOR OF MONEY, I liked it quite a bit more than I was used to (while liking Cruise somewhat less). Newman gives a genuinely great performance, I think -- not HUSTLER level, but he earned the accolades that year -- and I, too, loved the Forest Whitaker scene, "Werewolves of London", Turturro, Iggy Pop, I liked the ending better than I used to, etc. But what still bugs me is some of the pool.

At my best, I was a pathetic amateur, but I used to play a lot of pool, and some of those table leaves...you can easily imagine whichever pool consultant worked on that movie, before rolling, placing each ball by hand, saying, "This ball here, and this ball here, and this ball here, means Tom can make THIS shot." It was like someone was setting up a table for a trick shot exhibition, and that still is hard to get past.

But it ain't a bad movie by any means.

buck.swope

it seems like through the years MS has nothing to say about this movie, good, bad or otherwise. was this one of his "coke" movies? what i would give for a commentary track on this one..

Glenn Kenny

You're going out on several limbs there, Buck, so let me just direct you to the book "Scorsese on Scorsese," in which the director has plenty to say about "Color Of Money," including the fact that he was fairly happy with the result.

buck.swope

wasn't necessarily trying to imply, but i guess i did anyway since it's worded that way. it was more of a question. i have the 'Interviews with Filmmakers' book on him and it only contains a short interview Peter Biskind did with Marty and Richard Price that doesn't offer too much insight. i look forward to checking this book out.

bill

It's a great book, Buck, as all the 'Blank on Blank' Faber & Faber books are. The only problem -- and it's my problem, not Faber & Faber's -- is that when you have one of those books, and the filmmaker has made five or six more interesting films since the book was published, you become very hungry for an updated edition. Ah well.

Even though I've read the book, I have no memory of anything Scorsese says about CAPE FEAR, which, for my money, is the actual worst thing he ever made. I kinda wish he'd never done it, to be hoenst.

Tom Russell

At Buck: My understanding, which could certainly be wrong and is hampered not least of all by the fact that I've never met the man and so have no knowledge of his personal life, is that after his hospitalization in the late seventies (this would be before Raging Bull, and thus before Color of Money), Scorsese no longer used cocaine, as it had nearly killed him.

I'm going to go out on a limb of my own here, though, and say that my favourite Scorsese films are two of his least-loved from the nineties: The Age of Innocence and Kundun. I led a live-tweet of each (on twitter, naturally), but to sum up my theses:

Kundun is the most cinema-savvy of the movie brats at his most "purely" cinematic, a beautiful, rapturous, and always exhilerating film. The common complaint, that the film is a hagiography, is outright nonsense; look again, and you'll see a captivating study in weakness, indecision, and the feeling that you've been trapped by history.

Age of Innocence I love for the many astounding flourishes-- the iris-in, the rapid-cutting-movement opera goggles, the dissolves revealing the contents of an envelope, the direct-to-camera monologues for letters, and the rich, evocative, wry voice-over. It is not the stodgy period piece it is often accused of being, but a fiercely alive and passionate film.

buck.swope

@Tom Russell: you make an excellent point about having no knowledge of his personal life. i've always read about his "drug period" but cannot recall what years those entailed. i guess i may have erroneously connected the dots with The Color of Money (the scene w/Turturro where it's obvious Turturro has just done blow, the Robbie Robertson soundtrack, etc). I've always assumed (again, probably incorrectly) that After Hours was made during this period. AH is easily one of my favorites, along with The King of Comedy, so maybe I was just dialed into that whole 80's output.

lazarus

Tom, I couldn't agree more about Kundun and The Age of Innocence, two films which should have been showered with awards, or at least better reviews. Marty goes outside his comfort zone and people just yawn, while films like Munich or Letters From Iwo Jima are lauded and are thought of as daring new territory for their respective filmmakers. What Marty accomplished with those two is completely outside the reach of many Hollywood veterans like Spielberg and Eastwood, the former lacking the restraint and maturity, the latter lacking the artistry and grace.

Have to strongly disagree with Bill about Cape Fear, though. I think it's a vast improvement on the black and white characters of the original, and it's far from some kind of paycheck job; Scorsese's Catholic guilt thematics are in full force, with some meaty moral ambiguity to chew on. Of course it's completely over the top, but I love the gusto that Marty attacked the material with. There are gorgeous visual elements like the Hitchcock color fades, the shot of De Niro on the wall with the fireworks behind him, and that delirious finale on the houseboat, but also truly disturbing scenes like the one with De Niro and Juliette Lewis in the school auditorium.

Jason M.

Kundun and Age of Innocence are both magnificent films, and it's also a bit surprising to me that they aren't better known. Maybe because Scorsese is still thought of as being primarily someone who makes gritty violent crime dramas, and these don't really fit into that category. Regardless, it's a shame more people haven't seen them.

Jeff McM

I just want to encourage Glenn to keep ragging on the self-important bloggers as long as they remain incessantly pompous and sloppy (which is to say, for infinity).

Fuzzy Bastarrd

@ Jeff: The ragging would be much less comical if not for GK's biannual vows to never, ever do it again. It's like watching Homer step on a rake, getting madder every time. Personally, I find GK interesting when writing about film, and Armondishly tedious when devoting his energies to other film bloggers, but there's pretty clearly an audience for the latter.

Brian

AGE OF INNOCENCE is one of my favorite Scorsese films-- I was rather heartbroken when my students dismissed it in a melodrama class last year. It feels like the place where you really feel his love of Michael Powell and Vincente Minnelli come through the clearest.

I'll second Bill's dislike of CAPE FEAR, which also has one of DeNiro's more annoying performances in it. I like the COLOR OF MONEY quite a bit, but could never figure out the "training sequence" late in the film, where Newman is swimming in a pool to get ready for the big showdown. Is this something pool pros really do? Because in the movie, it came off as a scene that wandered in from a ROCKY movie.

Tom Russell

"It feels like the place where you really feel his love of Michael Powell and Vincente Minnelli come through the clearest."

Seconded.

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