Seems more like an epidemic than bad luck to me.

Killers of the Flower Moon (2023)   Martin Scorsese appears to have reached a stage in his career where he is, give or take, approximating the mid-to-late-1960s hanging-in-there of once bastions of classical American cinema John Ford – last seen impersonated by the deceased David Lynch – and Howard Hawks. Sure, some acolytes will defend those slumber-down pictures, but they were getting the gigs based on previous form, at least until New Hollywood finally put them out to pasture.  Scorsese’s situation is a little different, true. He doesn’t have to compete, having, of late, nuzzled up to the cosy fireside

Now you’ve tasted my mutton, how do you like it, huh?

Gangs of New York (2002)   You’d be hard-pressed to recognise the same director of Goodfellas, Taxi Driver or even Bringing out the Dead at work here. The clearest post-Corman precedent to Gangs of New York’s hack-schlock period gangster posturing is Scorsese’s Cape Fear remake, and even that seems like a relatively pure genre spin in comparison to the uncertain, malformed storytelling and jarring editing and technique on display here. Marty’s epic is occasionally anchored by its performances, but even they are frequently adrift on an ocean of paper-thin characterisation.  While he’d made a few missteps in the past, then,

I felt he used too many onions, but it was still a very good sauce.

Goodfellas (1990)   Scorsese’s gangsters-at-street-level masterpiece is near the top of most lists for “It wuz robbed” when looking back at Best Picture Oscar winners. Kev’s Dances with Wolves is a decent-enough movie and a decent-ish revisionist western, put together with care, craft and what appears to be genuine feeling on its maker’s part; there are certainly far worse Best Picture winners out there. But co-contender Goodfellas is in a class all its own. It also reminds the viewer that, in the first rank of filmmakers as Scorsese is, it’s become relatively rare for him to tackle material with which he visibly (and palpably)

I’ll probably get blamed for that.

After Hours (1985)   Scorsese’s finest? Definitely his most underrated picture, even given it has found its own loyal niche. After Hours is atypical in the sense of embracing a broader comic flair, broader even than the satirical swipe of The Wolf of Wall Street. It also manages to be one of his most human movies, in spite of a technical engagement suggestive of early Coen Brothers or Sam Raimi, where exaggerated camera movement and impactive editing are as – or more – foregrounded as performance. An early entry in the “Yuppie nightmare” subgenre (see also Something Wild), After Hours is also party to urban terrors

I want the secret of the cards. That’s all.

The Queen of Spades (1949)   Marty Scorsese’s a big fan (“a masterpiece”), as is John Boorman, but it was Edgar Wright on the Empire podcast with Quentin “One more movie and I’m out, honest” Tarantino who drew my attention to this Thorold Dickinson picture. The Queen of Spades has, however, undergone a renaissance over the last decade or so, hailed as a hitherto unjustly neglected classic of British cinema, one that ploughed a stylistic furrow at odds with the era’s predominant neo-realism. Ian Christie notes its relationship to the ilk of German expressionist work The Cabinet of Dr of Caligari, and it’s very

You guys sure like watermelon.

The Irishman aka I Heard You Paint Houses (2019)   Perhaps, if Martin Scorsese hadn’t been so opposed to the idea of Marvel movies constituting cinema, The Irishman would have been a better film. It’s a decent film, assuredly. A respectable film, definitely. But it’s very far from being classic. And a significant part of that is down to the usually assured director fumbling the execution. Or rather, the realisation. I don’t know what kind of crazy pills the ranks of revered critics have been taking so as to recite as one the mantra that you quickly get used to the de-aging effects so intrinsic to

No one should interfere with another man’s spirit.

Silence (2016)   Martin Scorsese has now met the Pope, so I guess the thirty-year slog to make Silence was all worthwhile. I’m dubious that he’d have been granted an audience with his venerable holiness off the back of The Last Temptation of Christ, but then you never know with this one, not even quite how nefarious he may or may not be compared to his predecessors. In the documentary attached to the Blu-ray, Scorsese mulls of the material (based on Shusaka Endo’s 1966 novel, previously adapted in 1971), that “Everyone’s right and everyone’s wrong”. For the shoguns, the burgeoning trend towards Christianity

Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbour? Hell no!

1978 – Top 10 Films    Dawn of the Dead   I ummed and ahhed several pictures for the 10 spot on this list: Alan Parker’s Midnight Express; Fred Schepsi’s The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith; Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven; and Robert Altman’s A Wedding (which Pauline Kael, generally a big advocate of the director, called “a busted bag of marbles”). In the end, I decided to fill it with a horror movie, that least respected genre, and it was a toss-up between Halloween and Dawn of the Dead. While Carpenter is one of my favourite directors (most of his post-80s output aside), Halloween has never been in my top

I don’t know what you gave me, doctor, but it’s giving me hallucinations.

1976 – Top 10 Films    Marathon Man John Schlesinger’s Marathon Man is little more than slick pulp, scribed by one of the best in the business (William Goldman, who also delivered the No.1 in this list). It rode the crest of a mini-wave of Nazi war criminal movies that included The Odessa File and saw Laurence Olivier go from villain in this to hero in the amusingly crackpot The Boys from Brazil. Hoffman’s dedication to his role – running and running, and staying up nights before a scene, leading to the famous “Why don’t you just try acting?” quote attributed to Olivier; used as

I take Quaaludes 10-15 times a day for my “back pain”, Adderall to stay focused, Xanax to take the edge off, part to mellow me out, cocaine to wake me back up again, and morphine… Well, because it’s awesome.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)   Along with Pain & Gain and The Great Gatsby, The Wolf of Wall Street might be viewed as the completion of a loose 2013 trilogy on the subject of success and excess; the American Dream gone awry. It’s the superior picture to its fellows, by turns enthralling, absurd, outrageous and hilarious. This is the fieriest, most deliriously vibrant picture from the director since the millennium turned. Nevertheless, stood in the company of Goodfellas, the Martin Scorsese film from which The Wolf of Wall Street consciously takes many of its cues, it is found wanting. I was vaguely familiar with the title,