This month, we celebrate The Irishman by looking back on the works of the seminal New York filmmaker.
Sure, October is Halloween month, and it’d be tempting to pick this month’s Filmmaker of the Month from any number of important, influential horror or genre directors. But honestly, we shot our wad last month with Stephen King adaptations, so we didn’t want to subject you to two months of spooky stories. Luckily, the premiere of The Irishman at festival and on Netflix later this month gives us a golden opportunity to talk about not just one of our greatest living filmmakers, but film lovers — Martin Scorsese.
For more than half a century, Scorsese has left an indelible stamp on American cinema. Starting off as a director of gritty, sleazy mob pictures that forced us to confront the seedy underbelly of New York City, the mafia, and more, Scorsese has grown into a director as focused on spirituality and idealism as he is violence and grime. It’s strange to think that the director of Mean Streets and Taxi Driver would also go on to do meditative religious epics like The Last Temptation of Christ or children’s films about silent cinema like Hugo. More than a guns ‘n swears kind of guy, he’s also as devout a follower of Catholicism as he is a lover of classic cinema, and all these attributes and more can be found in every foot of film Scorsese’s ever shot.
What thrills me more than his film output, frankly, is Scorsese’s undying love of the form itself. He’s long been a proponent of film preservation and has contributed reams of film scholarship of his own on directors like Powell & Pressburger. Hell, as recently as yesterday he raved about Hereditary of all things at a Q&A at the New York Film Festival. You’d be hard-pressed to find a filmmaker who isn’t a student of film in some form or another, but Scorsese feels like a bulwark for the greatness of classic cinema that’s sorely needed in an age where streaming and VOD have left many older films abandoned to the sands of time.
Even so, Scorsese is a master craftsman at his own works, and even though he’s known for quite a few tics — violence, cursing, long Steadicam shots, using the same stable of actors — there’s a lot of fun nuance within his works (or as he’d call them, pictures). To that end, throughout October we’ll be trudging through the long, storied filmography of Scorsese as comprehensively as we can, touching on some of his classics and some under-appreciated entries in his oeuvre — all in an attempt to get to know the man a little bit better.