“Observe and Report” – 2009. Dir. Jody Hill

With Seth Rogen, Michael Pena, Anna Faris, John Yuan, Matt Yuan, Jesse Plemons, Aziz Ansari with Danny McBride and Ray Liotta.

“I ain’t gonna lie to you Ronnie; there ain’t nothin’ good about this at all.” – Dennis (Michael Pena)

Lately I’ve taken a slight detour from my film watching, and I’ve invested fully into HBO original series. I’m sorry to say, but “Boardwalk Empire” isn’t at all what it’s cracked up to be. I’ve been diving head first into “In Treatment” (which I now consider the finest HBO show to date). The highlight of my week is the one hour block on Sunday nights of two series: “Bored to Death” and “Eastbound & Down”. I watched the first season of “Eastbound” and I wasn’t that impressed with it – but after seeing where the story has gone this season – it’s one of my new obsessions.

Jody Hill is the creator and head writer/director of “Eastbound” and my BFF Peyton told me about “Observe and Report” which Hill did prior to “Eastbound”. I had an idea what the film was and I can say one thing for sure: I don’t like Seth Rogen and I probably never will. I remembered Quentin Tarantino saying that “Observe and Report” was one of the best films of last year; and the film also has Ray Liotta in it. So I watched it last night.

I don’t think much can prepare you for this film – it is one of the blackest comedies I have seen in years. The subject matter, the situations, the themes of this film is very dark. Seth Rogen who plays the head of mall security at this shitty little po-dunk mall is a fucking psychopath (seriously). He is comical, but when you actually comprehend what he’s saying/thinking – you realize how fucked up he really is.

The film starts with a flasher running through the mall’s parking lot. He’s pulling open his coat and showing every woman he sees his penis and yelling degrading things to them. It’s very funny. Ronnie (Rogen) is making it his mission to find this “fucking pervert” and has his underlings hot on the case. John and Matt Yuan are overweight identical Asian twins who inject excellent comic relief and Michael Pena, who I’ve never cared for, plays Dennis a stereotypical “gangsta” Mexican but he’s soft spoken and speaks with a lisp. Pena rocks the shit out of his role.

Anna Faris plays Brandi a high maintenance spoiled girl who works a cosmetic counter at the mall, and Ronnie is not only in love with her – he’s obsessed. When Bradi is “assaulted” by the flasher; enter Ray Liotta as the hard ass Detective Harrison. As you would expect Liotta plays his hot headed typecast but he is such an excellent treat in the film. Ronnie goes head to head with Detective Harrison, to try and compete for the attention and protection of Brandi.

I know you won’t believe this unless you’ve seen this, or have read about it, but this film is a mirror to “Taxi Driver”. That being said, this film is nowhere near as powerful or important as “Taxi Driver” – but Jody Hill shows so much homage to not only to “Taxi Driver” but to other Scorsese films. I can’t help but think the casting of Ray Liotta was partially due to Liotta being in “Goodfellas”.

We are shown an incredibly dark world, filled with slime and pathetic people, just like the New York of “Taxi Driver”. Ronnie is our Travis Bickle, with his brooding voiceover narration that screams for anarchy. The way the story builds and arcs is much like the flow and structure of “Taxi Driver”. It’s a wonderful homage/re-imagining.

There are a lot of scenes in this film, one in particular that really pushes the limits and boundaries of the films audience. This film isn’t one of the typical bullshit comedies that come out; this film really does push your limits as a viewer. Many times while watching the film, I looked away from the film – not because I was disgusted – but because the film is a bit much most of the time. What eases the blow of such a crude film is an immaculate soundtrack of “throwback” 70’s music.

This is a difficult film to digest, due to the subject matter, and due to the fact that Ronnie is insane. Jody Hill paints us this disturbing portrait of the human condition – and makes these characters very over the top – yet we can see ourselves in them. This isn’t a great film; nor is it for everyone, but if you enjoy a romp in the darkest comedic form, I recommend this film to you 100%. After seeing the film, there’s no question as to why Tarantino thinks this was one of the ten best films of last year.

Rating: 7.5/10

The King of Comedy – 1982. Dir Martin Scorsese

Click here to see the rest of the selected films!

“Is Mr. Langford expecting you?” – Langford’s Secretary

“Yes, I don’t think he is.” – Rupert Pupkin

Meet Rupert Pupkin – whose name is often mispronounced and misspelled.  He’s an insecure, timid and dissolutional young man whose dream is to perform a guest spot on “The Jerry Langford Show”.  His psychopathic friend Masha is deeply obsessed with Jerry and after numerous failed attempts of Rupert going to Jerry’s office for a meeting – the two devise a plan to kidnap Jerry.

“The King of Comedy” remains to be the greatest Scorsese film that no one has seen.  It showcases Robert DeNiro’s finest performance as Rupert, a wickedly hilarious psychotic performance of a lifetime by Sandra Bernhard as Masha and a steady cool and calm of normality that’s brought to the film by Jerry Lewis as Jerry Langford – a Johnny Carson esq late night host.

This film has a nice polish on it, it looks and feels light and breezy but under the façade this is a deeply dark and sinister film.  Rupert is so utterly delirious that his basement room is his Mother’s house is a mock studio with cardboard cutouts of celebrities where he performs in front of an invisible audience every night.  The film is incredibly funny – yet you find yourself wanting to look away at how terribly humiliating situations in the film become.

After failing to meet with Jerry at his office, Rupert invites a woman who was in love with in high school, and is now a local bartender, to join him for a weekend at Jerry’s home.  Rupert arrives at Jerry’s home and forces his way past the butler and maid.  He then begins to walk around Jerry’s house telling this woman all about Jerry’s achievements and his life – speaking as if he’s known Jerry for an eternity.  Once Jerry arrives home, he demands Rupert leave, he threatens Rupert with the police and begins shouting at him.  This is one of many, many situations in the film that is so painfully humiliating to watch we find ourselves wanting to turn away – but we can’t.  We are so mesmerized by the film.

This is film is the essence of black comedy, planting the seeds for future films.  Will Farrell’s character in “Wedding Crashers” – the grown man living in his off screen mother’s basement who is constantly yelling at her.  “The King of Comedy” started that all.

Rating: 10/10

Martin Scorsese Poll Results are in!!!

Alright, there were more of you who took the poll this time – and I thank you for that.

“Taxi Driver” is the winner!

The second best Scorsese film in the poll was a three way tie between “Raging Bull”, “The Departed” and “Gangs of New York”!!! Ha fuckers! “Gangs” was tied for second (which I actually didn’t vote for, I was the lone vote on “Mean Streets”).

Third place was “Goodfellas”.

Rounding out the bottom tier getting one vote each were: “Mean Streets”, “The King of Comedy”, “After Hours”, and “New York, New York”…that is ballsy to vote for that! That is, unless it was a miscast vote. Kind of like you people who vote for third parties in elections.

I am impressed that three did in fact vote for my self proclaimed Scorsese masterpiece “Gangs of New York”.

Good voting dear reader(s).

“Gangs of New York” – 2003. Dir. Martin Scorsese

With Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, John C. Reilly, Henry Thomas, Gary Lewis with Jim Broadbent, Brendan Gleeson and Liam Neeson.

“You see this fucking knife? I’m going to teach you how to speak English with this fucking knife.”

  • Bill “the Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis).

I need to get this off my chest now. Cameron Diaz is fucking awful in this film, Leonardo DiCaprio is miscast and I don’t know what Scorsese was thinking by casting Henry Thomas. Phew…I feel better now. That being said, “Gangs of New York” is Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece.

The film starts out bold. Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson) is preparing his men for an epic battle with the Confederation of American Natives which is lead by Bill “the Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis) to see who controls the Five Points for good and all. Vallon and his men mount inside a rundown church, and meet outside in the Five Points (where all major roads meet to a town square). They stand outside in the dead of winter and stand idle – waiting for hell to unleash.

Men with top hats and blue sashes begin to slither out of buildings, and stand on the other side of the square. This is where we see Cutting, glass eye and all. What unleashes is a brutally violent battle. The battle sequence is one of the best filmed, being slowed down to 12 frames per second and queued up to Peter Gabriel’s ambient and eerie sounding “Signal to Noise”.

Men are screaming, ripping each others cheeks apart, and stabbing each other with dull and rusty blades. It’s a chaotic scene but our focus begins to turn to Cutting who is weaving through the crowd, blood lust is in his eye and his sights are set on Vallon. Cutting takes no prisoners; killing his own men who stand in his way just to get to Vallon.

He gets to Vallon and stabs him in the side, then in the stomach. The Priest falls and the battle is over. All the men halt. A young Amsterdam Vallon (played as an adult by DiCaprio) is taken to an orphanage and is to be sure to get “a good education” scowls Cutting.

Time passes and Amsterdam is then let out as an adult. He returns to the Five Points with a mission of revenge. He is slowly taken under the wing of Cutting and Amsterdam gets as close to him as possible so he can avenge the death of his father.

This is an extremely flawed film; I’ll be the first to admit that. There are a lot of things very wrong with it. I have always said that Colin Farrell would have be absolutely PERFECT as Amsterdam. My belief is that since Scorsese had been trying to make this film for decades, the studio would only green light the film if he had star appeal. As much of a great actor Day-Lewis is – he’s not a box office draw (for the masses anyway), so DiCaprio and Diaz were forced into the film for their box office appeal. But to be positive, this film did start a wonderful collaboration between Scorsese and DiCaprio (and to be negative – it’s starting to run its course). But don’t think for a second the collaboration is anywhere near as good as Scorsese/DeNiro or Scorsese/Keitel.

DiCaprio just doesn’t work. His shitty neck beard and pretty bad Irish accent are very distracting. Every scene he shares with Day-Lewis he’s completely overshadowed. The character that Diaz plays is a thief that has a special relationship with Cutting – so she’s given free reign and doesn’t owe him “tribute” – just sex.

The character of Jenny should have been turned into an older “street woman” and played by Jodie Foster. She could still have that relationship with Cutting, and also allow Amsterdam’s fixation with her as well – creating the jealously trap that happens. I think it would have added more maturity and weight to the film.

This is Day-Lewis’ film hands down. He carries the entire film on his back with the help of Neeson, Gleeson and Reilly (hey – remember when he used to be an actor?). The attention he commands from you is unreal. I’ve never seen an actor be able to do this with every single film he’s in. The guy is a fucking titan of cinema.

This is the film that combines all of Scorsese’s passions, everything he’s built his career on. It’s a period piece epic, it’s an antiwar film (the Civil War draft directly reflecting Vietnam), the setting is New York City (which Scorsese loves more than anything) and it’s about the birth of organized crime – or the mob if you will. The film is an ensemble film, which Scorsese is wonderful at crafting. This is an extremely personal film for Scorsese – as personal as “Mean Streets” or “The Last Temptation of Christ”. The guy had tried making this film since the 1970’s!

This film is vintage Scorsese. I haven’t felt this in a Scorsese film since “Gangs”. His use of steady cam, tracking shots, and slow motion just reminds us that he is the greatest living director. When Diaz is introduced into the film, it’s in a slow motion sequence that’s queued up to music – much like Sharron Stone in “Casino” – Scorsese is a master of his craft and I will battle each and every one of you to the death over “Gangs of New York” being his masterpiece.

Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance is absolutely wonderful. My words can’t do his art justice. One of my dreams have always been to direct a film with Day-Lewis, but I can’t even imagine how intimidating such a thing would be. This is a guy who invests himself into his characters for the entire film. He’s not Daniel Day- Lewis, he’s Bill Cutting. He doesn’t speak with an English accent; he speaks with his thick New York accent on and off the screen. Anyone who can’t admire his passion, admire his skill is a fool.

Review 10/10

“Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” – 1974. Dir. Martin Scorsese

With Ellen Durstyn, Kris Kristofferson, Alfred Lutter III, Billy Green Bush, with Harvey Keitel Jodie Foster, and Diane Ladd.

“So who’s stoppin’ ya?… Pack your bags; I’ll take you to Monterey… I don’t give a damn about that ranch.”

-David (Kris Kristofferson)

Alice Hyatt is on her own. Her dominant husband (Billy Green Bush) just died in a car accident and Alice her young son Tommy (Alfred Lutter III) are left to fend for themselves. Alice then embarks with Tommy to travel to Monterey so Alice can start a career as a singer.

Alice arrives in Phoenix where she gets a job at a bar singing and she meets a young and suave man named Ben (Harvey Keitel). Alice starts to feel like she’s beginning to stabilize her life. Things seem to be going well with her singing in a bar and her relationship with Ben.

Ben’s wife eventually shows up and asks Alice to stop seeing him. Alice is unaware that Ben was married and she is mortified. Ben shows up at Alice’s hotel room. He demands to be let in and when he’s not he busts open the door and chases after his wife, knocking her to the ground and kicking her out of the door. He then turns his rage on Alice and begins screaming at her and threatens her with fatal violence. Harvey Keitel is frightening in this scene.

Alice once again picks up and now travels to Tucson where she gets a job at a diner. Diane Ladd is the matriarch of the diner and Alice reluctantly allows Ladd to take her under her wing. She meets David (Kris Kristofferson) who is the embodiment of the ideal man who walks through fire to court Alice.

Alice’s son Tommy meets a girl a little older then him (Jodie Foster) and the two of them begin to pal around and muse about life together. I can’t stress this enough, but Alfred Lutter is amazing in this film. I am so impressed with his acting.

This is a film that was a passion of Burstyn’s. She found the script and wanted to make the film more than anything. She was looking for a young and creative director to make the film, she phoned Francis Ford Coppola to get his advice and he told her to watch the film “Mean Streets”. Scorsese was quickly hired to direct the film and asked Burstyn to teach him about women.

This is the first film to deal with the woman’s movement – dealing with the independence of women. The entire point of the film is that a woman can support herself, that she can survive without a man and still raise her son on her own. Ellen Burstyn gives one of the best performances that I have ever seen (which she won an Oscar for). She is absolutely delightful in this film.

The acting in this film is what stands out above the screenplay and Scorsese’s direction. Burstyn gives a great performance that is so symbiotic with the other actors in the film. Alfred Lutter who plays her son is such a wonderful actor and holds his own against Burstyn. Harvey Keitel is just tough as nails (when isn’t he?) and Kris Kristofferson brings the house down.

The climactic showdown between Burstyn and Kristofferson in the diner is a wonderful scene. The dialogue is so rich and real – it makes us completely understand both of these characters. Emotion just flows out of both of these two great actors and we are completely taken by them the entire film. We are rutting for Alice to get to Monetary – yet we are rooting for David to get Alice to stay and live with him on his ranch.

This film is very important for women’s liberation – but I also think it’s a film about wanting/needing/deserving a second chance. I’m not sure what to call this genre but it’s very important and it’s very surreal.

This film is brilliantly crafted by Scorsese’s direction. Even though this isn’t a personal film for Scorsese, he puts his own label on it. He makes it his own. The opening credit sequence is a wonderful homage to “The Wizard of Oz” and the long takes and steady cam shots that Scorsese uses lets us know it’s his film without us knowing it’s his film.

Review: 9.5/10

“Taxi Driver” – 1976. Dir. Martin Scorsese

With Robert DeNiro, Jodie Foster, Cybil Shepherd, Albert Brooks, Leonard Harris, Peter Boyle with Marin Scorsese and Harvey Keitel

“I think someone should just take this city and just… just flush it down the fuckin’ toilet.”

-Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro)

It took me a long time to really be able to get a handle on “Taxi Driver”. I saw it when I was a teenager and I felt that I didn’t really understand the movie. It wasn’t until my early twenties when I really discovered the beauty and perfection that the film holds.

I can only watch this film every so often – about twice a year. The film is haunting and affects me deeply. It engages in psychological warfare with me and it’s hard to shake the film when I see it. We just get thrown into this world of filth and disgust and we are to fend for ourselves. And who is our hero? Travis Bickle. It’s difficult to watch because we can identify with Bickle, we can understand him and we can almost trust him.

The opening of the film is fucking magnificent. The protruding score by Bernard Herman beats in our eardrums and soaks into the marrow of our bones then a quick cut to DeNiro’s eyes with a red gel over the light. He’s looking around, he’s almost frightened at what he’s seeing, quick cut back to the smog in the streets and the beating of drums to a taxi cab emerging from the smog.

There have been many scenes that have stuck with me over time, many scenes that can creep up on me when I’m not expecting them. The character of Betsy, the self righteous snooty bitch who is Bickle’s love interest in the movie has always stuck with me. She’s very contrived and knows how to play the game.

After Bickle’s botched date with Betsy where he takes her to a porn theater and she abruptly gets up and leaves almost makes me feel bad for Bickle. But you have to ask yourself, is Bickle really that naïve? Doesn’t he know what he’s doing? Is it just a game to Bickle too?

Scorsese’s camera work in the film is what makes this film so great. The way Scorsese slides the camera with his perfect tracking shots allow us to almost escape from certain situations. The scene that always has stuck with me is the long shot when Travis calls Betsy from a payphone. He’s in a back room that has a long hallway from the entrance of the building. This is one of Travis’ many attempts to try and contact Betsy after the porn theater disaster.

Travis finally gets a hold of her and asks her about the flowers he sent her. He asks her out for coffee and she tells Travis she’s sick. Travis just won’t let go, he continually tries to court her. It’s extremely embarrassing to watch. It almost makes you want to look away because it’s just too hard to watch, the way Travis fidgets as he talks to Betsy about how she probably has a 24 hour virus. In the midst of Travis’ pandering, the camera slowly rolls away from Travis and we are now looking down the long hallway to the entrance of the building. Travis conversation continues for a short while after this, but at least we don’t have to watch it anymore.

That’s how you direct a fucking movie.

The way the film glides and flows are perfect. The voiceover narration that DeNiro deliverers is so Shakespearian in the way he has this constantly running inner monologue with himself that we have the rare opportunity to hear. The man’s demons are taking control of him, they are running over his mind, body and soul – he can’t be saved. He knows he can’t be saved. Bickle must become a martyr; plain and simple.

The scenes next scene that I am in love with is Scorsese’s cameo as Travis’ passenger. I wrote about it yesterday in my Art of the Crossover: Directors in front of the Camera post. What is so vital to the film is that Scorsese’s role is the only person, only thing that frightens Travis throughout the entire film. He’s the only person that has Travis on the edge of his seat, carefully watching him, carefully observing him.

What is so great about the scene is that it’s so very brief, we don’t know if the man goes in and kills his wife and her black boyfriend. We don’t know if Bickle reports it to the police (probably not). It’s a wonderful and marvelous scene that just adds to the sheer emotional power the film holds over us.

The one character that is a moral compass in the film is that of Wizard (brilliantly played by Peter Boyle). He’s the one person who Travis looks up too; he’s the veteran that all the cabbies come to for advice and for guidance. His character is very interesting, he is much like Travis, but he is able to control himself, control his demons.

For me, Harvey Keitel as Sport displays the sheer power that he holds as an actor. The character was transformed by Keitel (Sport was black and only had three lines of dialogue in the script) and he added his own brand, his own label to the character. Keitel is a true maverick when it comes to film, he doesn’t often appear in too many big budget Hollywood films – he’s found his calling in small independent films where he can shine.

Jodie Foster is tough as nails and shows from such a young age the capability of being a mature and powerful actress. She holds her own against both DeNiro and Keitel – not an easy feat for anyone let alone a twelve year old. That is nothing less than raw talent.

The films epic climax is always sighted and over romanticized by film school douche bags (yes – I went to film school). The climactic bloody ending isn’t what the film is supposed to be memorable for, it’s supposed to show us what happens when a man is alone, and can’t take it anymore. It’s not supposed to show DeNiro as a hero – he’s not. He’s filth just like the rest of the film; yet we can identify with him, we can relate with him. It’s pretty scary stuff.

What makes the ending so powerful is the last scene. What I don’t think many people really realize is when Travis is driving away from Betsy and Bernard Herman’s magnificent score starts to play and we’re watching DeNiro’s eyes scan the streets once again, looking for his next move. He sees something in the rearview mirror! He quickly brings his right hand up to adjust the mirror and he sees something and stares at it with his cold gaze.

The biggest rumor to emerge from the Berlin Film Festival was that Robert DeNiro, Martin Scorsese and Lars von Trier were set to do a remake of “Taxi Driver”. I’m not a fan of remakes, but I will stand in line all day to see that.

Review 10/10

The Art of the Crossover: Directors in Front of the Camera

Yesterday I posted an article that brought a good amount of traffic my way, talking about actors crossing over to music and musicians crossing over to acting. I really enjoyed working on it, and I know I left some people out. There were two HUGE crossover artists that no one seemed to mention; it’s fine, they will be headlining part two of that post. While watching “Quiz Show” the other day, I really loved how Robert Redford used a handful of directors in small roles in the film. He used Griffin Dunne, Martin Scorsese and Barry Levinson in really small yet somewhat vital roles in the film. I enjoy that film very much and I love the irony of Robert Redford the esteemed actor directing a film (where he has no role) and using three directors that normally aren’t in front of the camera (minus Griffin Dunne since he started as an actor). So I’ve been working on this new crossover since last night, trying to come up with a list of concrete crossovers where a director steps in front of the camera. I have really never seen anything about directors’ crossing over and becoming pretty decent character actors. We all see lists of actors turned directors which are fairly easy lists to make. A sad note that I would like to make known – I ruled out Albert Brooks, Woody Allen and Mel Brooks because (no, not because they are Jewish) they were already established as stand-up comics and performers prior to their turns are magnificent filmmakers. I also ruled out Oliver Stone and Alfred Hitchcock because the essentially have nothing more than a quick cameo (minus Stone’s appearance as the announcer for the Miami Sharks in “Any Given Sunday”).

Harold Ramis

Harold Ramis will always have a special spot in my heart as his characters Egon Spengler from “Ghostbusters” and Russell from “Stripes” (which Ramis also wrote both the screenplays) – but before he was our loveable nerd he was the screenwriter for “Animal House” and the writer/director of “Caddyshack” where he met his future creative partner Bill Murray. Ramis then went on to direct “National Lampoons Vacation”, “Groundhog Day”, “Multiplicity”, “Analyze This”, “Analyze That”, “The Ice Harvest” and *coughs* “Year One” (hey, they all can’t be winners).

What Ramis is most widely known for is his acting roles as I said before, Egon Spengler and Russell. Ramis actually is a very good actor – his comedic timing is impeccable. They way he can play off of his co-stars like Bill Murray or especially John Candy in “Stripes” is so excellent – he adds more humor and life to the film just by being the nerdy “straight” guy.

Will they ever make a “Ghostbusters 3” you ask, I really hope not.

Sydney Pollack

Sydney Pollack has directed some of the finest films that I have ever seen: “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?”, “Jeremiah Johnson”, “Tootise” and “Out of Africa”. Where Pollack doesn’t get his due credit is as an actor. He was wonderful in his real first acting role as Dustin Hoffman’s agent in “Tootise” but he took a ten year break before resuming acting.

His follow up to his small (but very funny) role in “Tootsie” was as Dick Mellon in Robert Altman’s Hollywood satire “The Player”. How perfect is that? Pollack then branched out and started acting in other filmmakers films including Woody Allen’s “Husbands and Wives”, Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut”, as Warren Feldman doctor who was in prison for killing his wife in an episode of “The Sopranos” and what I believe is his finest performance as Marty Bach in “Michael Clayton”.

I truly feel that Pollack gave the best performance in “Michael Clayton” and deserved a nomination for best supporting actor. Yes Tom Wilkinson was good – but I’m sorry, not nearly as good as Sydney Pollack. His role as Victor Ziegler in “Eyes Wide Shut” is just so creepy and the character has this rage that explodes from him in a couple of key scenes. I have a hard time choosing if I like him more as Sydney Pollack the director, or Sydney Pollack the actor.

Quentin Tarantino

Yeah, I know this one is obvious, but it can’t really be ignored. Is Tarantino a great actor? Not at all. Is he a good actor? Ehhhh… Is he decent? Alright, I can abide by that. The character that Tarantino plays either in his own films or in his friends films are always as eccentric and bizarre as Tarantino is in real life.

I don’t really think the characters he chooses to play add much to the movie, but they defiantly don’t take anything away from it. I think his best performance is that of Jimmie Dimmick in “Pulp Fiction”. The character of Jimmie is funny and witty and it doesn’t seem like Tarantino tries too hard.

The character of Mr. Brown feels a little forced to me, like Tarantino is sitting there trying to act cool in front of Harvey Keitel and Michael Madsen – it just doesn’t work that well for me. Same goes for Warren in “Death Proof” – acting cool in front of Kurt Russell.

That being said, my new life goal is go to Cannes to see the premier of the next Tarantino film – the guy is a fucking genus.

Martin Scorsese

Oh do I love Martin Scorsese. He is such a remarkable talent – I could go on forever about how much I love him and his films. We all know who Scorsese is and what he has directed.

Scorsese has had key roles in two of his earlier film. In “Mean Streets” it is Scorsese’s hand that kills one of the central characters in brutally climactic ending (I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen “Mean Streets”). As I touched upon it before, Scorsese has a brief but meaty role in Robert Redford’s “The Quiz Show”. He plays Martin Rittenhome the CEO of Geritol the sponsor of the NBC quiz shows. His character is fast paced and no bullshit. He pulls a lot of strings with NBC and pulls them well.

Scorsese also voiced Sykes the puffer fish from the semi enjoyable “Shark Tale”. The role that Scorsese talks about playing the most is that of Vincent Van Gogh in Akira Kurosawa’s “Dreams”. It’s so amazing to watch because you are watching one remarkable filmmaker direct another. It’s a real treat. Scorsese has a handful of cameos in his films, my favorite is that of the TV Director in “The King of Comedy”. His opening voiceovers for “The Color of Money” and “Mean Streets” are wonderful, he has this voice that is so fueled by emotion that we can’t help but listen and try and digest the fast paced introductions.

Now this is what I’ve been waiting the entire post to talk about: his role as DeNiro’s deranged taxi cab passenger in “Taxi Driver”. I feel that his character is so vital, so important to the film. It’s just another prime example to Travis Bickle of how fucked up the world has become, how it’s changed so much from what he knew it to be.

The most important factor in the scene is that it humanizes Bickle, it shows us that this is a world of filth and that Bickle is almost normal compared to his passenger talking about how his wife is “fucking a nigger” and repeating to DeNiro “Have you ever seen what a 44 magnum can do to a woman’s face. Have you ever seen what a 44 magnum can do to a woman’s pussy? Now that – that you should see.” Wow.

The character that Scorsese plays is the only character in the film that frightens Travis Bickle. That is very important. We see Bickle not afraid or anyone or anything except for the small episode with Scorsese in the back seat of his cab. Scorsese will often say that it wasn’t planned for him to play the role, that the actor who was originally supposed to play it was sick that day so Scorsese filled in for him. Thank God for that.

Alright tootsie pops…did I leave anyone out that you think I should have included? Let me know what you think.