Martin Scorsese is not slowing down, burning out—or selling out, either. “Hugo,” his first children’s tale and first 3-D film, opens this weekend, and is earning stellar reviews. While it may prove too rich for many mainstream moviegoers, it’s a testament to his ongoing exuberance as a director.
So what’s next? The director will soon make “Silence,” an adaptation of a book about 17th century missionaries in Japan. He’s also remaking “The Gambler” (possibly with his go-to leading man, Leonardo DiCaprio) and has a “Sinatra” biopic in the pipeline. “Furious Love,” is also still a possibility (we played dreamcasting to see who could play Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the film; cast your vote here; the early results are here). That’s just to name a few of his potential future projects.
Scorsese recently confirmed that he’s adapting “The Snowmen” – a novel from Norwegian author Jo Nesbo, whose “Headhunters” also got the big-screen treatment earlier this year (from Norwegian director Morten Tyldum). “World War Z” writer Matthew Michael Carnahan is pegged to write the “Snowmen” script. It follows police investigator Harry Hole (a character in nine of Nesbo’s novels), who is tracking a serial killer who leaves a snow man at his murder sites. Sounds dark, disturbing and Scorsesilicious.
Roger Ebert recently reposted his 2006 MSN Movies article, Goodfellas & badfellas: Scorsese and morality, a thorough look at the theme in his films, complementing the release of “The Departed.” Among Ebert’s observations:
“Watching certain Scorsese pictures today (‘Mean Streets,’ ‘Taxi Driver,’ ‘Raging Bull,’ ‘The Last Temptation of Christ,’ ‘GoodFellas,’ ‘Casino’ and others), you can appreciate the ways they both reflect and question the prevailing moral climate in early 21st-century America. It’s a topsy-turvy universe in which the President of the United States himself insists that judgments about ‘goodness’ and ‘badness’ are not to be based upon actions, but are simply pre-existing existential conditions. Good or bad, right or wrong — it just depends on which side you’re on.”
“In ‘Casino’ — as in the ‘Godfather’ films and ‘The Sopranos’ — organized crime is depicted as just one more manifestation of capitalism, a strain in some ways more direct and honorable than those exemplified by Wall Street, Michael Milken and Enron. Ace is contemptuous of ‘the corporations,’ who prey on the weak and powerless instead of other mobsters and high rollers, people who understand the rules of the game: ‘And while the kids play cardboard pirates,’ he says, ‘mommy and daddy drop the house payments and junior’s college money on the poker slots.'”
Fast Company writes in their excellent feature on Scorsese: “The director has achieved the trifecta of a fulfilling, creative life: enough money to do only what truly interests him, enough freedom to attack those projects in a way that is satisfying, and enough appreciation from his peers to tame–just slightly, just ever so slightly–the neurotic beast of self-doubt,” and his career has earned him the right “that every creative person dreams of: the right never to be bored.” They list his ‘side projects’ from the last two years, and have an infographic on his multi-genred career — these will remind you just how busy this 69-year old has been.
Check out six other highlights below:
1. “He still can’t make up his damn mind, still gets obsessed, still gets crazed by the same kinds of things that make any creative type nuts. Is he going to get the resources he needs? Will his bosses like what he’s doing? Will they give him another chance on another project? How much of his creative vision will get into this project? How much will the powers that be screw with his vision?…”
2. Dante Ferretti, production designer (“Hugo,” “Gangs of New York,” etc): “When we begin a film, I read the script and then Marty shows me films. Many, many films, with many different references he wants me to think of for the look of our movie. He carries all these films in his head. He shows me whole films for just one shot, telling me, ‘Remember this image, that’s the feel I want.'”
3. “His comfort with the past is so deep that he romanticizes the old-Hollywood-studio system, where directors worked for one studio churning out at least a movie a year, if not three or four. ‘There was always a part of me that wanted to be an old-time director,’ he says, laughing. ‘But I couldn’t do that. I’m not a pro.'”
4. “‘There are two kinds of power you have to fight,’ Scorsese says. ‘The first is the money, and that’s just our system. The other is the people close around you, knowing when to accept their criticism, knowing when to say no.'”
5. On Working with long-time editor Thelma Schoonmaker: “We’ll say anything to each other in the editing room–anything. What can be done? What shouldn’t be done? If the studio is saying this, maybe what they really mean is this. There are so many issues, it can get very tricky, very political. She’ll see me getting tired and giving in, let’s say, to someone who has my ear and is very influential, to someone who uses threats. There are a lot of those more and more now, and she will say, ‘Be careful, because this is going to harm the whole thing, the whole project.’ She gets me back on track if I’m going off.”
6. On his efforts to give his daughter a cultural foundation; “I’m concerned about a culture where everything is immediate and then discarded. I’m exposing her to stuff like musicals and Ray Harryhausen spectaculars, Frank Capra films. I just read her a children’s version of The Iliad. I wanted her to know where it all comes from. Every story, I told her, every story is in here, The Iliad.”