The essential documentaries on Martin Scorsese, including The Scorsese Machine (1990), A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1995), American Masters: Martin Scorsese Directs (1990), A Decade Under the Influence (2003), Italianamerican (1974), American Boy: A Profile of: Steven Prince (Martin Scorsese, 1978), Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts (2007), and The Real Goodfella (2006).
Labarthe filmed Martin Scorsese soon after the “scandal” of The Last Temptation of Christ had begun to die down. Not sure which approach to use for the film, Labarthe and his crew simply went to Scorsese’s office and began shooting him moving around, watching rushes, etc. At the end of the first day’s shoot, Scorsese asked whether or not Labarthe was going to ask any questions; “No,” Labarthe replied, just speak whenever you feel like it. And that became the approach to this, one of the most widely-seen episodes in the series. Less an introduction to Scorsese’s work than to his world, the film includes a wonderful visit with Scorsese’s parents.
14 Part documentary — A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1995). Martin Scorsese is a master craftsman in the art of cinema with an encyclopaedic knowledge of movies. It is a pleasure to hear his views on early American cinema where his love of the silverscreen was awakened and “coloured his dreams”. I am sure he could talk of cinema from any country in the world just as intelligently and passionately. This personal journey through the films that have shaped this great auteur of cinema is a wonderful tool for anyone looking to go beyond the screen and behind the camera. A 14 part film studies course that you can take from anywhere in the world and learned from again and again.
PBS American Masters documentary featuring profile of Martin Scorsese including behind-the-scenes material shot during GOODFELLAS production. This 1990 PBS documentary special examines the films, themes and techniques of Martin Scorsese. Hear from Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Robert De Niro among others, and watch classic scenes from Scorsese’s films and behind the scenes footage of Scorsese directing. The American Masters documentary series was produced and directed by Steven Fischler and Joel Sucher for PBS. This is one of the most in-depth documentaries created on Marty.
Decade Under the Influence, a feature-length version of a three-part series to be shown on the Independent Film Channel in August, is a breezy, uncritical, frankly nostalgic documentary about Hollywood in the late 1960’s and early 70’s. It was a time when the studios, reeling from their failure to attract the new generation of filmgoers, briefly threw their gates open to outsiders — mainly young directors formed by film schools and highly conscious of the European art film tradition. Here, indeed, are the usual suspects: Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, William Friedkin, Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich, Dennis Hopper and Paul Schrader, each trying to account in his own way for the fleeting moment of artistic freedom with which all their careers began.
Filmmaker Martin Scorsese interviews his mother and father about their life in New York and the family history back in Sicily. These are two people who have lived together for a long time and know each other very well. They have retained individual identities and differing opinions, yet have found a way to live with each other. Both Catherine and Charles Scorsese are fascinating storytellers. There idiosyncrasies are endearing. As they talk, mom makes meatballs and we get the recipe as part of the end credits.
Like Italianamerican, American Boy (1978)—subtitled A Profile of Steven Prince—casually defies verité by including the filmmaker in the frame: Its first shot finds Scorsese sharing a Jacuzzi with his subject, a rail-thin, red-eyed ex-junkie whose near-orgasmic moans of pleasure compel the auteur to request a little space. That need for privacy appears an inherited trait for Marty as much as it was for Howard Hughes: The earlier film shows his father, Charles—in the face of Mrs. Scorsese’s playful protestations—favoring the far side of the sofa. But as much as these docs reveal about the director’s psychology (and rhyme indelibly with one another), they also illuminate his fiction. The attraction-repulsion dynamic of Taxi Driver—wherein Prince’s gun salesman character makes even Travis Bickle look human—is mirrored in Boy’s pained progression from stand-up comedy to horror and tragedy. As the first act of Prince’s routine features vivid recollections of doped-up run-ins with draft enforcers and silverback gorillas, Scorsese’s wide-angle shots of the “show” in actor George Memmoli’s Hollywood bachelor pad include the chuckling crew as an approving audience. But as the topics turn to heroin abuse and homicide in the second half, the laughs diminish and the camera zooms tighter, sealing the subject’s fate as God’s lonely man. (It’s not just in the hot tub that Scorsese wishes to separate himself from this guy.)
American Boy was made at a time when the director, like other movie brats, was battling some rather unhealthy addictions of his own. But while he seems to share with Prince the sort of creative tension that stems from having temperamentally opposite parents (both dads in the docs are characterized as hard realists, both moms as firm believers in the happy ending), Marty never lost his mother’s classy sense of familial duty and taste. Italianamerican famously concludes with Catherine Scorsese’s recipe for spaghetti and meatballs; Boy includes the well-fed filmmaker’s editorial comment on his subject’s claim that Mrs. Prince’s cuisine was “bland.” What kind of man, Scorsese suggests, leaning into the frame, doesn’t appreciate his mother’s cooking? —villagevoice
Academy Award-nominated director Scott Hicks (“Shine”) documents an eventful year in the career and personal life of distinguished Western classical composer Philip Glass as he interacts with a number of friends and collaborators, who include Chuck Close, Ravi Shankar, and Martin Scorsese.
By now you’ve heard the news that former gangster-turned-mob informant Henry Hill passed away, leaving behind hundreds of thousands of moviegoers who’ve watched Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas (itself based on the life of Henry Hill) and often wondered just how the guy managed to survive long enough to die at the age of 69 without being whacked by those he turned against. Clues to that mystery may be found in this documentary, called The Real Goodfella, which is one of the more fascinating docs on the real-life man behind the character Ray Liotta so memorably portrayed on screen. Featuring in-depth interviews with Hill, FBI agents, Martin Scorsese and more, the 47-minute doc uses dramatized reenactments to piece together what really happened versus what Scorsese chose to use for his film. You can watch the entire doc below, which dates back to 2006. —Erik Davis
A True Story About Martin Scorsese by Ted Kotcheff.
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