Reading Grossmont Cinemas Holding A 'Marty Party'
Catch a Scorsese film every Wednesday night in March
March 4: "Taxi Driver" (1976, 113min, R)
March 11: "Raging Bull" (1980, 129min, R)
March 18: "Goodfellas" (1990, 148min, R)
March 25: "Casino" (1995, 178min, R)
All films begin at 7 p.m.
Martin Scorsese’s "The Irishman" nabbed 10 Oscar nominations but no awards last month. But Scorsese’s place as a master filmmaker is well established and undisputed. To honor his work, Reading Cinemas is hosting what it has dubbed a "Marty Party" and will be screening four of his best films on Wednesday this month at its Grossmont Cinema.
Being Italian, and born in New York and raised Catholic I felt an immediate affinity for Scorsese. I was interested in films and filmmaking and when I saw "Mean Streets" in 1973 as a 13-year-old, I was riveted to the screen. There was something so fresh and so raw and so passionate on that screen that I just knew I somehow wanted to be a part of it. Scorsese, along with Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, and Brian DePalma, was part of a 1970s new wave of directors that just made me excited about the medium.
But Scorsese, with his intense personality, rapid-fire way of speaking, and passion for cinema, was key to inspiring me to want to become a filmmaker and go to film school. I was attracted to his ferociously personal style and unflinching eye as he looked to unlikeable characters that he wanted to share with us.
The films showcased in "Marty Party" are all collaborations between Scorsese and his favorite actor Robert DeNiro.
Their collaboration began with "Mean Streets." That was the film that got them both noticed. But it was "Taxi Driver" in 1976 that proved they were the real thing and not a fluke.
"Taxi Driver" had a riveting character in Travis Bickle, great performances from DeNiro and Jodie Foster (as a child prostitute), a seductive Bernard Herrmann score, and his beloved New York City as the vivid backdrop. Scorsese even has a great cameo as the passenger who wants to kill his cheating wife.
I think it’s great to be showcasing this in the wake of "Joker," which was obviously influenced by it. For those who have only watched "Joker," this is a great opportunity to see Scorsese's film. The thing that makes "Taxi Driver" great and "Joker" just mediocre is the clarity of vision Scorsese brought to his film. He gives us a portrait of Travis as a ticking time bomb and shows how easily we can miss detecting his type, and as his film ends, we also see how society can completely misread Travis' actions. It's a chilling film but also one completely without judgment of its character. Scorsese knows Travis isn't a role model but he also knows he's fascinating and he wants us to get inside his head and understand how he works.
Next week is "Raging Bull" about boxer Jake LaMotta. The film lost out for Best Picture to "Ordinary People" at the 1981 Oscars. Yet I don’t think most people remember "Ordinary People" and if they do, they rarely revisit it. "Raging Bull," on the other hand," was a gorgeous epic that pulled together so much of what Scorsese loves about cinema. He took bold chances in the way he shot it using black and white mixed with color home movies, with the amazing camerawork in the ring, and spectacular sound design. He pulled us into the ring with LaMotta and made us feel every blow he received. It was stunning and remains one of his absolute best films.
The month closes out with a pair of Scorsese gangster films, "Goodfellas" and "Casino." Gangsters are a theme he returned to with "The Irishman" last year.
Scorsese grew up in New York and he has said in interviews that there were two types of people that he said got respect on the streets: priests and gangsters. Scorsese studied to be a Jesuit and there’s a definite religiosity in his film language and "Silence" was specifically about priests but he also explored what it was about gangsters that made them so glamorous and attractive. But he could also go beyond that to see how violent and horrific that world could be. With "The Irishman" he serves up an interesting kind of follow up, showing us that same gangster world from the eyes of an aging hitman for the mob.
"Marty Party" is every Wednesday at 7 p.m. this month at Reading Grossmont Cinemas (5500 Grossmont Center Drive, La Mesa). Tickets $8.50.