Nordic wrote:Yeah, Scorcese has always confounded me a bit. Obviously his films dwell on human evil and particularly violence, and I've always wondered as to his fascination with this, i.e. is he interested in exploring it in a damning sort of way or does he really get a bit of a thrill from it?
I don't know if you are Catholic or not, Nordic. It's not like it's some weird, unknown belief system that only insiders can fathom - except for when it kind of is. But what you are noticing in Scorcese's films is the exact same thing that Martin Amis complained about in the books of Graham Greene and Anthony Burgess - it is the spectacle of men who you
think should know better believing in things that you
Hing oan a meenit. I have a quote, from Amis' review of Burgess' "Earthly Powers" :
As Toomey recounts the story of his life, we notice that terrible things keep happening to him — or near him, anyway. His brother-in-law is chopped up by Chicago gangsters; his closest friend is wasted by the voodoo of a Malayan warlock; his nephew is the victim of the bitter pill in a Jonestown-style massacre. Toomey inspects the elaborate severity of nature, experiences the neuroses and hysterias of his various host nations (censorship, Prohibition, the rise of Mussolini), staggers through liberated Buchenwald — 'what was the smell? All too human ... it was the smell of myself, of all humanity.' The ultimate moral, or theological - or theodicean - irony (whereby divine intervention preserves the life of the future cultist mass-murderer) is stark and ferocious; it is the kind of challenge that the literary Catholic enjoys throwing out to the world, as if to testify to the macho perversity of his faith.
"The macho perversity of his faith"... that just about sums it up, as far as Scorcese is concerned. These are the subjects he deals in. Groundless faith in the face of the worst that an uncaring God can throw at you. Pointless, unnoticed martyrdom. Redemption (usually partial, or failed) through suffering - he loves that subject, and keeps coming back to it, like a good Catholic boy. All this old, old stuff.
Like the nun says at the end of Brighton Rock, to a girl who has just been betrayed and abandoned by a murderous psychopath she loved: "You cannot conceive, my child, nor can I or anyone the ... appalling ... strangeness of the mercy of God."Appalling strangeness
is the main part of the sentence. The mercy of God is almost an afterthought, because you'd be a fool to expect it, and you might die waiting for it. But with the "macho perversity of faith" you can still believe in it, as an ideal.
In the meantime, you get all this appalling strangeness.
Nordic wrote:Remember his cameo in Taxi Driver? Why did he choose to play that particular violence-prone individual?
He's not really violence-prone, though, is he? In reality, he's prone to hiring taxis so that he can sit in the back and spout off his violent fantasies to the driver, in hopes of making an impression on somebody, so he can feel like less of an ineffectual cuckold. If he even is a cuckold. The whole thing might be bullshit, the whole story.
He does make an impression on Travis, unfortunately, with his gun recommendation, but that's cause Travis is Travis. Scorcese was playing a mixture of himself and Paul Schrader, I think, as they were at the time - coked up, in a cab, in the middle of the night, talking shit to the driver about who he's going to kill next.
I maybe misread the scene, but I don't think that guy would ever have gone on to kill his wife or her boyfriend. It's impossible to tell, but Travis didn't seem to take him very serious. Too much talking. He was confessing to the murder in advance, so that he didn't have to do it.
I'm doing too much talkin too, and not much of it makes sense.
Nordic wrote:While he is a genius filmmaker, possibly the most genius ever as far as commanding the language of the art, I've never quite felt comfortable with his themes, which has been, honestly, one of the reasons he's so compelling.
Exactly. The issues he raises which confound you are the same ones that confound him, I think. I don't think he's very comfortable with his themes either. And he feels compelled.
Christ Almighty, I'm boring, and I haven't even seen Shutter Island. Should I watch it? I heard that, on a level unrelated to Scorcese himself, or mind-control, or the Holocaust, or brutal secret psychiatry, it's a bit shite.
"The universe is 40 billion light years across and every inch of it would kill you if you went there. That is the position of the universe with regard to human life."