Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Home-Made Film Festivals (5): Scorsese Without Tommyguns

Below: The last of the "home-made film festivals" from a THIRD site I'd tried to maintain. So, although I may want it not, I will waste not. (I'd like to continue these, but my other blog constantly calls.)

We tend to associate Martin Scorsese with crime films, but he has made a number of compelling movies that, while they avoid the Goodfellas crew, still explore his recurring themes of lost love, over-reaching ambition, and even the trials of the spiritual quest.

The Age of Innocence (1993)

Based on Edith Wharton's novel, this film's social infighting is almost as ruthless as the business-as-usual mayhem of his wiseguys, as Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) is forced to repress his love for the disgraced-by-divorce Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer), amid the "useless beauty" of late-nineteenth-century New York.

The King of Comedy (1983)

Along with After Hours (1985), a pitch-perfect dark comedy. Robert De Niro as Rupert Pupkin ("often misspelled and mispronounced") is as hilarious as he is scary, while Jerry Lewis delivers his iciest performance since Buddy Love. And let's not forget Sandra Bernhard's voracious stalker-fan. Together, the three handle this tale of fifteen-minute fame like dynamite-jugglers, at once precise and reckless.

Kundun (1997)

A meditative-ecstatic biopic of the young Dalai Lama, as beautiful as it is heartbreaking, a genuinely transcendent movie that painstakingly builds then sweeps away its sand-painted mandalas, infinite sanctity and human impermanence finally reconciled.

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