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Martin Scorsese (#110 of 115)

Marrakech International Film Festival A Talk with Shinya Tsukamoto, Honoring Paul Verhoeven, & a Look at The Fixer

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Marrakech International Film Festival: A Talk with Shinya Tsukamoto, Honoring Paul Verhoeven, & a Look at The Fixer

Marrakech International Film Festival

Marrakech International Film Festival: A Talk with Shinya Tsukamoto, Honoring Paul Verhoeven, & a Look at The Fixer

Under the high patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI—to say nothing of the friendly participation of nearly three dozen multinational corporate sponsors—your correspondent was treated to just over a week in Marrakech, for the city’s 16th Marrakesh International Film Festival (FIFM). On the flight from New York, a United Nations employee told me the country’s vertiginous economics weren’t so different from those of the United States, “but the difference is that in Marrakech, you will actually see it.” He wasn’t wrong: The floors of the palatial hotel-resort-spa-compound housing the American critics’ contingent were walked day and night by employees with spray bottles and paper towels, spot-cleaning every last inch of marble and glass for maximum lustre. Cab drivers in permanent turnaround outside the main quadrangle of hotels decried the festival compound for clogging traffic on the palm tree-laden main drag of El Yarmouk Boulevard, while children in the street ambushed American publicists with rose petals after the sun went down—then castigated them for refusing to pay for the privilege.

Watch the Trailer for Martin Scorsese’s 28-Years-in-the-Making Epic Silence

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Watch the Trailer for Martin Scorsese’s 28-Years-in-the-Making Epic Silence

Paramount Pictures

Watch the Trailer for Martin Scorsese’s 28-Years-in-the-Making Epic Silence

“I pray but I’m lost, am I just praying to silence?” Said words are being used by Paramount to promote the release of Martin Scorsese’s Silence, but they could just as easily apply to the filmmaker’s drive to get the film made. A two-decades-in-the-making passion project for the auteur, the film is the second adaptation of the Shūsaku Endō novel of the same name, previously adapted in 1971 by Masahiro Shinoda. It relates the story of two Christian missionaries (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who venture to Japan, in the ultimate test of faith, to search of their missing mentor (Liam Neeson), at a time when Christianity was outlawed and their presence forbidden.

Hannibal Recap Season 3, Episode 2, "Primavera"

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Hannibal Recap: Season 3, Episode 2, “Primavera”

NBC

Hannibal Recap: Season 3, Episode 2, “Primavera”

“Primavera” continues to plumb the expressionist fugue state into which the events of last season’s finale have sent the characters of Hannibal sometimes literally tumbling. Various permutations of falling are obsessively visualized in “Antipasto” and “Primavera.” In both episodes, drops of blood plummet in agonizingly beautiful slow motion from their sources across seeming galaxies of darkness to splat on ornately tiled floors. These images exist for their own inherent aesthetic pleasure, and as symbols of the characters’ crises of identity and basic mortality. In “Primavera,” this symbolism is brought to an amazing head.

Review: Glenn Kenny’s Robert De Niro: Anatomy of an Actor

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Review: Glenn Kenny’s Robert De Niro: Anatomy of an Actor
Review: Glenn Kenny’s Robert De Niro: Anatomy of an Actor

Art-making is too often discussed in terms that implicitly liken it to magic, thusly neglecting the truth that it involves work that resembles the day-by-day toils of many other ostensibly plainer occupations. With Robert De Niro: Anatomy of an Actor, film critic Glenn Kenny quietly pushes against that mythology. A compassionate, pragmatic anti-sentimentality, or an attempt at one, serves as the through line for his examination of one the most mythologized of all screen actors. In his introduction, Kenny writes of “De Niro’s reluctance to do interviews, and his seeming stumbling while doing them, his famous taciturnity in contrast to his preternaturally vivid presence on screen, created a mythology that itself spawned a counter-mythology. It made De Niro as famous for being an enigma, a code that a journalist or critic with just the right amount of persistence and perspicacity could crack. But what if the answer is right in front of our faces, and always has been?” The author follows that with a quote in which director Elia Kazan (who worked with De Niro on The Last Tycoon) claims that the actor is among the hardest working that he’s collaborated with, and the only one who asked to rehearse on Sundays.

In other words, Kenny brings De Niro down to earth as a working artist, which serves to somewhat ironically reawaken your awe for the actor and the profound emotional nakedness that he once achieved reliably in one performance after another. Reading this, one wonders, not why De Niro drifted toward less immersive a-job’s-a-job roles, but how he plumbed himself as deeply as long as he did. The author emphasizes detail, connecting physical gestures from one role, sometimes mercilessly, to their repetition in another film (such as the reappearance of a “shoo” motion from Goodfellas in Awakenings.) He paints De Niro unsurprisingly as a master craftsman who’s intensely devoted to analysis and rehearsal, which he, somewhat, ineffably fuses with his personality and his soul. (I’m indulging my own mythology.) Following the familiar Cahiers du Cinéma “Anatomy of an Actor” template, Kenny discusses 10 “iconic roles” in De Niro’s canon that serve to shape the actor’s career as he evolved from galvanic acting titan to controversial “sell-out” to an inevitably mellower character actor who’s still capable, nevertheless, of imbuing a questionable project or under-respected performer with a bit of prestige by association.

Summer of ‘89: Miracle Mile

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Summer of ‘89: <em>Miracle Mile</em>
Summer of ‘89: <em>Miracle Mile</em>

I used to think of Steve De Jarnatt’s magnificently oddball Miracle Mile as one of the most achingly romantic movies I’d ever seen. My younger self, experiencing it for the first time, saw it as a “boy meets girl” story spun out to its most rapturous extreme—a story of souls fused in the belly of nuclear fire. Many years and multiple viewings later, it feels a lot less straightforward. Roger Ebert closes his enthusiastic review of the film with an observation: “If there’s ever an hour’s warning that the nuclear missiles are on the way, thanks all the same, but I’d just as soon not know about it.” At one level, Miracle Mile is the story of a solipsistic young man’s attempt to make that decision for a woman he barely knows, using deception to selfishly separate her from family in what might be their last hour on earth. At another, it’s a perfect time capsule—its finger unerringly on the pulse of a society that had been taught not to let the threat of nuclear holocaust keep it up at night. But boy, those nightmares.

This one begins like a pleasantly hazy post-pubescent fever dream. Anthony Edwards, his star freshly ascendant off Revenge of the Nerds and Top Gun, plays musician and awkward romantic Harry Washello. In a languid opening montage at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, he meets cute with the equally dorky Julie (a terrific Mare Winningham), hitting it off with the proto-Manic Pixie Dream Girl all afternoon. They resolve to meet after her late shift at an all-night diner on the Miracle Mile stretch of Wilshire Boulevard, but a missed alarm causes him to arrive too late to catch her. That’s when things take a shocking U-turn into the Twilight Zone, as Harry answers a call meant for someone else at the payphone outside the diner, only to hear that America’s nukes had been launched and the retaliatory strike will hit L.A. in an hour. Naturally, Harry sets out to retrieve his girl from her grandmother’s nearby apartment and escort her to a rooftop helipad, where a chopper would presumably take them to safety.