Roger Ebert on the Films of Martin Scorsese | Features

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“The Color of Money”

“If this movie had been directed by someone else, I might have thought differently about it because I might not have expected so much. But “The Color of Money” is directed by Martin Scorsese, the most exciting American director now working, and it is not an exciting film. It doesn’t have the electricity, the wound-up tension, of his best work, and as a result I was too aware of the story marching by.”

“The Last Temptation of Christ”

“I am left after the film with the conviction that it is as much about Scorsese as about Christ. In his films, he performs miracles, but for years could be heard to despair that each film would be his last. The Roman Catholic Church was for him like a heavenly father to whom he had a duty, but did not always fulfill it. These speculations may be wild and unfounded, ideas I am taking to him rather than finding in him, but particularly during Scorsese’s earlier years I believe the church played a larger role in his inner life than was generally realized. Talking with me after one of his divorces, he said, “I am living in sin, and I will go to hell because of it.” I asked him if he really, truly believed that. “Yes,” he said, “I do.””

“Cape Fear”

““Cape Fear” is impressive moviemaking, showing Scorsese as a master of a traditional Hollywood genre who is able to mold it to his own themes and obsessions. But as I look at this $35 million movie with big stars, special effects and production values, I wonder whether it represents a good omen from the finest director now at work.”

“The Age of Innocence”

“I recently read The Age of Innocence again, impressed by how accurately the screenplay (by Jay Cocks and Scorsese) reflects the book. Scorsese has two great strengths in adapting it. The first is visual. Working with the masterful cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, he shows a society encrusted by its possessions. Everything is gilt or silver, crystal or velvet or ivory. The Victorian rooms are jammed with furniture, paintings, candelabra, statuary, plants, feathers, cushions, bric-a-brac and people costumed to adorn the furnishings.”


“Scorsese tells his story with the energy and pacing he’s famous for, and with a wealth of little details that feel just right. Not only the details of tacky 1970s period decor, but little moments such as when Ace orders the casino cooks to put “exactly the same amount of blueberries in every muffin.” Or when airborne feds are circling a golf course while spying on the hoods, and their plane runs out of gas and they have to make an emergency landing right on the green.”


“That this film should come from Scorsese, master of the mean streets, chronicler of wiseguys and lowlifes, is not really surprising, since so many of his films have a spiritual component, and so many of his characters know they live in sin and feel guilty about it. There is a strong impulse toward the spiritual in Scorsese, who once studied to be a priest, and “Kundun” is his bid to be born again.”


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