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October 28, 2019

Scorsese’s lament

Opinion

October 28, 2019

In an upcoming interview with Empire magazine, Martin Scorsese gave Marvel films and superhero films in general the thumbs down: “I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema. Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

Within a few days, his fellow legendary director Francis Ford Coppola concurred. At a press conference in Lyon, France, where he was being honored at the Lumiere festival, he was even more disparaging: “Martin was being kind when he said it wasn’t cinema. He didn’t say it was despicable, which is what I say.”

While not quite as prestigious and influential, the Marxist filmmaker and their fellow septuagenarian Ken Loach went the furthest in diagnosing the nature of the affliction. It was nothing less than capitalism itself as he told Sky News:

“I find them boring. They’re made as commodities … like hamburgers … It’s about making a commodity which will make profit for a big corporation – they’re a cynical exercise. They’re a market exercise and it has nothing to do with the art of cinema.”

Even Benedict Cumberbatch, an actor who earned millions playing a Marvel Comics superhero Doctor Strange, agreed with them in an interview on SiriusXM.

“I know there’s been a lot of debate recently with some very fine filmmakers coming to the fore saying these film franchises are taking over everything. I agree, we don’t want one king to rule it all and have a monopoly and all that, and it’s hopefully not the case and we should really look into continuing to support auteur filmmakers at every level.”

I like what Cumberbatch said but I don’t know about “continuing to support auteur filmmakers”. Somehow I doubt that Sony or Disney ever considered allocating millions of dollars for an American version of the kind of raw working-class film Ken Loach directs.

Paul Schrader, another septuagenarian director whose “First Reformed” I consider the best American film of the decade, has a different take from Loach’s, probably reflecting the dim view of humanity he developed as a young man studying to be a Calvinist minister:

"There are people who talk about the American cinema of the ‘70s as some halcyon period. It was to a degree but not because there were any more talented filmmakers. There’s probably, in fact, more talented filmmakers today than there was in the ‘70s. What there was in the ‘70s was better audiences.

"When people take movies seriously it’s very easy to make a serious movie. When they don’t take it seriously, it’s very, very hard. We now have audiences that don’t take movies seriously so it’s hard to make a serious movie for them..."

Excerpted from: 'Scorsese’s Lament'.

Counterpunch.org