Thursday, December 30, 2010

Martin Scorsese: Mean Streets

Welcome to the blog for the SNC Independent Film class. If you'd like to download a syllabus, here are links:

Special Topics:

Film Studies, 1960s-Present:

This week in Film Syntax: The Shot

The subway scene from Code Unknown (dir. Michael Haneke, 5min 30sec):,28779/
Commentary by Scott Tobias, of the Onion AV Club.

Assignment: Required Viewing and Writing

Watch this clip of Scorsese talking about artifice and reality (approx 4 mins):

Artifice and Truth with Martin Scorsese from Jim Emerson on Vimeo.

For your first assignment, I want you to make a blog post about a film, or a scene from a film, that you remember as being very "real": something in a film that connected with your personal experience in some powerful way, that gave you the feeling that something authentic from your own life had found its way up on screen. Mean Streets has a kind of regional authenticity -- people from Scorsese's neighborhood responded to the way he captured modes of speech and dress and attitude -- elements from a milieu that had never appeared in film before. You can pick a film that has that kind of authenticity for you, or you could choose a film that had the type of "coded" reality Scorsese talks about in the clip above -- where the visual trappings or situations are noticeably artificial, but the emotional reality seems authentic.

Your response should be at least three paragraphs -- one paragraph giving an idea of the film in general, one paragraph on the elements from the film that seemed "real," and one paragraph that explains what sort of "realism" the film used -- an anthropological realism, a "coded" realism, or some other kind of realism entirely. Feel free to include still or clips from the film, if available.

Recommended/Optional Viewing and Reading:

Critic Matt Zoller Sietz, on Scorsese's influence on Wes Anderson (this is an effective video essay, which lays out elements of visual style):

Here's a link to the text of the essay:

Scorsese-directed films on netflix instant view (asterisks for the ones I particularly like):

Shutter Island
*The Age of Innocence
The Last Temptation of Christ
*Mean Streets
Boxcar Bertha
Who's That Knocking at My Door?

He appears as an actor, as Vincent Van Gogh, in Akira Kursawa's Dreams, also on instant view.

Other good Scorsese films, not on instant view:
Taxi Driver
King of Comedy
Raging Bull

Scorsese talking about making Mean Streets:

Italianamerican -- a funny, loose-limbed documentary Scorsese made about his parents -- it gives a nice sense of his family background (in 5 parts):

A Scorsese student film, made at NYU (in two parts -- it's rough, but you can see elements of his emerging style):