Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Should we save cinema?

Should we save cinema?  We must save cinema by fighting against superhero cinema, declared Martin Scorsese this week in a long and fascinating portrait dedicated to him by the magazine. GQ. The filmmaker of good friends and The wolf of Wall Street He answered (once again) a journalist’s question about the omnipresence of Marvel movies on screens.

“The danger is what this does to our culture. Because there will be generations who will now believe that movies are just that, that that is a movie,” Scorsese summarized. “I think people already think that,” added journalist Zach Baron.

They exaggerate, although they are not entirely wrong. When my 17-year-old son invites me to the movies it is usually to see a superhero movie. Like many kids of his generation, he has been immersed in Marvel culture since he was little. So anything more contemplative and less spectacular than demigods destroying half of Manhattan while trying to save humanity might seem, well, a little boring.

Fortunately, his interest in cinema is not limited to that. This week she suggested we go see the movies. Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle) by the great master of animation Hayao Miyazaki. Which reminded me of one of my favorites from my early days as a film critic: Princess Mononoke on the big screen.

Should We Save Cinema?


Martin Scorsese at the most recent Cannes Film Festival, last May

I am an ardent admirer of Martin Scorsese, perhaps the greatest American filmmaker of his generation. I loved recognizing, in its embryonic state, Scorsese’s signature and universe in his student films of the sixties. I got my film education by discovering the films he made in the 1970s, before he turned 40: Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, The Last Waltz, Raging Bull.

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The fact is that in this eternal debate about the artistic value of superhero movies, Scorsese speaks out of turn. This is not the first time he has talked about the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies. At every opportunity, it is to mock what he does not consider “true cinema.”

I understand what you mean. When there are more computer-generated images than authentic human interactions on screen, we can wonder, like Scorsese, if we won’t end up slipping into films designed by artificial intelligence.

Actor Chris Evans, who plays Captain America in the Avengers (Marvel), recently spoke about the difficulty of acting on camera interacting with imaginary monsters on a green screen. Filmmaker Bertrand Bonello highlights the ridiculousness of this filming method in the first scene of his new film, The beastwhich will soon be presented at the Festival du nouveau cinéma.

Martin Scorsese is especially against the disproportionate importance given to superhero films – and their television derivatives – in popular culture. It’s hard to disagree with him. Marvel Studios, and to a lesser extent those of DC, have acted as a steamroller over the American film industry in the last decade, producing a series of sometimes mediocre films that occupy maximum screens and media.

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Superhero movie fans are right to criticize Scorsese for blindly judging, by his own admission, most of these works. They are right to find him nostalgic when he claims that the old Billy Wilder films (some like it hot) are more “real cinema” than Ryan Coogler’s new films (Black Panther). Are the peplums and westerns of your childhood really better than the superhero movies of today?

Scorsese’s detractors are also right to consider it ironic that he asks his colleagues, the Safdie brothers and Christopher Nolan, to respond with their canons to those of Marvel and DC. Christopher Nolan is the filmmaker who gave nobility to superhero cinema thanks to his trilogy of dark Knight (Bat Man)…

They are wrong, however, to attack the quality of his cinema – a laughable argument – or to affirm that this great cinephile has no consideration for filmmakers who are not, like him, white men of a certain age. Martin Scorsese has done more than anyone to preserve the world’s rare films through the restored works of his World Cinema Project.

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Should We Save Cinema?


Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone in Flower Moon Killers

The truth is that Martin Scorsese is, at 80 years old, a privileged filmmaker who is granted budgets similar to those of superhero films (about 200 million dollars for his new film, Flower Moon Killers). And forget, like everyone else, your blind spots.

Scorsese, whose films are primarily made up of male characters, grew up admiring films made by men and for men. I can say the same, with my collection of Godfather in three different DVD formats. I also recognized myself well in the excellent joke of Barbie by Greta Gerwig about men who want to “duplicate” the famous trilogy by Francis Coppola – an old friend of Scorsese – for women.

We are all products of popular culture. My film culture finds its foundations, like many men of my generation, in the Italian-American gangster films of Coppola and Scorsese. My son’s is more focused on superhero films of diverse origins, made by African Americans, Latin Americans or Chinese Americans.

Yes, like Scorsese, I prefer Ryan Coogler from Fruitvale Station To that of Wakanda forever and Chloé Zhao from The horseman To that ofEternalsI would like to suggest that you discover one of the most visually splendid films of the last year: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse by Joaquim Dos Santos, Justin K. Thompson and Kemp Powers. Because you might like that AND a Miyazaki. That’s the beauty of cinema.

Times of National
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