A word in edge­ways

When Martin Scors­ese gets into full flow, there’s no stop­ping him. Don­ald Clarke sits qui­etly as Marty talks re­li­gion and money, hood­lums and Hol­ly­wood, DiCaprio, De Niro and 3-D – and ex­plains how he’s gone back to ba­sics on

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Cover Story -

WENTY MIN­UTES with Martin Scors­ese. It is both a daunt­ing and a stir­ring prospect. No­body else from the gen­er­a­tion of Amer­i­can direc­tors that emerged in the early 1970s — think of Fran­cis Ford Cop­pola, Brian De Palma, Peter Bog­danovich and a dozen oth­ers — has re­tained his dig­nity as con­vinc­ingly as has Marty. Re­cent films such as Gangs of New York, The Avi­a­tor and The De­parted may not be on a par with ear­lier clas­sics such as Taxi Driver or Rag­ing Bull, but they are good enough to en­sure that Scors­ese still mat­ters.

If you still had doubts about his rel­e­vance, his lat­est film, the agree­ably un­hinged Shut­ter Is­land, should have dis­pelled them by clock­ing up a juicy $41 mil­lion on its re­cent open­ing week­end in the US. Star­ring Leonardo DiCaprio as a cop in­ves­ti­gat­ing a dis­ap­pear­ance at an asy­lum for (ca­cophonous mi­nor chord) the crim­i­nally in­sane, the pic­ture looks likely to be his most fi­nan­cially suc­cess­ful to date.

So there’s plenty to talk about. This would be wor­ry­ing enough if Scors­ese were not known as one of the most ver­bose men in the movie busi­ness. Many jour­nal­ists have made the mis­take of men­tion­ing a favourite film, only for Marty – a bril­liant stu­dent of cin­ema – to eat up 45 min­utes ex­pound­ing his views on the di­rec­tor, star and key grip.

Ten min­utes into our chat, I make that mis­take my­self. I had read that, in pre­par­ing Shut­ter Is­land, he had en­cour­aged the cast to watch the great 1945 hor­ror film Isle of the Dead. Pro­duced by the leg­endary Val Lew­ton, whose B-movies for RKO were of­ten bet­ter than the fea­ture pre­sen­ta­tion, Isle of the Dead does, in­deed, walk the same ground as Scors­ese’s new film. He’s off. “I don’t see Shut­ter Is­land as a hor­ror film,” he says. “But there was def­i­nitely some­thing about Isle of the Dead. It’s a com­pro­mised film. But when I saw it at 11 or 12, I didn’t know it was a com­pro­mised film. All that I knew was that it cre­ated amood and at­mos­phere that was un­bear­able. When the woman comes out of the tomb, that’s when I left the the­atre. Then I went in again and left at the same point. You get a real sense of the an­cient world in that film.”

Run­ning from the cin­ema dur­ing a ghost


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