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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Marty & Elizabeth (Street)


The Old Hood (Elizabeth Street) © Nina Buesing Corvallo

Martin Scorsese is (one of) my favorite director(s). And The Age of Innocence is one of my favorite movies. The film sucked me into the New York of Edith Wharton-- so much so that I felt the need to read every single thing written by Edith Wharton in one stretch.
Of course much credit goes to Edith Wharton in regard to The Age of Innocence, but Martin Scorsese really has the gift for storytelling.
The Age of Innocence
was Martin Scorsese's first period movie and I remember people being surprised and even disappointed to see this film made by the director of Goodfellas, Mean Streets & Taxi Driver. However The Age of Innocence is really simply another New York story depicting a societal enclave and its rules and attitudes; a contrasting meditation between the individual and their environment - just like its predecessors.
Roger Ebert said about The Age of Innocence that "The story told here is brutal and bloody, the story of a man's passion crushed, his heart defeated." He could have said the same about Goodfellas. (Yes, I know it is odd & repulsive to think of organized crime as a passion but that is what it is for the character of Henry).

Martin Scorsese grew up two blocks from where I used to live on Elizabeth Street. We moved there about a minute before gentrification and our home in Nolita was the crappiest place I ever lived. But it was also the most New York place I ever lived. We had an outrageous landlord (who examines a possibly leaky gas pipe while holding a lit knock-off Zippo two inches from their face?!), an even more offensive upstairs neighbor and sometimes no heat. We also had floods.
And we spent eight weeks and quite a bit of money to even just make the tiny apartment habitable (tx Pete, Melanie, Mom & Dad, Emily, Chris, Jon & Rita -we could not have done it without you). We threw out a whole broiler tray of cockroaches and some ammunition we found in the drop ceiling.
But we also learned much about old skool (New York) city living, because while we lived there, we lived in a true neighborhood. There were always 'eyes on the street' and you actually talked to your neighbors and got involved in the community.We forged bonds and formed unbeatable memories that will last & inspire for a lifetime.
The old neighborhood really came back to me the other day while reading a 1998 New York Times article by Rick Lyman titled IN LITTE ITALY WITH: Martin Scorsese: Scene One: A Fire Escape in which Mr. Scorsese talks about growing up in Little Italy. This fascinating article further endeared this amazing director to me. There is so much tenderness and love (for the city) in his account and it reminds me of another native Downtowner of Italian descent: My husband.
I began this post by saying that Marin Scorsese is (one of) my favorite director(s). Any movie he makes I am willing to see. I don't love every movie he made but that doesn't matter. He simply is a Master and shows no signs of slowing down (The Departed was excellent). As a kid I loved many of Alfred Hitchcock's movies (North By Northwest, Notorious, To Catch A Thief, Rear Window, etc), but there is less emotion in the Hitchcock oeuvre that I can connect too. The only other director that I am otherwise an unabashed fan of is Wes Anderson. Wes can do no wrong.
Martin Scorsese apparently said that Wes Anderson is the next Martin Scorsese. And there you go.

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