It’s Martin Scorsese’s birthday! To mark the occasion, here are five great (and slightly lesser known) movies from the legendary director.
Mean Streets (1973)
One of Scorsese’s earliest films features many of the elements that we’d come to know and love in his later movies: gritty New York City gangsters, struggles with Catholic morality, and a dynamite performance from Robert DeNiro. Mean Streets is a surprisingly charming, tightly directed gangster flick. It also introduced to me to the insult “mook”, which has to count for something. If you’re a fan of movies like Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Casino, or The Departed, do yourself a favor and check out Mean Streets.
The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
Here to debunk the “Martin Scorsese only makes gangster movies” myth. This movie is perhaps the ultimate Scorsese passion project. After wanting to make the movie for almost a decade, Scorsese finally got a chance to make his movie and boy does it deliver. Exploring the humanity of Jesus of Nazareth, The Last Temptation of Christ is one of the more challenging Scorsese films out there but also proves to be one of the more worthwhile flicks in his filmography.
After Hours (1985)
Take a trip through mid 1980’s New York City. Griffin Dunne stars in this oft forgotten gem about the underbelly of the city that never sleeps. Scorsese’s love for his hometown is apparent throughout his filmography, but After Hours offers a unique view of New York. One that’s simultaneously disgusting and intoxicating; one that’s dangerous yet playful; one where an endless stream of zany characters come and go but leave a lasting mark on you. This wild romp is the probably the closest thing we’ll ever get to a Scorsese directed comedy – even featuring a hilarious cameo from Cheech and Chong.
While I highly doubt anyone has ever questioned Marty’s status as a cinephile, Hugo solidifies his status as one. Hugo is a love letter to the days of early cinema, and in particular the films of Georges Melies. It’s also a bit of a departure from much of his other work. “Martin Scorsese” and “family friendly” are not often words used in the same sentence. Scorsese’s love for the medium of film is as apparent as ever in Hugo, and that alone is reason enough to watch.
The King of Comedy (1982)
By the time of its release, Scorsese and DeNiro had already established themselves as one of the greatest director/actor combos in all of cinema. The King of Comedy was their fifth film together, including four in a row. And like many of their other works together, both men are firing on all cylinders. The King of Comedy is both a wildly entertaining look at the absurdity of our obsession with celebrity and a subtly disturbing tale of loneliness. It also features a delightful scene of Robert DeNiro delivering one of the worst standup routines in the history of comedy.
Take some time away from Scorsese’s classics like Raging Bull and The Wolf of Wall Street to try out these equally impressive films and to take your Martin Scorsese fandom to the next level.