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“I Never Kid About Money”: Marty Goes Mainstream With “The Colour of Money”…

The podcast that I co-host, The 250, continued our belated Summer of Scorsese last week with a look at Goodfellas. Next week, we’ll looking at Casino. It is a fun and broad discussion that is well worth your time, but the season ends up largely avoiding Scorsese’s output during the 1980s. So I thought it might be worth taking a look back at The Colour of Money.

For Martin Scorsese, the eighties come sandwiched between two masterpieces: Raging Bull and Goodfellas.

These are two of the quintessential Martin Scorsese movies. They are frequently ranked among the best movies that Scorsese has made, and often included in lists of the best movies ever made. Indeed, there’s a famous Hollywood myth that director Brian de Palma reacted to a screening of Goodfellas by involking Raging Bull, proclaiming, “You made the best movie of the eighties and, God damn it, we’re barely into the nineties and you’ve already made the best movie of this decade, too!”

With that in mind, there’s a tendency of overlook Scorsese’s work during the eighties – to treat it as something equivalent to a cinematic lost decade largely defined by the failure of King of Comedy and the controversy over The Last Temptation of Christ. This is understandable, but it is also unfair. Indeed, recent years have seen a welcome push to reassess Martin Scorsese’s tumultuous journey through the era of excess.

Scorsese’s eighties might not have been the best decade or most productive decade in his filmography, but they were instructive. They were a time of growth and evolution for the filmmaker, a point at which the director seemed to finally figure out how to reconcile the movies that he wanted to make with movies that studios wanted to finance. Although often overlooked and ignored in this context, The Colour of Money is perhaps the most instructive of Scorsese’s films from this period.

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That’s “Entertainer”-ment: “The Sting” in the Tale, and the Art of Movie-Making…

Last Sunday, I discussed The Sting on The 250, the weekly podcast that I co-host discussing the IMDb’s Top 250 Movies of All-Time. However, I had some thoughts on the film that I wanted to jot down first. You can listen to the podcast here.

The Sting is a remarkable movie in a number of ways.

The film is somewhat overlooked in the annals of Best Picture winners, its victory in the category nestled between The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II. More than that, the film feels positively old-fashioned when compared to many of the Best Picture winners of the decade; The French Connection, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Annie Hall, The Deer Hunter, Kramer vs. Kramer and even Rocky. Many of those Best Picture winners offered a sketch of America as it existed in the seventies, a more grounded and realistic approach to cinema reflecting a broader range of experiences and perspectives than had otherwise bubbled through mainstream popular film.

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123. The Sting (#100)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, this week joined by special guest Gerry Mooney, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every second Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode between them.

This time, George Roy Hill’s The Sting.

When a simple con leads to horrific consequences, amateur con artist Johnny Hooker vows to avenge himself on crime boss Doyle Lonnegan. Enlisting the help of over-the-hill veteran Henry Gondorff and a motley crew of small-time hoods, Hooker sets in motion an elaborate con game with potentially disastrous consequences.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 100th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Non-Review Review: Cars 2

Cars 2 is a Pixar film that runs on an engine, rather than on heart. Technically, it’s magnificent. It’s well put together, features a winning cast, a lot of quite wonderful jokes and absolutely stunning action movies. However, the movie fails to make even the most basic of emotional connections. We’re always watching a bunch of cool cars doing cool car stuff, but we never feel good or bad about it. Even when a handful of cars meet tragic ends over the course of the movie, we never feel bad about it – we don’t really care about them, so we’re never concerned at the dangers they face. It’s a shame, because it’s a stunningly beautiful piece of animation, it’s just missing that wonderful soul that Pixar seems to install with its movies as standard.

Lightning, cameras, action!

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Non-Review Review: Road to Perdition

Road to Perdition may be the best graphic novel adaptation ever to make it to screen – and also perhaps one of the most seldom recognised (very few people seem to realise the film’s roots, perhaps because – as an Oscar contender – it played them down). It’s an old-style biblical fable set in the thirties about the lengths that a father will go to in order to protect his son, but it’s crafted with a skilled hand. It’s a genuine classic.

He's a New Man...

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