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Martin Scorsese says Marvel movies are 'not cinema'

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https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/oct/04/martin-scorsese-says-marvel-movies-are-not-cinema

The director says he has tried and failed to watch the new brand of superhero films, which he likens to theme parks

 

 

Martin Scorsese, one of cinema’s most venerated current directors, has decried superhero movies – the dominant force in today’s industry. The director of films such as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas told Empire magazine that his attempts to get up to speed with contemporary superhero films had failed.

“I tried, you know?” the director said when asked if he had seen Marvel’s movies. “But that’s not cinema.”

He continued: “Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

Earlier this year, Avengers: Endgame became the highest grossing film in history after topping $2.8bn at the global box office (fifth highest after adjusting for inflation). Eight other titles from the same studio feature in the Top 30 (when factored without inflation).

Marvel head Kevin Feige last year defended his films against the kind of criticism levelled by Scorsese, saying that the series’s lack of major awards was no indication of a lack of quality or ambition.

“Maybe it’s easy to dismiss VFX or flying people or spaceships or billion dollar grosses,” Feige said. “I think it is easy to say that you have already been awarded in a certain way. [Alfred] Hitchcock never won best director, so it’s very nice, but it doesn’t mean everything. I would much rather be in a room full of engaged fans.”

Scorsese’s latest film, The Irishman, won rave reviews from its premiere at the New York film festival last weekend, with critics praising the use of “de-ageing” technology.

Out today is Joker, Todd Phillip’s revisionist take on the DC villain, which borrows much from the films of Scorsese, notably 1983’s The King of Comedy.

 
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Okay, I've had my coffee. Let me see if I can respond in a less confusing way. 

Anyone would be correct in saying that Marvel movies are not "high quality art" or "peak cinema." I agree with that to an extent. I think what these superhero movies don't do necessarily well is show characters properly interacting with each other, and the scripts aren't necessarily strong either. However, I am of the opinion that you could consider the special effects and scenery to be visually stunning. So in relation to visuals, I would consider these movies to be almost the father of CGI in a way. 

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33 minutes ago, NickAndNora34 said:

 I understand what Scorsese's trying to convey here, but the fact is, superhero movies are extremely popular and most likely will be for a long time. Blame it on the public; we (me and other fans) keep lapping up all the content Marvel throws at us. I understand him not enjoying Marvel movies, but it doesn't sound fair to label something that someone else is passionate about as a "theme park." Maybe that's just me. 

I think that there's a lot out there today in the movie world that is not Cinema, besides these Marvel movies. And we could probably say the same thing about the past too.

But just because you are passionate about something, and that may be your right,  but that doesn't make it high art,  does it?

However, if Andy Warhol was still around, he might well disagree with Scorsese. LOL

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Disney/Marvel doesn't care what American audiences think. 75% of the box office for these superhero films is outside of the US and does not speak English.  So the dialogue is kept intentionally minimal and the films concentrate on being visual spectacles. If Disney can churn out cinematic oatmeal for the masses of the world and make one to two billion a pop, they will continue to do so.

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34 minutes ago, NickAndNora34 said:

 I understand what Scorsese's trying to convey here, but the fact is, superhero movies are extremely popular and most likely will be for a long time. Blame it on the public; we (me and other fans) keep lapping up all the content Marvel throws at us. I understand him not enjoying Marvel movies, but it doesn't sound fair to label something that someone else is passionate about as a "theme park." Maybe that's just me. 

He's not saying people don't enjoy them. He's saying they're not high quality art.

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2 minutes ago, calvinnme said:

Disney/Marvel doesn't care what American audiences think. 75% of the box office for these superhero films is outside of the US and does not speak English.  So the dialogue is kept intentionally minimal and the films concentrate on being visual spectacles. If Disney can churn out cinematic oatmeal for the masses of the world and make one to two billion a pop, they will continue to do so.

Ironically, the only Disney theme park which has had extreme difficulties is the one that's outside of Paris. And they've been financial as well as cultural. Believe it or not, when it first open the Disney people refused to serve wine. ROFL

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18 minutes ago, Gershwin fan said:

He's not saying people don't enjoy them. He's saying they're not high quality art.

Yeah, we need more "high quality art", like the critically-adored Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, or Mysterious Object at Noon.

The biggest box-office hits are rarely "high quality art", and that's nothing new. The #1 box-office hit of 1949 was Samson & Delilah. In 1955 it was Cinerama Holiday. In 1978 it was Grease. In 1987 it was Beverly Hills Cop II. In 1998 it was Armageddon. And in 2007 it was Pirates of the Caribbean part 3.

Like N&N said earlier, I get where Scorsese is coming from (popcorn flicks have pushed nearly everything else out of the theaters, and mid-range dramas and others have virtually disappeared), but the motion picture business has never been about "high quality art". 

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These films are just modern day serials. People loved them back in the day and kids went to the theater every week to see if their favorite hero survived the cliffhanger from the last episode. Its no different today.

And no one compared Flash Gordon to a Hitchcock film. They are different genres.

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29 minutes ago, GGGGerald said:

These films are just modern day serials. People loved them back in the day and kids went to the theater every week to see if their favorite hero survived the cliffhanger from the last episode. Its no different today.

And no one compared Flash Gordon to a Hitchcock film. They are different genres.

Right, they are different genres with different audiences.

But back in the day, every major Studio made sure they had some high quality films, not just to compete with the Oscars, but also to show that Hollywood could produce quality Cinema.

As a kid we usually went to those Walt Disney Family movies every Saturday for fun: Annette, shaggy dogs and absent-minded professors.

But I can remember a couple of times that my mother let me see an actual adult film that I now consider to be pretty high art or high quality in Cinema.

One was "To Kill a Mockingbird" and the other one was "West Side Story". So they usually slip a few of those in now and again just to show that Hollywood does know what good cinema is.

Oh, and as I can recall not only did these films win Oscars, but they also made money at the box office.

No one is saying that Hollywood wasn't created to make money. But in terms of current Cinema I think films like "Schindler's List" and " A Beautiful Mind" are great Cinema and they made money. So money making and art not entirely mutually exclusive.

I can think of another example in which there was even a sequel: "The Godfather" and "Godfather 2" -- box office blockbusters.

I'm sure others can think of many more.

Hollywood has hit big with some good quality Cinema on more occasions than I can list.

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

Like N&N said earlier, I get where Scorsese is coming from (popcorn flicks have pushed nearly everything else out of the theaters, and mid-range dramas and others have virtually disappeared), but the motion picture business has never been about "high quality art". 

This is what I meant mostly. Scorsese's films have emotion and say something about humanity that the popcorn superhero films jist don't have. That's what I meant by the art comment.

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What one considers "high quality art" is also entirely subjective. I think West Side Story is extremely silly, for example, while others think that it's a cinematic masterpiece. 

Hollywood still makes what used to be called "prestige pictures", or what is now often referred to dismissively as "Oscar bait". But there seems to be as much of a knee-jerk reaction against them as there are against popcorn movies. Look at the recent "Judy Bombs" thread for example. I think some people just like to complain. And if those films make less money than they used to, that's more on the audience than it is on the companies whose goal is to make films that make money.

Others try to stir up controversy for clicks, such as the way this Scorsese anecdote has been all over the internet for the last couple of days, with every other "news" site posting about it and trying to get those clicks.

There's been at least a half-dozen threads in the general discussions section to lament the rise of the superhero film. Personally, I tend not to belabor the films that I don't like. For instance, I haven't started any threads to complain about the glut of animated family films that have taken up as many if not more screens than the 5 or 6 superhero films that get released in an average year. 

Hey, I get that this is a TCM site, one that by its very nature will draw people who are not inclined to like modern things. And there's actually less of this sort of "kids these days!" complaining than there used to be, when there were a handful of regular posters who only seemed to make those kinds of posts. But I still feel like the topic has been beaten to death and is as tired as a wine-club promo.

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4 minutes ago, Gershwin fan said:

This is what I meant mostly. Scorsese's films have emotion and say something about humanity that the popcorn superhero films jist don't have. That's what I meant by the art comment.

I saw an article earlier today with people complaining that Disney isn't submitting Robert Downey Jr's performance in Avengers: Endgame for Oscar consideration. That's just silliness, in my opinion. I thought it was an entertaining popcorn film, as did much of the rest of the world apparently, but it's not Oscar material. Whatever that really means, anymore, but that's another subject.

That being said, the Joker movie isn't really a tights-and-superpowers movie. In fact, with a character name-change, and maybe a title change to Clown or something similar, it wouldn't have any comic book vibes at all. And I do think having Joaquin Phoenix in consideration for an Oscar for it is not out of bounds, much as I thought Heath Ledger deserved his Oscar for The Dark Knight.

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

Like N&N said earlier, I get where Scorsese is coming from (popcorn flicks have pushed nearly everything else out of the theaters, and mid-range dramas and others have virtually disappeared), but the motion picture business has never been about "high quality art". 

...and pop music pushed Jazz and Classical music off of the radio. Aluminum and plastics have pushed steel out of many products etc...

I can still listen to classical music or jazz if I want. And I can get stainless steel if I want. Its just no longer common or mainstream.

And I can watch quality new films. They just won't be in the theaters.

 

 

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3 hours ago, calvinnme said:

Disney/Marvel doesn't care what American audiences think. 75% of the box office for these superhero films is outside of the US and does not speak English.  So the dialogue is kept intentionally minimal and the films concentrate on being visual spectacles. If Disney can churn out cinematic oatmeal for the masses of the world and make one to two billion a pop, they will continue to do so.

Foreign audiences don't even UNDERSTAND American superheroes.  That's why Black Panther, the first Spiderman and Batman v. Superman tanked in China.  And why Disney's sending them Shang-Chi (who????) instead.

Among other reasons, because foreign audiences like the action but pass on the red-white-and-blue shields, while Asian audiences either don't quite warm to or just plain understand the idea of an individual vigilante fighting crime himself, when that's what the state's fine security police is for.

China did, however, go nuts for the dialogue-free Transformers and Pirates CG-heavy epics, and lord help us, they still love the Ice Age and Minions movies.

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Several years ago one of my friends went to watch the filming of part of an action scene for an Avengers movie nearby in Cleveland.  They completely destroyed a large number of Jeeps (or similar large high-end vehicles) in rapid succession.  No real dialogue from any actors, maybe just one recognizable actor doing a walk-by and the rest there were just stunt drivers.  Some vehicles had roll wheels on the sides so they could drive at strange angles, and some had wire rigging to make the cars accelerate at unrealistic rates, fly through the air, and do stupid things like fall upside down on top of another vehicle.  Things that just don't happen in the wild.  He said they also used some disposable digital cameras mounted on the sides of the Jeep doors, to show the moment of impact.  So IIRC they completely totaled about 50 or so perfectly brand new $60,000 Jeeps, called it a day, then went off to some other city down South to film the next little bit of the movie.

He told me he went to see it in the theater when it came out.  That entire segment they shot that day was only like 20 seconds of actual viewing.

Then for another Avengers movie, or maybe even the same one - I just don't keep track of these stupid things, they shut down two of the busiest streets in the very center of Cleveland for a week or two.  I didn't see it in person, but I recall reports of explosions all day long and hideous looking garbage where the streets used to be.  They had transformed it into a visual wasteland for maybe a five minute post-apocalyptic battle scene.  People who worked in office buildings on those streets, and who could look out the windows and see them filming it, were told not to reveal to the public what they had seen.

Yeah, I would concur this is not "cinema" as Scorsese would see it through Scorsese goggles.  In addition I haven't been that interested in these offerings either.

 

Just noticed this one.  Bruce Willis and Michael Chiklis in the same movie, though some bad reviews.  Apparently some amateur writers and not a very good story?  I might still see this just for these two guys, like them both.

10 Minutes Gone (2019)
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8809652/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

 

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15 minutes ago, EricJ said:

Foreign audiences don't even UNDERSTAND American superheroes.  That's why Black Panther, the first Spiderman and Batman v. Superman tanked in China.  And why Disney's sending them Shang-Chi (who????) instead.

Among other reasons, because foreign audiences like the action but pass on the red-white-and-blue shields, while Asian audiences either don't quite warm to or just plain understand the idea of an individual vigilante fighting crime himself, when that's what the state's fine security police is for.

China did, however, go nuts for the dialogue-free Transformers and Pirates CG-heavy epics, and lord help us, they still love the Ice Age and Minions movies.

Could very well be that these movies are neither made for us to see, nor the Chinese to see.  I smell a rat.

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12 minutes ago, MovieCollectorOH said:

Could very well be that these movies are neither made for us to see, nor the Chinese to see.  I smell a rat.

No, they're made for the US.  Just because YOU never heard of Rocket Raccoon & Groot...

What nobody else--especially including other studios--understand is that the very business of print comic books is in serializing stories and crossing over with other stories.  That's what movies like "Steel" and "Howard the Duck" got WRONG for thirty years, when they tried to take superhero movies out of their comic-canon context and make concessions in trying to tell their stories to people who'd never heard of them before.  If you want Batman, you can get Batman, but if you want Marvel, you get the whole universe, or it just don't make sense.

Now, the real problem is just convincing Marvel/Feige to get off the stage, now that their one biggest story is over and two of their three biggest heroes have been killed off (and the third about to be replaced).

That being said, the Joker movie isn't really a tights-and-superpowers movie. In fact, with a character name-change, and maybe a title change to Clown or something similar, it wouldn't have any comic book vibes at all. And I do think having Joaquin Phoenix in consideration for an Oscar for it is not out of bounds, much as I thought Heath Ledger deserved his Oscar for The Dark Knight.

No, really--Is THIS what this is all about?  Somebody asked Marty about Joker because it "looked sorta like Taxi Driver" (or, at least, Warner desperately, desperately wanted to convince the Venice Film Festival that it did), and Scorsese thought it was a Marvel villain??

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23 minutes ago, EricJ said:

Foreign audiences don't even understand American superheroes.  That's why Black Panther, the first Spiderman and Batman v. Superman tanked in China.  And why Disney's sending them Shang-Chi (who????) instead.

Among other reasons, because foreign audiences like the action but pass on the red-white-and-blue shields, while Asian audiences either don't quite warm to or just plain understand the idea of an individual vigilante fighting crime himself, when that's what the state's fine security police is for.

China did, however, go nuts for the dialogue-free Transformers and Pirates CG-heavy epics, and lord help us, they still love the Ice Age and Minions movies.

I don't know which of the many Spiderman movies you are referring to but, Batman vs. Superman grossed over $95,000,000 in China. And Black Panther grossed $105,000,000 . I would hardly call that tanking.

Superhero films actually do well in China because the dialogue is so simplistic (when there is dialogue), you don't have to know English to enjoy them. I don't know that they know or care about the color schemes frankly. Fighting and shooting are universal.

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13 minutes ago, EricJ said:

[1] Just because YOU never heard of Rocket Raccoon & Groot...

 

[2] No, really--Is THIS what this is all about?  Somebody asked Marty about Joker because it "looked sorta like Taxi Driver" (or, at least, Warner desperately, desperately wanted to convince the Venice Film Festival that it did), and Scorsese thought it was a Marvel villain??

To point 1, I could also say that applies to you and your comment about not knowing who Shang-Chi is. Maybe it's because my comic reading days were mainly in the 70's and 80's, but I'm fully aware of who Shang-Chi is, and even had some issues of his comic a long time ago. I believe that there's been quite a bit of character ret-conning since then (he used to be the son of Fu Manchu, and now he's the son of the [real] Mandarin, and he now has superpowers instead of just being a BA kung fu master).

As to point 2, I'm not sure if Joker was broached with Scorsese in this instance. He's out doing press for The Irishman, and I know he's been asked about Joker and the admitted "homages" to Taxi Driver and King of Comedy, and I think he said he was flattered but quickly changed the subject. This interviewer asked specifically about the Marvel movies, I think. I'm the guilty party for dragging Joker back in to the discussion, as I've been trying to abstain from the half-dozen pre-existing threads on the film, and took the opportunity to speak my piece about it not really being a superhero movie at all.

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56 minutes ago, GGGGerald said:

I don't know which of the many Spiderman movies you are referring to but, Batman vs. Superman grossed over $95,000,000 in China. And Black Panther grossed $105,000,000 . I would hardly call that tanking.

Superhero films actually do well in China because the dialogue is so simplistic (when there is dialogue), you don't have to know English to enjoy them. I don't know that they know or care about the color schemes frankly. Fighting and shooting are universal.

Consider though that  China owns large shares of just about every major Hollywood studio, so it is inevitable they will be informing the studios of what they will be showing, and not the other way around.

The returns are just what is being reported.  I only believe that as far as I can throw it.  Which isn't that far. :D

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45 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

To point 1, I could also say that applies to you and your comment about not knowing who Shang-Chi is. Maybe it's because my comic reading days were mainly in the 70's and 80's, but I'm fully aware of who Shang-Chi is, and even had some issues of his comic a long time ago. I believe that there's been quite a bit of character ret-conning since then (he used to be the son of Fu Manchu, and now he's the son of the [real] Mandarin, and he now has superpowers instead of just being a BA kung fu master).

Yes, but my point was "Ya REALLY wanna see Disney kissing up to Beijing, Calvin?  😁 "  

As Shang doesn't really fit into any long-range plan, most of Disney's current post-Endgame movie plan are either one-off sequels, or cleaned-up memos from other abandoned Phase IV ideas from three years ago.  And, since they needed another excuse to send China Shang-Chi (as Iron Fist was still too tied up with Netflix's producers at the moment), they used the Mandarin connection to tie into the old memo about "Okay, fix the, quote-fingers, 'Mandarin' from Iron Man 3, and find a way to write in the real one before Tony kicks the bucket."

They're living so hand-to-mouth at the moment without the glorious 10-year plan they had earlier, they're...no, I don't want to say it, it's the most unforgivable insult to Marvel movie fans...okay, but you made me do it:  They're acting like WARNER/DC!!  😱

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2 hours ago, MovieCollectorOH said:

No real dialogue from any actors, maybe just one recognizable actor doing a walk-by and the rest there were just stunt drivers.

There's no dialog in the chase scene in Bullitt, although I assume Steve McQueen did his own driving.

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1 hour ago, MovieCollectorOH said:

Consider though that  China owns large shares of just about every major Hollywood studio, so it is inevitable they will be informing the studios of what they will be showing, and not the other way around.

The returns are just what is being reported.  I only believe that as far as I can throw it.  Which isn't that far. :D

How many years did American studios own shares in international companies ? I'm sure they had some influence in subject matter. Now, its just the other way around.

(I won't go on a political rant. That's for off topic discussion)

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17 minutes ago, Fedya said:

There's no dialog in the chase scene in Bullitt, although I assume Steve McQueen did his own driving.

True, though The Avengers aren't Steve McQueen.  That begs the question though.  If Steve McQueen was around and in the prime of his career, as he was when he made Bullitt, would he even consider an Avengers movie?  http://moviecollectoroh.com/pics_to_hotlink_on_TCM/forum-twisted.gif

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8 minutes ago, GGGGerald said:

How many years did American studios own shares in international companies ? I'm sure they had some influence in subject matter. Now, its just the other way around.

(I won't go on a political rant. That's for off topic discussion)

I'm not a fan of either way.

P.S. Never mind politics.  This goes way beyond that.

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