Martin Scorsese has been making films for nearly 60 years–and taking them in as a movie fan for much longer than that. So, yes, he knows quite a bit about the evolution of cinema, acknowledging that movies spend too much time comforting modern viewers. Thankfully, he said, there are still some works out there that challenge the viewer.
During this year’s New York Film Critics Circle Awards, Martin Scorsese called out modern films for catering too much to its audiences, suggesting that it could lead towards a point of no return.
“For so long now, so many of us see films that pretty much let us know where they’re going,” he said. “I mean, they take us by the hand and, even if it’s disturbing at times, sort of comfort us along the way that it will be all okay by the end. Now this is insidious, as one can get lulled into this and ultimately get used to it, leading those of us who’ve experienced cinema in the past–as much more than that–to become despairing of the future of the art form, especially for younger generations. But that’s on dark days.”
However, that doesn’t mean Martin Scorsese is permanently locked in a certain mindset or that these “dark days” are forever. He recently viewed this year’s Golden Globe-nominated Tár, which seemed to reinvigorate his faith in modern cinema. “The clouds lifted when I experienced Todd’s film Tár. What [he’s] done is that the very fabric of the movie [he] created doesn’t allow this. All the aspects of cinema and the film that [he’s] used, attest to this. The shift in locations for example, the shift in locations alone do what cinema does best, which is to reduce space and time to what they are, which is nothing.”
Martin Scorsese also called the film a “high wire act,” elaborating on the technical aspects with, “All of this is conveyed through a masterful Mise-en-scène, as controlled, precise, dangerous, precipitous angles and edges geometrically kind of chiseled into a wonderful 2:3:5 aspect ratio of frame compositions. The limits of the frame itself, and the provocation of measured long takes all reflecting the brutal architecture of her soul–Tár’s soul.”
This isn’t the first time Martin Scorsese has questioned how movies are perceived by modern audiences. Earlier this year, he called out the obsession with box office numbers, saying, calling it “repulsive.”
Although Todd Field has only directed three movies, the films of Martin Scorsese and Field have faced off against each other at the Academy Awards. The 79th Academy Awards saw The Departed taking home four Oscars, including Best Adapted Screenplay, in which it beat Field’s Little Children.
What do you think of Martin Scorsese’s comments? What is to be made of the state of modern cinema and its viewers? Let us know your take in the comments section below.