Martin Scorsese's Short Films (Directors Suite) (1963)

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Released 20-Jul-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Short Films Audio Commentary-by Dr Mark Nicholls, Senior Lecturer University of Melbourne
Trailer-Directors Suite Trailers
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1963
Running Time 129:32
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Martin Scorsese
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Zeph Michelis
Mimi Stark
Ira Rubin
San De Fazio
Andrea Marti
Robert Uricola
Peter Bernuth
Charlie Scorsese
Catherine Scorsese
Martin Scorsese
Steven Prince
George Memmoli
Kathi McGinnis
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $18.95 Music Richard H. Coll
Neil Young


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     These five short films by Martin Scorsese give cinema fans a glimpse into his idiosyncratic method of filmmaking. Here we get tragic and doomed characters, mob stories, an insight into Scorsese's family and upbringing, social criticisms portrayed through metaphor and, finally, a documentary about an atypical celebrity wannabe who Scorsese allows his audience to get to know better, because he's interesting. Sounds like the summary of Scorsese's film career doesn't it?

     What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (9:12) is a short black-and-white film made by Scorsese whilst a film student at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 1963. It focuses on a writer named Algernon, or Harry to his friends, who acquires a painting (or image) and puts it up on his wall. He becomes so obsessed by this picture that marriage does not prevent him from becoming swallowed up by it! Influenced by Luis Bunuel's surrealist works and the French New Wave movement of the late fifties/early sixties, this film shows Scorsese's penchant for his later work to make films focusing on everyday lead characters who become neurotic. (For example, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and Shutter Island)

     It’s Not Just You, Murray! (15:35) is another black-and-white student film made in 1964, for which Scorsese won the Edward L Kingsley Filmmaker Award. It is about a small time hood, Murray, who is blinded by his loyalty to the ‘wiseguy’ lifestyle. Here we see some familiar Scorsese trademarks: betrayal, loyalty, friendship, and a macho guy who is self-deluded and lives in fantasy. This is a tribute to famous 1930's gangster films such as Howard Hawks' Scarface.

     The Big Shave (5:11), alternatively known as Viet '67, sees Peter Bernuth enter a bathroom and proceed to shave his face to the point of self-mutilation, with blood portrayed in a wonderful deep, rich red colour. This film was shot on ten rolls of Afgacolor film donated by the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels and originally conceived for a week long anti-Vietnam protest named "The Angry Arts Against the War." The man's self-destructive obsessive behaviour, and the alternative title Viet '67, represents a metaphor for the United States' involvement in the conflict, juxtaposed visually by the bloody violence on-screen and aurally by the inclusion of Bunny Berrigan’s 1937 jazz standard, I Can’t Get Started, which was originally a tune written by Ira Gershwin and Vernon Duke about a young man who has everything in life, except the attention of the woman he admires! One can certainly admire the irony here presented to Scorsese's audience because this act of shaving will certainly not fail to get your attention!

     Italianamerican (47:08) is a 1974 documentary that shows Martin Scorsese's parents, Catherine and Charles Scorsese discussing their life in New York City. This was shot over 6 hours in 2 days in the Scorsese's small Little Italy apartment in a cinéma vérité style (i.e. a filmmaking style that portrays a candid realism). The Scorseses talk about their experiences as Italian immigrants in New York while having dinner at their flat on Elizabeth Street. Catherine Scorsese shows how to cook her meatballs, the recipe is ultimately featured in the end credits of the film! Subjects discussed in the film include family, religion, their origins and immigrants from Sicily struggling to make end meet. The raw honesty portrayed here is also reflected in the documentary work that Scorsese did on Bob Dylan. The affection for Scorsese's parents and their struggles enlightens us as to why they played supporting characters so often in Martin's films, and why New York City and themes such as Roman Catholicism, strong family bonds and guilt feature strongly too in Scorsese's work.

    American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince (52:26) who played the anxious gun-salesman, Easy Andy, in Taxi Driver, was a friend of Scorsese’s from the late ‘60s who came from a privileged background but somehow became Neil Diamond's roadie, then developed a taste for heroin and violence. American Boy is an atypical Scorsese feature about a doomed and tragic figure who is larger than life; it’s about obsession, self-destructive behaviour and the need for redemption. Set in the lounge room of their mutual friend, George Memmoli, Prince is a talented raconteur, giving us anecdotes which led to the famous adrenalin injection scene in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and the gas station shooting incident recreated in Richard Linklater's Waking Life. The stories eventually become darker and more violent as Prince finally reveals the motivation for his behaviour, the desire to reconnect with his family. Made in 1978, the film wasn't available until the early 90's. A sequel, American Prince, was released in 2009 by Tommy Pallotta.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The video quality of these five films is reflected in their low budgets, so don't expect anything extraordinary here. Having said this, the quality is relatively free of artefacts and damage.

     The aspect ratio of all five shorts is 1:33:1 fullscreen, not enhanced for widescreen televisions.

     The first two student films, What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? and It’s Not Just You, Murray! are not as sharp and detailed as the other features. Also, What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? and It’s Not Just You, Murray! are in black-and-white whereas The Big Shave, Italianamerican and American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince are in colour. This Madman Directors Suite disc is 6.41 gb in size, with each feature averaging 6.6 m/b per sec bitrate, except for the Steven Prince documentary which averages 6.2 m/b per sec.

     All five features are relatively free of film or video artefacts.

     Unfortunately, subtitles are not provided with the features.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     All five short films come with a standard mono soundtrack, so don't expect anything other than what is standard for documentary filmmaking. p>

     The main soundtracks and audio commentaries are presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 kbps.

     Dialogue is clear and the audio is synchronised.

     The main music featured is in the Big Shave, Bunny Berrigan's 1937 jazz standard, I Can't Get Started plus Neil Young's, Time Fades Away which plays in the end credits of American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince and also over the main menu of this Madman disc.

     There is no Surround Channel Usage due to the mono soundtracks.

    The Subwoofer is not utilised either.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Audio commentary by Dr Mark Nicholls, Senior Lecturer University of Melbourne and author of 'Scorsese's Men: Melancholia and the Mob'

     All five films come with an audio commentary by Dr Mark Nicholls. In my opinion, this is what makes this release outstanding. Dr Nicholls is highly knowledgeable and informative, giving context to each film, including the context of Scorsese's life at the time each film was made and how each film influenced his later work.

Directors Suite Trailers

     Four Directors Suite trailers are presented for Paranoid Park, The American Friend, Cronos and Code Unknown.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The only comparative DVD release of these short films is the Region 2 French release, Martin Scorsese, courts-métrages et documentaires. These include 5 minute introductions by Michael Henry Wilson and an image gallery of 33 photos. The Region 4 release by Madman Directors Suite label is the only option for serious fans of Scorsese's work because they include the exemplary audio commentaries by Dr Mark Nicholls.

Summary

    If you are a fan of Martin Scorsese's films then why haven't you added this to your collection yet? Believe me, you won't be disappointed!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Saturday, October 06, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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