SCORSESE SHORTS CRITERION COLLECTION BLU RAY REVIEW

Martin Scorsese is many things to the modern film audience, cinema producer and the film student. He is one of a few directors that are known by name for one thing. He is also a focal point for certain types of cinema (genre as an example, the Italian American gangster film). He is also the man who taught film and continues to preserve swaths of cinema history for us all to watch, now and into the future.

He started out, like most, with short films. Criterion have released 5 of these on to a collected Blu Ray. 1963 WHATS A NICE GIRL LIKE YOU, DOING IN A PLACE LIKE THIS. 1964 ITS NOT JUST YOU MURRAY. His famous 1967 THE BIG SHAVE.  The documentary from 1974 ITALIAN AMERICAN and finally 1978 AMERICAN BOY. The collected works start with the radical works (from 1963 – 1967), playing with film form and style. Probing and prodding film theory. Obviously influenced by the French New Wave in all its various aspects.

WHATS A NICE GIRL LIKE YOU, DOING IN A PLACE LIKE THIS is the best work and is still punchy and tight at 10 minutes. THE BIG SHAVE is the most powerful. It is Anger inspired (in more than one sense but think Kenneth for now) comment on the Vietnam war.  My personal favourite is the erudite ITALIAN AMERICAN. A personal conversation with his mother and father, that captivated me.

Scorsese is best when he is at his most personal. Talking from lived history or from his own experience. He seems to engage with it in a way that enraptured me at least but very obviously him. His last work on the disc lacked some heart AMERICAN BOY. It is after his success with TAXI DRIVER and layers a story of a man with that starred briefly in that film, Stephen Prince as he talks about events that have inspired many film makers in there own work. Its energy is unmistakable but it lacks something personal. ITS NOT JUST YOU MURRAY equally inspired many, bending the light of WHATS A NICE GIRL with a more coherent narrative direction, but lacks excitement due to this.

DISC

The 4K restorations differ across the set. WHATS A NICE GIRL LIKE YOU, DOING IN A PLACE LIKE THIS and ITS NOT JUST YOU MURRAY come out best. Sharper in black and depth in the white. THE BIG SHAVE never aged and as such has little extra bar the silver shine. ITALIAN AMERICAN and AMERICAN BOY look as they did. Nothing more or less than that.

EXTRAS

Bilge Ebiri essay covers the length of the films with a Scorsese bio and it is the best thing here. Read it before you delve in or just after you come out. Martin Scorsese and film critic Farran Smith Nehme conversation is an engagement in the way film critics can prod but the subject knows the points and jabs back with great presence and panache. Its good but it reveals little. Ari Aster and Josh and Benny Safdie on the other hand reveals a lot about the men in the conversation. They talk inspiration and product. Its quite interesting if you like the film makers (I do.)

 

  • New 4K digital restorations of all five films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks
  • New conversation between director Martin Scorsese and film critic Farran Smith Nehme
  • New discussion among filmmakers Ari Aster and Josh and Benny Safdie
  • PLUS: An essay by film critic Bilge Ebiri and various materials from Scorsese’s archive

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