Thursday, September 12, 2013

Early Scorsese: It's Not Just You, Murray! (Martin Scorsese, 1964)

Martin Scorsese's second student short, made during his time in the MFA Film program at NYU, represents a big step up stylistically from his first effort. It's Not Just You, Murray! is a throwback to the freewheeling, wisecracking Warner Bros. gangster movies of the '30s, but imbued with a sense of style that is clearly influenced by the French New Wave and the Italian cinema of the period. Watching Murray one gets the sense that Scorsese was already quickly discovering the kinds of themes and characters he would return to throughout his career. There are shades of both Mean Streets and Goodfellas in the film. More than that, it represents a major achievement for the then-22 year old film school student on the cusp of becoming one of the most important American filmmakers to emerge in the years since the 1960s.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Postmortem Bliss (2006)

I first saw Postmortem Bliss, a film by Floria Sigismondi, as part of the Hermes shorts program on Turner Classic Movies in the fall of 2006. The film explores addiction through prescription medication and how over-medication numbs the emotional experience.

Sigismondi is a visual artist and director of music videos, with Postmortem Bliss her first narrative short film.

I have a special memory of seeing this moving film at a time in my own life when I was beginning to make short films again myself after a hiatus. It's a great example of how a short can be just as rich and complex as any feature-length film.