THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
1993, Sony Repertory, 139 min, USA, Dir: Martin Scorsese

Director Martin Scorsese visits New York City’s Gilded Age in this rich adaptation of the Edith Wharton novel. Upper class lawyer Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) is engaged to marry May Welland (Winona Ryder) when May’s cousin, the Countess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer), arrives from Europe. While the Countess’ desire to leave her husband invites gossip, Archer’s growing attraction to this free-thinking woman could prove even more ruinous. Meticulously crafted in every regard, from Joanne Woodward’s narration to Gabriella Pescucci’s Oscar-winning costume design, this is among Scorsese’s most underrated films.


NEW YORK, NEW YORK
1977, Park Circus/MGM, 163 min, USA, Dir: Martin Scorsese

Director Martin Scorsese called it a “film noir musical.” A powerful and misunderstood tribute to musical forefathers Vincente Minnelli and Stanley Donen, it melds larger-than-life soundstage musicals and kitchen-sink realism. Scorsese mainstay Robert De Niro stars as Jimmy Doyle, a WWII veteran who returns home on V-Day and attempts to pick up Francine Evans (Liza Minnelli) at a huge party. Her career as a singer is on the rise while his inventive saxophone style has not yet caught on. Often improvised, De Niro's performance comes off like a more musical cousin of Travis Bickle, while Minnelli soars in the final act. The breathtaking production design is by the legendary Boris Leven, art director of numerous noir films such as CRISS CROSS and SUDDEN FEAR as well as classic musicals WEST SIDE STORY and THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Cinematography by Laszlo Kovacs (EASY RIDER, FIVE EASY PIECES). Also features Mary Kay Place, Barry Primus and Dick Miller.


BRINGING OUT THE DEAD
1999, Paramount, 121 min, USA, Dir: Martin Scorsese

TAXI DRIVER director Martin Scorsese and writer Paul Schrader return to the gritty streets of Manhattan - in an ambulance. This time Nicolas Cage (in one of his best performances) takes the wheel as burnt-out paramedic Frank Pierce, bedeviled by a heroin epidemic that’s gripped the city and haunted by the patients he couldn’t save. His partners on the graveyard shift deal with the chaos of the job in varying ways: Ving Rhames appeals to God, while the brutal Tom Sizemore puts his trust in a baseball bat. An underrated meditation on how tenuous the ties to life and to sanity can become.


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