11. Martin Scorsese (1942 – )
Part of the “new Hollywood” generation that emerged in the 1970s, Martin Scorsese is at the forefront of contemporary cinema, certainly one of the living masters, able to easily infuse a strong dose of reality into each installment of his work. His work measures the difference—both geographically and mentally—between Hollywood and New York.
Scorsese elevates the Freudian needs of sex and aggression to a heightened sensibility. He does not glorify violence, but he does beautify it. It would be hard to argue that the boxing scenes from Raging Bull aren’t some of the most exquisite caught on film. And the haunting conclusion to Taxi Driver is memorable not just for the actions that take place, but for the perfectly rendered image ofinsanity and disillusionment—a visual expression of a societal contention.
Though most often associated with his work in the gangster genre with films like Mean Streets and GoodFellas, it is not the intense action that makes Scorsese’s films so immensely watchable. Whether immediately recognizable or not, it is the spirit of his films as much as the visual stimulation that appeals to audiences. Says writer-director Jim McKay: “He’s one of the few veteran directors who has kept his passion and his artistic curiosity at the forefront. Decades into his craft, he’s still exploring, learning and taking chances. His work, unfortunately, affects today’s moviemakers much more in the stylistic realm (copycats pay “homage” to the grit, attitude and technical flair) than in the spiritual and artistic realm, which is where, I think, his brilliance lies.”