Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins, 2017)

Traditionally in comics Wonder Woman is an ambassador to the world of man to show humanity the Amazonian way & lead them to peace and prosperity. In an instance of meta commentary on the character Diana, Princess of Themyscira, has become a titanic figure & a beacon within Popular Culture who signifies humility & change. She has crossed worlds & become not only a heroic figure in comics, but in reality as well. Created in the 1940s by William Moulton Marstown for DC Comics, Wonder Woman, was intended to be a vision of Super-heroic Women that he hoped would one day rule the world in favour of man. Immediately Wonder Woman had ties to Feminism through her mere existence. Years later, outside of the realm of comic books, feminist organizations bought into her image as one of power, empathy & hope for a future where one day women could be seen as true equals to men. Wonder Woman famously showed up on the cover of first issue of Ms. Magazine with a headline that read “Wonder Woman for President”. If only. Even recently the image of Diana was used as an honorary figure for the empowerment of Women & Girls by the United Nations until protests forced the UN to change course. There is something within the nature of Diana that has stabilized her iconography throughout the years as a totem of feminism & with the persistence and inability to treat one another fairly and equally I don’t believe she’ll be going anywhere anytime soon. Patty Jenkins’s newly released film is the next chapter in the Diana’s life.
My heart soared in the opening images of Wonder Woman as a helicopter shot took us through Paradise Island. With lush cinematography from Matthew Jensen & wide framing from Jenkins, Themyscira is awash in pure awe. Untarnished by the hands of technological innovations the island seems to be symbiotic within the Amazons architecture and culture. They haven’t insisted the land is theirs and sculpted it into their vision, but merely rest within the island & are grateful for its luxuries. These initial touches are important to establishing the possibilities of the Amazonian culture as significantly more refined and empathetic towards nature than our own. As the camera tracks through the island we see Women, including many Women of colour, going about their daily tasks, but in the midst of all these beautiful, strong idealistic figures there is a girl running away from her teacher in hopes to see the Amazon’s training for a potential battle. Jenkins uses close up shots of the little girl’s face and she is eager, inquisitive, mischievous and ultimately full of wonder at all the Women she lives with that she can look toward for guidance, strength or love. I look to myself in these opening moments and consider how truly magical it must be to never want for role models or family.
The young Diana is captivated by her sisters on the island & likewise Jenkins shoots these Women with pure reverence frequently capturing them through slow motion in a mid air twist or aerial strike. Diana wants nothing more than to grow up like her Aunt Antiope (Robin Wright) & become a warrior, but her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielson), is wary of her daughters interest in swords and shields. Hippolyta shows nothing but compassion for her young daughter, and strives to make her learn that being bloodthirsty and craving the battlefield is not a romantic or righteous goal. It was essential in the creation of this movie to tap into Wonder Woman’s true empathy & sincere love for others & in these opening moments on Themyscira a guidebook is created for the character & within her origin her compassion is passed down from mother to daughter and from the creators of the film into the movie itself. This runs in direct contrast to the DC Comics more recent superhero fare which saw Superman break necks and Batman torture prisoners. Wonder Woman is a breath of fresh air and a closer companion to the sincerity of the Christopher Reeve Superman vehicle of the 1970s.
We jump forward a few years after these scenes & Diana (Gal Gadot) is now a young woman. She bears the traits we’ve come to associate with the character & her mother’s lessons of empathy have not gone to waste, and neither have Antiope’s abilities at molding soldiers in case of crisis. Perhaps the most important feature of Wonder Woman in terms of cinematic language is a consideration of patience towards delivering on the themes that make the character who she is & through images & moments Diana becomes whole as not only a demigoddess Warrior, but a helper of men, women and children everywhere. The first instance of this happening is when Diana is engaging in combat practice with Antiope. They duel with one another in close combat & when Diana gets the upper hand & wounds Antiope by mistake this moment is not met with gloating, pride or accommodation but, one of sincerest regret. Diana apologizes for hurting her Aunt & is shaken up about the small wound she created for many more scenes to come. Diana is genuinely affected by hurting people. She is not a bloodthirsty war dog, as she is sometimes foolishly portrayed in the comics.
When Diana is considering the accidental hurt she has caused her Aunt a plane rips through the idyllic blue skies of Themyscira & brings about a change that the Amazons never expected. Diana notices first & dives into action to save the fallen Steve Trevor (played by an always charming Chris Pine). Trevor thinks he’s seen an angel & to his credit she’s shot that way by Jenkins who employs a p.o.v shot while Diana is bathed in a shimmering white light. But Steve Trevor’s arrival brought with him the Germans who were following him as he had just stolen a book by their most prestigious chemical weapons officer (Elena Anaya), and when they land on the beach they take with them many lives, before the Amazons are able to beat back the march of war.
Diana sees the arrival of man as a calling & after Steve Trevor explains to the Amazons that the world at large is drowning in the blood of combat she takes it upon herself to go to the front-lines and destroy Ares, the god of war she assumes is the root cause of all this destruction. Hippolyta is adamant that her daughter not be swallowed up by the evil of man’s world, even going as far as saying “They don’t deserve you”, but Diana has felt a reckoning within herself and she is not made to simply look aside as tragedies take place. Her sheer will to help is too overpowering & in disobeying her mother she decides to ride with Trevor into battle and keep the world from capsizing. Hippolyta explains that her daughter’s departure is her greatest sorrow & as viewers we echo her sentiments as Themyscira is truly a magical place capable of an awe-inducing glory notably absent from today’s crop of Blockbuster cinema.
When they arrive in London it is very noticeably a shit hole & Steve Trevor proclaims “it’s an acquired taste”. Diana is a fish out of water in the middle portion of the film both wowed by the simple pleasures of the world like ice cream & outright offended by the sexism imposed upon her. Wonder Woman’s feminist edges are inherent within the character, but when faced with 1910s London she sees firsthand the ways in which she is underestimated, shackled and her desires kept at bay. Diana constantly has to prove herself in the eyes of her male colleagues, which both rings true as a commentary on the daily lives of women everywhere & with the idea of a Superhero movie about a woman, but she does so with grace, class & occasionally the wrath needed to actually get things done. In the film’s best sequence Trevor, Diana and their band of misfit soldiers who would rather be anything else, approach the front-lines. Diana insists upon driving ahead and freeing a small village from enslavement & torture, but is driven down by Trevor & the other men that it is impossible to change the course of war single-handedly. Diana doesn’t listen and marches forward. In beautiful slow motion, the best usage of it since probably Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil franchise or even The Wachowskis sisters Matrix trilogy, she is captured repelling bullets, landing non-lethal blows and disrupting machine gun fire before entering the war ravaged community to free the people from the German rule. Slow motion is an important tool within this movie to capture heroics. Comparatively, modern action in movies about superheroes never capture the otherwordly abilities of their heroes in a satisfying way. Frequently, these action sequences are shot in drab surroundings and use mechanical fight choreography, close-ups, and editing influenced by Paul Greengrass’s now famous shakey-cam techniques established within his Jason Bourne films. Jenkins, however, shoots Diana with grace, constantly giving her the space to move freely while capturing her athleticism and her thought process within combat. Diana’s lasso is an added plus as it gives viewers a literal map to follow with its glowing presence and circular movement creating momentum as the hero moves forward. Jenkins also uses space well, shooting her action frequently in medium shots and never chopping the image up to obscure the movement of the character. If there is any complaint to be had here it is that the CGI is sometimes lacking, but this is not a dealbreaker.
Wonder Woman’s structural obligations could have gotten in the way of a a compelling, brisk, oftentimes moving first two acts, but in the final third when Diana confronts Ares and begins deliberating on the questions of war, humanity & her place as a demi-goddess within it the films virtues only deepen. Diana is convinced that if she were to destroy Ares that the hearts of men would be cured of their need for destruction, but the answers she finds awaken a newer understanding within her. One of choice & love. Ares is not merely the only focal point for War & questions of it cannot be solved with the dissolution of one man. In a metaphorical response that is possibly unintentional, but nevertheless striking, an explanation is given for our current national climate with Trump’s existence and his presidency as not an extension of only his evil, but the evil of man, much like the war is not merely a creation of the gods. The blame also belongs in the hands of humanity. The darkness and light colliding within ourselves is the lesson Diana must learn on Earth as an ambassador and as a guide for peace. War is above one single reasoning, but rests within us. Diana chooses to be her very best, but Steve Trevor and his men who also sacrifice show us we have to be loving as well. It is not merely the role of one person to save the world, but the duty of all of us. It is a moral obligation of such smouldering effervescent purity. That this statement can exist in a Hollywood production in 2017, and not only a film from a line of studio products that consistently undercut any artistic qualities or statements, but one that could have real cultural impact within the lives of folks, especially girls, everywhere is quite simply Wondrous.

Dis Moi (Chantal Akerman, 1980)

Female Filmmaker Project

I’ve watched films without subtitles before and I went into this not knowing what it was about and I assumed Akerman’s form would make sense for not exactly understanding what the characters were saying. It does but, this is a film largely about conversations between Akerman and Holocaust survivors. Akerman herself has family ties to the Holocaust. Her grandparents died in Auschwitz and most of her mother’s family perished as well. This is a heavy subject for her to confront. I wish that I could know what these women were saying. I’m sure it was heartbreaking, human, and powerful. I hope one day there are subs available somewhere so I can give this a proper viewing. Although I assume learning french might be an easier route.

Aside from the fact that I didn’t know what the characters were saying I still enjoyed watching this for the way Akerman constructs images. There is a connection between this and Jeanne Dielman, News From Home and Meetings of Anna in form. The long static takes built around a person and what they’re doing in a room are here, as well as the lingering takes on people in a city setting. She also finds ways to frame these women in new ways from interview to interview. In one take she shoots an interview with the glare from a spotless dining room table visible, and the light from a window is shining on her subject. Moments later she uses mirrors to specifically show a reflection of another woman in a dining room symmetrically framed by two plants on either side of Akerman and her subject. There is even an extended section of one of the women cooking which calls up the rigorous camera work in Jeanne Dielman. Akerman’s work has always felt like an extension of documentarianism (News From Home and Hotel Monterey) and I found her eye for creating images to be just as strong when she uses the talking head format that most documentaries use. My favourite moment of the film was when Chantal and one of her interviewees sits down for dinner together and Akerman nods off. The other woman wakes her up and they both give each other a little smile. I may have not known what anyone was saying throughout the entirety of this, but that warm moment of recognition between the two transcends language.

L’Intrus (Claire Denis, 2004

Female Filmmaker Project
What’s remarkable about Claire Denis’ L’Intrus is that at a structural level it is maybe her most cinematic feature to date, and I don’t mean that in terms of big or sweeping. I think cinema as a medium is visual at it’s core. It is about telling a story through images and L’Intrus is built up entirely on images. The narrative is stated in any expositional terms by any character, but shown in every frame. This makes L’Intrus her most basic achievement in cinema and her most difficult statement, because it’s entirely interpretational. I’m not sure if what I’m seeing is a vision, a dream or reality but in every image there’s meaning both obvious (dogs eating a heart) and cryptic (I’m still not sure what the dogs mean). This makes L’Intrus feel challenging, but in truth everything is laid out there for you to have as you will.

 After recently viewing Chantal Akerman’s Hotel Monterey I also thought about this as a film about the idea of home, but instead of it being only about the nature of a home as a place it is about the body as a home. Louis Trébor (Michel Subor) is a man who needs a heart transplant, and with the heart being an essence of life and perhaps even a metaphor for the soul does that mean without his heart is he now homeless within his own body? I think Denis’ film points towards yes. After his heart transplant he wanders aimlessly. He isn’t quite himself anymore. He moves from country to country and nothing feels quite right for him. He cannot settle and even his family feels different.

Denis has always been a filmmaker of bodies and the tone of her films often appear in the way she shoots those figures. She’s always close, framing them closely into the lens, and often focusing on one body part. She’ll move the camera over one’s body and depending on how she does all of this she creates different tones of physique. In Vendredi Soir the human body is sensual, alive with passion and free. In Bastards she took sexuality and used it for horror. In L’Intrus Louis body feels cold and in a way dead. He has a scar running up and down his chest and every time we see his frame it’s draped in this cool grey or blue lighting or he’s hooked up to a machine. There is no warmth in his soul after he loses his original heart. He’s essentially homeless in his own body. This is in stark contrast to the way Louis’ grandson is shot earlier in the film when his face is covered in sunlight and has a smile on his face. He has his original heart after all.

This makes me think Denis’ film is also about aging and regret. Louis’ has never been a good father. His entire family is estranged and he doesn’t even know his grandchildren. Despite his heart transplant he is sickly and even if he continues he doesn’t have the warmth of life in him. He doesn’t have a family so in one of the more absurd scenes a group of people he’s living with hold auditions to be his new son. While on his death bed he has one final vision of his son with the same scar running down his chest, he sees a coffin later and Louis is then on a boat. I think this signifies his son being the one thing he lost in life that he wishes he could have back.

What makes L’Intrus so fascinating is how flexible it is, and how someone else could easily come up with something different. In the power of cinema as an artistic medium I think a viewer can see what they want to and go on their own path. L’Intrus is one of those films. It feels expansive and in it’s imagery so very human. We all have dreams that we’re unsure of the meaning and one of the coolest things about cinema is that it can sometimes act as a function of those dreams. Where everything is endless and definition is mutable.

Reunion: The Veronica Mars Movie

Originally posted on Letterboxd

I feel like I should state right now that I’m a big Veronica Mars fan. However, unlike most of the fans I didn’t want more. The conclusion of season 3 ends on a near perfect note for everyone involved in the series. The show solidified it’s modern noir elements in a final moment between father and daughter. It was really the perfect ending. Cult Television audiences tend to be a little greedy though and everything must always continue even when something ends strongly, and there lies the problem with having a Veronica Mars movie. It’s completely unnecessary and in some ways damages a really good ending to a short, but accomplished television series that already said everything it ever wanted to say. This wouldn’t be an issue if the movie was fantastic, but ultimately it’s a nice but forgettable experience.

Veronica Mars was always a television show that worked best in a long form narrative. It gave the show the room to breathe, develop characters and go into themes of class, gender, race, and gendered violence. The show was never great at handling stand alone cases and the problem with now having a movie is delivering a great standalone case in 100 minutes and they fail. The mystery here just isn’t interesting and there’s no time to work this case the way writer/director Rob Thomas is used to handling things. Saying this case is rushed would be an understatement. This brings up questions for me as to why viewers feel the need to resurrect television shows to bring them into cinemas. As much as critics these days want to make comparisons between the two filmed mediums there are differences that make translation extremely difficult. Veronica Mars is one show that just doesn’t work well in the realm of cinema. Rob Thomas doesn’t have an eye for visual language for one and the already mentioned issues of adapting a story that used longform narrative for it’s entire lifespan can’t do the same in cinema so it was obviously going to feel different. What I’m left with is feeling this is neither good cinema or television. There’s fun to be had in the rhythms of the dialogue and Kristen Bell’s performance but those things were always going to translate. I can’t say the same for the rest.

There’s also the problem of pandering which makes the entire experience feel plotted by fans. This leads to a kind of toxicity within the narrative where relationships point more towards bad fan fiction than character truths, and that’s really frustrating considering the voices feel right but their decision making a little off. Every character also has to show up long enough for audiences to see everyone. It’s almost clever Rob Thomas wraps all of this around the theme of high school never ending, but in reality it’s more about catching up with everyone because that’s what the audience wants to see, but I guess that’s what you get with a crowdsourced picture. I don’t want to come off like I hate this or even dislike it though, because that isn’t necessarily the case. I’m a longtime Veronica Mars fan so it’s nearly impossible for me to toss this aside without being happy at hearing the fucking theme song again or Kristen Bell talking circles around everyone else (what a shame it is that screwball comedies are mostly dead and she can’t star in one of those). It’s just not much more than a television movie, and I can’t imagine non fans are going to like this or even get it.

Veronica Mars feels like you’re favourite band in the world reuniting to record an album. You’re obviously excited and you never thought you’d get to hear these people working together again. You turn on the album and that all familiar feeling of knowing these people comes back, and you’re happy for a few moments, but then that feeling starts to slip away and you know the fire is gone. Then the album ends and you’re grateful you have more new music from a band you loved, but it’s just extra songs.

You Want Them to Notice: Transgender Dysphoria Blues

You are my companion. Something I never wished I had to deal with. I wish you would leave me alone. I just want to exist in this world without the throbbing in the back of my head, the constant reminder that I’m never quite going to be the person I see myself as. I travel forward in my day to day life living and dying by what other people say and how they define my identity. When they get it right you ease away and disappear and for a moment I’m at peace. I’m happy. More often though you’re here with me going off like a siren every time anyone misgenders me. I crumble and I fall into defeat. I can’t find the strength within myself to correct them and you start to wash over me and fill me with depression and toxic feelings about my own self-worth. This is every single day of my life. This is my reality. I’m a transgender woman and my companion is dysphoria.

No one talks about dysphoria in mainstream media and if I had to guess the majority of the population isn’t even aware of gender dysphoria and the real problems transgender people go through in trying to deal with those feelings. It’s almost unbearable at times and to have a worldwide ignorance of something that effects my life greatly is nothing short of immensely depressing. When I first told my parents I was dysphoric constantly and needed to transition they didn’t know what the word meant. I had to explain to them trans 101 and after all that time and after I told them about all the pain I was going through they still rejected me. They told me I shouldn’t do this for religious reasons, and told me they wouldn’t support me under any circumstances because I’d be a freak, never a real woman, going to hell, etc. What I’m getting at here is that the everyday person doesn’t understand what kind of struggle transgender people go through on a day to day basis. I think a big part of this problem is a media silence on our issues and the representation we do get culminates in either A.) Being the punchline to your joke or B.)Being your murder victim. This kind of representation openly damages people like me because media can humanize or dehumanize people who are on the fringes of society, and I certainly am.

So here I am in 2014 sitting and crying watching David Letterman. It’s not because I’m laughing at some joke he told or because Drew Brees told a heartwarming story. The musical guest that night is Against Me! and their singer (Laura Jane Grace) is a transgender woman and she’s singing about an experience that actively aligns with my own. Millions of people are watching her standing up on the stage playing punk rock music and singing about dysphoria. For a moment it makes me think of a future when this is the norm. A world where transgender artists are given the same respect and audience that other groups of people are given. It’s a world where we are respected instead of feared and a world where I feel safe. I don’t live in that world, but Against Me!’s newest album Transgender Dysphoria Blues gives me the kind of hope that one day I might. The world is still so very far away from respecting us, but maybe this album is the first in a long line of moments where mainstream media gives us that respect. I cannot state just how important and empowering this album is to these ears. I’ve never heard a rock album say “In her dysphoria’s affection she still saw her mother’s son”, or “Your Tells are so Obvious, Shoulders too broad for a girl, keeps you reminded, it helps you to remember where you come from”. I hear each line echoing from the lips of Laura Jane Grace that I’m not alone in this world and that my feelings are valid and true. This isn’t an easy listen, because many of the fears that Laura had when she came out are living inside of the lyrics. She has that same doubts that I do about what she’ll look like, where her life goes now, and what this means for her family. This is not a blues album in the typical sense of playing cyclic chords on an old guitar, but it is in the sense of talking about pain. The pain of dysphoria, and it is powerful to hear something relating to my story on national television and in national print. I don’t know if Transgender Dysphoria Blues is going to be considered a classic album or if it’s even going to find it’s way on anyone’s best of the year list in December, but for this transgender woman without a voice it is just about the most important album I’ve ever heard. I cannot thank Laura Jane Grace and the rest of Against Me! enough for making me feel validated, real, and most of all female in a world that mostly denies my identity.

My Apocalypse: Metallica Through the Never

Originally posted on Letterboxd

I find it a little bit odd that my two favourite bands (Metallica, Bikini Kill) from my teenage years ended up getting films made about them in 2013 (the other being The Punk Singer). My relationship with Metallica is a lot less complicated than the one I have with Bikini Kill. It basically comes down to the fact that I always thought their music kicked ass, and as juvenile as it sounds that’s still pretty much the crux of my relationship with Metallica. There was a time when I was so heavily into the band that I listened to Master of Puppets daily. My relationship has since cooled, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the sheer absurdity of Metallica’s Apocalypse Concert film Through The Never.

During the first few minutes of Through the Never I thought for sure this was going to be nearly cringe worthy. I mean Lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist James Hetfield drives by in a car that shoots flames out the back, a rabid Metallica fan arrives at the show first and starts screaming the band’s name at the top of his lungs, and Bassist Robert Trujillo literally is playing bass in a room with vibrations coming off the walls that it distorts the image. Then something came to me. I’m watching a concert film about Metallica and they have NEVER been a subtle band, and once I actually started to go along with some of the more bizarre narrative moments I settled into the groove of what the film was trying to do and that’s represent the spirit/attitude and imagery of a live Metallica show. Much like the way 200 Motels would represent the filmic version of what Frank Zappa’s music sounded like Through The Never does the same for Metallica. It’s in your face, brash, and very straightforward.

However, the concert itself is where I think most of the strength of the picture lies. They recreate some of their albums covers on stage and even go back through some of their greatest hits of stage antics (the flaming man who ruins the stage is taken from 1996’s Cunning Stunts and Lady Justice falling apart was a staple of their …And Justice For All tour in the late 80s). It’s always fascinating to watch and never feels like four guys just playing on stage. They definitely perform with the intentions of the stage show being as great as the music they perform and that was an admirable decision. Nimrod Antal also keeps the show interesting in the way he shoots the band. His framing is way above par for the home video releases of the previous concert films the band has released and also injects some nice visual moments into the picture. One moment of hazy red lighting from above casting a warmness over Hetfield as he stands between each cymbal on the left and right side of the drum set was an especially strong image, and probably the finest visual moment at hand.

I think this is best suited for fans of the band, but there is probably enough here to keep non fans interested for 90 minutes. The concert always looks dazzling and the band has been performing long enough that they know how to work an audience. They have a level of professionalism that only comes with performing live for 30 years, and it shows in just how appreciative they seem of their audience while still being as aggressive as they can be in their middle age. This is a band still at the zenith of their popularity making a movie that they probably all wished they could have made when they were 16 years old, and I find that youthful charm to be refreshing after the self seriousness of Some Kind of Monster. These are still basically the same guys who recorded Kill ‘Em All, and it’s only fitting that when all the dust settles and all the story ends it’s just four guys sitting in a room playing, because they’ve always been a band that prides themselves on the music they create whether people love it or hate it, and I’m sure they feel that same pride about this film.

Revisiting Scorsese: Who’s That Knocking at My Door?

Originally posted on Letterboxd

Scorsese’s first feature begins with a shot of a Catholic mother making food for her family. The image dissolves at the sight of a virgin Mary statue and cuts to a group of young men standing around talking. Pop music begins playing over the image and the men are compelled to beat up other men. It’s almost humorous how perfectly Scorsese would capture nearly every last theme he’d play around with for his entire career in the first two scenes of Who’s That Knocking at my Door?. It’s a testament to his talents as a filmmaker that he came right out of the gate knowing exactly what he wanted to say, but then Scorsese has always been an almost autobiographical filmmaker. You get the sense that Scorsese knew these people when he was growing up and both admired and feared their actions. Throughout his entire career Scorsese would romanticize violence through the usage of music only to show the horrors and repercussions of these actions later. It was a lifestyle that he never ventured into, but one he understood, because in a way he lived it. The Catholicism present here is also looming over every scene. When R.J. and the girl kiss you can see crosses in the background. When they approach the idea of sex it’s shot down when pangs of guilt overcome our protagonist. Then there is the flurry of catholic imagery that closes the film cementing RJ’s solace in god despite damning his relationship with the girl due to archaic ideas of purity and virginity.

The other thing that I find extremely interesting here is how Scorsese treats men and women. It’s the 1960s and second wave feminism is only just starting to gain any kind of traction so the climate at this time is still very much difficult for women. The idea of women’s liberation has only just started so for Scorsese to make a film that is partially about the problems women had to endure during this time when it comes to rape is something admirable. Scorsese certainly places the narrative in the hands of RJ but he gives the girl in this film the space to push back when need be and reject RJ when he blames her for her own rape. The rape scene itself is shot differently than the rest of the picture. It’s much more brutal, disorienting and the music is doubled over to create a horrific effect. This is a picture where the girl and the guy don’t end up together and it’s ultimately the woman’s choice to end the relationship, because of RJ’s horrible behaviour. She’s hurting, but she doesn’t end up saddled with RJ and that is progressive. In regards to RJ’s presence in the picture he sets up the kind of archetypical character Scorsese would create for years to come in pictures like Mean Streets, Raging Bull and Goodfellas. RJ is a gangster troubled by catholic guilt. He was very set ideas about what’s right and wrong, and how men and women should act and it’s ultimately his undoing. He still has his boys and his god, but he lost his girl which makes this film a little different from some of Scorsese’s other films.

 What might be Scorsese’s greatest talent as a director is knowing how to use music to play a scene and it’s amazing to see that he’s always been perfect at this. In RJ’s fantasy scene he perfectly used The End by The Doors and in the already mentioned rape scene he took Don’t Ask Me to Be Lonely and doubled it to muffle her screams in a scene that is truly horrific. These two scenes play completely differently and showcase the different ideas these two characters have about sex. For RJ it’s a type of ritualistic fantasy and a rite of passage and for the girl it’s something to be afraid of and something that has been taken from her that she can’t get back. It’s something that I never even noticed when watching this film when I was 13 years old, and revisiting it nine years later revealed an almost completely different film than the one I remembered. The one constant between myself at 13 and 22 is that I still find this to be a really interesting debut showing the kinds of things Scorsese would perfect years down the road and the things he’s still trying to understand.