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Streaming the Masters: Martin Scorsese Beyond the Mob

Martin Scorsese at the premiere of the film "Shutter Island" at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival  / Photo: ipernity
Martin Scorsese at the premiere of the film "Shutter Island" at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival / Photo: ipernity

Martin Scorsese is one of the best living American film directors. His movies are also welcoming, accessible, and full of cinematic pleasures. For all these reasons and more, it is disheartening to see him turned into a villain in a silly cultural war after sharing less than enthusiastic comments about Marvel's output. The devotees of the Super Hero religion earn badges of honor by disparaging him online. His work gets routinely mischaracterized as regressive, reactionary, and full of machismo. Nothing could not be further from the truth. Those who have seen Raging Bull (1980) can say it is not a celebration of toxic masculinity.

A common complaint is that he only makes mob pictures. That is how you know the accusers have only seen - or know of - two or three films in a filmography that extends for over five decades. Scorsese's work is rich and varied, jumping from fiction to documentary, from drama to musicals. I wish marvel fans would get over this mischaracterization, not just for its unfairness but because it prevents them from engaging with great art.

This all-stream guide highlights works falling outside the well-known classics and recent hits featuring Leonardo Dicaprio. You will have to pay for physical media if you want to see the musical New York, New York (1977) and Kundun (1997), a hard-hitting biographical film about the Dalai Lama. Simu Liu probably did not see it, but it is not his fault. Disney, Marvel’s parent company, did its best to bury the film upon release so as not to cross Chinese authorities. 

Who’s That Knocking at My Door? (1967) 

Scorsese’s first feature film is also the debut of one of his most frequent collaborators, actor Harvey Keitel. He plays J.R., an Italian-American young man whose religious hang-ups complicate his relationship with the girl he loves.  

Available to buy or rent at AppleTV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, Vudu, and Microsoft.

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)

Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist, Requiem for a Dream) won the Best Actress Oscar, playing a young widow scraping by in the Southwest who goes after her dreams of becoming a singer with a young son in tow. Harvey Keitel and Kris Kristofferson play the men that tempt her to detour along the way.  

Available to stream at Fubo, Showtime, DirectTV

Buy or rent at AppleTV, Amazon, GooglePlay, YouTube, Vudu, Microsoft, Redbox, and Directv.

The King of Comedy (1982)

You loved Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019), you say? That movie is a riff on this scalding media satire, prescient about the pernicious influence of the cult of celebrity. Robert De Niro is a failed comedian who kidnaps his idol, a late-night talk show host played by Jerry Lewis. Featuring Sandra Bernhard in a star-making role as vinegary girlfriend and accomplice.

Available to stream, buy or rent at AppleTV and DirecTV.

After Hours (1985)

Griffin Dunne plays an everyman on a date from hell whose night descends into a dark comedy of errors. Bohemian 80s Soho becomes a hilarious, paranoid nightmare. The cooler than thou cast includes Rossana Arquette, Tommy Chong, Terry Garr, Linda Fiorentino, and Catherine O’Hara.

Available to stream at Fubo, Showtime, DirectTV

Buy or rent at AppleTV, Amazon, GooglePlay, YouTube, Vudu, Microsoft, Redbox, and Directv.

The Color of Money (1986)

An unexpected sequel to The Hustler (Robert Rossen, 1961) allows Paul Newman the chance to bring back one of his most iconic characters. Eddie Nelsonis a veteran pool shark, showing the ropes to a young, cocky prodigy played by Tom Cruise. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio plays his girlfriend with knowing worldliness. 

Available to stream, buy or rent at AppleTV, Amazon, GooglePlay, YouTube, Vudu, Microsoft, Redbox, and Directv.

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

Fundamentalist Christians did not take kindly to this pious adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel. The capital sin was to depict a more-human-than-human Jesus, played by Willem Dafoe, imagining he leads a normal life and fathers children with Mary Magdalene (Barbara Hershey) as he dies on the cross. Calls for boycotts and protests hindered the commercial prospects of deep, moving films about religion. 

Available to buy or rent at AppleTV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, Vudu, Microsoft, Redbox, and DirecTV.

New York Stories (1989)

An omnibus film that brought together Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and Woody Allen to write a love letter to the city that marked their careers. It peaks early with the opening salvo of Scorsese's Life Lessons. Nick Nolte is an artist painting a masterpiece in the middle of a bad breakup with his model, played by Rossana Arquette. 

Available to stream at Hopple.

Buy or rent at AppleTV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, Vudu, Microsoft, and DirecTV.

Cape Fear (1991)

This violent thriller is a modern homage to film noir. De Niro plays a brutal ex-convict who terrorizes the lawyer who did him wrong (Nick Nolte). The movie made the career of Juliette Lewis, who went on to score a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her role as a teenage daughter whose budding sexuality becomes a weapon. Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck, stars of the 1961 version, appear in cameos.

Available to stream at Peacock Premium.

Buy or rent at AppleTV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, Vudu, Microsoft, Redbox, DirecTV, and FlixFling.

The Age of Innocence (1993)

Forget about the mob, those genteel aristocrats of the Gilded Age can be just as brutal when they enforce their social mores. Daniel Day-Lewis is a barrister whose promising engagement to a debutante (Winona Ryder) crumbles due to his infatuation with a divorced countess, played by a beguiling Michelle Pfeiffer. A luscious period piece based on the novel by Edith Wharton.

Available to stream at Hulu.

Buy or rent at AppleTV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, Vudu, Microsoft, Redbox, and DirecTV.

Bringing Out the Dead (1999)

Nicolas Cage is a living meltdown, a New York paramedic racked by guilt and seeing the ghosts of dead patients everywhere. A tentative romance with a recovering addict, played by Rossana Arquette, may push him further downwards. 

Available to stream at HBOMax, and DirecTV.

Buy or rent at AppleTV, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, Microsoft, Redbox, and DirecTV.

Hugo (2011)

Scorsese surprises with a sweet valentine to the magic of movies. Assa Butterfield plays an orphan in 1930s Paris, parsing a mystery involving a broken-down automaton and the disappearance of film pioneer Georges Méliès. His first and last incursion in 3D. Based on the book by Brian Selznick. 

Available at HBOMax, DirecTV.

Buy or rent at AppleTV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, Vudu, Microsoft, Redbox, and DirecTV.

Silence (2016)

Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, and Liam Neeson play Jesuit priests risking their lives by spreading Catholicism in 17th Century Japan. A moving contemplation of the power of faith that does not turn a blind eye to the pitfalls of colonialism. Based on a novel by Shûsaku Endô, originally adapted for the screen by Masahiro Shinoda in 1971.

Available to buy or rent at AppleTV, Amazon, GooglePlay, YouTube, Vudu, Microsoft, Redbox, and DirecTV.

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