Scorsese Shorts

A few thoughts on each of the early-career shorts by the eponymous director collected on the Criterion Collection’s brand-spanking-new Scorsese Shorts disc, ranked in order of personal preference:


1. ITALIANAMERICAN

Where — and particularly whom — an artist comes from informs their subsequent oeuvre.


2. AMERICAN BOY

What can we learn about a (wonderfully wackadoo) person — and the era(s) that created them — from the stories they tell? How does their questionable veracity — always up for debate when it comes to unbelievably outlandish, and thus outlandishly unbelievable yarns — muddy our perception of the teller? By the very nature of its inherent “truthiness”, the act of storytelling can’t help but reveal something, a quasi-justification for the fictional pursuits to which Marty dedicated his finite time on this Earth.


3. THE BIG SHAVE

What starts as a visual reconfiguring of our normal ocular relationship to a mundane, everyday task (shaving!) — captured in a different, unusual way through perspectives we’re not used to seeing — ultimately descends into gore, suggesting that violence resides yoctometers below our unassumingly, antiseptically clean surfaces (all the still-life shots that start the short!), requiring very little to let it flow out for all to behold. Since the short’s original title was Viet ’67, you can draw your own conclusions in regards to the connections between these ideas and that war.


4. WHAT'S A NICE GIRL LIKE YOU DOING IN A PLACE LIKE THIS?

Chris Marker alert! And if that comparative name-drop soared over your head, then you A) are like me two months ago, and B) can lift your noggin in the same way I did, right here.


5. IT'S NOT JUST YOU, MURRAY!

A trial run for Marty’s mafia movies to come.

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