Current Movie Landscape Artistic Roundtable Featuring Scorsese, Gerwig, Phillips, Baumbach, Wang and Meirelles

Slight mea culpa.

Might have been a little harsh on Martin Scorsese over what I deemed to be cinematic elitism on his part in these posts:

He is a brilliant filmmaker and clearly a very intelligent man, but I’ve never understood his beef — still don’t completely — with movies based on comic books / superheroes being like “theme parks.” In the director roundtable video below he is more coherent and reasonable with his explanation and concerns. It’s also nice to see how he supports streaming. If you don’t know much about Martin Scorsese other than his films, after watching the video below you’ll better appreciate his point of view. I did.

Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Todd Phillips (Joker), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Fernando Meirelles (The Two Popes) get together in an excellent roundtable discussion on the current state of filmmaking. Great stuff!

An illuminating hour with director luminaries

Still, after watching this, I can see some directors, including Mr. Scorsese, wanting to apply an asterisk to superhero/comic films being not as artistic as say Little Women, The Irishman or Marriage Story. You can sense Todd Phillips sticking up a bit for Joker, although he admits Joker was heavily inspired by Scorsese’s earlier films Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. It would have been cool to include the Avengers; Endgame directors, Anthony and Joe Russo in this roundtable. A missed opportunity by the Hollywood Reporter.

Harley Quinn vs. The Irishman and other artistic films

For me, the character Harley Quinn — yes, a comic book character — has opened up a deep extended universe of material similar to how some of the artistic (dare I say “Oscar-bait”?) films do like Oliver Stone’s JFK made me dig deeper into the world surrounding the JFK Assassination (a topic that I had already been fascinated with) and The Irishman had me poking around on Wikipedia looking back into the life of Jimmy Hoffa.

Just for clarity, I didn’t know much about the character Harley Quinn six months ago. Since that time, with a driving interest in learning more about the upcoming film, Birds of Prey [FIRST LOOK] that comes out February 7, 2020, I ended up doing the following:

  • Subscribed to DC Universe and began following the new adult animated series, Harley Quinn — new reviews of episodes posted here every Friday
  • Starting to explore reading the comics involving Harley Quinn (ongoing)
  • Watched Batman: The Animated Series to see the first time Harley Quinn appeared in a TV show — and then watched, rated, and reviewed all 8 episodes
  • Learned about the live action TV series, Birds of Prey, that is also available for streaming on DC Universe. It stars Dina Meyer as Barbara Gordon and Mia Sara as Dr. Harleen Quinzel / Harley Quinn.
  • Downloaded the DC Universe Online game for Nintendo Switch and paid for a one month member legendary account (at least so far one month, maybe more to follow if I have enough time to play) to explore the game as both a DC hero and villain. My villain character is called HarlsItIs and is styled after Harley Quinn. The first time, btw, I’ve ever played a character in a game that wasn’t male

Speaking of art, check out just a small sample of the art inside the DC Universe game involving the character Harley Quinn:

Inside DC Universe Online on the Nintendo Switch encountering Harley Quinn in a mission

So, not only can moviegoers watch movies and TV shows with the character Harley Quinn, they can play a video game with Harley as one of the characters. Can’t get much more interactive and immersive than that.

Cut scene inside DC Universe Online game (Nintendo Switch)
Harley’s love for Mister J (Joker) is insane, incomprehensible and yet frighteningly real

I realize some people think of comics and animation as a juvenile activity, something we’re supposed to get past when we’re older, but I strongly disagree. Art is art and who is anybody to tell anybody else what isn’t art? What s/he should care about?

That is probably what bothered me the most about Scorsese’s commentary. I felt like he was trying to tell me what I should consider art rather than realizing he was just stating what he thought was art.

This brings me back to why I disagree with the whole “theme park” comparison. Many people enjoy theme parks, many enjoy comics and there are many who still enjoy museums and classic art. We can have all the cake and eat it, we don’t have to pick and choose a particular type and say, “that defines what is cake.”

This is my fundamental disagreement with what Scorsese, I believed, was trying to say about certain films not being art, but my mea culpa is he has the right to pick the cake he wants to eat. I believe this was acknowledged all along, but it’s worth restating. You have a right to define “art” however you want. So do I. Same for Scorsese. We just need to keep our perspective broad and remember the bigger picture.

Everything can be art.

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