As Martin Scorsese’s Silence slips, er, silently onto Virgin Movies this week, it’s time to look back at the great director’s canon and ask one question: just what *is* a mook? No wait, hang on, not that question - this one: How do you survive a Martin Scorsese movie?
1. Apostatise now
The 17th century priests of Martin Scorsese’s latest film Silence are strong of faith, though it’s tested to its very limits by the Japanese shogunate, who take exception to the encroachment of Catholicism in their country. Captured Japanese Christians are forced to “apostatise” - renounce their faith - or face death by a variety of unpleasant methods. Fathers Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Garrpe (Adam Driver) also face this choice, and their opposing decisions determine their survival.
Find Silence in On Demand > Movies > Virgin Movies
2. Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut
Basic Scorsese. If you’ve seen GoodFellas you’ll be familiar with the advice given to young gangster-in-training Henry Hill (Christopher Serrone, later Ray Liotta) from his mobster mentor Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro). It’s advice that keeps Hill alive until he can’t keep his mouth shut any longer, and rats on his friends in return for government protection from the mob. OK, he still survives even though he breaks the golden rule, but only as a shnook. And who wants to be a shnook?
3. Learn to love New York
If you find New York City a brash, loud, violent, crass, sleazy, morally vacuous, unpredictable, soul-crushing capitalist hell populated by weirdos and gangsters, then you won’t get very far in Martin Scorsese’s world. Born in Queens and brought up in Manhattan’s Little Italy, Scorsese knows the mean streets of the five boroughs like the back of his hand and splashes that knowledge across his films in full colour (mostly red). If that’s going to be a problem, try another director. Maybe not Woody Allen.
4. Curb your ambition
Many things connect Scorsese’s protagonists: they’re almost always white Catholic males, conflicted in some way, loyal to their family (literal or metaphorical) and prone to outbursts of violence. All of these things usually land them in hot water, but none more so than unchecked ambition: Raging Bull’s Jake LaMotta (De Niro) wants to be the world’s greatest boxer; The Wolf Of Wall Street’s Jordan Belfort (Leonardo Dicaprio) wants infinite wealth; The Last Temptation Of Christ’s Jesus (Willem Dafoe) just wants to be human. If only they’d sat at home with their feet up and appreciated what they had, so much bother could have been avoided.
Raging Bull is available now on Sky Cinema
5. Learn forgiveness
Revenge is a dish best served cold, yet in Martin Scorsese’s world it usually comes piping hot, with lashings of ketchup and a very sharp knife. If only people would just forgive and forget they’d have a much easier time of it: Cape Fear’s Max Cady (De Niro) could have avoided a protracted death if he’d ignored his lawyer’s small legal indiscretion; Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle (De Niro again) wouldn’t have got that apartment so messy if he’d decided not to embark on colossally misguided vengeance; The King Of Comedy’s Rupert Pupkin (you guessed it: De Niro) could’ve had an easier life if he hadn’t taken offence at constant bitter rejection. Just let it go, guys.
Cape Fear is available now on Sky Cinema
6. Be Robert De Niro
You may by now have noticed a recurring name in Martin Scorsese’s films: Robert De Niro. The actor and director grew up on the same block, although didn’t formally meet until they were introduced by Brian De Palma years later. A firm friendship was forged, leading to eight remarkable collaborations, and a ninth - The Irishman - currently in the works. Seems the best way to survive a Scorsese film is to be De Niro; if you can’t do that, you could always try being Leonardo Dicaprio.