Northern Lights (1995) by Philip Pullman

It is difficult to talk about this first novel of Philip Pullman’s HIS DARK MATERIALS series without the context of the future entries in the series. This is largely by design, as the series is designed to flower into something stranger and loftier than the initial scope and style suggested by the first novel. NORTHERN…

Goodfellas (1990)

A dizzying, decade-spanning crime epic, utterly enchanting, immersing the viewer so deeply into Henry Hill’s mindset that it’s genuinely jarring when the film ends and reality comes roaring back in. While it starts mid-story, in a scene with three gangsters and a problem in a car trunk, bathed in red glow reminiscent of MEAN STREETS,…

The Great Train Robbery (1903)

The lack of title cards and relative dedication to cinematic realism really give this a lovely weight; there’s a dignity to the story being told here, and it’s easy to see why it provided such inspiration for films that came later, both of the western genre it arguably codifies and otherwise. Dual narratives crafted through…

After Hours (1985)

A delightful tale of a night gone wrong, much more overtly a comedy than Scorsese’s other works this offbeat. Griffin Dunne’s performance as Paul Hackett is so enjoyable, he anchors the male castration and eternal workplace drudgery fears of the film with a very likable everyman air. There’s a great vibe of paranoia and claustrophobia…

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)

A fantastic character study that feels completely full-formed and assured in what it achieves. Alice navigates a series of men that entrap her in their orbit a she grapples with her identity, sense of place in society, and sense of how to relate with men. It never veers into feeling like a soap opera or…

Boxcar Bertha (1972)

A film revolving around the labour movement during the Depression feels like it should have more soul than this, but it all feels thin and incoherent, more interested at gesturing at themes than really exploring much of anything beyond the titillation of this sort of exploitation-type filmmaking. It’s interesting seeing some of Scorsese’s techniques put…

Who’s That Knocking at My Door (1967)

Scorsese’s first feature film, not as assured a declaration of style as MEAN STREETS, but very much a seminal statement on deformed masculinity, Catholic guilt, and other Scorsese pet themes. The selfish narrativisation, victim-blaming, Madonna-whore complex, all of it feels infuriatingly real psychologically, and the actors sell it all well – worth noting the film…