Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
And the Winner Is...
2007-02-25 07:21
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

I've been laid-low with a head cold for the past few days, but I'm headed out to Jersey this afternoon to listen to records with my friend Stein anyway. Be back in time to watch the Oscars tonight. Funny, but I like watching them in the same way I like watching the Super Bowl (at least the Super Bowl offers the potential for surprise and excitement). But I don't get upset about who "wins" and "loses" at the Oscars, mostly I like to talk a lot of trash, bust all the stars' chops. It seems so ridiculous to give out awards for artistic merit anyhow. Aside from that, the whole thing is so corny and political, you'd have to be crazy to let it bother you. That said, why then do I let the baseball awards get me nuts each year? Go figure.

I figure they'll give Scorsese a lifetime achievement nod tonight and give him Best Director for "The Departed," a movie that I found highly entertaining but far from his best. For the record, my favorite Scorsese movies are: "ItalianAmerican," "Mean Streets," "Taxi Driver," and his segment from "New York Stories."

Here are a couple of few links for a cool Sunday in New York:

Pete Abraham has a nice piece on Mike Mussina, who has become something of an avuncular figure for some of the younger Yankee pitchers.

Tyler Kepner profiles Colter Bean in the Times, while Jack Curry examines the increasingly important role that intrepreters have in the game.

Joel Sherman is blogging about the Yankees over at the Post this spring.

2007-02-25 08:59:37
1.   Matt B
I agree with you about Marty and The Departed, although I think I liked it more than you did. Also, if he wins, I'm glad it will be for a good ol' crime movie that wasn't supposed to win Oscars rather than an Oscar-bait movie like The Aviator. Truth be told, I think Clint's Letters was better, but Clint has enough on his mantle. The whole concept is pretty silly.
2007-02-25 09:25:21
2.   yankz
I loved The Departed. I get incredibly bored with award shows, though, so I'm not going to watch. I'll just start a 24 hours till 24 countdown.
2007-02-25 09:35:52
3.   vockins
"Italianamerican," "Mean Streets," and "New York Stories" over "Raging Bull"?

You high, Belth.

2007-02-25 09:54:26
4.   brockdc
I agree that "The Departed" is a well-acted, entertaining film; but that it is considered Oscar-worthy says as much about Hollywood politics and the overall quality of films that are being released these days.
2007-02-25 10:11:13
5.   Matt B
4 I disagree. Frankly, too often Oscars go to big self-important stuffy productions that are always talked about as "great" films but seldom are and are rarely watched years later. The "genre" pictures tend to be the ones that have held up better over time. John Ford may have won an Oscar for The Informer, but he'll be remembered for Stagecoach, y'know? (I realize that's a simplistic example - Ford's career is too rich.) So I'm happy to see The Departed considered an Oscar-worthy flick.
2007-02-25 10:20:17
6.   bobtaco
How about Dances with Wolves winning over Goodfellas in 1990? I mean come on, that one still is insulting.

Ordinary People over Raging Bull in 1981 is only slightly better.

I agree that Departed isn't his best, but he needs to win tonight.

2007-02-25 10:24:46
7.   Matt B
Hey, I know a lot of people love it, but in 1976, Rocky beat Taxi Driver, Network and All The President's Men. C'mon!
2007-02-25 10:51:59
8.   Flip Play
This is the first year in a long time that I've seen all five nominated movies. Babel was impressively made, but it's the kind of BIG IMPORTANT movie that always wins, so screw it. The Queen was like a solid made for HBO flick. I like Clint, but he's won a lot and Letters from Iwo Jima is not his best (that would be Unforgiven). I hate to say mean things about Little Miss Sunshine -- a really cute and funny and well-acted movie -- and comedy is usually overlooked -- but that simply was not the best movie of the year. So I hope they give it to The Departed -- an immensely entertaining and gripping crime flick that will stand the test of time. And Marty deserves it.

Best movie of the year? Children of Men. Then Borat. Then The Departed. Then Little Children.

2007-02-25 12:05:17
9.   alsep73
Another good Sunday link, from The Star-Ledger, A-Rod working on his swing with the new hitting coach:
2007-02-25 12:11:37
10.   skybluestoday
Oh, Alex, finally someone who is simpatico with my Scorsese tastes! Heart and soul! I think "Italinamerican" is terrific, I think "Mean Streets" is his finest feature, and I thought "Life Lessons" (the "New York Stories" segment) was simply amazing!

"Taxi Driver" is endlessly enigmatic and endlessly repeatable and would probably be my second-favorite Scorsese feature if I wasn't so crazy about "The Last Waltz."

I admire "Raging Bull" without much liking it -- too cold, not too many of the things that make me love movies so much. I enjoy "GoodFellas," though I don't think it's soulful like his best work -- very slick, very entertaining, and that's it. I even like his minor stuff like "Age of Innocence" and "The Aviator." But those aren't the guts of his canon. For me, it's "Mean Streets," "The Last Waltz," Life Lessons," and probably "Taxi Driver."

A master filmmaker. With the passing of Robert Altman and Shohei Imamura this past year, he is in my opinion a serious candidate for the title of "Greatest Living Film Director."

(though Bergman and Godard might have something to say about that)

2007-02-25 14:00:29
11.   Alex Belth
Yeah, Pauline Kael said that Costner's name should have been "Plays With Camera." That winning over "Good Fellas" was shameless. Hard to pick "Ordinary People" over "Raging Bull" too.

I think "Raging Bull" is brilliant--masterful movie-making, but I don't love it. I'm not sure it's even entirely successful. Scorsese said it's about a man who loses everything then gains it back, at least spiritually by the end. I never found the LaMotta character achieved any sense of grace or resolution at the end. He was still a rock-headed, unsympathetic, creep. I know what Scorsese was trying to do, I just don't think he achieved it.

Still, I'm not saying it's a bust either. Because it is breath-taking to watch-- hynotic, relentless and obviously impressive. There are so many beautiful, disturbing images. I also think it might be Scorsese's funniest movie. Pesci is tremendous in the secondary role.

The biggest different between "Taxi Driver" and "Raging Bull" to me is DeNiro. I think he's frightening and effective in "Raging Bull," but far more subtle and interesting in "Taxi Driver." Of course, the script has something to do with it too.

I always thought there was something in the reaction to DeNiro's performance that was annoying. And it started a trend. All the talk about the weight he gained and lost as if that should be the sole artistic criteria. It's about something other than the performance, and ultimately that doesn't interest me terribly.

I also really like "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," and "The Last Waltz," and "The Color of Money." Like parts of "New York, New York," and "The Age of Innoncence" and "The King of Comedy," which I think is his scariest movie. I even admire the un-even "Last Temptation of Christ."

2007-02-25 14:58:12
12.   The Mick 536
Ah yes, the King of Comedy. Highly overlooked. Ed Herlihy. Sandra Berhard. Deniro. Jerry Lewis. Seriously outstanding. Should be re-released. Tragic. Scary. Sad. Bold. Big colors. Rupert Pupkin. "Better to be a King for a night than a schmuck for a lifetime."

Saw all but the Queen. Loved Departed. Big film. Overracted by all for sure, but who were the violators. Underlying message scary. Music, as always superior. My choice going away. Unless, of cours, you include two foreigners: Pan and The Lives of Others. The former ended too soon. Could have watched another two hours. Fabulous colors. Brilliant score. Mix of fantasy and history. Lives takes your breath away. Makes you comtemplate justice or injustice as you never had. Who be the hero? The movie, "It is for me."

GO PETE. So what if he played himself. He's old. He drinks. He leers. He rips your heart out. Forest shoots you and bullies you. He is one note throughout the movie. PETE looms large. He and his friend. He and his ex wife. He and the girl. He acts. He dies. Yup. Go Lawrence. About time.

2007-02-25 18:52:21
13.   vockins
Anyone know when the season tickets get mailed? Not that I have season tickets...
2007-02-25 19:15:11
14.   Peter
13 Not sure about season tickets, but I already received the single game tickets I bought.
2007-02-25 21:29:30
15.   Matt B
12 Totally agree with you about King of Comedy - it's actually one of my favrorite Scorsese flicks. It bombed, but I think it was a) sold to audiences erroneously and b) was about 20+ years ahead of it's time. Much of what was considered cynical about it in the 80s has come to pass or seems entirely plausible.
However, I couldn't disagree more about Whitaker in Last King of Scotland. A one-note performance? Not at all. And don't think I don't worship O'Toole. Man...ever see The Stunt Man?
2007-02-26 04:29:17
16.   The Mick 536
Pete lost. Damn. I mourn the loss, seriously. Stunt Man, My Favorite Year, and even Venus to a certain extent, were films about the industry. All excellent. Great women. And the Ruling Class. As the Bums ust ta sa, "we was robbed."
2007-02-26 06:39:31
17.   Alex Belth
"The Stunt Man..." Another P. Kael favorite.
2007-02-26 07:15:15
18.   nemecizer
13 IIRC, my ticket package was mailed a week or two before opening day last year. I recall being worried that the tickets would not arrive in time for the first game.

In fact, checking Steve Lombardi's, he had a post last year with a scan of his ticket package when he got them. That was on March 30th.

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