The Color of Money (USA, 1986)

1986-the-color-of-money-poster1Directed by: Martin Scorsese. A friend of mine has been plowing through basically everything by Scorsese, and I was shocked by how many films he made that I still haven’t seen.  I’ve got some big blank spots from Raging Bull to Goodfellas, but it seems like it’s in the 80’s that Scorsese really started to develop that breakneck hyper editing style (with the amazingly underrated Thelma Schoonmaker) that made him famous to this generation with Goodfellas and Casino, and eventually got him the Oscar with The Departed. Unlike those movies, this one doesn’t rely on that editing style for the whole movie, but when it does pull that trick out of the bag, it’s pretty effective. I’m sure the contemporary reviews of the time said something like: “This movie does for 9-ball what Raging Bull did for boxing”, or something stupid like that. But it’s partly true—all of that flash-bang cutting and super stylization, including that great superimposed close up of Newman on a close up of Newman, isn’t a world away from the operatic myth-invoking style of Raging Bull. This movie is certainly grounded in a naturalistic plot, and the style is definitely intended to serve the plot, but it’s a style that shouts for attention, and which accounts for a fair portion of what I thought was interesting about the movie. The story itself, with less outspoken and remarkable direction, and lesser actors—especially without the incredible gravity of Newman—I’m not sure how compelling it would be. It’s a well done retelling of that classic relationship between master and apprentice, but I’m not sure what else. I hate to write it off, because I did find the film really compelling, but mostly for superficial reasons. Paul Newman in those tinted old man glasses, lame as hell but utterly badass when he wears them, shooting that final shot of pool, is absolutely irresistible to me. I have a sneaking suspicion that this movie is actually brimming with significance that more or less slipped by me. And, as with all Scorsese films, this one begs for some rewatchings.

2 responses to “The Color of Money (USA, 1986)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2013 | Offhand Reviews·

  2. Pingback: The Hustler (USA, 1961) | Offhand Reviews·

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