Sunday, November 27, 2011

Interviewing Marty

If there is one person I could sit down and share a bottle of Italian wine with and talk to for an afternoon, Martin Scorsese has to be at the top of that list. I am an unabashed fan of his movies. When I get puny there are two things I want: home made chicken soup and a stack of Scorsese films, starting with Goodfellas. I love his energy, his passion and the way he has captured the American spirit and the Italian-American experience in his films. They are gritty, they are harsh and often they are crude. But they come from the streets. I have walked some of those streets; I feel his films in my bones.

So with a nice bottle or two of Sicilian wine, some Rapitala, a little Regaleali, maybe an Etna Rosso, if I could sit down and talk with Mr. Scorsese, I would love to. Until then, I must have a conversation with him by way of the dialogue (in italics) in films such as Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Age of Innocence, The King of Comedy, Gangs of New York, The Departed, The Aviator and The Last Temptation of Christ. So, dear reader, no, this is not an actual interview, but one made up, as it is done in the blogosphere, exercising a little creativity and wasting a lot of time.

Q. Thank you for stopping by, Mr. Scorsese and sharing a bottle or two of wine and an afternoon. What brings you to Dallas?

A. "You talkin' to me?"

Q. Why yes, I was just wondering if you’d like to start with a red, a white or a rosé?

A. You wanted to say hello, eh? I can't believe it. When did you fallouta heaven? Anyone ever tell you you're the most beautiful one here, princess of the pool. You got a baby face. Look at mine. Whatcha wanna meet me for?

Q. Not sure I follow you Mr. Scorsese.

A. Call me Marty. As a matter of fact, that's why I'm here. I've known about this place for a long time. I just didn't want to make my move until I had something to offer you. Everything's a question of timing.

Q. Great, where do we go from here?

A. Just listen. I'm at the start of something really big. I don't want to talk about it here but it's going to happen soon and it's going to be great -- for both of us.

Q. Well then what do you want to talk about?

A. Why didn't you just listen to the tape when I asked you? Then I wouldn't have to be doing all this. Was it really too much to expect --a few minutes of your time to listen to something I'd worked on my whole life?

Q. I did, but figured with you in town we could enjoy some wine and talk a little about it. You’re a funny man

A. What do you mean, you mean the way I talk? What?

Q. Oh jeez, I don’t want to go down that road with you Marty.

A. Mr. Scorsese to you.

Q. Ok, Mr. Scorsese, I just want to ask you this. What do you think of Italian wines?

A. A lot of holes in the desert, and a lot of problems are buried in those holes. And call me Marty.

Q. Sure, whatever you’d like. Are you saying The Italian wine industry has problems?

A. You don't make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets. You do it at home. The rest is bullshit and you know it.

Q. So someone like Angela Gaja. You’ve had his wines? Where does he play into this?

A. He plays fast and big and he has the cash and the credit to turn out your lights. About a year ago, he cleaned out a couple of casinos in the Cayman Islands. Downstairs, he takes us for two million... and upstairs he takes free soap, shampoo and towels. Another billionaire cheapskate who loves his free rooms...

Q. Wow, maybe we should open up the bottle of Etna Rosso now?

A. You're a funny guy - but looks aren't everything.

Q. Do you read any of the wine publications? Parker, Spectator, Gambero Rosso?

A. Remember the first rule of politics. The ballots don't make the results, the counters make the results. The counters. Keep counting.

Q. Well, Marty, pretty deep. Lots of talk about the 100 point scoring scale. Is that where you’re going with this?

A. Boy, you are just hitting on all six cylinders, aren't you? My God. Would you do me a favor and just? Would you just smile for me one time? Just once?

Q. Uh , sure. Say this wine is pretty good don’t you think?

A. I don't know what to say to you... The Empire State in fog means something, don't it? Do you know, or don't you? Well, you should know, damn it, or who else would know?

At this point we take a break…Marty needs to return a call and a young lady came into my office to give me a report.

Q. Ok, Marty, so where do we go from here?

A. Listen, try a place with some sun. Swimming pools. Palm trees. Girls. I don't know what to say to you... . There's a girl here. I'm gonna show her around the house. Why don't you just finish your wine?

Q. You don’t like the wine? It’s Sicilian.

A. Look, friend. I'm trying to have a nice civilized conversation with the young lady. Be a good little lad, huh, and give us a break.

Q. Uh sure, but isn't she a little young for you?

A. What should I say? Silence is good, it says everything. Listen to me. What do you think the Kingdom of Heaven's like? It's like a wedding. God's the Bridegroom and Man's soul is the Bride. The wedding takes place in Heaven and everyone's invited.

Q. Yeah, I like the wine too. Do you ever drink Brunello?

A. I think we should look at reality, not dreams.

Q. Tuscany isn’t real?

A. Better to be King for a Night than Schmuck for a Lifetime.

Q. Well uh, you got me there. A lot of important folks have set up shop in Montalcino. Even Antinori.

A. Yeah, I like him too, I just hate his taste in music.

Q. Maybe we should open up a bottle of Barolo? Or Amarone? What would suit you?

A. Today, everything is different. There's no action. I have to wait around like everyone else. Can't even get decent food. Right after I got here, I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce and I got egg noodles and ketchup.

Q. I’m sure it isn’t like that all the time for you. I mean you’re an “A” list guy. Like Clooney.

A. He was here before. I saw him. He had a suitcase and everything, and then he left.

Q. I don’t know what you are talking about.

A. Look at it this way. A man takes a job, you know? And that job - I mean, like that - That becomes what he is. You know, like - You do a thing and that's what you are.

Q. Are you saying my work, my life, is a joke?

A. I'll tell you why. I think you're a lonely person. I drive by this place a lot and I see you here. I see a lot of people around you. And I see all these phones and all this stuff on your desk. It means nothing. Then when I came inside and I met you, I saw in your eyes and I saw the way you carried yourself that you're not a happy person. And I think you need something. And if you want to call it a friend, you can call it a friend.

Q. Man, you are as intense as my pal in Hollywood told me you would be.

A. Afterwards, you'll thank me.

Q, No doubt. So lets talk about Brunello. I know you’ve been scouting a movie location in Tuscany.

A. In the fifties when the communists started in with this country and they tried to clean them out, we offered to do it for them...but they didn't want us we kept out of it.

Q. Brunello. Thoughts?

A. The appearance of law must be upheld, especially when it's being broken.

Q. Ezio Rivella?

A. Yeah, he had a foolproof scheme, all right. It wasn't very scientific but it worked. When he won, he collected.

Q. Did you meet him in Tuscany? What did he say?

A. He said, “We're not getting any younger. Don't you think it's time? Aren't you gettin' tired of all this shit?Bangin' around, hustlin' around?

Q. So you went under cover in Tuscany?

A. Is whispering nothing? Is leaning cheek to cheek? Is meeting noses? Kissing with inside lip? Stopping the career of laughter with a sign? -- A note infallible of breaking honesty -- horsing foot on foot? Skulking in corners? Wishing clocks more swift? Hours, minutes? Noon, midnight? and all eyes blind with the pin and web but theirs, theirs only, that would unseen be wicked? Is this nothing? Why, then the world and all that's in't is nothing; the covering sky is nothing; Bohemia nothing; My wife is nothing; nor nothing have these nothings, if this be nothing." -- That's from something called "The Winter's Tale" -- Shakespeare! You all remember Shakespeare. He wrote all them famous plays one after the other, then he went into a big slump and he ain't done anything good in years. That speech is about jealousy -- jealousy's a bad thing.

Q. True. But somewhat of an Italian affliction. Anything else you heard from Rivella?

A. Just to hear him say, “I need ten thousand dollars. My lawyer says if we can spread ten thousand bucks around, we can get the case dropped.”

Q. So the film in Tuscany will be about Brunello? Wine?

A. Why don't you stick your goddamn head out of the goddamn window once in a while and find out about the goddamn fog!

Q. Sorry, Mr. Scorsese, I didn’t mean to touch a nerve

A. Romans can't find carpenters to make crosses. Except for you. You throw yourself into it like a madman. Everybody thinks you're crazy. But not me. I can see through this act of yours. Fainting, hearing voices, having visions. Everyone thinks you're a madman. But I know what your are. You're an enemy. You're worse than the Romans. You're a Jew who's killing Jews. And you're not ashamed. You don't even have any pride.

Q. Actually Marty, I’m an Italian American, like you.

A. Oh, I see. You sit out there all day with the others. Then you come in there with your head bowed, saying 'Forgive me, forgive me.' Well it's not that easy. Just because you need forgiveness don't ask me to do it 

Q. I don’t quite follow you.

A. I'm sorry if I have to tell you stories. But is seems to be the only way I can tell you what I have to.

Q. And a great story teller you are, sir. We’ve polished off two bottles of Sicilian wine, a Brunello, a Barolo and we are finishing up a half bottle of Recioto della Valpolicella. Any parting words?

A. I'm you. I'm your heart. Your heart is so hungry. It pretends to be humble but it secretly wants to conquer the world. It's a revolution that will come with love, not by the sword. Either way it's dangerous. It's against Rome. It's against the way the world is. And either way, I don't care. Sword or love, it's all the same. I don't care how you want to change things. We don't want them changed. So you know what has to happen.

Q. Thank you Mr. Scorsese. I hope to share a bottle with again, maybe next time in reality.

A. As a matter of fact, yesterday I went to the outdoor market near where I live and I bought twenty grapefruit.The grocer looked at me and said, "What are you gonna do with all those?” So I bent over and told him (in a confidential tone) "I'm gonna take 'em back to Florida and set 'em free!"

photo by Tyler Durdan

written by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy


bianca said...

I like what you did with the quotes. They're like a Scorcese pop quiz!

Thomas said...

Funny, Alfonso--in a smart way. But!

I believe the first visual is a Coppola, not a Scorcese.

The watchful hand.

Anonymous said...

What? Nothing from KUNDUN? What about AFTER HOURS? (What do you want from me? I'm just a word processor!)

But really, this was nicely done, thanks!


Tracie P. said...

i LOVE age of innocence!

Alfonso Cevola said...

Thanks, Thomas,

actually the first visual is Scorsese (Taxi Driver)

The second visual is an homage to Scorsese,who, it was rumored, Coppola wanted to have direct Godfather II.

Thomas said...

Well, I meant the first visual after the jump.

Why would Scorsese direct a Coppola film? Weeeeiiirrrd.

Anyway, I know how you feel about Scorsese films. In my case, not only am I an Italian-American who can relate; I walked those same mean streets for the first 20 years of my life. I think, however, the movie that made the most impact on me was Raging Bull--I knew those characters (Goodfellas is 2nd, because I REALLY knew some of them).

Do Bianchi said...

I would be really curious to know what he drinks. It HAS to be better than the crap that Coppola makes...

Thomas said...

Now that's funny, Do Bianchi--even if it happens to be true.

TWG said...

Caught a bit of a Coppola interview on NPR this past week (repeat from years ago). Studio head pressured Coppola to do a second G-dfather which he didn't want to do. Coppola suggested a younger director, Scorcese, but the studio wouldn't hear of it. Coppola put them off and then later quoted a nice round figure of $1MM to do a "sequel", the studio said OK, thus thus the G-dfather II.
I never realiozed that Coppola had written a script For Patton. His script was rejected, but later when the original lead actor was replaced by George C. Scott, the favored script was replaced with Coppola's.

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