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Reflecting on his work, legacy and cultural impact, Martin Scorsese’s friends and colleagues highlighted his generosity, storytelling ability and mastery of cinema ahead of the director being honored with the Friars Club’s Entertainment Icon award. Scorsese was recognized at an event at New York’s Cipriani Wall Street venue in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday night.
“He has an absolute perfect grasp of where cinema sits in the great pantheon of the arts,” Kingsley, who starred in Scorsese’s 2011 film Hugo, told The Hollywood Reporter. “And he realizes that it’s an extremely responsible beautiful craft to be immersed in and there’s nothing trivial about Marty. That’s the great gift to him and to me and to all of us. Nothing trivial.”
For Scorsese himself, the honor took him back to his childhood, where television performances were in the tradition of the Friars. Growing up on New York’s Lower East Side, Scorsese said that the storytelling, the joke pacing, the comic timing, was all around him. “That’s where I learned about acting, too, really. So it comes from that, I had no background,” he said. “A lot of it comes from what we consider entertainment which I never thought I’d be part of but I’d admired so greatly. So to be here is really interesting, to say the least. And really appreciative.”
Those in attendance remembered how Scorsese had taught them, generously sharing his knowledge and expertise.
“He’s not holding back secrets, he’s giving young filmmakers all the information,” Fuqua, whose latest film The Magnificent Seven hits theaters on Friday, told THR, recalling a private screening session Scorsese set up for him. “He’s not worried about the young guy coming up, he’s Martin Scorsese. He’s like ‘Here take this and go make a great movie.'”
Vincent Piazza, who worked with Scorsese on Boardwalk Empire, said the director is “someone who’s there to take this wealth of knowledge that he’s accumulated over the years and pay it forward and pass it on.”
As for Scorsese’s own great films, Piazza called his voice in cinema unique and unforgettable, his way of capturing history cementing his status as an icon.
“When you’re a director and you look at Scorsese’s work, he’s always challenging us to push the envelope and break the rules. Someone like that is necessary and a godsend.” Fuqua said. “[His films have] always challenged the audience with a new way of looking at it. Shorthand, faster pacing, slowed down pacing, he’s a master of cinema in a sense that he knows movies that you and I would never think about. He’s a genius like that.”
Elvis Costello added, “You know what he finds, is the human side, and the moral questions,” he said. “They’re in all the films whether they’re in Little Italy or in the police department in Boston or something like the conflicts of a singular person like Howard Hughes.”
For some, the task of summarizing Scorsese’s undeniable imprint on film and entertainment proved too large, with James Lipton calling the director a genius and Larry King referring to him as one of the absolute best.
Meanwhile, Diana Krall, who was to perform a song from Pete Kelly’s Blues that evening said that the song selection was Scorsese’s own. “I played a party for him in Paris a little over a year ago and I had my song to play and then he said to me, ‘Why didn’t you play this song?’” she said. “So tonight I’m getting a chance to play it.”
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