Martin Scorsese Laments "Young People's" Understanding of Cinema, Shoots Down Question on Lack of Female Characters

"If the story doesn’t call for it … it’s a waste of everybody's time," said 'The Irishman' helmer about showcasing roles for women in his films.

Martin Scorsese presented his new film The Irishman at the Rome Film Fest on Monday along with producer Emma Tillinger Koskoff as the festival's centerpiece event. The film, which details one of the most famous mob hits in history, that of Jimmy Hoffa, stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci.

Scorsese described The Irishman as a film about "mortality and the unraveling of a life," and "the immediate human experience" that he hopes anyone could relate to.

The director also expanded on widely publicized comments in which he criticized theaters for throwing most of their weight behind Marvel and DC films. "The key that I'm hoping for is for theaters to continue to support narrative cinema of this kind," said Scorsese, naming other filmmakers including Noah Baumbach, Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson.

He continued to criticize what is now viewed as cinema, and went further in lamenting how young people today experience life and understand (or fail to understand) the consequences of history.

His main wish, he clarified, is that "the theaters support the films. But right now the theaters seem to be mainly supporting the theme park, amusement park, comic book films. They're taking over the theaters. I think they can have those films; it's fine. It's just that that shouldn't become what our young people believe is cinema. It just shouldn't."

Scorsese said it's "quite sad" that the life of Jimmy Hoffa is largely unknown today. "As well known as he was, time just wiped him away," he said.

"This is the world we live in. Our children are, I don't know what they're doing with those devices. They perceive reality differently. They perceive even the concept of what history is supposed to be [differently]," continued the director.

"How are they going to know about World War II? How are they going to know about Vietnam? What do they think of Afghanistan? What do they think of all of this? They're perceiving it in bits and pieces. There seems to be no continuity of history."

A member of the Italian press asked Scorsese why his films' protagonists are mainly men, showing few interesting female stories. The Hollywood Reporter's review of the film called The Irishman "very much a movie about middle-aged men, and you miss the electric female energy of great roles that Scorsese shaped for Lorraine Bracco, Cathy Moriarty and Sharon Stone, among others."

A somewhat frustrated Scorsese immediately shot down the journalist's question. "No. That's not even a valid point. That's not valid. I can't … That goes back to 1970. That's a question that I've had for so many years. Am I supposed to?"

"No," chimed in Koskoff.

"If the story doesn't call for it … it's a waste of everybody's time. If the story calls for a female character lead, why not?"

"Alice Doesn't Live Here," chimed in Koskoff again.

"Oh, that's only one film. They don't count that. Age of Innocence, they don't count that," said Scorsese.

"Casino," said Koskoff.

"Casino. Sharon Stone's great in that. They don't count that. Forget it," said Scorsese. "‘It's all these men,'" he continued, implying he was being unfairly targeted, which prompted larger applause from the Italian press.

"Sure, I'd like to do [that]," said Scorsese. "But you know what, I'm 76 now. How am I going to have the time? I don't know what's going to happen. We don't know. I don't have time anymore."