Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The King of Comedy. A-

It's generally labeled as the unsung Martin Scorsese picture, but in recent years The King of Comedy has gathered a pretty nice following, one because it's a Scorsese film, and two, because it's actually really good. When it was first released back in 1983, the reaction was one of puzzlement. Why was Scorsese, already considered a master of dark, gloomy dramas, tackling black comedy? And what exactly did the movie itself mean? Roger Ebert thought it was unsettling and one of the saddest films he'd seen. I suppose things have changed. A lot of movies have come out since 1983, and as I sat watching The King of Comedy, I found it fairly light and enjoyable. Sure, Robert De Niro plays a character with some serious problems, but we applauded the brilliance of Network's bold, far-fetched ending, so I say the same should be done for this. Network was trying to emphasize a point by having howard Beale killed on live TV, and Scorsese's film does the same in its depiction of the lengths De Niro's character goes to have his comedy act appear on live TV. Because both TV and cinematic satire were still fairly new in 1983, the movie was understandably met with a confused reaction. But today, in our world of rapid media consumption and celebrity worship, it's a very sharp and intelligent piece of commentary.

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