I Just Can't Help Myself

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017-10-12 23:00:00 No comments

Martin Scorsese on Rotten Tomatoes, Box Office Obsession and Why 'Mother!' Was Misjudged (Guest Column) | Hollywood Reporter

Good films by real filmmakers aren't made to be decoded, consumed or instantly comprehended. They're not even made to be instantly liked. They're just made, because the person behind the camera had to make them.

Emphasis mine.

Much of this piece is about Rotten Tomatoes and the way Darren Aronofsky's mother! was thrown, rather unfairly, into the RotTom trashbin. I haven't yet seen the movie, so I can't come down for or against it, but the sheer level of vitriol aimed at it makes me suspicious; it tells me most of the people who saw it simply didn't know what they were getting into. What I want to focus on, though, is the part I bolded above.

When I talk to creators, mainly younger ones who are just getting started on their first large-scale project, I don't get the impression most of them are creating something because they feel they have to. It seems more borne of the feeling that someone else would find it cool, or marketable, or laudable, or what have you. The person who made them did feel that it had to be made, but more because there was someone to impress with it than because the thing itself fulfilled a need independent of any third-party praise.

Phrasing it that way makes it sound like I think those are bad motives. By themselves, no; it's not bad to want to make something that other people might appreciate. But it can't be the underlying motive. Most of the really creative people I know do what they do because they don't feel like they have a choice in the matter. They look around, and they see a hole in the world shaped like this thing, and they strive to fill it.

I've long suspected this is why we refer to someone like Scorsese as an artist, and we don't do that for someone whose job is just to show up and make sure things happen on schedule. Most every Scorsese film feels like the product of someone who worked extra-hard to make sure whatever it was about and whatever happened in it was plugged back into that need to fill an aching void in the world. He may have started with things that looked like they could be routine, commercial projects (The Wolf Of Wall Street comes to mind), but they almost never end up exclusively in that bucket, because he always had something of his own to bring to them.

Most any good art is its own thing, and the best art inscribes a circle around itself that you have no choice but to step into. What happens after that is anyone's guess, of course. On even-numbered days I think Joyce's Ulysses is invaluable; on odd-numbered days, I think it was a tremendous mistake to use it as a model for subsequent work, and decades later we're still paying the price in the form of compulsive obscurantism. But the inscribing of the circle matters, and it matters most when it's done by someone who feels they are doing something irreplaceable.

So go do something irreplaceable, already.

Tags: Martin Scorsese Rotten Tomatoes creativity creators motivation