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Thelma and Marty do the Coolidge

Schoonmaker and Scorsese in Brookline
By SARA FAITH ALTERMAN  |  April 18, 2007

Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker

It was hard to tell who was more excited about the presence of Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker at the Coolidge Corner Theatre Thursday night, February 12 — the gobs of drooling film students and smoky-throated hipsters, or Ty Burr, film critic for the Boston Globe. Filling in for an ailing Peter Travers (film critic for Rolling Stone), Burr moderated a panel discussion that followed a screening of Scorsese’s Oscar winner (best film, director, screenplay, and editing) The Departed and included Schoonmaker, screenwriter William Monahan, composer Howard Shore, and the bushy-browed Marty himself. It was the finale in a smorgasbord of Coolidge events — including an awards ceremony and an editing master class — honoring Schoonmaker, an internationally lauded film editor (now with three Oscars) who works almost exclusively with Scorsese. The participants took the stage to a thunderous standing ovation, and Burr opened by immediately mocking himself, citing his own critique of Scorsese’s Academy darling, which stated:“Martin Scorsese won’t be winning any Oscars for The Departed.” Oops.

Scorsese didn’t seem to have any hard feelings, peppering the discussion with quips, mumbled jokes, and eyebrow wiggles. “This was the first modern day film I’ve done in 20 years. I couldn’t imagine what the modern world looked like!” Scorsese and Schoonmaker have known each other for decades, since meeting at NYU, and function with the sort of symbiotic push-and-pull that characterize elderly sweethearts. Marty would ramble, Thelma would gently redirect him. Thelma would humbly talk about her work, Marty would compliment her. If their rapport is any indication of their working relationship, it’s no wonder that their teamwork has produced work such as Raging Bull, The Color of Money, Goodfellas, and The Aviator. Eventually, Schoonmaker took over moderator duties and just started asking questions, even fixing Scorsese’s microphone so that the crowd could hear him better.

The panel closed on a sober note, with Scorsese musing on the perfunctory nature of contemporary blockbusters. “The shot that really means something doesn’t really happen anymore,” he said, while Schoonmaker nodded in agreement. “I don’t know what the point of a shot is anymore.”

If the stampede of inquisitors who rushed the stage for the audience Q&A session, the lobby brimming with Marty-philes, and the collective sighs of content from attendees are any indication, Scorsese and Schoonmaker are more than making up for the shortcomings of their fellow American filmmakers.

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