In the years between the production of HUGO (2011) and (as of this writing) his latest feature THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, director Martin Scorsese picked up some quick work back in the commercial realm. He appears himself in all but one of them, and such, continues to maintain a presence in pop culture as a brand unto himself—that of kindly, kooky old Uncle Marty.
AT&T COMMERCIAL (2011)
What appears to be a domestic scene of a young boy calling his out-of-town father to wish him goodnight is revealed to be a film set commanded by none other than Scorsese. Playing an exaggerated version of himself like he’s done in his previous American Express commercials, he breaks the focus of the scene to deliver direction to his subjects in his characteristic rapid-fire delivery. His direction to imbue the performance of this sweet little boy with all the pathos and angst of a broken home parodies the decidedly adult themes that Scorsese is best known for within his feature work.
APPLE: “SIRI” (2012)
Scorsese’s spot for Apple hawks the iPhone’s voice assistant function Siri with a playful spot that puts Scorsese himself front and center, albeit in the backseat of a taxi cab in his native New York City. The piece shows an ever-busy Scorsese using Siri to schedule his many work appointments and meetings, emphasizing the comedic dynamic between Scorsese’s manic, off-the-cuff ramblings and Siri’s monotonous precision. The success of the spot hinges on the audience’s recognition of Scorsese as a prominent social figure within mass media, and any effectiveness it does hold in that regard owes to the groundwork he previously laid in prior spots as his exaggerated Uncle Marty character.
DOLCE & GABBANA THE ONE: STREET OF DREAMS (2013)
In 2013, Scorsese directed another long-form fashion film in the vein of Bleu De Chanel’s “THE FILM” (2010). This time, the commission came from Dolce & Gabbana in a bid to promote their fragrance The One. Titled “STREET OF DREAMS” the spot drops any pretense of Uncle Marty’s media profile and allows for the director to use classical cinematic conventions to evoke an old-fashioned glamor.
The spot stars Matthew McConaughey, fresh off his collaboration with Scorsese in THE WOLF OF WALL STREET and well into a career resurgence colloquially dubbed The McConnaissance, as well as Scarlett Johannson as two wistful former lovers reconnecting in New York City. There’s no real story to speak of– just a series of vignettes meant to generate a glamorous sense of nostalgia. Scorsese’s execution of the concept accomplishes this quite effortlessly, with the gorgeous black and white anamorphic cinematography paired with midcentury Italian singer Mina’s soulful love ballad “Il Cielo In Una Stanza”. Scorsese emphasizes elegant camerawork via Steadicam shots, cranes, and subtle push-ins.
“STREET OF DREAMS” is quintessential Scorsese, what with it’s New York City setting and Johansson’s embodiment of the “Scorsese Blonde” archetype that is present throughout most of his best feature work. Crucial influences like Federico Fellini are also felt in the piece’s DNA, brought out to the fore by the aforementioned Mina track. While fashion films as a concept can all too easily veer into nonsensical indulgence, Scorsese’s “STREET OF DREAMS” sublimely captures an old-school elegance appropriate to the brand, and stands to endure as the reference-grade gold standard to which all fashion films should aspire.