It used to be that if you wanted to watch a movie, you would have to go to the theater. Then came VHS and films people used to watch on the big screen could be viewed in their homes, on a TV, relaxing on a nice comfy couch. Now, you can watch almost anything, anytime, anywhere — on your phone.
At least that’s what Martin Scorsese recommends for his films, especially his latest Netflix flick, The Irishman. Actually, he’s begging you.
Don’t watch it on a phone.
“I would suggest — if you ever want to see one of my pictures, or most films — please, please, don’t look at it on a phone, please,” the Oscar-winning director told the YouTube show “Popcorn with Peter Travers.”
Not bad advice, considering the gangster epic clocks in at a whopping 209 minutes. That’s nearly three-and-a-half hours – enough to glaze anyone’s eyes.
But don’t mistake Scorsese’s plea as vanity. In fact, he goes out of his way to say it’s not about him. It’s about the art.
“I’m not saying because, ‘Oh, I made it,'” he told Travers.
“Ideally, I’d like you to go to a theater, look at it on a big screen from beginning to end.”
But he’s not trying to fool anyone. He does want to promote his film. After all, he put a lot of work into it. This is what he does. He likes to show gangsters in their full and gory glory on the big screen. That’s why he does what he does. And that’s what he sees in The Irishman — and movies in general.
“It was an interesting narrative structure, and it got me involved each time,” he said.
“In a funny way, I think I made (The Irishman) to cover all the bases in terms of how you could watch this picture.”
The Irishman is long. No doubt about it. And Scorsese is the first one to admit it. That’s why you want to keep the eye strain to a minimum.
“And I know, it’s long — you gotta get up, you gotta go to the bathroom, that sort of thing,” he said.
“I get it — but also at home, I think if you can make a night of it, or an afternoon thereof, and know that you’re not gonna answer the phone or you’re not gonna get up too much, it might work.”
Look, he’s not telling you not to watch anything on a phone. (Actually, maybe he is.) He says he just doesn’t get the art behind making movies for phones.
“I don’t know how to do it,” he admits.
“I wish I could, I don’t know how. No, I don’t get it.”
Is it an age thing? Maybe.
But let’s get real. A movie isn’t a YouTube clip you ingest in a minute.
It’s not a cat video. It’s not a peck on the cheek. It’s not a cheap shot of whiskey. It’s a fine wine. You need the right atmosphere. You want to be comfortable. You want to let it breathe. You want to let out all of its flavor.
And the fact is you just can’t get the full movie experience on a screen that fits in your pocket. Otherwise, you may just end up squinting like De Niro.