“The King of Comedy” (1982) dir. Martin Scorsese

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“The King of Comedy” was Martin Scorsese’s follow-up to his legendary Jake LaMotta biopic “Raging Bull.” “King” flopped with audiences and got mixed reviews from critics. However, I think it’s one of Scorsese’s best films and as I much as I admire “Raging Bull,” I would watch “King” before “Bull” any day.

This movie seriously rubbed many the wrong way, because “King” did not resemble the typical Scorsese film. (There’s no gangsters, rat-a-tat dialogue and editing, or violence.) And star Robert DeNiro, as obnoxious autograph hound and wanna-be comedian Rupert Pupkin, likely really repulsed people. Granted, Jake LaMotta and Travis Bickle were scary characters, but let’s be honest, people love scary characters. Pupkin is the delusional loudmouth that most people go out of their way to avoid, let alone avoid seeing a movie about.  But DeNiro really brings it in this role, as well as Jerry Lewis as talk show host Jerry Langford and Sandra Bernhard as DeNiro’s arguably more demented cohort Masha.  Berhnard’s “seduction” of Lewis’s character is absolutely hilarious and frightening.

But I think time has been really kind to “King.” Uncomfortable, queasy comedy (i.e. “Curb Your Enthusiam,” “Louis”) has attained a certain kind of cache and if you like Larry David and Louis C.K., you should really give “King” a chance. “King” is one of the most brutal critiques of celebrity culture / worship ever created. It’s extremely uncomfortable to watch, but also very darkly funny.

“Wonderful Remark” – Van Morrison

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My favorite Van Morrison song. I first heard it nearly 30 years ago over the end credits of Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy.” Until it appeared on Van’s mega-selling “Best Of” album from 1990, the only place you could find it was “The King of Comedy” soundtrack which went out of print almost as soon as it was released. Since the song was nearly impossible to find and I loved “King,” I would always watch the film through the end credits to listen to it.