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The Schmooze

Natalie Portman Politely Schools Scorsese, Coppola On Why People Like Marvel Movies

It’s not easy to make Harvard-educated multi-millionaire super model Oscar-nominee Natalie Portman look like the people’s hero. But that’s where we are this week, thanks to Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola.

The two legendary directors grabbed headlines this month when they declared their disdain for movies from Marvel, the superhero blockbuster factory that gave us the “Avengers” movies, the most recent of which is the highest-grossing film in history.

“I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema,” Scorsese said in early October, when asked if he’d seen any of the beloved action movies. Likening the movies to “theme parks,” the “Taxi Driver” director said, “It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

Coppola jumped into the fray this week too, adding, “We expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain something, some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration.”

He added, “Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.”

Notwithstanding the fact that both men’s descriptions of real cinema map to Marvel films — which are crude moral statements on the power of love and friendship and the goodness of humanity in between action scenes — Portman, who will star in Marvel’s “Thor: Love And Thunder,” addressed their comments this week.

“I think there’s room for all types of cinema,” she told the Hollywood Reporter. “There’s not one way to make art.”

Well, heck.

“I think that Marvel films are so popular because they’re really entertaining and people desire entertainment when they have their special time after work, after dealing with their hardships in real life,” she added.

Preach, Natalie! (Just skip over that bit at the end where she accidentally lets on that she has never lived a normal life — “special time after work” being not exactly common parlance.) Like great chefs putting out a press release to say they don’t like McDonalds, Scorsese and Coppola seem daffily out of touch. It’s sweet, really; perhaps next they’ll get the board of MOMA to announce that Disneyland is not a fine art museum.

Jenny Singer is the deputy life/features editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny

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