The question is, where has he gone? These words don't come easy, but Martin Scorsese, at this current juncture in cinematic history, has disappeared. Once a maestro film-maker who advocated anarchy of the soul - see De Niro's Johnny Boy in Mean Streets or Joe Pesci in GoodFellas - Scorsese delighted in holding up a mirror to America's underbelly, and he did so with that most subversive of narrative tools: humour.
'The Wolf of Wall Street' is, by many standards, a good film. Sure, it follows all of the predictable plot beats that any given "money and drugs in the Eighties" flick entails, but it makes up for its lack of narrative surprises with its strong central performances and highly stylised depictions of excess.
Nicholas Hytner's Othello was so good I saw it twice. It's not the first time Sir Nick has wowed the critics. And I somehow doubt it will be the last. I perch comfortably outside his office, staring at black-and-white action shots of hit after hit: Adrian Lester in Henry V, Simon Russell Beale in Much Ado About Nothing, James Corden in One Man, Two Guv'nors. If there's such thing as a grammar of theatre, Hytner is fluent in it.
With the internet threatening to alter the fundamental act of distribution that has laid dormant since the advent of home video, it requires a glance all the way back to the late 1960s to find a time when Hollywood's tried and tested means of dominating the film business was so similarly threatened.
A critic for the Chicago Sun-Times for forty-six years, the Ebert era has bracketed the better half of film history. Unlike the fanatical doctrines of Pauline Kael, the humility of his observations broke through the cultural feudalism of cinema snobbery to land right aboard the brains and the breakfast tables of the American family. With syndication in more than 200 national newspapers, his voice of easy reason trickled from Chicago to Hollywood.