Martin Scorsese, as the world well knows, makes movies about Italian restaurants. Sure, he makes bloody crime films, too, but at some level he seems to be asking: what’s the difference? In Goodfellas (1990), a man crashes into a pizzeria, one hand shot to pieces, bleeding all over the place. He’s kicked out, and the film cuts to a platter of deli meats surfing through a crowded eatery. The gambling mastermind at the centre of Casino (1995) masquerades as a ‘Food and Beverage Manager’. Meanwhile, the film’s trigger-wild tough, played by Joe Pesci, opens up a classy night spot.
Restaurants are so common in Scorsese’s world they would be easy to overlook. Print the scripts. Have a look. Odds are the scene heading will read: ‘INTERIOR – RESTAURANT – DAY’. Two characters might be making a salad, talking about where to get the best red-wine vinegar, but what they’re really saying is: ‘so-and-so is about to kill so-and-so’. In Scorsese’s careful studies of mob society, there seems to be an intimate and inexpressible link between eating and murder, between a restaurant brimming with bodies and a man dying alone in the backroom.