Like reading between the lines, film director Martin Scorsese finds meaning not only in what you see but also in what you don’t see. As he famously said, "Cinema is a matter of what's in the frame and what's out."

That contention is illustrated in a costume exhibit he staged for the Metropolitan Museum of Art that asks more questions than it answers.

When you think of this legendary director, you think of gritty films like "Taxi Driver," not high fashion.

Clearly, when the Met asked Scorsese to make a single-frame movie that isn’t a movie, using mannequins for actors, it was to use his cinematic sensibility.

Making movie magic

Scorsese met the challenge with a cast of dressmaker dummies playing the role of guests at a formal social gathering, either in conversation or in self-absorbed isolation. Both actions intrigue.

The moviemaker told the press he staged the scene to tell a story “that could be felt across the length of that room.” One feeling you might get is an air of expectation as if the party guests are waiting for something or someone – perhaps the party host.

Center stage are two female guests in red-carpet-worthy evening gowns having a chat as are two others similarly gowned women nearby. But you wonder why another one of the female guests standing off by herself is weeping in front of a man’s portrait.

Obviously, the host hung the painting – perhaps it’s her deceased husband. Why, then, is this woman crying? Was he, her relative or her lover? You can’t help making up stories like that with Scorsese’s staging.

Wait, there’s more to the scene. Across the room another female guest sits alone, appearing to turn away from an approaching male figure.

What’s up with that, you wonder?

In a written statement next to the tableau, Scorsese said, “My hope is that people will come away with multiple possibilities unfolding in their mind’s eye.”

Get a whiff of this!

As unexpected as it may seem to see Scorsese direct a fashion show, it’s not his first unusual assignment. In 2010 he directed a commercial for the men’s cologne Bleu de Chanel starring French actor Gaspard Ulliel as a successful director.

Because this commercial acts like a movie with a lot of moving parts, you get Scorsese’s signature bag of tricks – a fast-paced, kinetic, choppy mix of closeups and long shots complete with his favored Rolling Stones singing their 1965 hit “She Said Yeah.”

Although far from movie length, this ad comes across like a full-length feature film about a Hollywood star who struggled to become a success (seen in fleeting flashback), but now resents the attention.

The cost of stardom shows at a press conference crowded with paparazzi and popping flashbulbs. Yet, you might feel as I do, to enter the scene to say to the star, your wound is self-inflicted.

With all that action going on, Scorsese makes sure you get the connection between his video and the men’s cologne when Gaspard says as he stalks off the press conference, “I’m not going to be the person you expect me to be anymore.” This is followed by a voiceover that says, “Be the unexpected.

Be Bleu Chanel.”

But here’s the thing. In this video, you’re not only getting a visually exciting story, but you’re also getting a poke at superstars who complain that they can’t live normal lives.

This brings me back to the staged soiree at the Met. Given that a woman quietly sobs over a portrait in her host’s home, you can’t help wondering if Scorsese didn’t carry his poke at the Hollywood elite forward to the museum.