A PERSONAL JOURNEY WITH MARTIN SCORSESE THROUGH AMERICAN MOVIES by Martin Scorsese

A PERSONAL JOURNEY WITH MARTIN SCORSESE THROUGH AMERICAN MOVIES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An engaging and lavishly illustrated look at American film, from the master director. Based on the scripts of two documentaries on American film by Scorsese and writer/director Wilson, this is less a history than a catalogue raisonnÇ of the films that have shaped Scorsese's own works. He is a notoriously devoted film buff, and his knowledge of cinema is both encyclopedic and deeply, even humbly, practical: ``The more pictures I make, the more I realize that I really don't know. I'm always looking for something or someone that I can learn from.'' One of the rewards of this book is the number of filmmakers, such as Boetticher and Ulmer, and films, such as Silver Lode, that Scorsese retrieves from obscurity--the filmography at the end is not to be missed. As a director, he is understandably a strong proponent of the auteur theory and its emphasis on films as personal expressions. In fact, this book is organized around various modes and manners of directing, from the ``Director as Storyteller'' to the ``Director as Smuggler'' to the ``Director as Illusionist.'' Scorsese and Wilson's discussion of the difference between directors who worked subversively within the system (smugglers such as Fritz Lang) and those who worked against the system (iconoclasts such as Orson Welles) is particularly revealing, as is their analysis of the three uniquely American genres: musicals, Westerns, and gangster films. However, in line with this work's coffee table aspirations, Scorsese and Wilson often tend to favor ``let's go to the highlights'' film appreciation over rigorous film criticism. This book also suffers from its screenplay origins--it doesn't read nearly as well as it plays--but it is a worthy albeit idiosyncratic window on American film and its shaping influence on a major director. (Book-of-the-Month Club selection)

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-7868-6328-5
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1997