Scorsese at first seems like a compilation of Roger Ebert's various interviews and reviews concerning the man and his work. And it is that: if you're simply looking for a collection of reviews of Scorsese's movies, from debut WHO'S THAT KNOCKING to last year's SHINE A LIGHT documentary on the Rolling Stones, well, I guess this book will have served its purpose.
But that's not really what this book is about. What it's really about is a close examination of the best that movies can aspire to, and what goes into achieving that. It's about the childhood memories that are burned so deeply into our souls that we have have no choice but to leave the faintest of traces on all that we touch. It's about the relationship of two men over the course of 30 years, and how mutual respect and admiration bring out the best in people. It's a celebration, and for Ebert it's a chance to explore the sparks to see just how it is that they ignite his soul.
But it is also, perhaps first and foremost, about the movies.
The title says it all: this isn't an objective look at Martin Scorsese the Film Director. This is a very personal, subjective book about how Marty, both in person and in his films, has affected Roger over the course of his professional life. He constantly places Scorsese as quite possibly the greatest living American Director, and while I happen to completely agree with that statement, the beauty of the book is that it doesn't feel at all like its job is to convince me - it just wants me to know how and why they happen to work for Ebert. In the process of this, however, you get a thorough examination of each Scorsese's films, including in some instances reconsiderations that act as a counterpoint to Ebert original reviews (all of which are included) as well as a series of longer essays compiled under the heading of "Masterpieces" which are culled from Ebert's excellent Great Movies series.
I've made no secret over the years about Roger Ebert's influence on my movie-watching habits as well as my writing. What he's done with Scorsese is bring the director's films to life in a way that makes watching them somehow more vibrant, more alive. Which is something I'll definitely be doing sooner rather than later.