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Conversations with Scorsese Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 8, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this q&a-format biography, film critic and documentary filmmaker Schickel follows one of America's greatest directors on a journey through his life in cinema. An asthmatic, sickly child, Scor-sese used movies to escape from family tensions and the mean streets of New York's Little Italy. In a career now in its fifth decade, Scorsese has made over 20 feature films (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, etc.) as well as numerous documentaries. A cross between a film master class and after-hours jam session, the conversations range from Scorsese's Italian upbringing to Hollywood gossip to obscure silent films. Scorsese and Schickel's long friendship and their encyclopedic film knowledge bring a comfort and complexity to their interaction. Scorsese has always been a fluid raconteur, and Schickel brings out the best in him—not least of all because he's confident enough to disagree with the master. Scorsese's focus on the minutiae of his life and in his movies has given his work universal appeal. Anyone with even a passing interest in Scorsese's career or in film history will find a gem on every page. (Mar.)
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From Booklist

Film-critic Schickel recently sat down with Scorsese for a series of late-night conversations. Stitched together here, they form an illuminating autobiography-cum-film-studies-course from one of the nation�s foremost directors. Scorsese speaks candidly about his childhood in Little Italy and his escape into the movies of the 1950s; his pivotal experiences at the NYU film school and his early student efforts; and, of course, his phenomenal filmmaking career, from his 1967 debut, Who�s That Knocking at My Door, through last year�s Shutter Island. The in-depth treatment provides fascinating insights into Scorsese�s films; even his most obsessed fans will discover new revelations, and hearing him discuss his entire body of work in a single lengthy narrative ties such outliers as The Age of Innocence and Kundun to more-characteristic masterworks like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. Both Schickel and Scorsese are utterly movie-obsessed, so a significant chunk of the conversation is inevitably devoted to the classic films they both love; for cinephiles, these passages, where two passionate and supremely informed fans articulately chat about the subjects of their fixation, might be the most rewarding part of this fascinating document. --Gordon Flagg

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (March 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307268402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307268402
  • ASIN: 0307268403
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 1.4 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By S. Lawrence on May 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In our vulgar era, when the word "Celebrity" has been entirely divorced from "Worthy of Being Celebrated", Richard Schickel's Conversations with Scorsese is more than a damn good read; it's a restoration. What's being restored to our Access Hollywood-drenched culture is the notion art comes from inspiration, yes, but also hard work, seriousness of purpose, and intelligence. The line where Scorsese explains why he had to make Mean Streets just grabbed me. That's what art is--taking the truth of someone's life and expressing it, not in a navel-gazing way but as a way to touch upon something universal in the human condition.

Would just also add that Schickel's knowlege of film and filmmaking is right up there with Scorsese's well-know encyclopedic mind. "You know that 1928 film by Joe Blow from Prague?" "Oh, yeah, I loved that film." "The colors in it were amazing." "Yeah, that second act when the green tugboat is going up the gray Danube." "Kind of a silvery gray." "Fantastic." (Completely made-up dialogue to illustrate a point. No extra charge!)
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Edward S. Brown on May 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Richard Schickel's,"Conversations with Scorsese" is the first book I've ever read where the entire book is in a "Q & A" form equivalent to a long conversation.

There are several nuggets within "Conversations with Scorsese" that can be utilized within any industry.

1. Choose a profession that you have an undying love for and immerse yourself in your craft.

2. Within your vocation, become a historian of the past accomplishments of individuals who helped advance the industry.

3. Use the styles and patterns of past and present practitioners within your industry to lay a strong foundation.

4. Develop and create a body of work that is specific to your experiences.

5. Consistently fight for unadulterated ways of expressing your creativity without compunction.

6. Although you may be passionate about creating a body of work, realize that you are only one piece to a larger puzzle. Your work is built from the producers who came before you. And future generations of creators will build their work on the legacy you leave behind.

7. Be introspective enough to embrace your strengths and weaknesses.

"Conversations with Scorsese" exemplifies a charismatic way of writing a book that is active and engaging. The strength of the book lies in the ability to create a visual, auditory masterpiece using words as a medium. This creativity comes through the actual dialogue rather than the flowery prose found in traditional writing styles.

I highly recommend this book based on the legendary Martin Scorsese as well as a style of writing in step with the visual necessity of contemporary society.

Edward Brown
Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Richard Harborough on December 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is a must-have for anyone interested in the intricacies of the filmmaking process from inception to script to filming to finally editing and releasing the film. If you've ever wondered what Scorsese's thought about one of his movies, the answer lies herein.

This extremely interesting and insightful book by filmmaker and reviewer Richard Schickel delves into Scorsese's origins to his film Shutter Island, essentially covering everything. The book goes in depth into just everything you could possibly want to know about the man or the films.

This book will hopefully be among the great film books in history, perhaps among such (now) classics as Francois Truffaut's famed interviews with Alfred Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense. If you are a fan of Scorsese and enjoy his films, I urge you to purchase this book. It's worth the price, and it's most definitely worth your time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dead Rabbitt on February 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Learned more about Scorcese than any other book or medium and was reinvigorated to watch his movies again. Two film lovers talking about film.
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By Jeff B. Sultanof on January 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When two people get together to discuss things that they love, it can be very rewarding. When a top-notch critic and his friend who happens to be one of the great filmmakers of our time get together, the result is insightful, fun to read and invaluable for those of us who love movies. I learned a great deal about Scorcese from this book, and it makes me wish I was a fly on the wall as these two men were visiting.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nedvaluke on July 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
I read this over three days, a few dozen pages each day. Although it took me three days, I honestly could have read it all in one sitting, that's how easy to read this book is. It's not even a book in the traditional sense, it is essentially a transcript of a sitdown conversation between Scorsese's friend Richard Schickel, and Scorsese himself. The nature of the format is what was the most appealing to me, because you get a sense that it's a real, unfiltered conversation. There are even moments where in any other case an editor could have "fixed" the section, but it's left in the book for all to see. Like a courtroom stenographer taking down every beat, repetition, and laughter.

What's truly wonderful about this book is that it covers everything from Scorsese's youth to his latest film - which at that point was Shutter Island. After that, there are sections on Shooting, Directing, Editing, Music... and they're all illuminating . This is a wonderful book on the man for anyone looking to find out more about the persona behind Scorsese, his mindset behind each film, his process on filmmaking, and overall what makes Scorsese be the filmmaker he is today.

An easy, fast read, but very thorough.
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