Martin Scorsese's America
November 2009, Polity
Scorsese has often described his films as sociology and he has a point: his storytelling condenses complex information into comprehensible narratives about society. In this sense, he has been a guide through a dark world of nineteenth century crypto-fascism to a fetishistic twentieth century in which goods, fame, money and power are held to have magical power.
Author of Tyson: Nurture of the Beast and Beckham, Ellis Cashmore turns his attention to arguably the most influential living film- maker to explore how Scorsese envisions America. Greed, manhood, the city and romantic love feature on Scorsese's landscape of secular materialism. They are among the themes Cashmore argues have driven and inform Scorsese's work. This is America, as seen through the eyes of Martin Scorsese and it is a deeply unpleasant place.
Cashmore's book discloses how, collectively, Scorsese's films present an image of America. It's an image assembled from the perspectives of obsessive people, whether burned-out paramedics, compulsive entrepreneurs, tortured lovers, or celebrity-fixated comedians. It's collected from pool halls, taxicabs, boxing rings and jazz clubs. It's an image that's specific, yet ubiquitous. It is Martin Scorsese's America.
TWO: DREAM GONE TOXIC
THREE: WHOSE LAW? WHAT ORDER?
FOUR: MINDS AND THE METROPOLIS
FIVE: PAWNS IN THEIR GAME
SIX: WHAT THE PEOPLE WANT
SEVEN: FAMILY VALUES
EIGHT: IDEA OF A MAN
NINE: WOMEN LOSE
TEN: SUBMISSION TO ROMANCE
ELEVEN: PRICE OF MONEY- CONCLUSION
"Martin Scorsese's America is a remarkable study focused not only on an individual but on a creator of a vision."
"The author accessibly makes a case for the director as a key chronicler of (male) America."
"Cashmore has written a book on Scorsese that should appeal to fans, and provides a solid introduction to a decent critical analysis of the bulk of his work. Academically it's thorough, with enough references that it would serve as a perfect keystone text ... a pleasant read."
Eye for Film
'Ellis Cashmore acknowledges Scorsese as a visionary of modern cinema and hails him as the world's greatest living film maker ... Cashmore provides an easily accessible insight into Scorsese's catalogue of cinematic classics, including Goodfellas and Casino, as well as his lesser-known documenataries and television shows ... [Martin Scorsese's America] is aimed at a wide range of film fans, from students to avid cinema goers.'
Express & Star
"With this innovative study of his films, Ellis Cashmore has raised Martin Scorsese to the ranks of key chroniclers of American society. As Frank Capra was the voice of the Depression era and John Ford revealed America as shaped by World War II and its aftermath, Scorsese provides an on-going interpretation of the past forty years: rock and roll, Reaganism, civil rights, feminism, and the revision of the American dream. Cashmore tells us a great deal about both Scorsese and America."
Richard A. Blake, Boston College
"Ellis Cashmore's Martin Scorsese's America probes the cinematic oeuvre of one of the world's major film directors, ferreting out his recurrent themes, obsessions, and visions of contemporary life in the United States. Capturing the variety and diversity of Scorsese's work, Cashmore provides an illuminating portrait of a major cineaste and makes the case that Scorsese should be seen as one of the great U.S. directors whose visions of American life are as incisive and insightful as many great literary artists."
Douglas Kellner, UCLA