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Ellis Cashmore (2009) Martin Scorsese's America

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Microsoft Word - meneghetti.docx Film-Philosophy 14.2 2010 Film-Philosophy | ISSN: 1466-4615 161 Review: Ellis Cashmore (2009) Martin Scorsese’s America. Cambridge: Polity Press. Michael Meneghetti Brock University Few contemporary Hollywood directors have been as adept as Martin Scorsese at activating a biographical legend with the release of each film. Lifetime cinephile, passionate preservationist and informal film historian, Scorsese has remained uncommonly eager to invoke a cinematic patrimony and bona fides when discussing his own work. Having now reached the ‘lifetime achievement award’ stage of his long career, the director can at times sound a deeply nostalgic note when summoning the cinematic past; yet his willingness to proselytize on behalf of film history nonetheless remains salutary in a context where said history is paradoxically disappearing (the film preservationist’s dilemma) and rapidly re-emerging in the new world of digital media. It has, however, also produced an increasingly curious insularity in the popular critical reception of his recent work. Today, Scorsese’s films are simply received as the very embodiment of film history. Whatever else it may be, Shutter Island (2010) is, Peter Travers tells us, the work of one who ‘makes movies as if his life depends on it [...]. Cinema is in Scorsese’s DNA […]. No one who lives and breathes movies would dream of missing it’ (64). Scorsese’s latest films seemingly arrive to spectators as already preserved historical objects, their status as exemplars of a tradition of ‘great cinema’ largely determining the tenor of their popular critical reception in America. But they appear as a consequence to be utterly disengaged from the world or any extra-filmic reality: ensconced in a wholly Film-Philosophy 14.2 2010 Film-Philosophy | ISSN: 1466-4615 162 cinephilic discourse, Scorsese’s films are too often said to

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