I've been aware of the Fox Lorber Directors series for some time now but hadn't sampled one until I had an opportunity to review the Martin Scorsese installment. Scorsese is my all time favorite living director so I was really looking forward to this disc. The sixty-minute documentary lived up to my expectations in every way.
Sponsored by the American Film Institute, The Directors is an ongoing series of documentaries profiling the life and work of many of film's most significant auteurs. Each installment features extensive interviews with the director in question along with comments from his or her primary collaborators.
The AFI did a fantastic job with the Scorsese disc. The program traces his works chronologically beginning with the Roger Corman exploitation film Boxcar Birtha, through Scorsese's masterpieces Raging Bull and Taxi Driver and ending with Bringing out the Dead. Along the way Scorsese speaks in great detail about his approach to filmmaking, his choice of actors and writers and on his interactions with studio executives. Scorsese is extremely articulate, has a memory like a steal trap and talks at a mile a minute making this disc consistently entertaining and informative from start to finish.
In addition to Scorsese there are copious comments from figures including Jodie Foster, Paul Newman, Willem Defoe and Griffin Dunne. I found the segments with Ray Liotta, Robert De Nero and Joe Pesci particularly interesting. The documentary is interspersed with illustrative clips from Scorsese's films showing the hallmarks of his style and the powerful performances he elicits from his actors.
The full frame transfer is about what you'd expect from a television program. The picture is clean and clear with nice color saturation, good black levels and no appreciable digital artifacting. The images look a little soft from time to time and the elements used for the film clips are far from reference quality but given the nature of the content these are very minor problems.
Because this is a dialogue driven title the Dolby 2.0 stereo track is more than adequate. The voices are very clear and evenly mixed and an effort has been made to keep them that way when clips of Scorsese's films are being shown.
The Extras: I wasn't expecting any extra content on this disc and there isn't much to speak of. You'll find a bare bones filmography and a list of awards and award nominations. There's also an advertisement for other Director series discs and a scene selection menu.
If you're a Scorsese fan you'll probably want this disc in your collection. With the exception of the Taxi Driver extras and the Last Temptation of Christ commentary track there isn't a whole lot of Scorsese documentary content available on DVD. For people unfamiliar with the director's work this is a super introduction.