Sure, it's TV designed for newcomers. It's a bit shapeless when it riffs, a bit too simple in its classifications, and a bit too pat in how history got from point A to point B. But Scorsese is an endlessly congenial presence, and when he hits you with a clip from someone you don't know—Dwan and De Toth for me, maybe someone else for you—you'll realize, as you should, that you're still a newcomer and always will be.
The only thing that bothers me in this documentary it probably bothers Martin Scorsese more. As he said in the final of the doc, misses some of great directors and cinema landmarks. It's not complete. However, what Scorsese achieves with this didactic but friendly talk is beyond great, it's really superb. We learn and made us think about movies and the passionate bunch of artists behind them.
I had a great time with this film. Felt back I was I back in college again listening to a wonderful lecture. Charming. Had to go the extra mile and actually purchase this one -- great for educating friends or family.
Should be in every cinephile's, filmmaker's, apprentice's, student's (what have you) list of research docs. There isn't a dull moment during this exciting four-hour long talk between one of the greatest filmmakers of our time and all of us throughout the world. One of the best of BFI's Century of Cinema series, this one is definitely mandatory.
Always a pleasure to listen someone knowledgeable on cinema history evaluate independent, avant-garde and especially B-list production with equal passion as chewed-up must-appreciate film canons. But, as even the author himself agrees, this documentary can only be a quick walk through couple of rooms in a much larger museum, and in the end you can only find out how much more you still have to learn.