Martin Scorsese is not a "personal filmmaker."

My English professors always warned me against reading anything biographically. Pulling a meaning from a work based on knowledge of the writer's life is always tempting and sometimes enlightening, but ultimately it's a lazy route that closes alternate possibilities. That's a good rule that more film writers should follow. "Shutter Island" is coming out tomorrow and already people are getting their hate on, with the key buzzword being "impersonal" and variants thereon. Leading the charge is Elbert Ventura over at Slate, who declares the film "silly and impersonal," which somehow makes the word corollaries. It's telling that the most popular Scorsese films remain, after all these years, "Mean Streets," "Raging Bull" and "Goodfellas" -- the Italian-American trifecta, with "Taxi Driver" more respected than loved. That's because mooky violence is an easier sell than, say, Edith Wharton or the temptations of Christ. And, armed with the information that Scorsese was an...

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