The films of Martin Scorsese sear themselves into our collective film consciousness because they are such extreme examples of personal artistic expression. His films connect with us because they’re not aiming for the widest possible audience. They feel as though they had to be made. In Martin Scorsese: A Retrospective (Abrams, $40), Tom Shone, whose overview is the first such study to get the director’s approval, recounts Scorsese’s Little Italy upbringing and the childhood asthma that kept him off the streets and in the movie houses. From Scorsese’s first short film "What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?" through this year’s documentary on the New York Review of Books, "The 50-Year Argument", Shone tracks the artistic highs, lows ,and under-rated works that make up Scorsese’s illustrious career. Whether you can’t forget the classics like "Taxi Driver" or are hooked on his recent genre pictures this is every Scorsese fan’s must-have.
Difficult Men is a chronicle of the first wave of Cable's original network programming and its impact on the future of television. The title refers both to the shows' protagonists and their odd creators. There’s the cantankerous and black-humored "Sopranos" creator David Chase. "Deadwood"'s David Milich with his “inspirational” drug use and almost-shaman like writing process; "Mad Men"'s obsessive and prickly Matthew Weiner; and "The Wire"’s David Simon who used the medium to conduct blistering attacks on the rot at the heart of public institutions. Author Brett Martin illustrates how each of these men worked through the ranks of television to eventually wield unprecedented creative power and change the industry forever.