Friday, February 26, 2010
(WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS WILL BE DISCUSSED!!!)
Although obviously reminiscent of the films of Alfred Hitchcock, the film that Martin Scorsese's latest, "Shutter Island", reminds me most of is Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" due to my post-screening reaction to the film. It is not a secret that I consider both directors to be two of my filmmaking heroes. Yet, with "The Shining" and "Shutter Island", there is this inescapable feeling that both filmmakers are applying a considerable amount of spit and shine to material that is, how shall I put this, Grade C Junk. What makes both films seem desperate is that Scorsese and Kubrick work overtime to convince us (and, I believe, themselves) that they are not making B movies by artfully composing one superficially beautiful or clever shot after another that are ultimately devoid of much meaning or emotion.
Without trying to make this yet another commentary on the state of Scorsese's career in the last decade, I will say that "Shutter" contains some of the most beautiful imagery in any of his films since the under-appreciated "Kundun". The island and the asylum function as a playground for Scorsese to indulge in some of his most striking compositions with the help of the great Robert Richardson (who I thought seemed a bit handcuffed in his "Inglourious Basterds" camera work). I am grateful that this film gives Scorsese a chance to experiment with dream imagery, particularly one sequence between the main character and his late wife where he holds her close and she disintegrates into a pile of ash. For all the problems many have with this film, it is, without a doubt, a visually enthralling experience, not unlike "The Shining".
But like Kubrick's film, there are those nagging questions that come up when I sit and think about them for just a few minutes. My first question after "The Shining" was: Is there anything more to this film than a man making crazy faces and chasing his family around an empty hotel with an axe? However, if I want to refine that question and go a little deeper, I would then simply ponder if the film was anything more than a genre exercise that the director mounted beautifully without engaging my mind or heart in any significant way?
Saturday, February 13, 2010
I am aware many of you have seen plenty of movie decade roundups over the last couple of months and the last thing you may want to read is one more. Since this blog only started about 9 months ago, I never actually discussed most of the movies this series of pieces will cover. Plenty of the films will have popped up on many, some or none of the lists you have read. However, this is as much about looking back on the last decade of film to understand how we started it and where we are now. Sure, I want to highlight what I consider my favorite films from this decade, but, as always, there are plenty of aspects about movies that are as worthy of discussion as the list-making.
First, let me state right off the bat that I do not feel lists are meant to please everyone, as much as I think it allows a certain understanding of a particular person's point of view. I guarantee you will find some of my favorites either to be completely deserving or believe that I am crazy for including them. At this point, there is not a film on my list I have not seen ripped apart by someone, somewhere on the internet, where movies go to get built up by some and torn down by others (more about that later in this series). Regardless, these are films I feel I will revisit and think back upon when I look back at the decade. In other words, these are the films most important to me.
So where do we begin?