Shutter Island

Man, have I been the biggest slacker as of late as far as keeping up with reviews. It is really tough sometimes to find the time to write your thoughts on a particular movie, especially as many as I watch. I will try to do a better job, especially with all the good movies that seem to be headed our way, and some already here.

Lets’s get started with a film that I have been looking forward to for a very long time, one that I wanted to see since the trailer came out, and one I would see anyway just because it is the GREAT Martin Scorsese! (Goodfellas, Raging Bull, The Departed…lot to live up to huh!) Maybe some of this review is my very high expectations and maybe some of it has to do with the film making itself, but this turned out to be a very average film.

The film stars Leonardo Dicaprio (Titanic, Gangs of New York, The Aviator) as the lead investigator trying to solve the disappearance of a woman from an asylum for the criminally insane. Mark Ruffalo (Zodiac) plays his partner Chuck and they begin to dive into interviewing staff, patients and doctors of the asylum to locate the missing woman. During their investigation Dicaprio’s character experiences flashbacks, some intriguing and some stilted and very out of place. Ben Kingsley  (Best Actor Gandhi) plays Dr Cawley and is suspicious from the beginning. Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain), Jackie Earl Haley (Little Children) and Max Von Sydow (The Exorcist) are all in this film as well, but are rather disappointing with not much character development. So there really wasn’t that much to work with.

Martin Scorsese does a great job as a film maker and shows his craft with very artful scenes, but that is about it. I think as far as a director telling this story he missed some chances to make this movie very memorable. This is not a horror story or a ghost story as you might think from the trailer, it is a psychological thriller. Not to give anything away, but when the mystery is solved, the way they reveal it is very weak, again missing the chance to really have this film pay off in a big way at the end, instead it just limps along and things are revealed in about the only way information is given to the viewer, through a seemingly forced interview.

It may sound like I absolutely hated this film. It did have a few highlights, but on the whole, for me, a let down from what I was expecting. If you want my advice, just wait for this one on dvd and just rent it on a rainy Sunday afternoon, when there is no football on.

Brothers

Ah, a break from movies in the man-cave at the homestead. DLP TV is still in the shop. My better half and I ventured out to see the new Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, In The Name Of The Father) film Brothers. Ok, treading carefully here as to not give things away for those that want to see it….this film is about two brothers Tommy and Sam. Tommy has just been let out of prison. Sam, who is obviously the favorite son and has always been the star athlete and well liked, has the perfect family with his wife Grace and 2 girls, and is being deployed to Afghanistan. While in Afghanistan, Sam  is presumed dead. The story develops as Tommy makes an effort to reassert himself in his family by helping Grace and being there for her two daughters. Of course the drama escalates as Sam returns home, dealing with certain events and returning home to a confused family. If you want to know any more than that, you need to go see it, hope I didn’t give too much away already.

The cast. Tommy, the ex-con is played by Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain, October Sky) and the other brother, Captain Sam Cahill is played by Tobey Maguire (Spiderman, Wonder Boys). Both performances were outstanding, and it would not surprise me at all to see one or both of them on the Oscar list early next year. Personally, I think Jake Gyllenhaal was a bit better in his role, but Tobey Maguire seemed to have the scenes where an actor can “grandstand” a bit, which seem to have some pull with the Academy. Both are top notch performances. Natalie Portman (Closer, The Other Boleyn Girl) plays Sam’s wife, Grace. At first she seemed a bit miscast and out of her element. She looked a little to perfect to be in a middle class family, but a few details given later on about being a popular girl, “cheerleader that dated the football player,” type of girl, I was OK with it.

Overall, I don’t think this is best picture material, but still is a very good and thought-provoking film with many tense moments that will keep  you on the edge of your seat. (One of the most uncomfortable  family dinner scenes I can think of…right up there with Anne Hathaway’s toast in Rachel Getting Married.) This is not a feel good movie, but the cast is very strong and everyone delivers, right down to the two little girls. I would recommend this one for sure.