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.

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The Orchestra Wives

Again, back to the full screen black and whites, with the DLP still out of commission. The selection of the night, Orchestra Wives. This is a 1942 black and white, that is what the title says, about orchestra wives. The entire plot of this movie can be summed up pretty easy, cheating, gossip, and marriages. I think the highlight of the film itself, which I am sure was intended, is the big band music itself which features the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Aside from that, I did not really care for the story line or how the characters were set up and built upon.

The male lead in the movie Bill Abbot, played by George Montgomery (China Girl, Roxie Hart) behaves in such a way so early on I found myself disliking his character throughout the film. Ann Rutherford (Gone With The Wind) plays the female lead, and you find yourself pulling for her as a character until she begins falling into the trap of all the other women. There is a lot of deceit and overall meanness to the movie tat I didn’t care for. I don’t mind films that deal with this subject matter at all, they can be very powerful stories, but I don’t think it was intended to come across as dark as it does. I would have prefered them take a darker serious tone to the movie, and maybe even make a tragedy out of it rather than remain light about all that goes on behind the scenes of band members wives. Either that or have some characters that can bring something light or funny to the film just to give you a break. I thought they might do that with the Cesar Romero (Joker in the Batman TV series and film) character as he had some funny lines and seemed to be a likable character, but he just wasn’t in it enough to save this one for me.

For me this was a very average movie, and had it not been for the Big Band angle, it would have failed for me. ¬†There are a few musical numbers that are worth seeing just for historic purposes. And there is a glimpse of a very young, pre Ralph Kramden days, Jackie Gleason (Smokey and The Bandit) and a young Harry Morgan (MASH, Dragnet TV series). To me it really isn’t worth watching for the drama, just not done that well for me. If you want good drama with all the elements of cheating, lying, and rocky marriages, I recommend you see Little Children and Revolutionary Road, two very good films.