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.

The Exorcist (1973)

“Something beyond comprehension is happening to a little girl on this street, in this house. A man has been called for as a last resort to try and save her. That man is The Exorcist

Ok, you can tell I am still catching up on reviews from the Halloween season. So, it’s not like I am getting in the holiday season mood with a viewing of The Exorcist. In my opinion the scariest movie ever made. This is also one of the few horror movies that received critical acclaim, nominated for a total of 10 Oscars including Best Picture. If you don’t know the story, it is about a young girl possessed by a demon. Her mother turns to a local priest, who has just lost his mother and is starting to have questions about his own faith. It is this priest, Father Karras, who realizes the little Girl Regan needs a lot of help, in fact she needs an Exorcist.

This film has a great cast of characters. Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream, The Yards, and Best Actress nominee for The Exorcist) plays Regan’s mother and local actress, Chris MacNeil. She plays a very caring mother who really doesn’t have a strong religious background of any kind, yet finds herself to the point of breaking down and helpless when it comes to helping her sick daughter. Jason Miller plays Father Karras, who was also nominated for a Best Actor Oscar in this film. A wonderful surprise performance from Linda Blair (Airport 1975, The Exorcist 2: The Heretic) who plays Regan. She was nominated for Supporting Actress. Unfortunately she did such a great job, she fell into a Hollywood stereo type of playing in a lot of B Horror movies like Hell Night. Long time great Lee J. Cobb (12 Angry Men, The Three Faces of Eve) also has a significant role as the detective investigating the murder.

I know some that have laughed this movie off, and I guess that can be expected some as much as this film has been lampooned and joked about. Just mentioning the words “Pea Soup” is iconic for the film, and even people who haven’t seen the film get this reference. Is it a horror film. Yes. Is it a religious film. Yes. The one thing this film will always remain is a true classic and the scariest film of all time.