Friday, March 19, 2010

Shutter Island


Shutter Island?


Scorsese how you have betrayed me so. He did the Color of Money, Goodfellas, Cape Fear (take 2), Gangs of New York, Raging Bull, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Taxi Driver, the Age of Innocence, the Departed, and the Aviator. (wow, he's got a De Niro/DiCaprio thing doesn't he?)

He's this director who KNOWS how to make movies, good movies. OK, so there's a lot of crap in that list, too. Cape Fear was still disturbing, even though it doesn't compare to the original. But, Taxi Drive was AMAZING! And, so was Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore.... what I remember of it, anyway.

But, Shutter Island? Crap. Pure and total crap.

Now, I'm not a fan of DiCaprio. I admit that he's got some chops, and he's not afraid of playing range. But, really, he's just not my cup of tea. Maybe it's his voice, maybe it's the way he looks. Maybe, it's the fact that I still see that annoying little homeless kid from Growing Pains. I dunno, but whatever it is, I just don't like DiCaprio. However, I looked past that to see this movie. I actually enjoyed him in this role and thought he did a pretty bang-up job.

I did not, however, like this movie.

And, it's really through no fault of the acting.

It lies completely at the hands of the direction. There were certain cuts made, camera angels and glaring changes in props and positioning that seemed at first like poor editing. I still pray they are. However, on final analysis, after the big reveal of the movie, they're really just hack techniques to create evidence and pieces of a greater puzzle.

Pieces that are already there through the script.

For anyone who doesn't know, Shutter Island is a psychological thriller. A US Marshal goes to this asylum on an rocky island in the middle of the ocean to try and locate a missing person. It's the Alkatraz version of Arkham. Now, he's got issues himself and the movie plays on these issues. The script leaves hints and clues at the beginning (which are really more than enough to suss the plot), but it's as much messing with the characters as it is the audience. The pieces don't always connect, some contradict each other, and some are just plain red herrings. Some of the pieces are dialogue or action... things that happen or are said just don't mesh with the rest of the story. Others are strictly visual--a prop continually appearing, a glass that disappears and reappears, things like that.

Scorsese misses the point of these visual clues--which are much more important to creating the aura of madness that pervades the asylum than the dialogue. He forces the camera to dwell on them, he calls them to attention with frequent jarring camera work.

Within 30 minutes I had figured out the entire plot of the movie. the other hour and ten minutes was waiting for the film to catch up with my brain. And it was ALL because of the shoddy direction. I have the feeling that in the hands of a director more experienced in the genre, this movie would have been solid gold. (although it's kind of ludicrous to think of ANY director more experienced than Scorsese). Hitchcock would have done this movie justice.

Anyway, if you want a good psychological thriller, rent a Hitchcock flick, or Gaslight. Hell, rent Identity, same riff better plot.