Shutter Island (2010)

Directed By: Martin Scorsese

Screenplay By: Laeta Kalogridis

Cinematography By: Robert Richardson

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo & Ben Kingsley

Runtime 138 minutes

I am so glad I have finally been able to rewatch this film. As I say a lot, the way we receive movies is largely due to our expectations. Sometimes this falls on marketing for a misleading advertising campaign and sometimes this falls on us for wanting a movie to be something it is not. When I first saw Shutter Island in theaters I could not appreciate this movie for what it was because I wanted it to be something it wasn’t. I was looking for a detective ghost story and that is not what Shutter Island is. What Shutter Island is is a profoundly beautiful film about a shattered man who has a whole island of people trying to help him find himself.

The beautiful irony of Shutter Island, which was not lost on me this time around is that wonderful idea that Leo’s character is looking for himself. This is and isn’t a spoiler. The reason it is not is because the movie is undeniably more impactful when you know this going into it. Every gesture, every look, every comment that people make to or away from Teddy Daniels (Leo’s character) has so much more meaning because you, along with everyone else on the island, knows what is going on. That was the tragic flaw of this movie for a modern audience. It seemed to them, us, me at the time that we were being dealt a shady hand. That the movie wasn’t being honest or straight forward with us. That ultimately there had to be more because it couldn’t have been as simple as the characters were telling us it was. But it is that simple and therefore utterly complex and compelling.

I’m telling you, this movie is beautiful and heart-breaking and a tremendous testament to Martin Scorsese. Go rewatch this movie and be amazed.

God Bless America

Bringing Out the Dead (1999)

Directed By: Martin Scorsese

Screenplay By: Paul Schrader

Cinematography By: Robert Richardson

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Patricia Arquette, John Goodman, Ving Rhames & Tom Sizemore

Runtime 121 minutes

This was one of the last narrative features of Scorsese’s I had yet to see and it didn’t disappoint. Scorsese truly is the best living American director (respectively). His films have a vitality throughout his career that never ceases to amaze, and unlike other directors that get complacent or seem to lack whatever passion it was that got them into the game in the first place Scorsese is always pushing ahead, seeking to further film and it’s possibilities.

Bringing Out the Dead is not Scorsese’s best film but it has something unique to say about the world and for Scorsese it has something unique to say about New York City. Those that wander the streets at night, those that serve to protect us, and those that have to see all the terrible horrible shit that we don’t want to see. Frank, the main character sums up the role of an EMT perfectly as he says something along the lines of “My job isn’t to save lives, but to bear witness so that others don’t have to.”

Speaking of The Cage, Nic gives a great performance with his best friend make-up getting the MVP for this movie. The make up job makes me feel as Cage’s character suggests, that he hasn’t had a goodnight sleep in months, and boy do I ever want this guy to get a good nights rest, Jesus. Cage is rattled and on the brink of a melt-down throughout this entire film, so essentially perfect casting. The supporting cast of characters brings a dynamism to this film that we’ve come to expect from Scorsese but that most other films lack.

Just a well done movie that gives you a lot to think about. Thank you Marty.

God Bless America

Pusher (1996)

Directed By: Nicolas Winding Refn

Screenplay By: Jens Dahl & Nicolas Winding Refn

Cinematography By: Morten Søborg

Starring: Kim Bodnia & Mads Mikkelsen

Runtime: 110 minutes

Refn’s first feature film is no disappointment. This movie is intense, really really intense. You know shit has to go sour and then it does and boy is it rough. It’s like being in a nightmare you can’t wake up from.

Refn keeps amazing me. This isn’t like his later films, he’s clearly got more money to play with now but in Pusher he understands his limitations and uses them to his advantage. It’s an extremely impressive film. It also proves Refn has always been obsessed with the mob and mob mentality. And Refn’s mob isn’t Scorsese’s New York mafia, but low level grimy mobs, hidden mobs. The LA mob in Drive, The Bangkok mob in Only God Forgives, but it all started in Pusher with the grungy Copenhagen mob of Denmark.

Watch this movie cause it’s really fucking good. Also it’s cool to see a young Mads Mikkelsen who is exceptional as Tonny.

God Bless America

Delicatessen (1991)

Directed By – Marc Caro & Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Screenplay By – Gilles Adrien, Marc Caro & Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Cinematography By – Darius Khondji

Starring Dominique Pinon, Marie-Laure Dougnac & Jean-Claude Dreyfus

99 min.

This movie was fantastic. Clever, original, and sadistic, my kind of combo. Delicatessen is an interesting take on a post-apocalyptic social circle, where people have become okay (loosely okay) with cannibalism as they are sold human from the deli that resides at the bottom of their housing complex.

Delicatessen is overall just an absorbent amount of creative. Whether it be the plot or shot choices, or the editing decisions, it all comes together to make something extremely unique to watch.

While we live in a time where everything seems to be a carbon copy of each other, Delicatessen offers a world unlike any other and is definitely a must see.

God Bless America

The Element of Crime (1984)

Directed By – Lars von Trier

Screenplay By – Niels Vørsel & Lars von Trier

Cinematography By – Tom Elling

Starring Michael Elphick, Esmond Knight & Me Me Lai

104 min.

Whew! I don’t know if I quite have a review of this movie. More like I’ll probably watch this one again later down the road, but for now it wasn’t for me…but then again it was. I have very mixed feelings towards The Element of Crime and that’s all I can really give you for now. Visually it’s entrancing.

God Bless America

Shoot the Piano Player (1960)

Directed By – François Truffaut

Screenplay By – François Truffaut & Marcel Moussy

Cinematography By – Raoul Coutard

Starring Charles Aznavour & Marie Dubois

92 min.

An excellent film. Not much to say besides Truffaut knows how to make a captivating film packed with suspense, love&sex, humor, and sorrow and all in only 92 minutes. The man is truly a master.

God Bless America

Wild Card (2015)

Directed By – Simon West

Screenplay By – William Goldman

Cinematography By – Shelly Johnson

Starring Jason Statham

92 min.

Another movie where Jason Statham is unexplainably amazing at killing people? Sure, why not.

Wild Card also benefits from a short runtime, which is always welcome, not giving itself long enough to get boring or repetitive. I was totally fine with this movie and think if you’re really itching for a movie that blends action with gambling then by all means Wild Card will deliver.

We also get a solid performance from Michael Angarano and a perfectly casted cameo from Stanley Tucci. [Man I love that guy.]

God Bless America

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002)

Directed By – Chan-wook Park

Screenplay By – Jae-sun Lee, Jong-yong Lee, Mu-yeong Lee & Chan-wook Park

Cinematography By – Byeong-il Kim

Starring Kang-ho Song, Ha-kyun Shin & Doona Bae

129 min.

Not nearly as clean as Sympathy for Lady Vengeance but Mr. Vengeance still has it’s high points. I don’t know, I can’t quite put my finger on it but it just wasn’t as engrossing as Lady Vengeance. I think for the most part is that the plot in Lady Vengeance is a very standard Kill Bill type of revenge, whereas Mr. Vengeance is less about revenge and more about tragedy and the line of where revenge and tragedy intersect.

A very good film indeed, Mr. Vengeance is a great early entry into Chan-wook Park’s filmography.

God Bless America

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005)

Directed By – Chan-wook Park

Screenplay By – Seo-Gyeong Jeong & Chan-wook Park

Cinematography By – Chung-hoon Chung

Starring Yeong-ae Lee & Min-sik Choi

112 min.

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is everything you’ve come to expect from Chan-wook Park. It’s visually stunning, it is thematically dense, and it blends the two into an enthralling piece of cinematic entertainment.

Of course Park gets an amazing performance from Min-sik Choi but it is Yeong-ae Lee as Lady Vengeance who carries this movie and brings all the gravitas needed as both a mother and deliverer of vengeance.

I really enjoyed this movie’s structure. There’s something about how Lady Vengeance’s plan is never has any real set backs. The movie starts with her having already planned everything and we as the audience just get to sit back and observe all the pieces fall into place. I guess it is the control that Lady Vengeance displays that is the most unique.

A really terrific movie.

Gob Bless America