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

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Directed By – Joss Whedon

Screenplay By – Joss Whedon

Cinematography By – Ben Davis

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner & James Spader

141 min.

How do you top The Avengers? Joss Whedon doesn’t know that answer either as he merely doubles down on the formula that worked the first time around for Age of Ultron. A baddie who’s looking to destroy the world with an army of minions all of whom never give us even the slightest of scares that they will be able to stop any of our Avengers, makes for a lackluster second half to what could have been something really special.

I think what Whedon missed was that the strongest part of the plot is when Ultron’s focus is to destroy the Avengers. Instead that focus quickly disappears and Ultron refocuses on what do you think? Destroying the world, surprise surprise.

Also what Whedon forgot is that there is an extreme gratification for the audience when the good guys (The Avengers in this case) defeat the bad guys (Ultron in this case). Why I suggest that he forgot this is that he has Ultron clone himself over and over again until he has an Ultron army. Now while this might be useful to serve your “Let’s destroy the world because the humans are actually the evil ones” plot, it also becomes a law of diminishing returns as we watch The Avengers rip through Ultron after Ultron with no effort. So when the “real” or “ultimate” Ultron is actually conquered it’s a big whoopty-fucking-doo.

Is Age of Ultron immaculately crafted in terms of its action sequences and making it feel like all of it’s main characters get the screen time they deserve? Yes. Do all of the special effects and is the sheer amount of time it must of taken to coordinate everything mind blowing? Sure is. But is Age of Ultron just a shinier less original version of the first? Most definitely.

God Bless America

Foxcatcher (2014)

Directed By – Bennett Miller

Screenplay By – E. Max Frye & Dan Futterman

Cinematography By – Greig Fraser

Starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum & Mark Ruffalo

134 min.

Straight up, I did not like this film. I blame it on story and pacing because in terms of production aspects, the cinematography, the acting, and the score (the music in the movie was the best part) they were all great. The story is boring. The characters are fascinating but the movie lingers on things that aren’t important and skips over things that are. I felt like there isn’t a build up to the ending, it just happens. The characters don’t really have a spiral downward into insanity as much as they are already crazy to begin with. That being said, they seem more like they have aspergers than anything else.

This movie was way too long for what it gives the audience. There are moments that are exciting but for the most part I always wanted to get to the next scene. Things in this movie become repetitive and I became bored. The craziest part of this movie is that the actual story is more entertaining and bizarre than what the movie shows!

I do think all three actors will get nominated, at least Carell and Tatum are practically shoe-ins, Ruffalo might have a harder time getting the nom. That being said, acting can only take me so far in movie. If anything I felt like Carell and Tatum weren’t given enough to do. Maybe I’m crazy, maybe this is a brilliant movie that will withstand the test of time, but I’m calling overhype on this one, and it being a movie with very very little rewatchability factor.

Of course, go see it and make your own opinion, that’s the point. But I think I’ve made mine very clear.

God Bless America

Thanks for Sharing (2012)

Directed By – Stuart Blumberg

Screenplay By – Stuart Blumberg & Matt Winston

Cinematography By – Yaron Orbach

Starring Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins & Josh Gad

112 min.

Going into this movie I thought it was a romantic comedy. Maybe I thought that because it’s kind of billed that way, but it’s actually simply an indie film with comedy and drama layered throughout with a heavy subject matter at its heart, addiction. The movie is truly not about one specific character but a few characters who are all sex addicts, among other things.

Thanks for Sharing has some extremely awkward dialogue sequences, and not on purpose. The actors seem to be improvising for a bit and it doesn’t work at all, but this happens mostly in the beginning of the film.

Then there is the relationship between Mark Ruffalo and Gwyneth Paltrow. I’m not sure if their relationship is so awkward because again they are improvising and are bad at it, or if they just don’t have very good screen chemistry together. Ruffalo is a great actor and Paltrow is still an extremely attractive woman, but it doesn’t work and they know it.

Luckily for us all, Josh Gad saves the day. After breaking through the awkward dialogue sequences in the beginning of the movie, Gad saves the day by bringing the emotional weight and reality of what it means to be a sex addict. Gad’s character also has a blooming relationship with Pink (yes, Pink is in this movie) and the two of them together make this movie worthwhile. They even have a nice duet together.

Oh, yeah, Tim Robbins is in this movie. I think Tim Robbins forgot that he was in it too for the first hour, but he finally brings what is expected by the end.

I’m extremely curious as to how this movie was made and what happened during production, because for such a weighty subject and a solid cast, there’s a bunch of screws loose in the first half of this movie. But, somehow, luckily, the ship got turned around and made something worth watching.

God Bless America