Shutter Island

Shutter Island (film)
Shutter Island

I wasn’t planning on seeing Shutter Island as the handful of people I know who did catch it had complained it was too long. But my dad liked it, so I gave it a shot on Sunday afternoon.

Shutter Island

“You’ll never leave this island.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Two federal marshals investigate an escaped patient on a secure island facility… or do they?

I’ll try to keep spoiler-related commentary till the end, as there is a twist in this tale. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Teddy Daniels, a Fed with a rather stressed-out past. He and his partner are sent to Shutter Island, a secure facility for the criminally insane set on a rock in the middle of the ocean.

The facility is run by the slightly scary Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley) who can’t explain how one of their inmates escaped from a locked cell. Very mysterious.

As the story progresses, the film gets more jumpy. Not as in “scary” – it skips about from topic to topic. Flashbacks start to appear in dream-like sequences as Daniels starts to dream and become ever more paranoid about the actions of the Doctor, the other island staff and the patients. Questions are unanswered or avoided, the patients seem to be acting in collusion with the staff - or scared of them.

There are some lovely sequences, in particular the dream where Daniels holds his dying wife as she turns to ash and blows away. Very well done and the special effects lend it a wonderful dream-like quality.

The acting performances are superb across the board. Being a Martin Scorsese film it’s not surprising that it’s beautifully presented as well. However, I do have some issues that I’ll go over at the end as they could relate to spoilers. I did find that it ran on too long, though. I guessed the “twist” very early on – about 10-15 minutes in, which is a shame. However, at the point where the pieces really do start to drop, the film should be on it’s final run-in. And it’s not. From this point, there’s maybe 45 minutes to an hour to go which is too long.

I’d be interested in reading the source novel to see how it’s paced, but the film is just a little too slow. A shorter running length would have had more impact, I feel. Still, a very good story and a superb cast.


You have been warned.

Alright. At the end of the film you find out that Daniel is actually mad. However, I guessed this very early on. How? Well, I’m not sure if this was deliberate on Scorsese’s part or not, but the editing throughout the film is very disjointed. Someone holds a cup, the view changes and they’ve already put it down. Someone lights a cigarette with one hand, the camera changes angle and they’ve moved it from their face to their side.

Now, this happens in films. Usually you spot this once every few minutes. But in Shutter Island, especially near the beginning, I was finding discrepancies almost every time the camera view changed in a scene. As I said, this could be poor editing. Or it could be the director hinting that things aren’t as they seem. Deliberately disjointed if you like. Which does make a lot of sense later on when we realise that what’s “happening” is predominantly in the mind of the main character.

What does anyone else think? Am I being overly analytical? Was the editor just smoking crack the week he did the work on this film? Or was Scorsese being really clever?

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Kick-Ass Poster

I managed to catch one of the “preview” screenings of Kick-Ass this evening. Surprisingly, the cinema wasn’t packed despite the huge hype and positive reviews. After watching, I think it got the audience it deserved…


“Okay you c**ts… lets see what you can do now!”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: geeky teenager becomes non-super-powered superhero Kick-Ass… and lands himself in a world of trouble as a result.

Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is a nerd. A geek. A comic book dweeb. Who one day wonders why nobody has ever tried to be a super hero. Not that they should, just with all the source material out there why hasn’t someone actually patched together some lycra and gone out crime-fighting?

So he does.

And he’s monumentally crap at it. Which, in honesty, is far more entertaining than someone actually being good at kicking criminal backside. It certainly leads to some very brutal slapstick.

On the other side of the coin are Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and his daughter Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz). Both highly skilled and dripping in cash, they’re more Batman and Robin-esque. Only somewhat happier to eviscerate the opposition than Bruce Wayne ever was. Or crush them. Or blow them up.

Kick-Ass has its moments, and a ton of references (some subtle, some not so) to past films, TV series and comics. The action sequences are frenetic and bloody, the jokes sometimes humorous but a lot of it is down to shock value (like a small child using the “C” word). So if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ll not laugh as hard. Nor will it really stand up to repeat viewing.

It’s fun. It’s just not as fun as I was expecting or hoping for. Still, it’s a good adaptation of the original comics, even though it’s slightly less violent (seriously). Don’t expect a masterpiece and you won’t be disappointed. And it’s good to see Cage in a superhero film that’s not crap. Not to name any Ghost Riders or anything.

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Over 25? Student? You can still get a railcard!

Young Persons Railcard
Not just for young persons

Can’t believe I only just found this out – after booking some rail tickets. Although they may be canned with the upcoming strikes. CHecking for rail passes in England gives the option of 16-25, Family & Friends, Senior, Disabled and Network (SE/London). Checking in Scotland gave me the same options with Network replaced with Highland.

No obvious option for the mature student, which I thought a little unfair. After all, a 23 year old could be a graduate on £40k. I’m 36 and on £4k, all of which I have to pay back.

But, lo! Dig into the “Are you eligible?” section at the 16-25 Railcard web page and it includes mature students! As long as you’re attending 15+ hours a week for 20+ weeks per year, you qualify for the card. You require an ISIC (international student ID) card or a signature/stamp from the college and one passport-style photo. The pass can then be obtained from any manned railway station. You cannot apply online if you’re a mature student.

As it happens, this would only have saved me a smidgen over £6 on my London trip which doesn’t offset the £26 fee a great deal but these things mount up quickly over a year. It would definitely encourage me to use the train more.

Another point to note is that if you get the card on the last day of uni, it is still valid for the following 12 months – the same as if you get one on the day before you turn 26. So if you get a card partway through your final year and get your £26-worth, then just fork out for another one the day you leave!

So, bad advertising? Or a deliberate attempt to hide the fact that some people could be saving money? Either way, spread the word!

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Dragon tattoos, Phillip Morris and bounty hunters

I Love You Phillip Morris
Jim Carry does not have a dragon tattoo

Due to a timetabling cockup I ended up going into town earlier than anticipated. And then due to a very fortunate piece of scheduling I managed to cram in three films rather than just the one I’d intended. Thus Män som hatar kvinnor (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), I Love You Phillip Morris and The Bounty Hunter all in one afternoon/evening.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Plot-in-a-nutshell: A journalist is tasked with finding a girl, missing for fifty years and on the way discovers a far murkier history to the story

I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this film. At all. I’d not seen a trailer and the only review I’d heard was part of one on Radio 5 a week or so ago where I was warned about the violent nature of the sex scenes. All I knew was that it was based on a novel and it was in Swedish. Thankfully with subtitles.

The lack of forewarning is always good when seeing a film based on a novel, Swedish or not. Mainly as it’s very rare for those who’re read the book to enjoy the film. I’ve still yet to meet anyone who’d read The Lovely Bones or The Time Traveller’s Wife also recommend the film afterwards. Such is, I gather, the case with TGWTDT.

This is a shame as it’s not bad. It’s long – almost 2 1/2 hours – but it rarely seems to drag. The pace is a little slow to start, but once the additional depth is added and the characters are explored it all moves along nicely.

Michael Nyqvist plays the journalist, Michael Blomkvist, and Noomi Rapace takes on the role of Lisbeth Salander, the titular Girl. The one thing that surprised me was that very little was made of the tattoo itself. She does have one. You see it. That’s it.

It’s her character that’s the most intriguing, though, even more-so than that of the missing girl. She’s damaged, under guardianship… but we don’t know how or why. This thread runs from almost the beginning of the film until almost the end.

Some of the sex scenes are indeed brutal. There are only two to really watch out for and they’re not hugely graphic, just unpleasant. A few people did leave the cinema but not during or immediately after either of these, which seemed strange.

It is a long film, and it’s not exciting as most Hollywood-made thrillers and mysteries have to be. There are maybe a couple of adrenaline-pumping moments in it. The rest is slow, methodical, thoughtful and captivating.

If you like a film that makes you think and don’t mind sitting around for long then this is worth the effort. On the other hand, if you need a shooting or a car chase every thirty minutes then definitely look elsewhere.

I Love You, Phillip Morris

“It’s really expensive being gay”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Great husband Steven Russell (Jim Carrey) decides to stop living a lie and come out of the closet… and jumps into debt, resorts to fraud and lands in jail where he meets the real love of his life – Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor)

Amazingly based on a true story (how closely based, I’m happy not knowing), this is a great story with some equally impressive performances from all those involved. Narrated by Russell, we hear about his beginnings as a wonderful family man before a car accident makes him realise that life’s too short to live a lie.

You do need to be pretty open-minded to watch this film. There are some overtly (homo)sexual sequences that some may be uncomfortable watching and there’s a fair bit of strong language. However, this is all balanced with some genuinely funny moments and great dialogue.

Russell simply lets his life run away with him and doesn’t realise what he’s doing half the time. He just happens to be good at it so he runs with it. McGregor is excellent as Morris and the pairing of the two just works.

There is a near-twist at the end that works up well and I confess I wasn’t expecting it – though I’m sure half of the cinema was. I shall say no more in case I spoil it!

Not the best film ever, and there are more insightful commentaries on the issue of gays in society (Philadelphia still has to hold the award for that) but it’s simply enjoyable as it doesn’t pull any punches about its subject matter.

The Bounty Hunter

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Milo (Gerard Butler) is a bounty hunter who has to bring his ex-wife Nicole (Jennifer Aniston) in for skipping bail – hilarity is supposed to ensue.

Seen the trailer for this film? Then you’ve seen all the good bits. Like Ms Anniston, it’s got a couple of good parts but the rest is all filler.

The funny parts are genuinely funny, but they’re few and far between. The central section where the couple start to get all mushy over each other again is just slow and painful. The ending, though, isn’t bad.

Basically, it’s a bit of a mess. I’d happily recommend maybe half of it. Unfortunately, without providing you with a timetable of when you can walk out of the cinema and come back in it would be hard to miss the dross.

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Where are the ASBOs when you need them?

This is insane: Loud sex ASBO woman back on the job

I had a chav neighbour for months who had music on until 4 or 5am (in between the screams from his pregnant girlfriend as he beat her). His friends routinely walked into my garden and on one occasion I caught one peeing on my back door. Nothing was done. At all. Police came out, told him off and left again. At which point the stereo went back on.

This woman makes 10 mins of natural noise once in a while and is facing jail. Will someone explain why she’s “worse” than the chav?

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