Friday, February 26, 2010

Movie Menage: Shutter Island

Sometimes the Reel Whore likes a little company in the dark of the theater. Though the interwebs bring us closer, reviewers cannot always bed down together for a post. With the Movie Menage, I surreptitiously pluck a couple of reviews from fellow LAMBs and other film bloggers. These brief blurbs coupled with the Reel Whore take constitute a critique à trois, if you will. Getting three opinions of a film tossed together should be better than one, right?

Shutter Island
Release: 02.19.10
Rated R
2 hours, 18 minutes

Full Price

U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed) and his partner, Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo, Zodiac), arrive at Shutter Island, an institution for the criminally insane, to investigate the strange disappearance of a patient. Once there, Teddy tries to dig deeper into the hospital's shady practices only to be met with repeated resistance from the hospital head, Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley, The Wackness). As a hurricane rages outside, Teddy worries Cawley and the staff may be conspiring against him.

The first of our lovers trio:

...The film started out kind of slow - it had a lot of dialogue in the beginning. Now, this is the type of movie that you need to pay attention to as there are many characters being introduced. Also, it's also set up as a sort of detective type movie.

From an audience perspective, it had kind of an eerie feeling and was very Alfred Hitchcock in style. (If you've seen this Hitchcock movie, which is among my favorites, the style is very similar).

Watch this gurl work the hell out of Shutter Island...

Joining in the fun is our second partner:

...Shutter Island delivers payoffs. Patience is required, especially through an abundance of expository dialogue, but when the film's questions are answered, the trip was worth taking. Kalogridis' script (based on Lehane's novel) spins a labyrinthian tale of mystery, deceit, and paranoia. Scorsese's visuals compliment the writing through its complexity of the writing. Pay close attention to the visuals, and especially the editing, and you'll appreciate the film much more than those who don't.

Head here for elgringo's explosive finish!

Have you ever tackled a 1000-piece puzzle? You go to the store and find one with an appealing image. The foreground is covered in colorful gardens with lush weeping willows while a meandering cobblestone trail leads to a looming castle in the distance. With such distinct sections, it should be easy to assemble. Then you get it home, dump it on the table and realize just how damn huge the sections of clear blue sky and grassy knolls are! Watching Shutter Island is as challenging as tackling that 1000-piece puzzle.

I'd seen trailers for this film fifty times over the past year, and was confident all the major plot points had been mapped out. Shutter Island proves that you may have all the pieces, but it's not satisfying until everything fits together. Director Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas) uses his masterful attention to editing, cinematography and symbolism to create a tense, enthralling story.

DiCaprio gives an excellent (and exceptionally athletic) performance as the easy-to-anger detective. The supporting characters are played by a slew of skillful character actors; Max von Sydow (Judge Dredd), John Carroll Lynch (Fargo), Ted Levine (Silence of the Lambs), Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children), Emily Mortimer (Match Point), Elias Koteas (Fallen) and Patricia Clarkson (Pieces of April). I wouldn't normally do such a laundry list of actors, but they're all that good. Of them all, Michelle Williams's (The Station Agent) role is the one that stuck with me most; it reminds me she's the most talented actor to emerge from Dawson's Creek.

Shutter Island is a mystery set to a slow boil. Scorsese hand selected the ingredients and triple checked the recipe to prepare a story to stimulate your palate. Sure, McShyamalan's has served over a billion twists, but Scorsese's thriller really satisfies.


Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rudy Done Growed Up?!?!

No. Don't get it twisted. I'm not talking about this Rudy...

Rudy Huxtable

Who now looks like this...

Keshia Knight Pulliam
(Like Whoa!)

I'm talking about THIS Rudy...

Rudy Gekko

Who now looks like this...

Carey Mulligan
(Not Samantha Morton)

But should have looked like this...

Sean Stone
(I could be Shia's sex toy)

I came upon this revelation last night when revisiting Oliver Stone's 1987 flick, Wall Street. For about thirty-seven seconds, we see Gordon Gekko's chubby little 3-year old son, Rudy Gekko. No biggie, except in the trailers for Stone's upcoming sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Gekko's offspring is Winnie Gekko, a young woman played by Carey Mulligan, who's playing a character roughly the same age as Rudy would be. While her short 'do definitely gives her a boyish charm, I'm not buying it.

I'm curious, how will this be explained?

1. Oliver Stone could say he forgot Gekko's spawn was played by a male actor; except that actor, Sean Stone, is his son which would make the next family dinner pretty awkward.

2. Rudy's mother was played by Sean Young back in 1987, so maybe Carey will pull a gender-bending revelation a la Ace Ventura: Pet Detective on LaBeouf and Douglas.

3. Stone could say Rudy always felt more like a woman and once Gordon went to prison, used a chunk of GG's stashed cash to get the sex reassignment surgery he/she always wanted.

4. She could have been the second Gekko child we never saw in the original film.

I'd almost buy #4 except for these two nitpicks: Carey says to LaBeouf's character, "I never knew my dad as a peaceful person, and that always scared me." Fine, except for Gekko's receipt of his mobile phone from the prison property room. My assumption is he's been imprisoned for roughly twenty years, after a couple years of trials. Even if Carey plays his child, how would she remember jack shit about her dad?

I'm sticking with #2. Do you have any ideas?


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Monday, February 22, 2010

MMM: Melancholy Monday

After the first warm and sunny weekend in months, Monday brings with it more rain and cold weather. I should be thankful I had a nice weekend to enjoy, but you can't help but get a little depressed. Instead of trying to brighten this week's mood with something chipper or upbeat, I've decided to embrace the dreary mood.

I first heard this artist over at Daytrotter. I don't get over there as often as I'd like, but they've got a nifty little cyberniche for discovering great music and artists. Artists such as singer-songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield. I haven't had time to learn much about her, but I can't get enough of her sad songs. Even with all the sunny skies shining down on me this weekend, I found myself listening to her album, With Blasphemy So Heartfelt, for like, the twentieth time. Hmm, maybe I brought this murky Monday on myself... Unlikely. While I ponder how I'm going to shake off this case of the Mondays, why not give Jessica Lea's tune, Kiss Me Again a listen:

Jessica Lea Mayfield - Kiss Me Again

How's your Monday outlook?


Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Well, Dad, it Didn't Pass Me By. It Landed on My Face!

The Wolfman

Release: 02.12.10
Rated R
1 hour, 42 minutes

Second Run Seats

American actor Lawrence Talbot (Benicio del Toro, Big Top Pee-wee) receives a letter from his brother's
fiancée, Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria), urging him to return home and aid in the search for his missing brother. Lawrence returns to the Talbot estate in Blackmoor, England only to learn from his father Sir John (Anthony Hopkins, Dracula) that Ben's no longer missing; what's left of his body is on ice in town.

Lawrence goes snooping in the woods and finds himself on the receiving end of a werewolf's maw. During the month of his miraculous recovery, Lawrence grows closer to Gwen and farther from dear ol' dad. The townsfolk and Scotland Yard detective, Abberline (Hugo Weaving, The Matrix), start sniffing around Lawrence and his suspicious recovery until the full moon, and the beast within, come forth to put them all in check.

One word sprang to mind after watching Wolfman: elementary. It's not terrible, it's not outstanding, it's elementary. The direction goes through its paces; the story progresses, but lacks a compelling spark. A scene begins, the actors play their parts and you can almost feel them look around as they wait for the director to yell cut. I can't help but wonder if it was the intention of director Joe Johnston (Hidalgo) to give Wolfman an old-school vibe akin to the 1941 original.

The broad strokes of the plot are established in the reunion between Lawrence and Sir John. Their wardrobe, their placement in the scene, and even their interaction with Sampson the dog, telegraphs ninety percent of the events yet to unfold. It just makes wading through the next eighty minutes duller than it should have been.

Dirty Undies
After such a somber beginning, it's nice to see folks ripped to shreds by the beast around the twenty-minute mark. Wolfman flexes its fangs with three more bloody disembowlings; the second is my personal favorite, the third suffers from shoddy CGI, and the big balls-out battle is disappointing. Given the late 1800's time period Gwen and Lawrence's budding romance remains chaste, though the dog in him does dream of a sexy side boob.

The Money Shot
I'm not saying Wolfman isn't good. It's apparent the director and writers deliberated over the details. Maybe a more modern setting for the subject matter or less concentration on making an homage would have raised this adequate film to exceptional. As it is, it's a good enough werewolf flick until a better one emerges.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

MMM: Music, Rules, Everything, Around, Me

On Saturday I went to see my second 2010 release, Wolfman. That review is forthcoming; now I want to discuss the first of six trailers which preceded my feature presentation.

The lights dimmed and a slick, metallic 20th Century Fox logo appears. Fade to a panning shot of a prison as the music begins; an ominous, guttural vibration akin to the sound you'd hear in a horror film or when they introduce the villain of an action flick. Except this is no action flick. There's a brief silence as the scene changes and an unseen individual is receiving their personal effects. A head-pounding drumbeat ensues. That rockin' beat has already convinced me to see this movie. Then, the trailer cuts to an image of Shia LaBeouf whizzing by on his motorcycle. AND... you lost me. It's Oliver Stone's sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Take a look:

Luckily the trailer is not all Shia or this would be a rental at best. The most compelling thing about this trailer isn't the promise of Michael Douglas chewing up the scenery as Gordon Gekko; its that killer rhythm.

With a little research, I discovered that sound belongs to Shiny Toy Guns, a group I've heard of, but have not really followed. The tune in question, Ricochet, was the first single from their 2008 album Season of Poison. The album didn't sell well despite having Ricochet reach #17 on the Modern Rock charts. I'm certain Shiny Toy Guns and their upcoming third album will be receiving far more attention thanks to the above trailer. Here's your chance to jump on the fan bandwagon early.

Shiny Toy Guns - Ricochet

What did you think? Will Shiny Toy Guns be your next download? Will you be buying your Wall Street 2 tickets in advance?

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, February 8, 2010

MMM: I Like Bread and Butter, I Like...

I've been meaning to post about this group for quite some time. With their concert breezing into town in just two weeks, what better time than today to induct them into the Monday Mood Music?

I've dug this group since hearing their second single back in 1998. Back then the Black Eyed Peas members were,, Taboo and Kim Hill. For those that don't know, she's the background singer that preceded Fergie. Although today's mood music selection is before Fergie's time, I am by no means a Fergie hater as many are. She's come along way since Kid's Incorporated and deserves some credit.

I'll do a feature on her at a later point. Today I want to revisit the song that made me hip to the Black Eyed Peas. It's the second single from their debut album, Behind the Front. Fun tidbit for those latecomers to the BEP revolution, the Peas released two albums prior to Elephunk. Here's a taste of their pre-Fergie days:

Black Eyed Peas - Joints & Jam

This music video was so simple yet kick-ass and literally in-your-face.

Do you consider yourself a fan or a hater of the BEPs?

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Trailer Trash: The February Gang Bang

By now, all you stargazers are aware of the films in contention for the coveted Best Picture Oscar. This year, there are ten nominees and if you haven't seen all of them, you have the whole month of February to play catch up.

I've seen 9 of the 10 nominees. Now that The Blind Side has been nominated I have no more excuses for avoiding it. There are also a handful of other films with acting and technical nominations I plan to see.

You'd think it would be a busy month with all those Oscar must-sees plus the February releases. Luckily, Hollywood is looking out. February has a paltry eight major releases (according to IMDB). Aside from a couple of prime choices, this month's gang bang participants are a shabby bunch. Come see what I mean:

Exercise the Right To Cinematic Celibacy.

Valentine's Day (02.12) Remember when one quirky, feel-good indie film gave rise to dozens of mediocre ones? Love Actually did the same for intertwined ensemble romances. If the quantity vs. quality formula holds, the staggering number of actors in Valentine's Day guarantees this will be an abysmal story (that, and Taylor Swift's debut as an 'actress').

Dear John (02.05) I've never actually seen any movie adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel, but that doesn't stop me from hating. Channing Tatum's starring credit adds merit to my disdain. Sorry, Amanda Seyfried, but I'll save my cash for your sexy turn in Chloe and keep my love for Judd Hirsch's sitcom untarnished.

It's Friday, I Don't Want to be Alone.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (02.12) The desperate need for this to be the Harry Potter replacement franchise is woefully obvious, and I initially dismissed this as such. However, lots of action, a decent story and some solid acting talent has piqued my interest. The appearance of Rosario Dawson in no way lifted this out of cinematic celibacy - honest!

Shutter Island (02.19) Since last Oscar season I have sat through this EXACT SAME TRAILER. That's four seasons of experiencing what had once struck me as mysterious and thrilling. At this point I feel compelled to see it, but my desire to do so has crumbled to ash like Michelle Williams' character.

The Crazies (02.26) Seeing Timothy Olyphant play the man behind the badge brings me back to those good ol' Deadwood days,though I doubt this premise will be nearly as satisfying or complex. The gore-drenched thrills and chills will offer a nice escape from heady Oscar material, as long as I can get over the film's horrible title.

Cop Out (02.26) Things I enjoy: Bruce Willis's comical, fun-loving side; Tracy Morgan and his insane 30 Rock antics; and Kevin Smith's R-rated movies (i.e. everything but Jersey Girl). So how is it the combination comes off more overstuffed with cheese than overflowing with genius? I hope the trio's skills will overcome any script, but I'm not convinced I should pay to find out.

Moist With Antici...Pation!

From Paris with Love (02.05) An out-of-control John Travolta performance has a fifty-fifty chance of success. Director Pierre Morel is batting two for two in my book and writer-producer Luc Besson is the go-to guy for action. Combine that, the steamy Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and a metric shit ton of exploding cars and I'll wager with those odds.

The Wolfman (02.12) I am still upset studios pulled this from releasing on my birthday last fall. Werewolves are my preferred horror monster, and even the awkward rock score attached to this trailer won't deter me from opening weekend. The effects look spectacular and watching Benecio unleash the beast on Emily Blunt should prove... stimulating.


There are a handful of worthwhile limited releases I'm excited to see (My Name Is Khan, The Ghost Writer, and Frozen) so give them a chance should you find them opening in your neck of the woods. Otherwise, I suggest your February goal be to experience all the Oscars have to offer and rest up for a more enjoyable stable of releases next month.


Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, February 1, 2010

MMM: Let's Try This Again

Good morning stargazers! After my long week of Confessions, I'm afraid I don't have much oil in the brainpan left for cooking up an extensive and thoughtful Monday Mood Music. Instead, I will make this week's selection short and sweet.

Well, sweeter than what I was subjected to last night while watching the Grammys. I've never much cared for the obligatory mash-ups the Grammys subject us to every year. Only a handful are tolerable. For those of us who really, really wanted to hear a good rendition of Rhiannon by Stevie Nicks, now's your chance. I'm by no means a huge fan of Stevie "The Goat" Nicks, mind you. Nicks's performance would have been great had it not been paired with that flat caterwauling Taylor Swift has employed to win an insane number of awards.

Let's not go there. Instead, enjoy this week's mood music:

Fleetwood Mac - Rhiannon

Don't you dig the bass player's short shorts? I do.

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