Monday, July 26, 2010

Movie Of The Day - Shutter Island

SHUTTER ISLAND (2010) d: Martin Scorsese

It is no secret that while I may be outnumbered on this that I was no fan of Martin Scorsese's Academy Award winning film 'The Departed'. In fact, I think it is pretty horrible. But many of my friends think I am nuts for that. It also gets worse when I say that I think 'Gangs Of New York' is brilliant. That being said, I felt that Scorsese, whom I absolutely admire and lionize, is a filmmaker I was beginning to fear was moving past his golden era. That maybe his good days were behind him. While I felt that 'Gangs' was (and is) incredible that perhaps he had put so much into the film (I believe it took him like 25 years to have it made into a movie) and the lukewarm response it got might have made him doubt himself. His following films, for me anyhow, were pretty subpar. While I dislike 'The Departed', 'The Aviator' was decent albeit a mixed bag. Scorsese, a lover of the horror genre, decided to venture into genre territory with 'Shutter Island'. The main problem with the film is that I figured out the big twist almost immediately. Actually I was guessing what it was before I ever saw the movie. Not every last detail but the main aspect of it. So it never surprised me. In fact, it left me a bit let down. That being said, and upon a second viewing, I will say that this is Scorsese's best since 'Gangs of New York' in my opinion. While the big twist was no surprise for me I did appreciate the telling of the story. It is told well. And on my second viewing I really appreciated the unfolding of it and the technicalties of it. It is one amazing film visually. Scorsese knows when to speed things up and when to slow them down. The feel of the film is one of unease and nervousness. And Leonardo Dicaprio, who can be hit or miss with me, is excellent in this part of a US Marshall sent to Shutter Island, a hospital for the criminally insane located on an island, in search of a missing patient. Only he is hiding secrets of his own.

While the big surprise twist was no big surprise for me (although if it is for you then I think you will love this flick) it is still amazing how it unfolds and the look and feel just show how much of a master Scorsese is. This film holds up on the second viewing. In fact, I liked it a lot more on the second viewing. Which makes the knowing of the big twist insignificant and the sign of a great film. I'm glad Scorsese hasn't lost it. Just please no more 'Departed''s.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What You Talkin' 'Bout, Willies?

Andre over at the awesome The Horror Digest blog put out a call for people to post things from movies that give them the willies. I tried to mix it up a little by picking some stuff that freaked me out as a kid and some more recent film moments. I listed my ten in alphabetical order.

Side note, is it me or does searching for screen caps a major pain? I could not believe how much it sucked. Search engines seem to turn up everything but what you put in. So not every picture/screencap matches the moment I'm talking about.

Please take notice that a lot of these will contain SPOILERS. My picks:

An American Werewolf In London - As a kid I some how managed to get my dad to take me to see this film. What I didn't know is that I would be traumatized for years to come. The opening scene where David and Jack are being surrounded and eventually attacked by the werewolf messed me up. For years to come if I was ever outside at night, especially near any kind of wooded area, I always wondered if a werewolf was going to come out and get me.

The Amityville Horror - While the actual case is most likely a hoax the film is still a scary tale. And one scene that freaked me out as a kid (and possibly as an adult too but I won't say) is when the young daughter claims she has an imaginary friend who is a pig. One time when the mom comes in and the girl claims she just scared her friend out the window the mom playfully goes to the window to play along only to see two big red eyes staring at her with a pig sound squealing. Heebie jeebies.

Burnt Offerings - Another kid creepy moment which freaked me out has to do with the driver from this movie. The guy appears at one point (which is the actual screen shot above) and it creeped me out.

Creepshow - While my love of 'Creepshow' knows no bounds it was almost unwatchable for me at one point because of the one segment called "The Crate". The first time "Fluffy" attacks a lowly janitor and turns him into a meal freaked me out so much I had to leave the theatre and ended up watching the rest of the segment from the lobby.

The Exorcist - What is probably the scariest film ever for me, and I am sure I could point out several moments, but one specifically is the appearance of the infamous demon face during Father Karrass' dream. The quick flash, while only a few frames long, is enough to make you think the film itself is possessed. I can't even look at the picture. *shivers*

The Eye - One of the Japanese ghost films (among the hundreds that have come out) that I found effective. One scene that made me jump out of my chair was when the lead character, who sees ghosts everywhere, sees a woman who comes right at her claiming to get out of her chair. I am glad no one saw me jump because it literally got me.

Henry Portrait Of A Serial Killer - One of the creepiest and disturbing scenes, and one that made me creeped out even being in my own house, was the infamous scene when Henry and Otis have videotaped their attack on a family and are watching it. It is so disturbing that even the dark humor of the film is no where to be found.

Session 9 - Without a doubt one of the creepiest things I've seen in the last ten years is in this film. When one character sneaks back into the hospital to steal some items he's found buried in a wall he finds getting out is a little hard in this abandoned place. He hears something and when he looks back down the hallway he sees a figure appear. A simple image but one that is just completely scary. Just made my hair stand on end thinking about it.

Paranormal Activity - I was one of the people that found this film really creepy and the one moment that really got to me because it went beyond what I was already freaked out about (sounds, a door closing) is when the lead character is actually dragged out of bed and down the hall. Making you realize things are indeed getting worse.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre - The first appearance of Leatherface is definitely one that gave me the willies. It was so intense and almost unbelievable because it just happens. No build up. He comes out and hits the guy with the hammer and slams the door shut. So stunning and very shocking.

So these were my picks. I could have listed more but I wanted to have a few different ones. Some childhood picks and more recent ones. List your own and share.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Movie Of The Day - Schindler's List

SCHINDLER'S LIST (1993) d: Steven Spielberg

When I woke up this morning I didn't expect to be watching this film to start my day. While waiting for my coffee to brew I was flipping around the TV when I came across 'Schindler's List' on cable. I didn't want to stay on it as the subject matter is one that is hard to watch for just entertainment purposes while waiting for your breakfast beverage. But it was near the beginning and I was struck by the incredible cinematography in the stark black and white images. Having not seen the film in many years I had forgotten much about it. My coffee machine let out its steam as it finished brewing but I was no where to be found. Instead I was glued to the TV for 3 hours.

The story of Oskar Schindler a factory owner who profiteered from the use of slave labor during the war only to realize that his pursuit of money was inadvertently saving the lives of many Jews from being executed by the Nazi's. His realization leads him to spend everything he owns to save as many of them as he can. The harsh realism of the way the Nazi's treated and murdered Jews is unlike any other kind of cinema violence. It has a brutality and realistic portrayal unlike any I have seen. I was both enthralled by the incredible artistry of the film from its look and feel to the emotional depth it went leaving me in tears by the end of it. While certain shots and moments I had not forgotten since when I had seen the film before there was much I had forgotten. So the experience was near new.

While 'Jaws' will always be my personal favorite Steven Spielberg film 'Schindler's List' is without a doubt his best film. While not the ideal way to start my day I can think of no better way of spending it.

And yes, I did eventually get my coffee.