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Do We Give Too Much Kudos to Established Directors?

There was (as ever) a rather interesting piece in the Guardian a few weeks back which suggested – what with Alice in Wonderland and Shutter Island coming out within weeks of each other and dominating film discussion in March – perhaps we tend to focus too much on established directors like Burton and Scorsese.

Because it’s one thing for a studio to take a project and market it with such frenzied hyperbole that for a week or two seeing it becomes all but obligatory for anyone wanting to remain a la mode. It’s quite another for film-goers to convince ourselves we need to see that same project through an increasingly forlorn belief in its director as a still-vital and relevant force. Whatever the implications of Burton’s Alice may be for exhibitors and all that newly-installed 3D technology, the nuts-and-bolts issue here is surely the length of time any once-great film-maker is given in the cinephile heart purely on the basis of dusty triumphs a decade or more in the past.

I thought it only fair to wait until I had seen bother of those big films to comment. Being entirely honest, I don’t think it’s entirely reasonable to lump Burton and Scorsese together as some sort joint proof of that assertion. In fact, I’d argue the two are very different sides to the same coin.

Is Burton picking his own creative bones dry?

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No Man is an Island: The Ending of Shutter Island…

I’ve probably said too much in my review of Shutter Island already, but the ending of the film merits discussion on its own, away from the chance of spoiling the viewing experience for anyone – much like I did with the ending of Inglourious Basterds.

Maybe Elias Koteas can shed some light on the ending...

Note: As the title and text directly above imply (or explicitly state), this post is about the ending of a movie currently in major release that you may or may not have seen. Reading ahead may ruin your enjoyment of the film if you haven’t already seen it. You have been warned.

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Non-Review Review: Shutter Island

I’ll talk a bit about my more tempered analysis of the film in a moment, but I think it’s only really fair to open with my gut reaction – those few words that escaped my mouth as I turned to my girl friend as the credits started to roll.

“I want to see this again.”

Is your mind the scene of the crime?

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Awards Season Forecast…

It’s summer time! That means blockbusters, comic book movies! It’s comic con time! That means more blockbuster and more comic book movie gossip! It seems that everything from the Tron viral campaign to the impending release of the Alice in Wonderland teaser is generating a lot of buzz. And quite right, too. We do live in the era of the geek. However, once we get into autumn proper, there are more prestigious films approaching. Looks like the studios are sticking to the tried-and-true “cram as many Oscar contenders as you can into the least amount of time” method, and there’s a huge schlock of films coming out. Here are just some of the main ones I’m looking forward to during awards season.

Starring Morgan Freeman? Check. Directed by Clint Eastwood? Check. Story of an iconic figure? Check. Story of triumph over adversity/prejudice? Check. Set in the past? Check. Oscar Gold? Check.

Starring Morgan Freeman? Check. Directed by Clint Eastwood? Check. Story of an iconic figure? Check. Story of triumph over adversity/prejudice? Check. Set in the past? Check. Oscar Gold? Check.

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Start Spreadin’ the News…

It appears that Martin Scorsese’s on-again, off-again, on-again, off-again, on-again biopic of Frank Sinatra is back on again. I’ve been following the project during it’s languished history in, if not development hell, at least development limbo.

To be honest, I was most excited about the Robert deNiro iteration of the project. That supporting cast sounded fantastic. Now it’s been confirmed, how do I feel? Well, good, to be honest.
It’s odd that the end of a director’s career would show more breadth than the early years, but the last decade has seen an astonishing broadening of Scrocese’s pallete. We’ve had a Hollywood biopic (The Aviator), a historical epic (Gangs of New York), spiritual drama (Silence), a conventional thriller (Shutter Island) and even an old-style mob yarn (The Departed). Sure he’s experimented before – the seemingly anomolous Age of Innocence now makes sense as a precursor to Gangs of New York, The Doors still stands out as an odd choice in his career – but that string of wildly-variable-in-genre films seems unprecedented. Even the most conventional choice in that lineup (The Departed) seems oddly out of sync with his early mob exploits (Goodfellas, Casino). So, why is this relevant?

After so much variety, I look forward to a bit of vintage Scorsese. A biography of a Los Vegas lounge singer with ties to the mob seems to be relatively familiar ground. This doesn’t mean I’m writing off any of his impressive slate of Oscar-buzz-generating releases already on the horizon – the release of any Scorsese film is cause to celebrate – but this film has been discussed and talked about for so long that it’s hard not to especially anticipate it. Sure, his last “dream project” was Gangs of New York that met with a somewhat muted critical reception, but I felt the director’s love with the material in every frame.

The casting rumours have begun again with many media outlets suggesting Johnny Depp or Leonardo diCarpio. I’m happy with either – I trust Scorcese on this. Both are incredibly competent actors who would do the material proud. I think diCaprio has done his best work with Scorsese – though he did deserve an Oscar nod for Revolutionary Road – and I think that Depp and Scorsese would make a fantastic team. Hell, I’d even trust the director with John Travolta.

It is Scorsese’s dream project after all. I’m just tagging along for the ride.