February 20, 2010

"Shutter Island" Talkback

Whoops--thanks to "corym" for the suggestion/reminder. Of course the new Scorsese deserves a talkback, whatever we might have said about it at the mothersite.


corym said...

Damn, I don't want to open a thread with this group of sharks, but Bill name checked me and I appear to be the only one awake at 2 AM.

So, let's go with this: I'm going to see Shutter Island tomorrow; Dennis Lehane sucks serious ass; Slate fucking quoted fucking Tarantino saying Scorsese is fucking "geriatric" (what the fucking fuck); I am so excited by the images in the Shutter Island trailer that I really, really, really, really, really want to love it--no matter what.

maximilian said...

Since you're excited about the images, you won't be disappointed. The "geriatric" brought his accumulated lifetime of auteur-ism, culling from his love of cinema and his own personal stamp of filmmaking, and, at least from a directorial standpoint, SHUTTER ISLAND is smashing.

Story wise, well, I won't spoil a damn thing, but the story isn't the great mindfuck I was hoping for. Fact is, from the first scene on, there's only two ways the film could go, and it went the way I was really hoping it wouldn't.

Liked it, a lot, but it set off a qweird set of reactions from me; enraptured from the get go, excited for where it could have gone, let down by the direction it went; but it has stuck in the craw enough that even after discussing it with my partner during our walk home, it's still clanging about my synapses.

Can't wait to catch it again, this time knowing full well where it's heading.

Crispy said...

Wait why does Lehane suck? I've never read any of his books but I thought the movie adaptation of Gone Baby Gone was pretty good, and you'd think the fact that he wrote a few episodes of The Wire would mark him as at least decent.

jaredmc0 said...

I'll echo Mr. Chaw to say that the film feels like a missed opportunity. There's no way a B, existential noir mashup of this kind should have pacing issues, but a couple of sequences are so heavy with exposition that the momentum of the film just dies. It strikes me that Scorsese was attracted to this project only for the opportunity to (re)create Tourneur/Lewton, Fuller, and Hitchcock - in this respect, I actually think that Shutter Island resembles New York New York more than Cape Fear - and i wonder whether or not it doesn't fail for the same reasons (namely, an overweening desire to turn subtext into text).

No mention of the images from Blake's (First) Book of Urizen in Cawley's office? I'm still processing what they might mean, but FBU, unlike the Marriage of Heaven and Hell for example, is distinctive among Blake's works for its sheer bleakness (the poem is, after all, mostly concerned with the trauma of world-creation and describes Blake's failure to construct his own version of the Christian myth into a coherent "system").

Walter_Chaw said...

Good catch on the Blake prints. No point, really, in my mind of talking about it because I don't think that it's much more than - like the Mahler - this continuation of Scorsese's "world awry" theme running throughout. Another clue, portentous, for a mystery that you don't have to see the film to solve.

Walter_Chaw said...


Alex Jackson said...

Plan on seeing Shutter Island tonight.

Re: the Slate article. I think that New Scorsese is just as good as Old Scorsese, though I will concede that it's much different. With Scorsese, a lot of his art came directly from personal turmoil. (American Dad did an episode where world history was changed because Marty kicked coke and never made Taxi Driver). As an old man, he is much more content with his life. He's happy. And so the only thing he can draw from is his love for film or for Bob Dylan or the Rolling Stones. So his work seems more shallow.

I wouldn't say it's impersonal. It's a natural progression from his early work. You just can't maintain the same anger and discontent for thirty years. Eventually it's going to dissipate.

Arlvy said...

"So his work seems more shallow. "

Hope it's not too rude to take this out of context but surely that's the main reasoning behind the Slate article - he's still a bravura director in terms of imagery, camerawork, editing etc etc but he's lost the meaningful edge his early work had. In my opinion the closest he's come to combining his natural directing talents with a social/political/philosophical motivation in the past 20 years has been with Bringing Out The Dead and that was still a disappointment on most levels. As you say you can't retain that sort of anger or inquiry for 30 years and I'm reminded of the phrase "the pram in the hallway is the enemy of good art" Scorsese's contented nowadays, that's never a recipe for greatness.

p.s Alex, I never thanked you for expanding on your Winter's Bone review, it made your criticisms of it much clearer to me, so, thank you.

Si said...

Am not fussed on this one, sorry to say. The Departed was good, but more than a little messy.

Off-topic, just caught the BAFTA results - well done Christoph Waltz and Carey Mulligan! (If you're still not convinced of her talents, watch that third season episode of Doctor Who that she's in, "Blink".) Happy, too, to see Bigelow knock out her ex for both Best Director AND Best Picture...

But what of Kristen Stewart being named the best Rising Star? Well, if you were to judge her on Adventureland, I suppose, and not Twilight...

Arlvy said...

Tahar Rahim deserved it far more than Stewart.

Bill C said...

Kristen Stewart is the most boring fucking actress who ever lived and if I never see her in anything again it'll be too soon. She's not even fun to look at; how long 'til those 15 minutes are up already?

Saw SHUTTER ISLAND. Yes, hugely disappointing. You don't know how it feels for me to write that--I love, have genuine love for, Scorsese. But it drags, for one thing. The biggest lesson of those Lewton movies is their brevity.

Saw THE WOLFMAN immediately afterwards and it was too much like a palate cleanser for comfort.

Alex Jackson said...

Kristen Stewart is the most boring fucking actress who ever lived and if I never see her in anything again it'll be too soon. She's not even fun to look at; how long 'til those 15 minutes are up already?


As a matter of fact, Adventureland exposes her lack of charisma much more than the Twilight films. Then again, maybe that's the point somehow. I found Adventureland to be utterly somnambulistic. I suspect the people who like it aren't able to really explain why they like it because it's not something that can be explained. If you don't hear the music, you don't hear it.

I'll still stress that Kristen Stewart's performance in Adventureland does not differ from her performance in Twilight in any measurable way.

O'JohnLandis said...

Adventureland is a minor success in a weak year, but I liked it quite a bit. Like Whip It, it tells a small story without making any mistakes, and that's pretty rare these days. It's standard coming-of-age/love-triangle stuff, but the characters aren't too good, too bad, or too self-consciously in between. You sense that Eisenberg could one day be a smart, interesting guy, but he's not there yet. He is, nevertheless, perfect for Stewart--who has this sort of nervous, "above it all" energy--another unformed personality on the verge of something better. If she was sexier or more charismatic, she would be totally wrong for the role--for instance, if she's actually above Eisenberg, the ending doesn't work. And the test of any good Love Triangle movie is that the hero's competition can't be unappealing or pure evil, because it lowers your opinion of the object of affection past the point where you can care about her/him as a character. In that respect, Ryan Reynolds is the key to the movie--you have to understand why Stewart fucks him and why Eisenberg still wants her. The movie is shot with stillness and introspection, and is funny without being a collection of set-pieces and therefore sabotaging the emotional stuff. I think Stewart is generally very bad, but she's good in Adventureland, and Bill, you know how I feel about hysterical snark. Your punishment?

If I have to support any Scorsese period, it's neither early nor late but mid. His best decade, by far, was the 80s--that is, King of Comedy through Goodfellas--and After Hours is an order of magnitude better than anything he had made before it or would come to make after it. Taxi Driver and Raging Bull are both competent, but they're so limited and fragile that the introduction of a single moment of happiness would shatter them. Nothing breathes, nothing seems organic (not even the obsession or violence), and part of the problem is the lead actor. And Goodfellas just suffers from being so clearly the second best gangster movie released in 1990. Scorsese carefully makes this ambitious porcelain thing and the Coens make something just as ambitious but with life and nuance. I risk overusing the Mozart analogy, but it's Salieri vs. Mozart--and Scorsese isn't Mozart.

Bill C said...

@Alex: My problem with ADVENTURELAND is just that: it exposes her lack of charisma, then basically calls a mulligan and goes back to idealizing her in the homestretch.

@O'John: I read your post--punishment enough?

I actually do think RAGING BULL and TAXI DRIVER have moments of...not happiness, but levity (De Niro accidentally knocking down the dishes in BULL then saying, "The fuck's the matter with you putting those there" to Cathy Moriarty is probably the funniest moment in all of Scorsese; and I wouldn't object to TAXI DRIVER being described as a black comedy), but you had to go and use my kryptonite (MILLER'S), didn't you.

Be that as it may, I don't think the Mozart/Salieri is fair in this case, not when there's GODFATHER III to kick around the same year.

Alex Jackson said...

Your defense of Adventureland points to my problem with it. It's the kind of film you praise more for what it isn't than for what it is. Simply drain the blood out of all the stock characters: the douchebag older guy, the unobtainable babe, the geeky protagonist, his geeky best friend, and the girl he should be with and people will think they have had a worthwhile experience simply because they haven't been manipulated. Or even worse, they'll mistake this total lack of, well, anything at all as realism.

I'd still like to think that the film is doing something extremely subtle that I am simply not receptive to, but maybe it IS just good old fashioned fear of movies.

Weird that you say Kristen Stewart is generally very bad, but she "good" in this movie. I'd say that she's just as bad as ever only the film knows how to use her badness to its advantage. For somebody who believes that Blair Witch Project and Plan 9 From Outer Space are bad bad movies and you have to intend to make great art, I'm surprised you would praise Stewart here. The idea that a film can make a bad actor good simply by plugging them in material that turns their weaknesses into strengths seems to go against your core principles.

And I have to say that Miller's Crossing is the only Coen film that I don't like. I thought it was a stately bore. Still, I kinda sorta understand what you mean by it being more organic than Raging Bull or Goodfellas. But not when compared to Taxi Driver. I felt that the improvisations in Taxi Driver were able to breathe and grow uncomfortable. There's a great deal of naturalism there.

As far as more "life", that I just do not see. I would much rather watch Goodfellas (or Raging Bull or Taxi Driver) again than Miller's Crossing. They seem to provide considerably more stimulation.

Dan said...

Kirsten Stewart only won that award because it was the BAFTAs sole "public vote" and the "Twi-hards" hijacked it. You could tell she knew this by her squirming embarassment as she accepted the award. Or, yeah, she tends to look awkward regardless. I liked her as the love interest in Into The Wild, though, but there is a weird distance to her performances. I guess that's why the Emo's love her. She's deep, man...

Anonymous said...

Ian wrote in the book that "Adventureland" was the perfect antidote to "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" but I found it to be quite the opposite; "Adventureland" looks pretty bad after you've already seen "Nick and Norah," and "Nick and Norah" has some unbearable bullshit in it. However, I can't deny that I thought it was a dynamic movie with some actual momentum. There are people who might think "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" or "Superbad" might have been better without jokes, but I'm not one of them.

However, I would say that "Adventureland" does play pretty well to Kristen Stewart's strengths, and I found her pretty crushable in it. And while "Nick and Norah" and "Adventureland" both follow the semi-bullshit philosophy of having the "right" girl listen to the "right" music (ditto the "wrong" girl), "Adventureland" does earn points from me by making the "wrong girl" a real person with real problems rather than the shallow caricature from "Nick and Norah."

Another point of comparison: "Nick and Norah" has, I wouldn't say a better soundtrack but certainly a more personal and honest one. Listening to Husker Du and Big Star might have been daring in 1985, but in 2009 it's one of the most basic and easiest choices for cheap hipster cred.


Patrick said...

I think Adventureland was pretty well targeted at midlife crisis-aged men; and why not? Twilight is targeted at t(w)een girls, to each their own. I just found it boring to the extreme.

As for Scorcese, I'm hesitant to see Shutter Island. The Departed was good with single scenes that were excellent. The Aviator was another proof – as if we needed one – that biopics are fucking useless. It was the film that made me even stop consider seeing those kind of films. And Gangs of New York... well, cut out every bit of frame that deals with the love triangle, remake it into the story of Bill the Butcher, and it might be awesome. As it is, it's a mess of a film with a serious case of blue balls, as I recently heard someone describe it – you constantly wait for something great to happen, but it never does. In the end, Bill dies of a stray bullet. Yeah.

But I will say that each and every film looks terrific. I know some think Scorcese employs some artistic douchebaggery, and it's been too long since I saw the Aviator (for example) to really debunk that (and I won't see that one again), but I remember all of them having expert cinematography. Of course, Gangs is still a mess, Aviator is still a boring mess, and Departed is still a good film.

As for Shutter Island, I hate the twist, but I think knowing it may help me appreciate the film more, as in I'm just seeing a man's trip down mental illness, a psychological experiment seen through the eyes of a madman – I can dig that. But the length of the film makes me hesitate... does a B movie plot really need 2 1/2 hours?

Also, I heard that Scorcese / diCaprio did this film in order to get financing on a Sinatra biopic, so I wonder how engaged Marty was with the source material.

Rick said...

...and After Hours is an order of magnitude better than anything he had made before it or would come to make after it.

But what is After Hours without Scorsese? The main character is bland and every other character is over-the-top and grating. Makes a good, unpredictable premise to be very uninvolving, I don't know how someone could care about what happens to those people throughout that movie.

And speaking of bland, well, K-Stew, I do not care what you think, everyone should see Twilight with Rifftrax.

brandon curtis said...

I enjoyed "Adventureland" and I think that cock punches are the perfect stand-in for the pangs of nostalgia.

That is all.

O'JohnLandis said...

Adventureland isn't anti-movie--it's anti-cliche, and gently at that. I like to think of myself as being aware of schematically created reversals of expectation, and I don't think Adventureland qualifies. But being anti-cliche, even organically, isn't something I would elevate to greatness. Adventureland was something I found charming early in 2009 and used as a control against the heavyweights I've been watching in the last few months. It's minor, but still charming.

I'd define "organic" material in fiction not as realism, exactly, but the presence of a living world. It's a minor point, though, and I don't feel a need to argue the definition.

And actors can be good or bad on balance but well suited to a role. Not every part requires a generation's Hamlet, and most films don't benefit from a Hamlet in every role. I think a work of art can be good or bad, but hating Miami Vice doesn't make me think any less of Manhunter. Remember, I've been defending Ben Affleck for years--I think I'm consistent on this point.

After Hours blah blah blah.

It's the only movie he's made in which the story doesn't seem flat, in which you're seeing something exciting and consistently worthwhile. It lives and breathes and grows. It also has his only great ending. And I cared way more about what happened to Dunne than to anyone in Goodfellas or Raging Bull, and also way more than I cared about Bickle. Not that caring about characters really matters in all types of stories, but you brought it up.

I think Godfather 3 was much better than Goodfellas until G3 blew it at the end. Coppola has made a great film once (G1) and half a great film three times (G2, G3, AN). And I really wish I hadn't mentioned Salieri/Mozart because it deserves, as an analogy, not to be weakened. But Scorsese is Salieri--solid technique and no inspiration, but he knows enough not to make something terrible (except Gangs). Coppola is crazy and inferior on balance to Scorsese, but he has higher highs. Coppola is closer to Carl Orff.

Ian Pugh said...

Stewart is perfectly cast Adventureland and the Twilight series--the former because the part called for a bored, know-it-all teenager; the latter because it emphasizes that she can't do anything else. She's a blank slate upon which tweeners can project themselves, and that's Bella Swan in a nutshell, baby. Adventureland demanded limited perspective and limited range: Stewart is right for that role. She's also completely unaware that her talents don't stretch very far, but that doesn't make her "bad" so much as it makes her "Twilight bad." It puts her completely in sync with everything else in the Twilight movies and how they pretend to be ridiculously deep--and it makes her an element without which that crumbling card tower just wouldn't be complete. It's like, say, casting Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum in a Nicholas Sparks adaptation.

It's why I have to concur with Rick about the Twilight RiffTrax, if only with heavy reservations. The pop culture name-checks are dustier than ever, but even then, it demonstrates that you can shoot dead fish in a barrel and still hit a coupla bullseyes that actually mean something. The lingering problem is that the movies themselves are such foreign objects that it's sort of impossible to effectively snark at them: there are times when you can only react incredulously. I actually lucked out when I saw New Moon, because I attended it with such a wonderfully receptive audience--everyone cooed at the cute boys and whatnot, but they also roared with laughter when that three-month heartbreak hit December. Truly an incomparable moment. (Although nothing will ever beat Eli Roth's Fenway Park speech from Inglourious Basterds when seen in the heart of Boston--how's that for a bad actor conundrum?)

Rick said...

It's why I have to concur with Rick about the Twilight RiffTrax, if only with heavy reservations..

I have reservations myself, for every insightful comment that is gold, there are ten other comments that are extremely repetitive and mean-spirited, usually making fun of the obese, or unattractive. Actually the worst is when they hammer a female character who is slightly overweight, which they tend to frequently with the Rifftrax.

And about After Hours, I suppose it is just a personal preference that I need to emotionally respond in a positive, negative or mixed fashion to the characters, and when they are void of any relatable human qualities, it takes me out of it, no matter how great the premise is.

Anonymous said...

I can't think of a single thing I liked about After Hours. It's not much more than a well-directed Bad-Things-Happen-To-Ben-Stiller comedy, but without jokes.

O'JohnLandis said...

If After Hours is nothing more than a Ben Stiller frustration comedy, it should at least get points for being one over a decade before such a thing existed; but of course it's more than that, Nameless One. It's also about the peculiar optimism and crushing reality of late-night adventures, filtered through noir and made with immense technical skill in all departments. (Well-directed is a bit of an understatement.) To defend it further would require giving away the ending, but I think it's a perfect whatever-it-is. And is it too glib to say that jokes sometimes ruin comedies?

Rick, I won't agree that the characters are as inhuman as you seem to think they are, but I'd like to suggest from experience that the people you meet in the middle of the night aren't like normal people--perhaps they're not even like themselves.

Patrick said...

A well-directed unfunny comedy is still an unfunny comedy.

Bill C said...

Woah, I had this weird dream that someone with the same name as the director of ANIMAL HOUSE called THE GODFATHER PART FUCKING 2 "half a great film." That was a dream, right? Please?

Calgon, take me to Shutter Island.

The Voice said...

O'John Landis is a vital member of this community and I welcome him to voice his distorted view of the world anytime.

Rifftrax has been a disaster ever since it started gaining traction and the terrible trio felt it necessary to pump out one Hollywood blockbuster a week. I went back and watched an old Joel episode of MST3K on Instant Watch to see whether it was me who has changed or the talent and effort involved. The answer is safely in the latter category, my nerd cred (unfortunately) redeemed.

Kristin Stewart is hot.

I haven't seen Shutter Island yet.

O'JohnLandis said...

Yeah, I'm totally biased about After Hours because I worked with Dunne on American Werewolf in London. And I don't recall ever thinking during After Hours, "Man, I wish this movie was funnier."


Godfather 2 is an interesting case. It has wonderful, dynamic scenes--sometimes played big, sometimes small--but every great scene is unnecessary. Blessed with Pacino at the height of his powers and an army of epic supporting performances, you'd think Copppola would have attempted to combine these elements into a story, but to the extent that he tried, he failed.

You could describe the plot of G2 in two sentences or two dissertations and the dissertations wouldn't give you any more information than the sentences. The first Godfather is about something clear--the transition between criminal eras and the ways Michael corrupts himself out of revenge and misplaced obligation. This rather simple story is told so well, with each development taking you on a journey that seems fresh--and with a lived-in, vibrant world to visit--that every meandering detail feels like a main course. This is a strength.

But if I had to summarize what Godfather 2 is about, the best I could do would be to say it's about the transition between criminal eras and Michael corrupting himself out of revenge and misplaced obligation. See the problem? Like any random slasher sequel a decade or two later, Godfather 2 tries to tell the same story but with MORE EVERYTHING.

So you've got all this Cuba material and you mix it with all this Roth material and all this Pentangeli material, and the scenes are powerful and original and different from each other. But pretty much all you've accomplished is the story of the Corleones slightly changing their business model. And even if you look at the film as existing in a universe that never included the first film, most of the great scenes don't give vital information and they require emotional context from the first film to mean anything. Godfather 2 doesn't work without Godfather 1, but it doesn't add anything that needed adding either.

Ultimately, what does Godfather 2 accomplish?

Is it a contrast between the generations of the Corleone family? Not really. None of the Vito scenes accomplish anything besides back story for a previous movie (and its most popular character) and if they'd all been cut, the movie might have had to focus on a real "A" story. As it stands, Vito establishes the family in a manner that is neither more nor less honorable than the way Michael continues it--it's just different and underdeveloped. (I'd add that the two most overrated actors I can think of are the two who've played Vito Corleone, though Brando fared much better.)

So maybe it's the tragic story of Fredo? Good luck caring about the ending without having seen the first film, but I think people are being charitable if they buy the idea that Michael would ever make that choice. I thought the ending was simply absurd when I first watched the movie in my teens, but now I think it's too nakedly an expression of Coppola's unwillingness to glamorize the mafia. Unfortunately, the kind of operatic tragedy of contrivance that ends Godfather 2 would end up being seen as glamorous anyway. Coppola, presumably pissed off about that, made an ending to his third Godfather that was even sillier, but he did succeed in one respect--it wasn't at all glamorous.

Of course I get called out for calling Godfather 2 merely half-great, and Alex makes a Top 100 that includes zero Godfathers and one Freddy vs. Jason, and I come off as the distorted one.

jer fairall said...

Saw Shutter Island.

Guys, you have to be pretty--no, make that incredibly--blinded by your Scorsese love to defend this one. Halfway through I was echoing Walter's Shymalan comparison. A little further on, I was thinking that this was something that would normally star Nicolas Cage in his deranged Wicker Man mode. After the "twist" was revealed, at which point most "twist"-type movies come to their gasping end, this one had to go on for another fucking half an hour of repetitive, needless exposition.

OK, it looks great. And it's got a great cast. But for christ sakes guys, it ends with Ben Kingsley explaining things to us with a pointer and a bulletin board.

Patrick said...

O'John: Well, Alex is... Alex, you know? And he made a list of his "favorite" movies, not the "greatest" ones. Perhaps he just doesn't enjoy Godfather even though both it and the sequel are fucking great?

And I desperately wish someone would make a biopic that tackles the main character like Godfather 2 does.

Alex Jackson said...

It could also be duly noted that I have three Star Wars movies on my list but no Godfathers.

I have more admiration than love for The Godfather movies. It's one of those things where I would never go so far to call them overrated, but they don't realy speak to me very much on a personal level.

I would still say that The Godfather is a truly great film and I don't think that Godfather Part II is its equal, but it's a very good film all the same and I'm not at all opposed to it's canonization.

I think John's complaint makes sense.

And 100 is a finite number.

Dan said...

I have to agree that The Godfathers are films I can admire and appreciate on essentially every single filmmaking level (I'd rate them both very highly), but they don't *touch* me in any significant way. Great films, the best of their genre, but I could quite happily never see them again. Maybe it's partly because you're "supposed" to find them perfect and wondrous. I get the feeling a lot of people are secretly bored/confused watching them, too, but saying so wouldn't go down well in cineaste circles.

But no, I wouldn't ever let Freddy Vs Jason take a place in a Top 100 from Godfather II. :)

Bill C said...

On second thought, I don't want to get sucked into this particular cafeteria debate. Withdrawing my last two posts, and my presence from this ludicrous, maddening thread.

Alex RoQ said...

Would it be too late to add my 2 cents on Shutter Island?

I gotta say, I'm kind of surprised to see that it looks like I'm the only person who's posted thus far who has unbridled enthusiasm for the film. My feeling is that the rather by-the-books premise fits perfectly into what the film finally accomplishes- we're watching a role play, a broken mind creating its own identity and narrative- why not choose to be a hard-boiled archetype on the trail of a massive government conspiracy? Whether or not his current state, his dreams and hallucinations, or his memories are real or not almost becomes unimportant- Scorsese makes them all real through cinema, all subject to the consciousness of this one damaged animal we are given as our protagonist. Did anyone else find it interesting that, like Basterds, this movie featured a scene of cold blooded murder of unarmed Germans? In Basterds it was a raucous revision of history to fit Tarantino's obsession/fascination with revenge, while here it's an event that cannot be confirmed or denied. It's as real as any other fragment of memory we are given. My feeling is that the message of the film, ultimately, is that the only thing we all share in common is a proclivity towards violence and madness- how, then, can we even conceive of any idea of history or collective identity when we are all damaged, all conscious in a unique and individual way? It seems to me to be a rumination on/example of the Hollywood Hallucination, of the interplay of reality and cinema in an endless loop (Ben Kingsley's character say something to the same effect at the end about Edwards' condition). I've seen the movie twice and enjoyed it in the same way despite the conditions being different (I was one of the dunderheads who couldn't call the twist from the onset the first time); I found it genuinely heartbreaking, sort of like Scorsese taking the cynicism he saw in human interactions in The Departed and applying them to the personal and subjective.

I really loved the film. I hope any of the above makes any kind of sense.

Alex Jackson said...

As a pop treatment of Nazism and the Holocaust, Shutter Island is considerably less offensive than Inglourious Basterds.

I liked it, by the way. I don't think that it's top shelf Scorsese and the film is pretty rudderless. It's difficult to resist self-indulgence when depicting madness and the film does not succeed. But I mean, come on. It may be a disappointment, but would you really tell people not to see it?

Alex Jackson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex Jackson said...

Just found out that AntiChrist is now available on Netflix Instant View.

Speaking of which, this might also be of interest.

Patrick said...

Three stars for 2012? Did I miss this review the first time around? Or did I repress the memory of it?

KayKay said...

Sorry to stray off-topic, but wanted to leave a personal note of thanks to Alex Jackson for his excellent review of Commando (Director's Cut).
Was sheer bliss reading an erudite analysis of my absolutely favourite "Long Day At The Office Too Fucked To Think" Late Night Guilty Pleasure View for many years now.
Your take on the Matrix-Bennett gay undercurrents are spot-on and perfectly articulate what I've been thinking during multiple re-watches. Bennet's last lines just before he and Matrix start their knife-dance , complete with hyperventilating, bug-eyed panting, climaxing with the "I'm Gonna Kill You John!!!" is the best orgasm expression I've seen outside of porn. Methinks Bennett popped his load way before getting a Pipe Extention:-)
Although I would say your statement "All sex is rape in this movie. It's always sadistic and always invasive" could be challenged if you include the coitus interruptus to the couple fucking in the motel when Arnie and Bill Duke come crashing through the door:-)
Great stuff.
So can I expect something similar from another Guilty Pleasure also culled off the Mark L. Lester ouevre "Showdown In Little Tokyo"?

Alex Jackson said...

Although I would say your statement "All sex is rape in this movie. It's always sadistic and always invasive" could be challenged if you include the coitus interruptus to the couple fucking in the motel when Arnie and Bill Duke come crashing through the door:-)

Well, even then somebody's being humiliated. Glad you enjoyed the review though! Hope it inspires more fans of the film to come out of the woodwork.

corym said...

Re: http://www.slate.com/id/2245149/

That article is still rolling around my head, but I think I finally get what's bugging me about it. The writer name checks a bunch of movies, but the article comes down to Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas are great--everything else, not so much. He's siding with the three most highly regarded films and attacking the rest. A valid opinion? Possibly. It's also the easiest--and least insightful--criticism to make.

He also lumps Bringing Out the Dead and The Aviator into the "bad" list while ignoring The King of Comedy and Kundun completely. Those are my most-watched Scorsese movies.

Also, I don't really get the argument that Scorsese has lost his edge. He's lost his youthful anger, but he's traded it for nihilism and decay. A red-eyed Howard Hughes repeating "way of the future" against a black background has permanently wedged itself into my head.

Re: Commando

Alex, I love the review. But I wonder, is Commando like a wine? Let it age a few years and it's fantastic. Let it sit too long and it's ruined. 2010 might be some kind of crazy sweet spot when you can watch the thing with enough distance to actually enjoy it.

This might be the first and last time Commando is compared to wine.

The Voice said...

Alex's Commando review is why I left college. More to come (once I've left work).