Wednesday, June 10, 2009

You'll never leave this island...

Even with a brilliant director and a richly talented cast, Shutter Island—the trailer of which just premiered on Apple—is a tough sell for me. Everything about the film seems like a plus. Joining Scorsese's new old stand-by DiCaprio, the cast is filled out by Mark Ruffalo (the realistically world-weary David Toschi in Zodiac), Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Max von Sydow and, a personal favorite, Patricia Clarkson. The fact that Clarkson features so prominently in the trailer is almost enough to make me cautiously optimistic. Add to this Scorsese's company of old-pros behind the camera (d.p. Richardson, editor Schoonmaker and production designer Dante Ferretti) and all should be right with the world.

Unfortunately, Scorsese's latest is based on the worst of the three Dennis Lehane novels I've read. I can't elaborate without (potentially) spoiling the plot of the film, but those who've read the book know where I'm coming from. Screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis retained the anagram character names. Not good. The trailer telegraphs the same plot twists found in the novel. Not good. And, finally, check out the video game-quality CG imagery. Not good.

Really, Scorsese. That's the best you could do? I'd rather to see him go the old school route of using matte paintings instead of falling back on bargain-basement CGI. I miss the matte paintings and process shots of Vertigo, Citizen Kane or Black Narcissus. There was a real art to seamlessly blending the world of the cinema and the world of the still frame. Comparatively, the CGI backdrops found nearly everywhere today are mere window dressing.

I guess this is a long way of saying I'm apprehensive about Shutter Island and the trailer didn't do a thing to dispel that feeling. Also, welcome to In Widescreen. I don't have any real idea where I'll be taking this blog, but it gives me a place to relax and write about the things that interest me. I promise I won't be this grumpy all the time. After all, everything's better in widescreen (har har har).
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1 comment:

  1. Welcome to blogging WJ!

    I look forward to reading what you've got to say and I hope you enjoy the experience.

    As for Shutter Island...I haven't watched the trailer yet. Scorsese is one of those directors I like to go in completely ignorant.

    Having said that I have a really bad feeling about it despite the terrific cast. I haven't read any of Lehane's novels, but I've had significant problems with the endings of all the movies I've seen based on them.

    Someone at LiC said it appeared Scorsese fixed the ending to this one in the screenplay, so I guess we'll see.

    Good luck writing!