Shutter Island (2010) Film Review



US Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) is sent to a mental asylum set on an inhospitable island with his partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) to investigate the disappearance of one of the patients. There, they meet Dr Crawley (Ben Kingsley) and Dr Naehring (Max von Sydow) and find that things are not what they seem.

I remember watching this years ago and really hating it – finding the twist extremely obvious and the whole thing quite annoying. I’m not a huge Scorsese fan, and was just a bit unimpressed. Then I heard it discussed on Plato’s Cave, the RRR film criticism show, and while they are all massive Scorsese fans, they said to watch it just as a thriller with a twist will be disappointing because it is deliberately so obvious. However, if you watch it with that knowledge and just enjoy the way it unfolds, you can really appreciate it. So, I gave it another go and, dammit, they were totally right. It’s very clever and intense and just great. I’m so glad I went back and watched it from a different mindset.


Robin Hood (2010) Film Review


I remember when this film came out, everyone was going on about how terrible Russell Crowes’ accent was, and I just want to say that it didn’t bother me. There were accents all over the shop, I had no idea who was supposed to be from where, and didn’t really care.

The film tells the story from when Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) and his mates are fighting under King Richard the Lionheart in France, only when the king dies, they nick off home, pretending to be some nobles whose they find dying along the way. After delivering the news to the new king, Robin goes to tell the noble’s father that his son is dead. The father, Sir Walter Loxley (Max von Sydow) convinced Robin to stay and assume his son’s identity to ensure that the land is not taken away from the widow, Marion (Cate Blanchett). And the story continues up to the point where Robin and his mates become outlaws.

In general, I didn’t mind this movie. It’s wasn’t amazing, and personally if I was to watch a film about a rebel in the olden days in Britain, I’d sooner watch Rob Roy or even Braveheart. What really bugged me was that Cate Blanchett had a very average role to play, and there was absolutely no chemistry between her Marion and Crowe’s Robin. It felt like it was close to being a good story but never quite made it.


Minority Report (2002) Film Review


Philip K. Dick wrote a short story set in a future where the police don’t solve crime, they stop it before it happens. See, there are some things called ‘pre-cogs’, who are people who are in a tank and plugged in to some machine. They can see into the future and every so often, they will inform about a crime. The Precrime squad then go and catch the criminal before they can commit the crime. The world is a great place. Only then Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise) discovers that he has been seen committing a murder and goes on the run.

It’s a great science fiction premise. It’s a fabulous cast. Tom Cruise gets to run a lot which is always ace. And just when you think it is going one palce, it ends up somewhere else. I really, really like this film. Really.

Minority Report was nominated for an Oscar for Best Sound Editing.


The Exorcist (1973) Film Review

The Exorcist

Film Actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) is a single mother whose twelve-year-old daughter starts showing some strange behaviours. All the doctors and scientists cannot find anything wrong, and the eventual decision is that she must have a psychological problem, even though her face is falling off and her body is turning in all strange and mysterious manners. Finally, Father Karras (Jason Miller) is called and is eventually convinced to get the church to organize the exorcist, Father Merrin (Max von Sydow).

It is a great film and thank goodness the special effects are quite dated otherwise I may well have collapsed into a pile of shivering fear. Though I did question the doubts that were expressed by all of them that she was possessed given the way she looked, acted and spoke. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the film, and as is often the case, there was so much more to it than the small parts I was familiar with from popular culture. And when her head spun around, I cheered – I’ve wanted to see that for so long!

The Exorcist won Oscars for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (William Peter Blatty) and Best Sound, and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Ellen Burstyn), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jason Miller), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Linda Blair), Best Director (William Friedkin), Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration and Best Film Editing.


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011) Film Review


This review originally appeared on in March 2012.

Jonathan Safran Foer is one of my favourite authors. His two fictions Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close are two of my favourite ever books. I love the humour and absurdity and heart of his writing. At the cinema recently, I saw the trailer for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close  and my heart sank. It looked awful. The problem is the marketing.

This is not a film about September 11.

But this is how it is being marketed, and I think that’s really wrong. Yes, (spoiler alert) the father died in one of the towers. This film is not about that – it’s about his son and how he deals (and cannot deal) with his grief. This is why I cried for two hours watching it.

At first, I was not happy with the choice of Thomas Horn as Oskar – he just wasn’t my Oskar, my little, nervous, weird, precocious Oskar. Plus he seems more like eleven or twelve than nine. As the film went on, he grew on me, and apart from a couple of overly schmaltzy, emotional moments, he was great. Especially the way he wields that tambourine! The casting of Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock was a mistake, I reckon. I mean, they are both so recognisable that it is hard to see them as anything other than who they are, and I found it hard to separate that. Mind you, they both made me cry, so I guess they had their acting chops on.

I wonder if the reviewers who are hating this film have read the book.

I wonder if it is my absolute love of this book that has lead me to love the film – I don’t need to try to understand it. I’ve been through all the disbelief and incredulousness as I read (how can anyone let a nine-year-old wander around New York on his own like that?) and was able to just enjoy the ride. This is a clear example of when a trailer ruins a film; don’t watch the trailer. And when you see this film, take lots of tissues.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was nominated for Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Max Von Sydow)