Friday, August 27, 2010

The Good Departed Pilgrim Flew Over The Unbreakable Island Road

Shutter Island

You know you've seen a good film when you're left with a lingering feeling of unease once the film's over. It happened after Inception, and it happened after this.

Based on a book by Dennis Lehane, it's the story of a state trooper investigating a missing patient from from an isolated island-based institute for the criminally insane. Or so it would seem.

It's a twist ending movie. And your experience with the twist may vary. I can't say how obvious it is, but I worked it out before seeing the film, but that didn't remove any from it. Though I'm sure the viewing experience would've been quite different if I hadn't. Still, like Fight Club, knowing what's coming doesn't ruin the film at all.

In fact, while I guessed the major twist, that wasn't all there was to it. And the reveal-all flashback scene to what happened in Leo's past is genuinely unsettling.

It's visually appealing, and in terms of the acting, Leo was fantastic. As was Ben Kingsley. If I ever go batshit, I hope I have a psychotherapist like him.

Overall, I reckon it's made it onto my favourites list, so as you'd probably expect, it comes highly recommended from me. Watch it!

The Road

First of all, as far as I can recall, I've never cried at a movie. And I mean actually cried. Sure, I've been close to tears a few times. But The Road... I don't know why, but that ending really got me*.

It's based on a book by Cormac McCarthy, who also wrote No Country for Old Men, another great film. The most basic description I can come up with is that it's the story of a father and son trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. But unlike other post-apocalyptic films, the dangers are simply from other survivor, who chose to survive by cannibalism, theft, whatever it takes - not some supernatural horror.

It's a slow burner, unusual in a world of more fast-paced, action-filled films. But when the action does come, it's all the more tense. Unlike a lot of horror film, you're not desensitised to the violence and horror, which makes it all the more distressing. And the film as a whole has a general uncomfortable feel to it. But in a good way.

It seems like one of those films that will likely be on so many lists of films to see before you die.. Not quite a cult classic, but certainly not mainstream, despite its critical acclaim.

Nonetheless, it comes with my recommendation.

[*I'm not claiming to be a really macho manly man who doesn't cry for anyone or anything. I just generally.. don't. Maybe I'm just dead inside :p]

The Departed

I seem to have been seeing a lot of Mr DiCaprio recently. You judge for yourself whether that's a good or bad thing. Also staring Matt Damon and an aging Jack Nicholson, it's a modern mafia film (directed my Martin Scorsese), and a decent one at that.

It's also a little mind fuck-y - you have the cops and the gangsters, each with a rat on the other side and each looking for the other's rat, and it's not entirely clear who is actually on who's side.

Okay, so when I said mind fuck-y, what I meant was confusing. The unfortunate thing is, due to my revising at the time, I didn't entirely pay attention to it. So instead, I'm going to bring up The Simpsons.

As per the memeic refrain - Simpsons did it! In an episode when Skinner introduces a new student into the school - Donny - meant to befriend Bart and rat on all his planned pranks. They even go so far as to include the main musical theme from The Departed and parody (among other scenes) the final cut-scene - an actual rat walking across the background. And in The Simpsons, Ralph popping up to say "The rat symbolises obviousness".

There's also an episode of South Park that seems to parody the end, where the cops are randomly executing each other for some, not entirely clear reason.

Well, I say not entirely clear - it may have been more clear if I'd been paying attention.
It's not what I'd call a must see film. But I wouldn't discourage you from seeing it either. I'll leave it up to your judgement.


It was sold to me as how a superhero origin story should be done. And it was certainly impressive. M. Night Shyamalan has been getting a lot of abuse lately, but we have to remember, there was a time when he was a respected director. And this is one of his better movies.

As I said above, it is a superhero (and nemesis) origin story. And a very good one at that, not least because it convincingly suggests that heroes could exist in the real world. Possibly. And you have little emotional sub-plots in there as well. But what really wins it is Samuel L. Jackson - the Glass Man - brittle-bone sufferer. The Antithesis of Bruce Willis's hero.

But really, Samuel L. is just consistently awesome in everything. And this is certainly no exception. You should see it - especially if you're a comicbook/superheroes fan; but even if you're not.

And I'm keeping my fingers crossed that there will be a sequel, and that Shyamalan hasn't completely lost his awesome-movie making abilities. Because the ending really does leave the potential for something great to follow.

Good Will Hunting

So this kid, this delinquent working as a janitor at a university - turns out he's a secret genius. Also, he's Matt Damon. Okay, so if it were that simple, the film would be at risk of being trite. But as you probably already know, this film is critically acclaimed. (And possibly won an Oscar?).

I seem to remember that that part was parodied in an episode of Jimmy Neutron. At least, I think it was Jimmy Neutron. Either way. It's always weird seeing a film, having seen various references and parodies before hand. The Godfather is a good example of that (for me, at least).

But no, the actual bulk of the movie is in Will's relationship with his psychologist - played by Robin Williams. I have to say, Williams is actually a really good actor when he's not playing a buffoon [See also: One Hour Photo].

Okay, so this was another film I only half watch (revising for a maths exam at the time), but what I saw of it was impressive. I might even consider buying it. Possibly. It's probably only about £3 in HMV. We'll see how impulsive I'm feeling.

Yeah, I'd recommend it. One of those you might want to see on TV before buying it. But it is worth a look.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

Here's another parodied one, in particular in The Simpsons. And having seen it, all of a sudden a handful of jokes make a lot more sense. Like Bart kidnapping the old people and taking them for a boat trip, and 'the Chief' that throwing a water fountain through a window to 'escape' the old people's home. Also, a big chunk of the Michael Jackson episode.

One Flew centres on criminal Jack Nicholson being sent to a mental hospital and on the people he meets and befriends there. And these patients are at the mercy of Nurse Ratchet - an evil bitch of a woman, who, at one point, guilts one of the patients so much he slits his throat. This leads Jack to try and choke her to death - and as a result, gets lobotomised. Then there's the surprisingly touching/disturbing scene where the lobotomised Nicholson is smothered to death by 'the Chief' - as a mercy killing.

It's a damn good film. I suggest you watch it.

Also worth mentioning: the first two episode of series 6 of House (wherein House has been committed) bear some resemblance to One Flew, and in and of itself they're a fantastic pair of episodes. The rest of the series is a bit hit and miss, but you should definitely watch those two.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

I don't know what some of the other reviewers are talking about - misogynistic?! I honestly don't see it. Or maybe I'm just to misogynistic myself to notice? Either way. The point is, it's a good film. And there's a few pretentious, youth/gamer-hating bastards who could use a good slap.

Based on a graphic novel by Brian Lee O'Malley - Scott Pilgrim, at it's most basic level, is a 'boy meets girl' love story. Albeit one that's been smashed together with a video-game to form this stunning, visually pleasing fusion of a film. Of course, this will not be to everyone's taste. But it was to mine, and ultimately, that's all that really matters.

Oh, and also, Scott has to defeat the girl - Romona Flowers -'s seven evil exes, which he does in true video-game style - compete with the defeated becoming a pile of coins.

The film as a whole.. well, I loved it. I've heard other people speak highly of it. But it's kind of a niche film. Odds are, the people who'll like it the most are those around student-aged. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.

It's funny, it's romantic (but not sickeningly so) it's just generally good fun, and it has 'Vegan Police'. Oh, and did I mention it's visually stunning?

Yeah. If you're around student age or are just a big nerd (or both), I'd recommend it. If you're not, maybe read up on it first..?

[Only downside - not nearly enough prancing :p]


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