Shutter Island

Paramount Pictures

If there’s anything that HBO has figured out this year, it’s that True Detective‘s success means that audiences are more than willing to sit down for an hour of creepiness, darkness, peculiar monologues and mysteries upon mysteries. So it’s fitting that a series based on Shutter Island, the 2010 psychological thriller from Martin Scorsese that pitted Leonardo DiCaprio against the staff of a rundown mental institution, and ultimately his own head, is coming to the network. Tentatively titled Ashecliffe, as in the name of the mental facility located right on scenic Shutter Island (You’ll never want to leave), HBO and Paramount Television have teamed up to bring the adaptation to life, with Scorsese actually set to direct the pilot and Dennis Lehane, the author of the novel that inspired the film, writing the script, and DiCaprio one of many executive producers. The series is set in the years before Shutter Island takes place, and will explore the past of the hospital. As if the current state of the institution (in 1954, as the film was set) wasn’t corrupt and decrepit enough, it’s clear that before US Marshal Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) even stepped foot on that disgusting soil decades of corruption were already underway.

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Culture Warrior

Movies have a strange relationship with history, that’s for certain. On the one hand, they have the ability to bring to life, in spectacular detail, the intricate recreation of historical events. On the other hand, films can have a misleading and even potentially dangerous relationship with history, and can change the past for the benefit of storytelling or for political ends. And there’s always the option of using films to challenge traditional notions of history. Finally, many movies play with history through the benefit of cinema’s artifice. Arguably, it’s this last function that you see history function most often in relationship to mainstream Hollywood cinema. In playing with history, Hollywood rarely possesses a calculated political motive or a desire to recreate period detail. In seeking solely to entertain, Hollywood portrays the historical, but rarely history itself. Tom Shone of Slate has written an insightful piece about a unique presence of that historical mode all over the movies seeking to be this summer’s blockbusters. Citing X-Men: First Class, Super 8, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Cowboys & Aliens as examples, Shone argues that this is an unusual movie summer in terms of the prominence of movies set in the past. However, while such a dense cropping of past-set films is unusual for this season, these movies don’t seem to be all that concerned with “the past” at all – at least, not in the way that we think.

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In most years of film one can logically find a common theme amongst a decent number of pictures to apply a label that sort of embodies what that year may represent in hindsight. Such as, the year of the Animated Film if a bunch of strong animated pictures were released, or the year of Jude Law if Jude Law did stuff, or the year of the R-Rated sex comedy if there were a bunch of films that made you remember you’re comically bad at sex.

The theme is usually something very superficial and easy to locate, unlike certain things difficult to locate that make you comically bad at sex. However, I’m somewhat of an introspective individual. I don’t like to buy into simply what’s on the surface. I like things to mean more. I like the potential of finding something connective between some generally unrelated material.

Basically what I’m saying is I like to make shit up for the purpose of entertaining journalism. Yet, despite my reaching deep into the abyss of irrelevance I have come back with the knowledge that a handful of pictures from 2010 contain something substantial about them, or contained within them that does work metaphorically as strong advice about particular relationship situations, or sexual inadequacies or troubles.

The fact that I found them in films ranging from children’s fare to horror pictures obviously says more about the film industry than my obsession with finding sex in everything.

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The race for the Oscar for Best Visual Effects is on, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has put it into full gear by releasing the list of films that will comprise the final 15 contenders. As you might remember from previous years, this only the first cut. Over the next few weeks, the Academy’s visual effects branch will narrow the list down to seven films, then watch 15-minute clip reels and bring it down to five nominees for a January 25th announcement. Which leaves us the never-difficult task of picking through the list and deciding two things: which films we think deserve the 5 nominations, and which five films will actually get the nominations. First, lets take a look at the list.

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It almost feels like taking a week off, This Week in Blu-ray. After several weeks of reviewing a wide swath of titles, we’ve come down to a measly three this week. And it’s not because my Fedex driver let something slip between the seats (that’s happened). It’s simply not a great week for Blu-ray releases. Only three major releases, one of which is very disappointing. As for the others — well, lets just say that it takes different strokes to move the world.

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Little ass-kicking Thai kids, old ass-kicking Chinese guys, and one-eyed dogs make up the BUY list, while adventure, romance, madness, deception, and ass-swords make up the RENTals. And then there’s John Travolta’s From Paris With Love…

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Martin Scorsese

Last week I wrote about the history of the auteur theory and its strengths and weaknesses when applied to actual film practice. Regardless of the theory’s apparent problems, it’s clear that the idea of the auteur still holds great weight in framing the way even the most casual of filmgoer goes about experiencing cinema.

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Auteurs: Martin Scorsese

Last month as I sat down to watch Scorsese’s Shutter Island with the rest of the Austin-based Reject crew, Lost Club’s David Gunn and I had a rather enlightening discussion about the applicability of the auteur theory in today’s cinematic landscape. It got me thinking about the contemporary negotiations between the theory’s shortcomings, contradictions, and pragmatic applicability to how we perceive and view cinema on a regular basis in the 21st century.

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Alice in Wonderland

Well, we kind of figured that Alice in Wonderland would set the top box office opening of 2010, but I dunno how many people predicted this: $116 million!

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Well, the best opening weekend for director Kevin Smith still wasn’t enough as Cop Out was nosed out by Shutter Island for its second straight winning weekend at the box office.

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Welcome to another Reject Report, where the big question this weekend is whether Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan and Cop Out can help the movie-going audience escape from Shutter Island.

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The twist ending is a difficult thing to perfect. Attempting such an ending runs many risks. For one, if the twist occurs with the natural trajectory of the story, the impact of the twist can be lessened for the spectator if they accurately guess it along the way. Perhaps more commonly, twist endings simply don’t work most of the time – more often than not, they come across as cheap, insincere attempts at making the spectator think they have experienced a more intelligent film than they actually have…

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Black Dynamite director Scott Sanders schools us in Blaxploitation, takes us to slave island, and demonstrates the Tri-Cock live on the air. Except for you, because you’re not listening to it live.

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As expected, Shutter Island was the winner at the box office this weekend. What was not so expected was the margin of victory: it raked in $40 million dollars and represents the best weekend opening ever for both Leonardo DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese.

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Leonardo DiCaprio is moving from one thriller, the recently released Shutter Island, to another, the upcoming Aaron Guzikowski-scripted drama Prisoners. The film has been making the rounds for a while — at one point Antoine Fuqua was set to direct, but has since moved on. According to Deadline Hollywood, the film follows “a small-town carpenter who takes matters into his own hands when is daughter and her friend are kidnapped.”

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Kevin Carr sits his chubbiness down weighs in on Shutter Island and the slate of Oscar-nominated short films, in theaters this week.

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Fat Guys at the Movies

Before Kevin and Neil weigh in on the movies opening this week, they take a heartfelt look at the situation brewing between Kevin Smith and Southwest Airlines. And they have so much to say, you’ll need two seats to hear it all.

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Expecting a quality film from Martin Scorsese is like expecting to get wet in the rain. It’s the anticipation of the inevitable with the director who has given us so many excellent cinematic experience, and you wouldn’t be foolish to expect quality here again with Shutter Island.

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This week looks fairly calm on the movie front. We have only one new release, Shutter Island, doing battle against the usual holdovers such as Valentine’s Day, Percy Jackson, Avatar and the rest of them.

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For me to have walked away from the last two films I’ve screened — Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island and Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer — thinking that both were heavily influenced by the work of Hitchcock isn’t a shock. Nor does it make either movie less interesting or take anything away from the two great directors behind them. In fact, it makes them both more interesting.

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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
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