Friday, February 19, 2010

Steve Norwood Enjoys His Stay On Shutter Island

Martin Scorsese's thriller Shutter Island has more in common with Angel Heart than Jacob's Ladder, if "unraveling hero" comparisons are necessary. By his own terms: it is more interested in the descent into madness than The Aviator; more about men seeking truth at the risk of their own souls than men seeking justice (through violence, as in Cape Fear). Shutter Island is a dense, elegant and sorrowful film that knows all the old trickery, yet performs effortlessly to the last shot. It is another great film by the American master, though it feels less like a Scorsese film than anything he's done in the last three decades.

It's 1954: Federal Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio, who seems quite at home in his fourth Scorsese film) is a man brimming with issues. When we first see him, he's physically sick, puking into a basin on a ferry headed to the titular island in Boston Harbor. There, Ashecliffe Hospital for the very violent, criminally insane awaits.

Teddy has a lot on his mind: a new but amiable partner (Mark Ruffalo) he's never met, wince-inducing memories of his wartime experiences (liberating concentration camps), and the headache-inducing loss of his wife in an apartment fire. An urgent request for help from Ashecliffe, where an inmate is missing, must take precedence in Teddy's mind, but the horrors and sorrows of his past keep intruding on his investigation. He quickly surmises three things: both the hospital staff and the patients are aware of something, no one wants to talk about it, and trust is in low supply.

Ashecliffe's serene head of staff, Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley) accommodates the marshals, but clearly someone above him is pulling strings. Files cannot be accessed. Information cannot be shared. Cawley's subordinate Dr. Naehring (Max von Sydow) is less polite: he immediately begins testing Teddy, provoking defense mechanisms and gauging his reactions. But Teddy's detective skills are an equal match to the doctor's psychological finesse. After a day of runarounds and empty leads, Teddy decides they'll take the ferry back the following morning and file a report, washing their hands of the matter. But a hurricane is approaching, and leaving Shutter Island seems more daunting with every hour. It quickly becomes clear that the question isn't so much who is committing a crime, as what crime is being committed?

While DiCaprio makes the film his own, he has a substantial supporting cast filled with many fleeting, powerful performances. Jackie Earle Haley and Elias Koteas are strong as inmates who figure into the investigation; Emily Mortimer is eerily effective as a deluded multiple murderess; John Carroll Lynch is a by-the-book guard who manages the facility's security with cautious certainty. His boss is The Warden (Ted Levine), a forbidding fellow who shows up late in the game but makes his will known to DiCaprio's marshal in very explicit terms.

Scorsese's crafty applications of grandly melodramatic music, sound effects, dazzling light and murky shadow punctuate every scene, yet never distract from the persistent unease that builds ever-so slowly throughout the film. The director seems to have left behind his trademark flourishes; only a few recognizable camera moves are found in early scenes. Nor does his expertise overwhelm the story, based on the Dennis Lahane novel of the same name.

It is a terrifically fun experience, more of a queasy funhouse ride than anything he's made, even if in doing so it loses a degree of depth and memorability. But like Inglourious Basterds, Shutter Island has long, artful passages where the drama's heavy lifting balances the pure pulp surrounding it. The film also has several nods to Alfred Hitchcock, a spine-tingling use of vermin, and a suitable, perhaps even dignified, ending.

Alongside The Departed, Shutter Island comes across as the director's most accessible work, though that label should not be confused with "his best". (Review by Steve Norwood - content provider for the Asian Film Festival of Dallas - AFFD)

Relent Set To Release New Single, "Low", May 8th

Run Kid Run Acoustic

Death Therapy To Perform Online Monday, 4/13

The Letter Black Signs To Rockfest Records

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus Release New Song/Lyric Video, "Brace Yourself"

The Persuaded Debut Video For "Forced Silence"

Sef Idle To Livestream Upcoming Show

Pillar Drop New Lyric Video, "Embrace the Chaos"

Matty Mullins Releases New Song, "No Hold On Me"

Kevin Kiehn (formerly of The Wedding) Aids Songwriters, Releases New Music

GFM (Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh) Announce E-Tour, To Release New Song Friday

Twenty One Pilots Release New Song/Video, "Level of Concern"

Megadeth Have Had To Delay Their Recording Plans Due To Coronavirus Pandemic

Fit For A King, Silent Planet, Alpha Wolf & Brand Of Sacrifice’s European/UK Tour Rescheduled

Asking Alexandria, Falling In Reverse, Wage War, Etc. Tour Postponed

Azusa's Sophomore Album, "Loop of Everything," Coming to Stores April 10th - See Their Latest Promo Clip, "Monuments," Now [VIDEO]

Wage War Working On Fourth Album, Tease New Song

2020 ‘Hellfest Open Air’ Cancelled, Organizers Enter Dispute With Insurance Company Over Pandemic Coverage

Check Out New August Burns Red Video "Bones" for Their Latest Release "Guardians" [VIDEO]

Noted Metal Booking Agent Feels Touring Won’t Be Viable Again Until 2021

Brian Ortize - See a Victory (New Song)

2020 ‘Rocklahoma’ Festival Cancelled

‘Roadburn Festival’ Postponed To 2021

P.O.D. Recording Demos In Quarantine

Ocean Dark Present "Voice to the Nations"

Brave Days - Cloudy Eyes (Official Music Video)

Deathbreaker Announce New Album, New Track "Spite" Out Now

New Veridia Track, "Blood Diamond"

New Spoken Song "Awaken Me" Drops

Skillet Debut New Music Video: "Save Me"

New Single From Then It Ends - "Rescue Me"

Hot Water Music, Cursive, Torche, Sparta, Etc. Booked For 2020 ‘The Fest’

Evanescence & Within Temptation Announce Rescheduled European/UK Tour

Megadeth To Stream 2018 ‘Resurrection Fest’ Set Today

Deathbreaker To Release New Album “Isolate” In May, Debut “Spite”

2020 ‘Impericon Festival’ Shows (As I Lay Dying, Etc.) Rescheduled To September

Islander Release Cover of "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"

White Collar Sideshow Post Full Show, "Live From Quarantine in Nashville, TN"

Of the Lion Drops New Track, "Armistice"

Slow Coming Day to Release New Music via Indie Vision Music

Anchor & Braille Return With New Song "Dangerous"

Korn’s Brian “Head” Welch Exposes Scammer Impersonating Him On Social Media

UPDATE: Is A Bright Sky restarting and are we in for new music?

Have you heard of Ten On Sunday?

Ravenhill's Album Soul to be Released on Vinyl

Introducing: Nömlonger

Listen to As I Lay Dying - Destruction or Strength Now!

As I Lay Dying Release New Song “Destruction Or Strength” To Benefit Charity & Their Road Crew

Listen to Earth Groans - Prettiest Things Now!

Orion Walsh Performs Acoustic Slow Coming Day Songs from His Living Room

Judgement Day Release New Ep for Free Online (SXE Hardcore)

Listen to August Burns Red - Constellations (Remix) Now!

August Burns Red Premiere New Track “Paramount”

See Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine And His Daughter Electra Cover The Beatles

2020 ‘Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame’ Induction Ceremony Rescheduled To November

Mantric Signs with Solid State Records

Post-Hardcore Outfit Tigerwine Signs with Tooth and Nail Records

Get The Devil Wears Prada - The Act Right Now!

The Devil Wears Prada And Gideon’s April Tour Cancelled

A Mouthful of Thunder Release "Careful Now"

Highly Influential Aussie Emo-Punk Band Thinktank Re-Release Music on Digital Networks

Earth Groans Down Two Members

Bandcamp Waive Revenue Share For Today Only To Help Struggling Artists

Azusa Debut New Song “Kill / Destroy”

Rescheduled Dates Announced For We Came As Romans, The Devil Wears Prada, Gideon, Etc. Tour

P.O.D. Postpone March Shows

Unwed Sailor release new video

Rescheduled Dates Revealed For Fit For A King, Chelsea Grin & Alpha Wolf Tour

Bad Omens, Oh, Sleeper, Thousand Below, Etc. Tour Postponed

Earth Groans Debut “Springs” Music Video

We Came As Romans, The Devil Wears Prada, Gideon, Etc. Tour Postponed To The Summer

Killswitch Engage, August Burns Red & Light The Torch Tour Postponed, Watch Howard Jones Join Killswitch Engage Onstage For Two Songs

2020 ‘Impericon Festival’ Shows (As I Lay Dying, Whitechapel, Etc.) Postponed

2020 ‘Record Store Day’ Pushed Back To June

Fit For A King Premiere New Single “Breaking The Mirror”

We Are Leo - IWKY (Feat. Elizabeth Grace)

Peter Jackson’s Beatles Documentary ‘Get Back’ Coming From Disney Later This Year

Faster for the Master Showcases Embodyment, Zao, Antestor, Crimson Thorn Tonight!

Off Road Minivan to Release New Album This Year

Andrew Carlin (Light The Way) Releases First Middle Grade Novel

Thinktank Return to Play Some Shows and Potential New Music?

This Year’s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony Postponed Amid Coronavirus Concerns

Hasten Revelation Tour Spotlight: Abated Mass of Flesh

Hasten Revelation Tour Spotlight: Jarius Pascale of Mythic Panda Productions

Hasten Revelation Tour Spotlight: Living Sacrifice

Jason Dunn Releases Solo Track, "Prodigal"

Relent Signs To Rockfest Records

The Return Of The Letter Black!

Then It Ends Drop Cover Of "It Is Well"

Thrice Release “Image Of The Invisible” Live Video From “Vheissu” 15th Anniversary Tour

Gideon Drop Off European/UK Tour With Fit For A King & Silent Planet

Evergreen Terrace Headed To The Studio

Hasten Revelation Tour Spotlight: Crimson Thorn

Hasten Revelation Tour Spotlight: Taking the Head of Goliath

Hasten Revelation Tour Spotlight: Cardiac Rupture

As I Lay Dying, Whitechapel & Shadow Of Intent Tour Officially Announced

The Frozen Ocean Return With New Music

The Beautiful Mistake - East of Eden (Official Music Video)

The Classic Crime - The Outside (Official Music Video + Album Out Now)

Messengers Emerge From a Long Slumber to Knock Us All to the Floor With Their Thundering Metal Assault

Element 101 Begin Recording Their Long-Awaited Return Album

As I Lay Dying, Whitechapel & Shadow Of Intent North American Tour Rumored

Zao To Begin Mixing New Album

Ex-Norma Jean Drummer Shares Unfinished “Vertebraille” Video In Celebration Of “O’ God, The Aftermath” Turning 15

Project 86 Announce "The Final Chapter"

Have you heard of Herd?

XL & DBD Return With New Song and Album

Seraphs Coal to Release (Final) New Album This Year + More About The Band's Upcoming Dates

Embodyment / The Famine Drummer Mark Garza Playing with Living Sacrifice at 30th Anniversary Show?!?!

Hasten Revelation Tour Spotlight: The Weeping Gate

Azusa (Extol, Ex-The Dillinger Escape Plan, Etc.) Debut “Detach”, Testament’s Alex Skolnick Guests

August Burns Red Premiere New Song “Bones”

Cities Revealed For European/UK Leg Of Megadeth, Lamb Of God, Trivium & In Flames Tour

Trailer Released For New Living Sacrifice Documentary ’30 Years Of Sacrifice…’

Footage From Norma Jean’s House Show Tour Emerges

The Devil Wears Prada & Gideon Reveal April Tour

Chevelle Share Tease Of New Song in Studio Video

Hopesfall Debut New Track “Hall Of The Sky”

Megadeth Preparing To Record New Album

August Burns Red Announce June European Tour

Is A Bright Sky restarting and are we in for new music?

DENS - They

New Spoken Song Next Week, Album In The Works