The Written Work of Adam Krause

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Films I'm Looking Forward To - Shutter Island

Posted by Adam Krause on February 18, 2010 at 1:34 PM



How do I feel about the work of legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese, you ask? Let's put it this way, if the man made a 6-hour documentary on the history of sand, I would go to the theater and see it. The 67-year-old director, whose name is synonymous with cinema among film geeks and casual moviegoers alike, has had such an illustrious career in Hollywood that he really doesn't need any introduction. With a resume that spans over fifty years and well over thirty films, there aren't too many people out there who haven't seen a Martin Scorsese picture at this stage in the game.

Known more for his gritty character studies and violent gangster dramas, most people will typically cite Goodfellas, Taxi Driver and The Departed (the film that finally won the man his long-awaited Oscar) when discussions arise about the films of Martin Scorsese, despite the fact that the man has dipped his chip plenty of other material. Sadly though, one area where the director as been rather vacant from is the thriller/mystery/horror genre, a field where audiences haven't seen him since his wonderfully gripping remake of Cape Fear, starring longtime collaborator Robert De Niro and Nick Nolte. Sure, there was Bringing Out The Dead after that, but that was more of a black comedy if anything and one of his weaker films.

Luckily though, that is about to change as the director makes his long-awaited return to the thriller/mystery genre with the upcoming release of Shutter Island, the new film from Paramount Pictures. The movie marks the fourth collaboration between Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, with the previous three being Gangs of New York, The Aviator and The Departed. So with this track record, there's a pretty good chance Shutter Island is going to be a decent movie. And even though that is quite the impressive list the two have created together, Leo has along way to go to take over De Niro's top spot as the director's favorite leading man. The two of them have done a total of nine films together.

The film was supposed to be released in theaters this past October, which would have allowed it's spooky material to fit in a little more with the Halloween-crazed times and more surprisingly, the fall release would have primed Shutter Island for the 2009-2010 award season, something that everyone took for a given with the success Scorsese had during The Departed's run at the Oscars. The real reason why the film's release was postponed is one of those major movie studio secrets that only the Hollywood Big Wigs truly know, but reports had stated that Paramount Pictures' primary motivation for the delay was to not allow the film to get in the way of The Lovely Bones, Peter Jackson's rather disappointing flop from earlier this year, which was one of the studio's releases that they had hoped would be a frontrunner in the Oscar race. Man, I bet they wish they had that one back.

As I stated earlier, Shutter Island is an eerie thriller that is set in the year 1954 with the majority of the film taking place in an insanely creepy (pun intended) psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane that ironically is located on a desolate island that shares its name with the movie. Two "dually appointed federal marshals," played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Brothers Bloom) are summoned to Shutter Island to investigate the bizarre disappearance of one of the hospital's patients.

Unable to leave the island thanks to an approaching hurricane, the two men shack up at the hospital and focus all of their attention and efforts on solving the case by "investigating" the dark chambers and creepy corridors that make up the haunting sanitarium. It doesn't take long before certain truths are uncovered and the two marshals discover that there is something far worse happening on Shutter Island than what appears on the surface.

Along with DiCaprio and Ruffalo, the film also stars the always-great Ben Kingsley. Oh, I'm sorry, Sir Ben Kingsley (The House of Sand and Fog, Elegy). Acting alongside these three talented gentlemen is also Patricia Clarkson, Max von Sydow and Jackie Earle Haley, an actor who is slowly solidifying himself as one of my favorite character actors. The film's adapted screenplay is courtesy of Laeta Kalogridis, whose previous screen writing credits include Oliver Stone's Alexander.

The movie is based on the critically acclaimed book of the same name from distinguished author Dennis Lehane, a man who is very familiar with seeing his work unfold on the big screen. Some of his other novels besides Shutter Island are Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone. So yeah, the man knows a thing or two about writing a story. Gothic-style storytelling in the vein of Edgar Allen Poe and horror-infused pulp fiction is what the author cites as his inspirations for writing the book. A book that the films producer, Bradley J. Fischer, describes as "a thriller and a Gothic mystery, but there is also much more to it because it has so much depth and deals with serious moral issues. The dense, atmospheric plot features a series of twists and turns that leaves you reeling and is quite mind-blowing."

It seems that the story's engaging, nightmarish plot is what brought all creative minds behind the film to the project, including Scorsese. "This is the type of picture I like to watch, the kind of story I like to read," Scorsese explains. "Over the years, I think I've stayed away from certain kinds of pictures that emulate the style that I find nurturing in a way, but these are the kinds of films I go back to and view repeatedly. I've always been drawn to this sort of story. What's interesting to me is how the story keeps changing, and the reality of what's happening keeps changing, and how up until the very final scene, it's all about how the truth is perceived."

Similar is how DiCaprio felt, crediting the story as well for his interest in Shutter Island. "A lot of things about this character appealed to me," Leo explains. "Teddy comes to Shutter Island devoted to solving a mystery and to uncover what is really going on, but he has his own innermost agenda and secrets. He's in a situation where there's a lot more to his journey than there at first appears to be. One of the great things about the story is that it's constantly jarring you. It works on so many different levels; it's like a giant layer cake."

But naturally, it was also the draw of once again collaborating with his old friend that pushed Leo over the edge in agreeing to do the film. "The one thing I don't think people understand about Scorsese is how much he believes in the actors he hires and how much he depends on them doing their homework before they show up on the set." DiCaprio went on to say, "With Teddy [his character], there were certain fine lines we couldn't cross and that was very challenging. I really needed Scorsese's guidance on how far things could be pushed."

And really, I don't know of too many directors that actors would rather receive guidance from than Martin Scorsese. Will Shutter Island be as successful as the duo's previous films? You can see for yourself, the film opens in theaters everywhere on February 19, 2010.


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