Friday, April 2, 2010

The Round-Up#23

Film Review: Shutter Island: Based on Dennis Lehane's stupendous novel and directed by Martin Scorsese, Shutter Island is a wondrous piece of filmmaking. This is an audacious, stylish film, and one which has been meticulously adapted for the screen.

The plot - revolving around a U.S. Marshall's investigation of a secret government facility for the insane, the secrets he discovers, and how it all ties to a tragic incident in his past - is serpentine and challenging. But thanks to a near-perfect screenplay, Leonardo DiCaprio's impressive portrayal of the haunted protagonist, and Scorsese's perfectionist direction, the film's pace is fast and the story moves along smoothly, right down to the harrowing ending.

But what makes this film a masterpiece is Scorsese's direction. With this film, Scorsese has made something that is as rare as diamonds: A big-budget studio-produced film that is wildly experimental. Using unorthodox lighting techniques, toying with continuity, and creating images that are as surreal as any found in psychedelic art-house films, Scorsese pulls out all the stops and delivers a film that is both technically and narratively daring. This is a film that looks like it was shot in the 1940's but with current technology. This is the kind of film that Val Lewton (the 40's pioneer of psychological horror films) - someone whom Scorsese admits he admires greatly - would have made had he been alive today. In other words: this is the kind of polished, intelligent Gothic/Noir Drama Studios rarely produce nowadays.

Even darker than the original novel on which it is based, Shutter Island is an unmissable masterpiece of filmmaking, and a treat for film buffs.

Extra! The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding: This edition's Extra! selection is the Young Adult novel The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding, a tremendously imaginative adventure/horror novel. Quickly paced, filled with frightening set-pieces, and endlessly entertaining, this dark little novel is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by fans of dark fantasy. Highly recommended.

That's it for me. Till next time, keep browsing those shelves.

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