Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekend Mishmash: Lost Crazies on Shutter Island

Despite my impending deadline for Moon Florida Keys, Dan and I have had a pretty darn good weekend. As promised in my last post, we ventured to a nearby movie theater on Friday night and enjoyed a double feature of The Crazies and Shutter Island. While such thrillers might not be for everyone, we liked both of them immensely.

As other reviewers have noted, The Crazies is a surprisingly intelligent horror film. Spanning just a few days in the life (and unfortunate demise) of a small town in Iowa – due to an inadvertent contamination of the communal water supply – the movie offers an effective balance between terror and tragedy. Part of the film's success can be attributed to the solid cast, adeptly led by Timothy Olyphant – a skilled actor who manages to insert moments of humor in an otherwise serious film about a fatal government mistake and the callous cover-up that ensues. But, as I told my mom on the phone tonight, it's also surprisingly less gory than I expected, a testament to the filmmakers' desire to keep story and character development paramount.

Shutter Island, which we saw afterward, is an equally entertaining film, based on a novel by Dennis Lehane. Despite the fact that the story's climactic twist is apparent from the beginning, the experience is still well worth the price of admission (which is, by the way, a heck of a lot higher in Los Angeles than in northern Michigan). Given that it's filmed almost entirely on an isolated island during inclement weather, the movie is certainly rich with atmosphere. In fact, director Martin Scorsese has effectively used the environment to heighten the story's tension, leading the main character, a troubled U.S. marshal, through dangerous settings, such as a blustery cemetery and a perilous cliff face. Beyond the atmosphere, the film is full of excellent performances, from the likes of Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams, Jackie Earle Haley, and Ted Levine, not to mention engaging cameos by Patricia Clarkson and Elias Koteas. Of course, the star of the film is Leonardo DiCaprio, who gives a heart-wrenching performance in what is ultimately a poignant psychological drama.

But movies weren't the only diversion we experienced this weekend. Last night, we attended a Lost panel discussion at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. Part of this year's Paley Fest, an annual event hosted by the Paley Center for Media in celebration of modern television, the panel featured several members of the cast and creative team, including actors Terry O'Quinn (John Locke), Michael Emerson (Ben Linus), and Nestor Carbonell (Richard Alpert), plus executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse – all of whom offered amusing answers to the questions posed by the moderator and audience. Of course, no definitive secrets were revealed about the final season of this simultaneously compelling and annoying show, but we did get a chance to see a clip of next week's episode, which was cool. More than anything, I was delighted by the rapport between O'Quinn and Emerson, who play fierce rivals on the series, and frankly, I welcomed another night away from my laptop.

But, naturally, I'm hard at work today. Sigh.

Well, I hope your weekend was equally fun, wherever you went and whatever you did.


Valerie Geary said...

The Crazies intrigues me.... but I fear it. Did you see 28 Days Later? If you did, could you compare it to that for me? Less scary or more scary? Less gory or more gory? I need to decide if The Crazies is theater-safe or if I should watch it in the safety of my own home. Thanks! :)

Bane of Anubis said...

Love Lost - even if it's completely jumped the moon shark. The Crazies was fun and entertaining. Shutter Island definitely had atmosphere, but that doesn't make up for the crazy plot.

Laura Martone said...

Valerie - Yes, I definitely saw 28 DAYS LATER. Several times, in fact. Honestly, I think it's very similar to THE CRAZIES - in both scares and gore. While 28 DAYS LATER was a little bloodier, THE CRAZIES has some fairly gross make-up effects. But still, 28 DAYS LATER had a few bigger scares. Overall, I think THE CRAZIES is just creepier. Still, if you scare easily, you might want to wait for a home viewing, so you can hide behind the pillows. ;-)

Bane - Yeah, LOST has definitely jumped the shark this season (and I got the feeling from the panel that not all questions will be answered - grr), but I'm glad you enjoyed THE CRAZIES (isn't Olyphant dreamy?). Still, I don't "get" why people dislike SHUTTER ISLAND's plot. Then again, I think Lehane is overrated as a novelist - MYSTIC RIVER still ticks me off.

Deb@RGRamblings said...

Laura, I think you may be the only person who can write reviews compelling enough to make me want to see a couple of movies that I suspect would scare the pants off me. Nice work and good to see that you're getting out and having some fun :)

Laura Martone said...

Thanks, Deb. That means a lot. :-)

Lemme know if you ever see them. I'd be curious to hear all about your pants-free thrills!

Deb@RGRamblings said...

LMAO! You'll be the first to know.

Laura Martone said...

Phew. Thanks, Deb. I'll wait with bated breath. ;-)

R.R.Jones said...

I've just watched Shutter Island and I had to write something here.
I loved it and the last line of the film was brilliant, I actually whispered to myself, "Oh wow" when he said it. Although I sort of guessed his situation before it was made out, that line made up for it.
Once again, brilliant.
Right, I'm off to bed, it's 0240 hrs. here in Jolly Old Germany. night night.

Laura Martone said...

I'm glad you liked it, R.R. Wasn't that last line wonderful? It was like a second twist - and made the fact that you saw the ending coming a bit more acceptable. I thought it was a very tragic story - and that last moment really did me in. Leo did an excellent job - as always!

R.R.Jones said...

"and made the fact that you saw the ending coming a bit more acceptable"
Exactly how I saw it, it sort of redeemed everything.
I loved the film, I really did, but I don't think watching it a second time would be advisable.

Laura Martone said...

Oh, I agree, R.R. While I thought the film turned out to be a very moving drama, it's too tragic to watch again and again. I tend to watch funny films or outright scary ones over and over, but not sad stories. I'm not THAT big a glutton for punishment. :-)