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  • Why Shutter Island is the Best film of 2010 – By ARTISTdirect.com Editor Rick Florino

    Fri, 19 Feb 2010 08:37:48

    Why Shutter Island is the Best film of 2010 – By ARTISTdirect.com Editor Rick Florino - ARTISTdirect.com editor and <i>Dolor</i> author Rick Florino shows us why Martin Scorsese's <i>Shutter Island</i> is the best film of 2010...

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    Why Shutter Island is the Best film of 2010 – By ARTISTdirect.com Editor Rick Florino

    5 STARS out of 5 STARS

    The point where true artists converge is the place where masterpieces are born.

    It's a place where the greatest living filmmaker, Martin Scorsese, and the most daring and powerful leading man on the scene, Leonardo DiCaprio, completely play with your psyche. It's a place that's impossible to forget. It's a place that will go down in cinematic history. That place is Shutter Island.

    To say that Shutter Island is the best film of the year would be an understatement. Not only is it one of the best films of the decade, it's also one of the best of Scorsese's storied career. It's because Shutter Island truly pushes boundaries in terms of filmmaking, performance, storytelling and feeling. Yes, you will feel this film.

    Shutter Island tells the tale of Dicaprio's U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels. Alongside partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), Daniels is dispatched to the remote eponymous island off the coast of Boston in order to track down an escaped, violent mental patient, Miss Rachel Solando. She's a patient of Achecliffe a strange institution for the most violent of the insane run by equally strange Dr. Cawley—an ever-fantastic Ben Kingsley. Solando's disappeared from her locked and barred cell without a trace. The only clue is a shard of paper with a cryptic clue. So, Daniels' only course of action remains to probe Ashcliffe and try to find Solando, while figuring out what the hell is going on, of course. There's also a hurricane happening outside…

    That's enough plot. What makes Shutter Island horrifically magical is Scorsese's direction. The man that made Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Raging Bull and Casino manages to try some things that he's never tried on this island. The most powerful and chilling filmmaking happens during Daniels' dream sequences. Scorsese manipulates colors like Picasso. During these hypnotic and surreal scenes, reds, blues and greens vibrantly pulsate as if they were jumping off the celluloid. As Teddy holds his dead wife and she crumbles to ashes in a pool of blood, Scorsese writes cinematic poetry. The music and colors cascade into a hellish vision that's as unforgettable as any scene from The Red Shoes or Dario Argento's Suspiria. Another dream sees a hypnotically harrowing Elias Koteas flanked by flames as Dicaprio stands helpless. The embers surrounding him create a claustrophobia and make for an Inferno that even Dante couldn't fathom. Each one of these moments is prepared with such care, and Scorsese's attention to detail remains inspiring. Take the goat head pentagram on the wall in Jackie Earle Haley's cell. It's a quick image, but it sticks with the viewer long after watching the film. It's the little things that make Shutter Island a modern classic.

    The performances that Scorsese exorcises from these actors are also incendiary. Mark Ruffalo's Chuck is sympathetic, funny and rather weird. He makes the character idiosyncratically convincing and strangely untrustworthy as he keeps calling Teddy, "Boss." Then there's Jackie Earle Haley, who ignites the screen as scarred-up psychotic George Noyce. Freaking out at Dicaprio, there's a palpable unease. Elias Kotes stokes that flame in his aforementioned dream sequence. Max Von Sydow is overwhelmingly creepy as the doctor who may or may not have been a Nazi, and Kingsley's Cawley stands out. Kingsley plays him like the perfect host, but still gives him an authoritarian sensibility that contributes to the sense of entrapment.

    However, this will go down as some of Leonardo DiCaprio's best work. From the moment he splashes water on his face and exclaims, "Pull yourself together, Teddy" to his WWII flashbacks staring at dead bodies, DiCaprio creates an empathetic and classic man-under-the-gun. Teddy is the powerless noir hero, and DiCaprio updates the archetype while paying homage to classic film noir performances—think Jack Nicholson in Chinatown mixed with Jack Nicholson in The Shining and you get Teddy Daniels. Again though, it's the little things that make DiCaprio's performance so powerful. He shakily refuses alcohol from Sydow's doctor, and the expression on his face is so forlorn you can tell the character battled alcoholism without a word. DiCaprio can say it all without saying anything just like DeNiro in his prime.

    Dennis Lehane's original text is adapted flawlessly by Laeta Kalogridis. She preserves the general plot and manages to add some color and textures of her own. This is definitely the best Lehane adaptation yet—just watch the disturbing mental patient interviews in the first act for proof. Truly, this is the best thriller since Silence of the Lambs.

    All of these elements converge into a brand new classic, a timeless film that no one will forget. We live in the age of Avatar. Emotionality and storytelling are tossed away like garbage in favor of smoke n' mirrors 3-D. However, we will feel Shutter Island long after a new technology has come. As a novelist, I'm inspired to keep writing after seeing this film.

    This is a place you can't leave, nor should you want to.

    Rick Florino

    Check out Rick Florino's new novel Dolor available now for FREE here

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    Tags: Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Laeta Kalogridis, Dennis Lehane, Mark Ruffalo

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