Movie Reviews
Shutter Island - Hollywood Reporter Review Print E-mail
Written by Phoenix Pictures Inc.   
Friday, 02 October 2009 10:33
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Review of Shutter Island

Kirk Honeycutt for The Hollywood Reporter, February 13, 2010


Bottom Line: A movie from Martin Scorsese that defies you to believe in what you actually see.

BERLIN -- Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island" is a remarkable high-wire act, performed without a net and exploiting all the accumulated skills of a consummate artist. It dazzles and provokes. But since when did Scorsese become a circus performer?

The movie certainly keeps you in its grip from the opening scene: It's a nerve-twisting, tension-jammed exercise in pure paranoia and possibly Scorsese's most commercial film yet. With a top cast hitting their marks with smooth efficiency, "Island" looks like a boxoffice winner. Paramount opens the film domestically Friday Feb. 19.

Laeta Kalogridis' screenplay is based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, whose blue-collar crime novels have been turned into such movies as "Gone Baby Gone" and "Mystic River." But this story clearly derives from memories and images of old movies -- from 1950s Gothic mysteries and Cold War-era paranoia thrillers to 1960s movies cranked out by the Roger Corman factory (where Scorsese once toiled), especially its Edgar Allan Poe/Vincent Price chillers.

You get an isolated island, howling weather, mad scientists, an ex-Nazi, tough cops, deranged patients and a penal hospital with crowded, filthy cells and corridors stretching forever -- possibly beyond sanity.

Scorsese has given himself a film student's puzzle: Try to make a '50s-era thrill ride with today's techniques and technology. One senses his childlike delight behind every camera move and jump cut. As his audience squirms, he's in movie heaven.

From the opening music chords, supervised by Robbie Robertson from existing source material, a sense of doom settles over the film's characters. In 1954, two U.S. marshals -- Teddy (Scorsese's go-to star, Leonardo DiCaprio) and his new partner, Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) -- watch the forbidding fortress that is Shutter Island loom larger and larger as their ferry approaches the island's only dock.

In quick order, exposition rolls off the actors' tongues, like in those B-movies that lasted only 70 minutes. Shutter Island is a hospital for the criminally insane. One female psychopathic patient has gone missing, incredibly, from a locked room within the fearsome-looking Ashecliffe Hospital. A hurricane is approaching. The guards and psychiatrists then greet the lawmen with hostility and evasions. Everything screams, "Go back!"
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Shutter Island - Variety Review Print E-mail
Written by Phoenix Pictures Inc.   
Friday, 02 October 2009 10:33
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Review of Shutter Island

Todd McCarthy for Variety - Saturday February 13th, 2010

A Paramount release of a Phoenix Pictures production in association with Sikelia Prods. and Appian Way. Produced by Mike Medavoy, Arnold W. Messer, Bradley J. Fischer, Martin Scorsese. Executive producers, Chris Brigham, Laeta Kalogridis, Dennis Lehane, Gianni Nunnari, Louis Phillips. Co-producers, Joseph Reidy, Emma Tillinger, Amy Herman. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Screenplay, Laeta Kalogridis, based on the novel by Dennis Lehane.

Expert, screw-turning narrative filmmaking put at the service of old-dark-madhouse claptrap, "Shutter Island" arguably occupies a similar place in Martin Scorsese's filmography as "The Shining" does in Stanley Kubrick's. In his first dramatic feature since "The Departed," Scorsese applies his protean skill and unsurpassed knowledge of Hollywood genres to create a dark, intense thriller involving insanity, ghastly memories, mind-alteration and violence, all wrapped in a story about the search for a missing patient at an island asylum. A topnotch cast headed by Leonardo DiCaprio looks to lead this Paramount release, postponed from its original opening date last fall to Feb. 19, to muscular returns in all markets

As Kubrick did with Stephen King's novel, Scorsese uncustomarily ventures here into bestseller territory that obliges him to deliver certain expected ingredients for the mass audience and adhere to formula more than has been his nature over the years. Although "The Departed" and "Cape Fear" come close, "Shutter Island" is the film that most forces the director to walk the straight and narrow in terms of carefully and clearly telling a story; if testing himself within that discipline was his intention, this most devoted of cinema students among major American directors gets an "A."

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Resurrecting the Champ - Review Print E-mail
Written by Phoenix Pictures Inc.   
Wednesday, 07 July 2004 03:54
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By Roger Ebert for the Sun Times - August 24, 2007

In the news business, there is an intoxication in making a big story your own. In "Zodiac," a cartoonist strays off his beat and tries to solve a string of serial killings. In Rod Lurie's "Resurrecting the Champ," a sportswriter stumbles on the story of a Skid Row drunk who used to be a contender. Erik (Josh Hartnett) has been told by his editor he is sloppy and lazy, and when he comes upon Champ, it's like a gift from heaven. The former heavyweight boxer (Samuel L. Jackson) has just been beaten up by some young punks, but harbors little resentment against them. He's talkative and tells Erik his story.

His real name, he says, is Bob Satterfield. At one time he was ranked No. 3. He even sparred with Marciano. Now he's a shambling mess, old, homeless, remembering past glories. A lot of boxers with his history would have had their brains scrambled, but Champ remembers the past in detail; alcohol is his problem. Erik senses what we reporters like to assure our editors is a "great story." We are not modest about reviewing our unwritten work.
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Zodiac - Variety Review Print E-mail
Written by Phoenix Pictures Inc.   
Friday, 02 October 2009 10:33
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Review of Zodiac

By TODD MCCARTHY for VARIETY, May 15, 2007

A Paramount (in N. America), Warner Bros. (international) release and presentation of a Phoenix Pictures production. Produced by Mike Medavoy, Arnold W. Messer, Bradley J. Fischer, James Vanderbilt, Cean Chaffin. Executive producer, Louis Phillips. Directed by David Fincher. Screenplay, James Vanderbilt, based on the book by Robert Graysmith.

An obsession that cannot be satisfied erodes the souls of the central characters in "Zodiac," a mesmerizing account of the infamous, never-solved Bay Area serial killings as seen from the perspectives of several men who spent years trying to crack the case. Conveying an astonishing array of information across a long narrative arc while still maintaining dramatic rhythm and tension, this adaptation of Robert Graysmith's bestseller reps by far director David Fincher's most mature and accomplished work. It is decidedly not sensationalistic along the lines of "Seven," hardcore fans of which may be disappointed by new pic's methodical nature and unavoidable inconclusiveness. But discerning auds worldwide will find deep satisfaction, pointing to moderate but sustained B.O. given proper distrib nurturing.

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