#15 The American

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Anton Corbijn
Produced by George Clooney
Grant Heslov
Anne Carey
Jill Green
Ann Wingate
Written by Rowan Joffé
Story by Martin Booth (novel)
Starring George Clooney
Violante Placido
Thekla Reuten
Paolo Bonacelli
Irina Björklund
Music by Herbert Grönemeyer
Cinematography Martin Ruhe
Editing by Andrew Hulme
Distributed by Focus Features

People hated this movie.  Hated it.  We heard it first hand.  The night we saw  The American we sat next to a group of mature citizens that announced loudly, that what they were watching was–“horrible and pornographic” and then they (thankfully) proceeded to file out of the theater. 

I do not understand it.  Well, actually I do.  If  The American would have had non-stop action and corny one-liners, it would have been a hit.  Instead it was an intense character study and unfortunately the average moviegoers find that boring.

That’s a shame.  Because this a lovely piece of film.  It is definitely more European in style and mood–allowing the camera time to linger on scenery and taking its time with the small details. 

It is very quiet.  The dialogue is sparse and purposeful.  The silence is a key character in the story.  It is those moments of silence that we discover what it would be like for assassin–in real life–not in Hollywood version. 

From the opening sequence–which is surprising–and throughout I was invested in this man’s life.  George Clooney is the right actor to play this…he can emote more feelings with just a glance than most can with a monologue. 

I could feel his isolation and his paranoia–to the point that I did not trust anyone on screen and was jumping at shadows.  It reminds me that art can be made when all the frills are stripped and you are left with the basic essentials.

You know what I hate?  I hate that more people could not appreciate this film.  Maybe you can?

Resources: Wikipedia


#16 Shutter Island

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Produced by Martin Scorsese
Bradley J. Fischer
Mike Medavoy
Arnold W. Messer
Screenplay by Laeta Kalogridis
Steven Knight (uncredited)
Based on Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio
Ben Kingsley
Mark Ruffalo
Michelle Williams
Cinematography Robert Richardson
Editing by Thelma Schoonmaker
Studio Phoenix Pictures
Appian Way Productions
Sikelia Productions

Let me start by saying that I have a knack of figuring things out–I don’t try–I don’t sit there and say, ” I want to know the twist!  I am going to analyze and search for clues…” –it just jumps out at me!  My record is 2 minutes into the opening credits–BAM! I knew. 

That being said, I love movies that can surprise me–keep me guessing–and/or totally fool me!  The Sixth Sense and The Usual Suspects–top my list and now  Shutter Island will be among them. 

I will not spoil one second of this movie for you.  It is worth experiencing unaware of any hints or clues.  But I will tell you it is a thrilling ride.

It is a noir film.  Full of dark shadows, secrets and past demons.  Martin Scorsese creates a mood.  From the setting in the mental asylum to the torrential storm–every aspect plays a part in the story.  The tension and the mystery build with each frame and it draws you in as it tightens its grip. 

Leonardo DiCaprio is fantastic! It is easy to see why he is Scorsese’s muse of late–he is intensely raw and it is hard not to get lost in his universe.  Mark Ruffalo is one of Hollywood’s most underrated actors and here he is the quiet anchor. And I can’t forget Ben Kingsley who is pitch perfect.

I loved that I began to question myself and my theories–and was left slack-jawed–towards the end I actually said, “What just happened?”

And to that I say…AWESOME!  Well done!

Resources: Wikipedia