26 Shots From 26 Films: Special Martin Scorsese Edition


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Today, the TSL wishes a happy birthday to one of the greatest director working today, the one and only Martin Scorsese!  And that means that it’s time for….

26 Shots From 26 Martin Scorsese Films

(That’s right.  We usually do 4.  Scorsese gets 26.  He deserves a hundred.)

Who’s That Knocking On My Door (1967, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Boxcar Bertha (1972, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Mean Streets (1973, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Taxi Driver (1976, dir by Martin Scorsese)

New York New York (1977, dir by Martin Scorsese)

The Last Waltz (1978, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Raging Bull (1980, dir by Martin Scorsese)

King of Comedy (1982, dir by Martin Scorsese)

After Hours (1985, dir by Martin Scorsese)

The Color of Money (1986, dir by Martin Scorsese)

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Goodfellas (1990, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Cape Fear (1991, dir by Martin Scorsese)

The Age of Innocence (1993, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Casino (1995, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Kundun (1997, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Bringing out the Dead (1999, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Gangs of New York (2002, dir by Martin Scorsese)

The Aviator (2004, dir by Martin Scorsese)

The Departed (2006, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Shutter Island (2010, directed by Martin Scorsese)

Hugo (2011, dir by Martin Scorsese)

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Silence (2016, dir by Martin Scorsese)

The Irishman (2019, dir by Martin Scorsese)

4 Shots From 4 Films: R.I.P., Max von Sydow


Steppenwolf (1974, directed by Fred Haines)

I woke up to the sad news that Max von Sydow, one of the greatest actors of all time, died yesterday.  He was 90 years old and he leaves behind a truly amazing filmography.  He played saints, sinners, assassins, exorcists, generals, poets, doctors, and even ordinary men who were just trying to make it day-to-day.  That he was nominated for only two Academy Awards over a career that lasted 71 years was a major oversight on the Academy’s part.  He was an actor who was as capable in arthouse films as he was in the latest installment of a legendary sci-fi franchise.

It’s hard to take a career as long and productive as von Sydow’s and narrow it down to just four shots from four films so I’m not going to try.  The shots are below are some of my favorite von Sydow performances but they’re hardly definitive.  Max von Sydow gave so many good and memorable performances that it’s hard to know where to start.  Below are 4 shots from 4 films from a truly remarkable career.

Max von Sydow, R.I.P.

4 Shots From 4 Films

The Virgin Spring (1960, directed by Ingmar Bergman)

Flash Gordon (1980, directed by Mike Hodges)

Needful Things (1993, directed by Fraser C. Heston)

Shutter Island (2010, directed by Martin Scorsese)

Embracing the Melodrama Part II #119: Shutter Island (dir by Martin Scorsese)


Shutter IslandThe 2010 film Shutter Island finds the great director Martin Scorsese at his most playful.

Taking place in 1954, Shutter Island tells the story of two detectives, Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio, giving an excellent performance that, in many ways, feels like a test run for his role in Inception) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo, also excellent), who take a boat out to the Ashecliffe Hospital for The Criminal Insane, which is located on Shutter Island in Boston Harbor.  They are investigating the disappearance of inmate Rachel Solando, who has been incarcerated for drowning her three children.

Ashecliffe is one of those permanently gray locations, the type of place where the lights always seem to be burned out and the inmates move about like ghostly visions of sins brought to life.  It’s the type of place that, had this movie been made in the 50s or 60s, would have been run by either Vincent Price or Peter Cushing.  In this case, the Cushing role of the cold and imperious lead psychiatrist is taken by Ben Kingsley.  Max Von Sydow, meanwhile, plays a more flamboyantly sinister doctor, the role that would have been played by Vincent Price.

When a storm strands Teddy and Chuck on the island, they quickly discover that neither the staff nor the patients are willing to be of any help when it comes to tracking down Rachel.  As Teddy continues to investigate, he finds himself stricken by migraines and haunted by disturbing images.  He continually sees a mysterious little girl.  He has visions of his dead wife (Michelle Williams).  A horribly scarred patient in solitary confinement (Jackie Earle Haley) tells him that patients are regularly taken to a lighthouse where they are lobotomized.  When Teddy explores more of the island, he comes across a mysterious woman living in a cave and she tells him of even more sinister activity at Ashecliffe.  Meanwhile, Chuck alternates between pragmatic skepticism and flights of paranoia.

And I’m not going to share anymore of the plot because it would be a crime to spoil Shutter Island.  This is a film that you must see and experience for yourself.

This is one of Martin Scorsese’s most entertaining films, an unapologetic celebration of B-movie history. He knows that he’s telling a faintly ludicrous story here and, wisely, he embraces the melodrama.  Too many directors would try to bring some sort of credibility to Shutter Island by downplaying the film’s more melodramatic moments.  Scorsese, however, shows no fear of going over the top.  He understands that this is not the time to be subtle.  This is the time to go a little crazy and that’s what he does.

Good for him.

The Oscars: The Visual Effects SemiFinalists


The Visual Branch Executive Committee of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Scienes (yes, you can say it five times fast but can you say it five times fast while eating a pop tart — I think not!) has released a list of the 15 semifinalists for the 2010 Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

And here they are:

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • Clash of the Titans
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
  • Hereafter
  • Inception
  • Iron Man 2
  • The Last Airbender
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
  • Scott Pilgrim vs the World
  • Shutter Island
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
  • TRON: Legacy
  • Unstoppable

This list will be narrowed down again to 7 semifinalists and then in February, the actual nominees will be announced.

Looking over this list, there’s a few bright spots.  I don’t think anyone’s surprised that Inception made the cut but it’s still good to see it there.  I’m also happy to see that there’s at least a chance that Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World might get some love.  Same thing with Shutter Island.

As for the rest of the list — well, it’s pretty much what you would expect to see, isn’t it?  Clash of the Titans?  Really?  I have to admit that I don’t remember the film all that well but didn’t the special effects kinda look like …. well, crap?  I can only assume that the voters were overwhelmed by the raw charisma of Sam Worthington.  Prince of Persia was a little better but still, for the most part, the effects were routine, dull, and predictable.  Hereafter featured an impressive tsunami but otherwise, the visual effects were pretty much limited to making the afterlife resemble a poorly lit office of the DMV.

As usual, I guess what’s really interesting about this list isn’t what’s listed as much as what’s not.  I would happily replace both Clash of the Titans and Price of Persia with Splice and Skyline, two mediocre films that were distinguished by impressive f/x work.

For that matter, even the Social Network featured Armie Hammer acting opposite himself.

I’m also disappointed to see that Black Swan was left off the list.  In typical Darren Aronofsky fashion, they did indeed come close to going over the top.  The fact that they didn’t is exactly why they deserve to be honored.

(I found this list of semifinalists on AwardsDaily.com but I’m not including a link because the site is run by an elitist dumbfug who apparently thinks that she’s the end-all/be-all of Oscar commentators.  Yes, she’s a commentator and not just some grubby little blogger like the rest of us.  Or, as she once put it — “I know the game.  Hell, I am the game…”  When I call someone a toadsucker, that’s the type of person I’m talking about.)

The National Board Of Review: I Give Up!


The rather enigmatic National Board of Review announced their selections for the best films of 2010 today.  The NBR is traditionally considered to be the first precursor to how the actual Oscar race will shape up.  Typically, those honored by the NBR are, at the very least, nominated by the Academy.  Strangely, nobody seems to be sure just who exactly makes up the membership of the NBR.  As far as I can tell, it appears to be a collection of film professors and cable tv executives.  It wouldn’t surprise me to discover that the NBR is actually some sort of Illuminati conspiracy or MK-Ultra experiment designed to keep American filmgoers from thinking for themselves.

Anyway, as I look over this year’s award winners, all I can say is that I give up.  If my reaction to Avatar indicated to me that I’m totally out-of-step with mainstream opinion, then the current Pavlovian acclaim of the Social Network proves it.  I will never be a part of the mainstream and it’s not by choice.  It’s just I am apparently thoroughly incapable of understanding how the mainstream brain works. 

So, that’s what the National Board of Review taught me today.  I am destined to always be alone, railing against the dying of the light.  Thank you for the insight, assholes.

Anyway, here’s this year’s award winners:

Best Picture: The Social Network (Don’t get me wrong, the Social Network is a good movie.  It’s just not that good.) 

Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network

Best Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network (I am so sick of hearing that this is Jesse’s “breakthrough” role.  Jesse’s breakthrough was in Adventureland, long before the mainstream ever decided to embrace him.)

Best Actress: Lesley Manville, Another Year (Haven’t seen it yet)

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter (Another movie that I will see when it opens later this month.  Still, Bale should have been nominated for American Psycho back in the day.)

Best Supporting Actress: Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom (Yay!  This award gives me hope.)

Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3 (yay!)

Best Documentary: Waiting For Superman (Yes, my favorite movie of the year —Exit Through The Gift Shop — was totally ignored.)

Best Ensemble Cast: The Town (Bleh.  So I guess that would include Jon Hamm, who gave such an amazingly bad performance in this film?)

Breakthrough Performance: Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone (Another yay but you know all the mainstream is going to offer her is a role in a Twilight rip-off and maybe a Maxim cover shoot.)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network (Fuck Aaron Sorkin and his elitist, sexist, technophobic script.)

Best Original Screenplay: Chris Sparling for Buried (which I didn’t see, mostly because I’m claustrophobic and the movie is called Buried.)

Ten Best Films Of The Year (in alphabetical order):

Another Year

The Fighter

Hereafter (which sucked!)

Inception (yay!)

The King’s Speech (I’m actually really looking forward to seeing this)

Shutter Island (kinda bleh but enjoyable)

The Town

Toy Story 3

True Grit (another one I can’t wait to see)

Winter’s Bone (yay!)

Yep, you read that right.  No awards for such presumed favorites as James Franco and 127 Hours, Black Swan, or The Kids Are All Right.  But you better believe they found room to honor a shallow, pandering film like Hereafter.

Finally, here are the Top Ten Independent Films of 2010, according to the toadsuckers at the National Board of Review:

Animal Kingdom (yay!)

Buried (Now I guess I have to see it)

Fish Tank (yay!)

The Ghost Writer (yay — kinda)

Greenberg (bleh)

Let Me In (another kinda yay)

Monsters (shrug)

Please Give (yay!)

Somewhere (going to see it when it opens down here, Sofia Coppola is my role model)

Youth in Revolt (shrug, it’s neither bleh nor yay)

You can read the full list of winners at The Wrap.

Anyway, in order to show just how exactly I feel when confronted with mainstream thought and opinion, here’s an old picture of me with a tampon stuck up my nose.

2010: The Year In Film So Far


Everyone views history in their own individual way.  Some people remember past years by what they saw on the evening news (hence, 2004 becomes “the year Bush was reelected”) but I define them by what was playing at the nearest movie theater.  Ask me when I was born and I won’t tell you, “1985.”  Instead, I’ll tell you that I was born the same year that Terry Gilliam’s Brazil was butchered by Sid Shienberg.  For me, the quality of a year is determined by the quality of the movies that were released during those twelve months.  You may have hated 2009 because of the economy.  I hated it because it was the year of the overrated movie, the year in which otherwise sensible people ignored great films like An Education, A Serious Man, District 9, and Inglorious Basterds (which, praised as it was, deserved considerably more) in favor of Avatar and The Hurt Locker.

2010, however, is shaping up to be a far better year.  Though a final judgment can’t be passed on 2010 until 2011, here’s a few thoughts on the year so far.

Best Film (so far): Exit Through The Gift Shop, a quasi-documentary that might just be one of the most perfectly executed mindfucks in modern history.  Runners-up: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Fish Tank, Please Give, Winter’s Bone, A Prophet, Toy Story 3, and Inception.

Best Male Performance of the year so far: John Hawkes, in Winter’s Bone.  Hawkes has been overshadowed by Jennifer Lawrence but he dominates every scene that he appears in.  Just consider the scene where he “talks” his way out of a traffic stop. Runners-ups: John C. Reilly in Cyrus, Ben Stiller in Greenberg, Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception and Shutter Island, and Sam Rockwell in Iron Man 2.

Best Female Performance of the year so far: Noomi Rapace as the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire.  Rapace is my new role model, a Ms. 45 for the 21st century.  Runners-up: Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone, Katie Jarvis for Fish Tank, Rebecca Hall in Please Give, Greta Gerwig in Greenberg, and Chloe Grace Moretz in Kick-Ass.

Best Ending: The final shot of Inception.

Best Horror Film: The Wolf Man, which should have been oh so bad but instead turned out to be oh so good with Anthony Hopkins and Hugo Weaving both giving brilliant supporting performances. 

Best Bad Movie: Sex and the City 2.  Yes, if I’m going to be honest, it was a horrible movie.  But it was fun. the clothes were to die for, and the film managed to bring new depths of shallowness to the examination of the oppression of women in the Middle East.

Worst Film Of The Year (so far): Chloe.  Oh, Atom Egoyan, poor baby, what have you done, sweetheart?  You made a trashy, campy softcore movie and then you forgot that these things are supposed to be fun!  Runner-up: Robin Hood, because the entire freaking movie was a lie.  However, it did feature Oscar Isaac screaming, “Outlawwwwww!” and that saves it from being named the worst.

Worst Horror Film So Far: The Black Waters On Echo’s Pond.  So.  Fucking.  Bad.

The Get-Over-It-Award For The First Half Of 2010: The makers of Prince of Persia, who just had to try to turn an otherwise entertainingly mindless action film into yet another half-assed cinematic allegory for the Invasion of Iraq.  Ben Kingsley will probably be playing thinly disguised versions of Dick Cheney for the rest of his life.  I was against the Invasion of Iraq from the start but seriously, I’m so bored with every movie released using it as a way to try to fool the audience into thinking that they’re seeing something more worthwhile than they are.

The Read-The-Freaking-Book-Instead Award: The Killer Inside Me.  A lot of viewers are disturbed by the violent way that the main character deals with the women in his life.  I’m more disturbed by the fact that all the women in his life are presented as being simpering idiots.  The original novel is by Jim Thompson and it is a classic.

The worst ending of 2010 so far: Splice with the Killer Inside Me as a strong runner-up.

Future Film I’m Not Looking Forward To: Roland Emmerich’s Gusher, an ecological thriller based on the BP oil spill, starring Will Smith as the President, Dev Patel as the governor of Louisiana, Paul Bettany as the head of the evil oil company, and Ben Kingsley as Dick Cheney who will be seen cackling as oil-drenched doves wash up on the shores of California.  (How did the oil get to California?  Emmerich magic.)  Of course, the nominal star of the movie will be Jake Gyllenhaal as the young engineer who says stuff like, “This well is going to blow!” and who is trying to reconcile with his estranged wife (played by — does it really matter?  Let’s just say Emily Blunt gets the role this time around).  And let’s not forget Robert Duvall, who will play a grizzled old-timer who says a lot of grizzled old-timer stuff.  Look for it in 2012.

My prediction for which film will be the most overrated of 2010: The Social Network, which has not opened yet but Sasha Stone at awardsdaily.com seems to think that it’s a slam dunk for greatness which is usually a pretty good indication that the end result is going to be a predictable, bourgeois crapfest.

So, that’s 2010 so far.  It’s shaping up to be a good year.  I’m still looking forward to the release of Blue Valentine, Animal Kingdom, Get Low, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, The Last Exorcism, Wall Street, and the rerelease of Godard’s classic Breathless, which is one of my favorite movies and now I’m going to get a chance to see it in a theater!  Life is good.