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February 21, 2010


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Nathan Duke

Glenn, I'd have to categorize your blog entry as a master piece. You could probably add "My Dinner with Andre" to that list, but just leave off the infamous still of a certain someone on Criterion's DVD that you posted here some time ago.

On another note, I'll try to be spoiler free on my "Shutter Island" comments:

There have been comparisons of "Shutter Island" to "The Shining" and a number of films noir, but I haven't read a single mention anywhere of "Memento." I certainly don't think Scorsese had that film in mind by any means, but I thought of it immediately following the revelation of "the secret" at the end of "Island."

Without giving away details, I think it's safe to say both films examine men whose present situations have been created by past psychological traumas. In "Memento," we realize that Guy Pearce's character created his own reality through the tattoos.

Did you see any intent in Teddy's final comment to his partner at the end of the film - in other words, a self realization and then a decision to do something about it? Just curious.

Tony Dayoub

I would also float that the theory you suggest in #2 for the latter half of Lynch's oeuvre. :)

Glenn Kenny

@ Nathan Duke: Re Teddy's final line, yes, I do see quite a bit of intent, and I think it contains the painful (actual) theme of the film in a nutshell. One reason I admire the film is that, beyond wanting to know "what happens," I was in fact very moved by DiCaprio's character, and finally rather galvanized by the "resolution" he reaches.


And that "resolution" is not in the novel, in case anyone is wondering. I too thought it was a fairly powerful, and logical, conclusion, completely fitting with Daniels, and the film that preceded it.

Speaking of antecedents of SHUTTER ISLAND, in the comments of my review of the film at my blog (read it today!), someone points out something I feel like a moron for not picking up on, a particular novel/film that could very well have inspired Lehane. And I was already to post it here, until I realized it might constitute a kind of backdoor spoiler. So...er...

Glenn Kenny

@ bill: Yes, I had heard that comparison before I saw it on your comments thread. I'm actually gonna borrow a copy of that film from a pal for a comparison piece somewhere down the line.

Bruce Reid

Spoilers for Shutter Island strongly suggested, if not stated outright:

Since it sounds like you've read the novel more recently (and rewardingly) than I have, Bill, can I ask a question? My favorite aspect of the movie's resolution is how, in a way, it flips the twist back upon itself, suggesting that DiCaprio's muddled reality was essentially correct: there are Caligaris and Mabuses spreading their fiendish plans in the world, but operating with complete sanction. Thus the final shot of the lighthouse; DiCaprio's destination all along, where he is in fact to become one of the island's ghosts.

Was this irony running through Lehane's novel at all? I don't recall it (my recollection is that it ends like Caligari, in fact, all nightmares wiped away and the sinister figures revealed as caring staff), but would like to give the novel a second read if it is.

To the post's topic: Rope, Coming Apart, Elephant (Clarke), and Warhol's Empire (with allowances for reel changes) all come to mind.


Dodsworth is phenomenal.

The Siren

I don't notice a lot of continuity errors in most classic-era movies, although certainly there are some (e.g. Scarlett's bonnet, which cracks me up every time it appears -- I'm like, did she have that thing stuck up her bloomers or what?) I didn't notice a single one in Dodsworth; Wyler was a perfectionist and so was Mate, and the film is so elegant. There is, however, a page at IMDB for "goofs" but they are so minor that I really wonder about the people posting them. Hand position? Who the heck gets worked up over hand position? And the scotch level in a glass? I repeat, that's no way to watch a movie. Especially Dodsworth.

I very much doubt that "Empire" has continuity errors.

The Siren

Darn, Bruce beat me to Empire.


Glenn - I can't wait for that post. Get on it!

Bruce - I haven't actually read SHUTTER ISLAND that recently. I read it when it first came out in paperback. The only reason I remember what wasn't in the book's finale, as opposed to the film, is because I checked the final page to refresh my memory.

Continuing with the potential spoilers...

At the end of the book, nightmares are not washed away. The novel ends just before the resolution that Glenn and Nathan refer to. Which means that a particular failure happens in the novel that is only a deception in the film.

As for the rest of it...no, I don't recall that sort of irony in the novel, and am not sure I necessarily agree with your reading of the film, though I can say how you got there. But in both versions of the story, it's really the story of one brain -- outside factors, in the category of characters or even really story, have little impact.

Potential spoilers end now.

Bruce Reid

Bill: "Potential spoilers end now."

And start up again.

Thanks for the response, Bill. I probably overstated what I took from the ending; it didn't change the whole tenor of the film or make it less about "one brain". Just that the film made DiCaprio's conspiracy fantasies echo and filter what was really going on at Shutter Island more than I remembered the book doing.

The Siren: "Darn, Bruce beat me to Empire."

Whereas I very much wish I'd phrased it as you did.

John M

Surely, Glenn, there could be a spot there for the films of Tsai Ming Liang?


Speaking of errors, L'année derriere would be the Year behind. Whatever that would mean.

Glenn Kenny

@ Thomas: Oy. Fixed.

@ John M: Or Hou Hsiao-hsien, surely.

John M

And throw in Meshes of the Afternoon for good measure.

Michael Adams

Haven't seen any Ozu lately, but his films would seem to be good candidates.

James Keepnews

There's Alan Schneider/Samuel Beckett's Film. And Derek Jarman's Blue has to have more continuous continuity than most.

(SO funny, Glenn!)

Tom Russell

Actually, Ozu's continuity is full of "errors", with teacups moving from one shot to the next and back again. He violated continuity as casually, and as genius-ly (?), as he did the 180-degree rule.


Also Warhol's SLEEP - haven't seen it, but from what I understand, there are no issues with continuity.

Also in the avant-garde dept: James Benning and Hollis Frampton. Nary an issue in any of their work that I've seen.

Mike H.

As Tom Russell points out above, continuity "errors" are a big part of Ozu's style. David Bordwell writes about them approvingly in his book on Ozu--which is why it surprises me that Bordwell criticizes Scorsese's continuity. Perhaps it's because Ozu violates continuity purposefully, even playfully, whereas it seems that Scorsese and Schoonmaker may just care less about something like the position of a dessert on a table in THE DEPARTED than in cutting the scene for rhythm and performance.


Minor quibble with RUSSIAN ARK on this list. If I recall correctly, a girl looks directly into the camera during the big dance sequence at the end.

SPOILERS Re: SHUTTER ISLAND, I saw the twist somewhere in the 2nd act, and found the long, red-herring filled journey, a tough slog. It reminded me of MEMENTO. Also JACOB'S LADDER. And both iterations of TV's THE PRISONER. I kept wondering how anyone who has seen MEMENTO or any late-period Lynch could even be suckered by the setup.

By the time Kingsley and Ruffalo tediously explained it all, I was clawing at the armrests. That line about the whole deal being a "cutting edge psychological roleplay" is a real howler. Really? They go to all this trouble to spare the guy a lobotomy? Fake gun, roughed up prisoners, endless paranoid exposition by Jackie Earle Haley & Patricia Clarkson, the whole nine? Sure, plausibility is overvalued by literal-minded audiences, pace Hitchcock, but Scorsese's dramatic gutpunch depends so much on this convoluted mess adding up to something in the ballpark of believable psychiatric intervention.

Olli Sulopuisto

Errol Morris put it succinctly: "What about our perception of reality? (Reality presumably has no continuity errors.)"


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