A blog about general entertainment, fashion, and movies. And some random stuff too.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Movie Review: Shutter Island

I had to wait a while to write this review so that I could process this film and found that even after a few days, I still could not review it properly. So I went to see it a second time, and even though my feelings and thoughts about it are more concrete... starting this entry is still very hard! There are just so many things to say, so where to start?

I'll start by saying it was amazing. By far my favorite Dicaprio/Scorsese collaboration so far. Not only was this movie suspenseful and frightening, it was also heartbreaking and provoking. I think many people went into this movie expecting to be scared, but beyond the moments that make the audience jump, there are moments that truly affect and disturb the viewer emotionally. It's not about horrifying images; it's about actual haunting visuals that speak deeper than just blood and guts. Leonardo Dicaprio's portrayal of Teddy was one of the best (if not the best) performances of his career. In every single way, Dicaprio convinced me of what was going on in each scene, even when it was surreal dream sequences.

With that being said, I'll head into my spoiler-loaded break down of the film. Look away if you haven't seen it yet!


Going into this movie I was pretty convinced that I had guessed the basic plot from the previews I had seen. Dicaprio was going to the island to figure out this 'disappearance,' the clue was that there was more than likely an extra patient on the island, Leo starts seeing things, and therefore my guess was that he'd find out at the end of the movie that HE, in fact, was the 67th patient. (dun dun dun) However, even though I had pretty much decided I was correct about this, I wasn't going to let that ruin my experience of the 4th Dicaprio/Scorsese collaboration I was sure to adore. I marched into the theater convinced that they would both help me to forget that I knew the plot and lead me somewhere I hadn't thought of before.

They did just that, and much, much more. Not only did the plot surprise me in almost every way possible, Scorsese's story-telling and Leo's portrayal CONVINCED me completely that my guess about the plot was WRONG, even up to the very point where it was revealed that my guess was actually RIGHT. Even as Dr. Cawley (Ben Kinglsey) told Teddy point blank that he was a patient on this island, just as I had predicted, I leaned over to my husband, Justin, and whispered, "I don't trust him [Cawley]," and Justin nodded saying, "Me neither." The movie was done so well that at the end, not only did Kingsley have to convince Leo of something he was already told, but he had to convince me of something I had already predicted. Now that's great story-telling and acting. So amazing, that it actually convinced me I was wrong to the point where I was just as skeptical and defensive as Teddy Daniels in that moment of realization.

Throughout the movie, I forgot my preconceptions because there were so many surprising pieces of the plot. And beyond that, there were so many surreal moments that had obvious symbolism in them, even if I didn't fully understand it all until the end. As frightening as some of the images were, I couldn't help but think that the scenes were also very beautiful. Especially the first dream sequence.

Teddy walks into his old apartment and sees his dead wife, Dolores (Michelle Williams). When she turns, her back looks like it has been charred with embers and parts of it are falling into ash. Then there is ash floating all throughout the room, and as Teddy holds Dolores she becomes covered in water. Then she begins to bleed from the tummy, and then she slowly disappears. When Teddy awakes from this, it's easy to assumed the water was because he was sleeping under a leak in the ceiling as it rained, and that the ash was the fact that she died in a fire. But what Dolores says during the dream and the blood running from her tummy (not to mention the real reason for the water) are unanswerable until the ending. Despite the eeriness of the scene, the atmosphere of it evokes something deeper to where I felt like this was a genuinely emotional, beautiful scene. The grief and love that was obvious in Leo's eyes made that scene more about feelings rather than fear.

One huge triumph of this movie is that it convinces you to trust Leonardo Dicaprio's character. The reason we believed and saw everything with the perspective that we do is because we immediately believe that Teddy Daniels knows what he's talking about and that he has truly been investigating this "conspiracy theory" about Shutter Island for as long as he says he has. We also believe his entire history is true, that his wife died in an apartment fire, that he's been searching for the pyro who did it, and that he has been a marshall since the war. And because of this perspective that we take on as soon as the movie begins, we also trust Teddy's instincts about the place and how he feels like something is going on, Dr. Cawley and how he must be untrustworthy, and the fact that the patients are being coached on how to act around him. Of course that last one is correct, but not for the reason we imagine. The story, in essence, convinces us to trust the most UNTRUSTWORTHY perspective in the story. And because of this, we are manipulated just like Teddy, and interpret things just like Teddy throughout the entire film.

This movie acts as an optical illusion. Have you ever seen a picture that looks like one thing when you look at it from one perspective, but then looking at it from a completely different perspective the picture changes entirely? Shutter Island is the movie version of that type of picture. Seeing it for the first time, you read and interpret things one way. However, after the big reveal at the end, upon second viewing, your perspective is completely changed and you read and interpret things in a completely different way.

For example, the first view of the movie, you know that Dr. Cawley is lying about something, so you obviously interpret this as a threat. Dr. Cawley then becomes an enemy and the rest of the film he's the bad guy. But then the reveal happens, and it's discovered that he has been lying, but only to save Teddy's life (or sanity, rather). Upon second viewing his intentions are interpreted in a completely different way and it's easy to realize that many of his lines were not meant the way they sounded the first time. A line like "Sanity is not a choice. You can't just choose to get over it," may have come across cold and sarcastic at first, but the 2nd time around it is the truest statement of compassion that Cawley can say to Teddy. It's genius writing to be completely convincing one way and then equally convincing another. The movie offers 2 different experiences, as though you are seeing two separate movies when entering the theater to see Shutter Island for a 2nd time.

There are clues throughout the movie that point to the finale, things that are subtle but there. As I was watching, I kept wondering about the band-aid on Leo's forehead. Later it is revealed that just the week before he was in a fight and nearly killed another patient. When Teddy arrives on the island it's eerie how the guards, nurses, and patients react to him. It seems like something is going on, but then it is revealed that they are all in on a large role-play. The eerie feeling was real, but not for the reasons we thought.

As the role-play continues, there are many moments that are staged to see if they can nudge Teddy into realization. When Cawley says to Teddy "Her refusal to face what she had done is the reason she is here," he's telling him that's why he is in here. When Teddy interviews "Rachel," she paints a picture of what she did that day to look like the scene that drove Teddy mad, originally. It should sound familiar to him, but it doesn't because he's blocked it out. When they leave the room, Cawley says "Sorry I didn't stop her. I didn't want to interrupt, I thought she might tell you something." At first the line might mean for "Rachel" to help the on-going investigation, but the second time around it means that Teddy was supposed to have an epiphany from hearing "Rachel's" recreation of Dolores's crime. That "Rachel" may have "told" him something that would help the truth seep into his brain.

One of the largest parts of irony in the movie is Teddy's attitude to the "prisoners" around him on the island. He's smug and unfeeling towards them, not realizing that he's one of them. That he, in fact, is the most dangerous one of them. He feels that none of them deserve to have calm because they are mostly all murderers. It's an interesting thing to see once you know Teddy is just like the rest of them and that ultimately he is talking about himself and how he feels about his own crimes, in those moments.

Perhaps one of the most affecting scenes in the entire movie was when Teddy remembers what truly happened in his life to put him on Shutter Island. To me, it was one of the most affecting scenes I've ever seen in ANY movie. When Teddy is reminded of the terrible crime his wife committed by drowning their children, and then he has to pull them from the lake, I couldn't believe my eyes. The scene is so twisted and tragic all at the same time.

Teddy asks where the kids are and Dolores answers:
"They're in school."
"Honey, it's Saturday. School's not in on Saturday."
Then, Michelle Williams does this perfectly horrifying grin and says "My school is..."

It's at this point that Teddy realizes what has happened, and Leo's portrayal of this reaction haunted me for days. As horrifying as Teddy's dreams and visions have been throughout the film, nothing is more terrifying and twisted than what actually happened with him, his wife, and children. I was absolutely dumbfounded, too shocked to react emotionally, even though it was truly the most heartbreaking moment of the entire film. The scene became even more chilling as the absence of music became more obvious, and happy little chirping birds were heard as Teddy laid his children down, dead and cold, on the bank of the lake. Of course, it was at this point the blood and the water covering Dolores are explained from the first dream sequence. She was wet from drowning the kids, and she was bleeding from Teddy's bullet in her tummy.

When Teddy comes back from this realization and has finally been reset, Cawley and Chuck hope that they've won the Psychology war, as the entire film comes down to warfare. Can they convince the other side to surrender to their methods if they show them their methods can work? However, the twists of this film aren't over. Although Teddy has accepted reality and understands what has happened, (that he created another identity to save himself from living with the guilt of killing his wife), and despite the fact that he knows he'll be lobotonized if he were to regress, Teddy turns to Chuck and pretends to have slipped back into his old persona.

Teddy: So what's our next move?
Chuck: You tell me.
Teddy: I gotta get off this rock, Chuck. Get back to the mainland. Whatever the hell's going on here, it's bad.

Sadly, Chuck turns and gives a signal to Cawley that it didn't work. The people are ready to take Teddy away for the procedure immediately. As they walk towards Teddy and Chuck, Teddy says "You know, this place makes me wonder."
: Yeah, what's that, boss?
: Which would be worse, to live as a monster or to die as a good man?

And with that, Teddy is taken away to lose his memory and everything that makes him himself. Despite being reset and seemingly sane once again, it was too much for him to live the way he was living, knowing that he'd either go crazy, or that he had allowed his family to be destroyed. The last image of Teddy willingly marching off in front of the men who would take away his life and identity is one of the most eerie moments, to me. And yet, because it was his decision, or could be interpreted as so, it doesn't feel like a complete loss. The war between the two schools of thought in psychology was lost for Cawley, but for for Teddy, peace was finally gained.

It's a horrific twist of irony. All Cawley wanted to do was bring peace and calm to his patients without violent and inhumane procedures, but the one patient that could help him win the battle against those means, would end up
choosing those means to find peace.

Overall, I think it could be argued that this is Leonardo Dicaprio's best performance, and one of Martin Scorsese's best movies. In my opinion it is!
Definitely one of the best films I've seen within the last 5 years. Breaking down this film has only strengthened my adoration for it and helped me to see the complexity of film in general. It's films like this that remind us what a movie can do and how it could affect people, and it's movies like this that remind me why I love film in the first place!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Celebrity Encounters: Michael Welch

DISCLAIMER: I take a while to get to the point. Sue me.

Having a semi-famous family member makes it hard not to get delusional about how much of Hollywood you've experienced and how much you've just heard about from them. It's easy for me to feel like I've met some of my cousin's famous friends ... even though for the most part, I haven't.

My little cousin is Cody Linley. He was on Hannah Montanna as Jake Ryan, and before that quite a few movies. You check his filmography out here. A lot of people found out about him from when he was on Dancing With The Stars. Fun times! I went out to LA twice to watch him on the show live and I met Cloris Leachman, the Kardashians, and was physically knocked over by Toni Braxton. That was pretty neat. I even got to hang out with Julianne Hough, his partner [she hugged me and I felt super special, haha!], and hold her puppy while they practiced.

My Aunt Cathy, Cody's mom, is an acting Coach in Lewisville, Texas. She is one of the most esteemed acting coaches around. In fact, just the other day one of her students got an audition based completely on the fact that he was HER student. Talk about clout! See a video of her on Good Morning Texas talking about her students here. She's truly amazing and hearing stories from her also clouds my reality: "Did I experience that or just live vicariously through Aunt Cathy?" HOWEVER, this weekend was different. Michael Welch (the guy who played Mike Newton in TWILIGHT) did a seminar at her studio, and since Aunt Cathy is the best ever in the world, she invited me to sit in and creep on the class! AN EXPERIENCE THAT IS REAL, WOOT.

To some people, this may seem like a small thing, but as a person who has previously loved Twilight (until the abomination that is Breaking Dawn came into existence; another blog, another time), I was STOKED. Mike Newton in the books is someone that really didn't matter one way or the other, but in the movie he was definitely one of my favorite characters before I even knew that Cathy and Cody knew Michael.

I didn't know what to expect when I got there with my mom, who went to the parents' seminar with Selena Gomez's mother. Thankfully my cousin, Ben, was there and so I sat with him during the seminar. The class was in this small room with couches. Since Ben and I crept in about 30 minutes after they had began, Michael kept looking at me while he was speaking because he didn't know who I was or why I was there. I'm sure I looked like just some anonymous creeper since he knew Ben, and everyone else was on a role sheet, and I was just... there.

So here's something you have to know about me: I am very animated. In fact, that might be an understatement. I get really excited and over-the-top about most anything I like. And I like a lot of things. You might say it politely that I am passionate, or you might say it truthfully that I am crazy. Either way, staying calm and playing it cool was HARD. FOR. ME.

The class had a few breaks within the 2 and a half hours we were in there, and during one break, Michael Welch came and sat by me and had was having a conversation with the kids around me about acting. I was super excited because I was like HE'S SITTING NEXT TO ME, but outwardly I was playing it cool and all "Yeah, I'm nodding along because I'm totally listening and not freaking out in my head. No sir."

Listening to him teach was really awesome! I liked his views on acting and you could tell from what he said that he loved it and took it very seriously. And watching the kiddos (all ranging from 14 yrs-18 yrs) learn and do improv was HILARIOUS and fun! BUT also showed me what my true fear in life is. I know I teach freshmen English every day by the seat of my pants, but the thought of improvising a scene in front of a semi-celebrity, my cousin, and a room full of master acting students makes me want to hurl.

(Picture to the left to the left: Imagine this guy teaching, but with darker, more epic hair.)

When I told a few of my friends before this event that I was going to get to see Michael, some told me to ask him about Twilight and Robert Pattinson... Of course I was never going to do that. He wasn't even in a scene with Robert. And besides! I would NEVER talk to him about another actor that's more famous than him. Since he's a family friend I would much rather him remember me as a person and not a fan, which is why I didn't talk to him about Twilight or ask for a picture with him, even though I would have loved it. I've been with Cody when people come up to him and ask him for pictures/autographs/to tell them about Miley, and it's really annoying and can be disrespectful if you aren't careful. To me, in this situation, it was better for me to represent Aunt Cathy rather than myself and the fan-girl within. BUT the fan girl had fun! I just kept her on the down-low.

At the end, after everyone left and he took pictures with some people who asked for them, I introduced myself, shook his hand and told him who I was and why I was there and that I really enjoyed it. Etc. He was SUPER nice, albeit in a hurry because he had to catch a flight back to LA. Ben had to drive him to the airport and so they left. Michael waved to me and said it was nice to meet me as he left! AND I played it so cool until the door closed and then I was like "MOM HE LIKES THAT HE MET ME!" Needless to say, I was star-struck just a bit.

GO WATCH THIS TRAILER NOW. The movie "Unrequited."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Diagramming My Nerdom

I thought I would take this opportunity to prove my general dedication to film. Today I was thinking about how many midnight showings I've gone to dressed up for whatever movie it was... then I thought of something even more embarrassing... how many times have I just dressed up for no reason at all and taken pictures just because...? So many times that it isn't nerdy anymore, it's now AWESOME.

Don't believe me? Check out this super amazing collage of all my awesomeness at once. It may be overwhelming, but your eyes will adjust.

QUIZ TIME! Who am I? Who am I?


DISCLAIMER: YES I know there are two Twilight related pictures. Please don't judge me. We all have guilty pleasures and if it makes you feel any better... I hate the books more than I like them most of the time.

1. This is of my friend, Caty, and I when we Cullen-ified ourselves. I'd have to say that we rocked it harder than the actual Cullens.

2. I've dressed like Audrey Hebpurn a few times, this time was for my bridal shower.

3. I did this just to show my support for TEAM CONAN during the NBC-Fail-a-thon this winter. Thumbs down NBC.

4. If you thought #4 was me doing Katherine Hepburn, you were close... it was me doing Keira doing Katherine Hepburn. Keira is ... beyond my favorite everything. I have taken many pictures trying to become her, but I always end up myself, still.

5. It's all or nothing, man. High-water pants, scrunchy sox, one glove, fedora, and Smooth Criminal! Midnight showing of This Is It! King of Pop, RIP.

6. As a HUGE Heath Ledger fan, there was no question how I was going to dress for the midnight showing of The Dark Knight. It was startling, to say the least, AFTER the movie when I went to the bathroom and saw myself in a mirror, having forgotten I was wearing that make-up.

7. A life-long love affair with Batman brought on my fascination with Catwoman. And I mean all versions of Catwoman excluding the horrendous Halle Berry version that has nothing to do with Batman or Gotham City. *barf*

8. Midnight showing of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Yarrrr!

9. Um, obviously Twilight. PRE-movie series.

10. Midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. That large man is dressed as Mad-Eye Moody, and I didn't know him at all, but I had to get a picture with him. He was kind of scary, though, as you can see on my face.

11. Marilyn Monroe, just for funzies.

How many did you get right?! It really doesn't matter who gets the answer right first... because we can all see that the true loser here is me. But I'm not ashamed! If I had my scanner hooked up, I would totally upload that picture of me in my elf ears and Hobbit shirt when I went to see Return of the King at midnight in high school. Holla!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The [not so] epic naming of this blog.

Who would have EVER thought it would be so hard to name a blog? NOT I.

A few of my friends have been encouraging me to start a blog for a while now, but I nearly gave up on creating this blog when I realized I wasn't even creative enough to come up with a name. How on Earth am I supposed to write interesting blog posts when I can't even come up with a name for the blog? Thankfully after roping 5 of my friends in and passing the time [about 40 minutes] by having NO ideas... we did it.

At first if was like this [Remember how AIM still exists?]:

Me: Man this is just fail, I can't even think of a name, how can I blog? EVER?
Matty: I know! Everything I think of is like...meh?
Me: Haha that's it! My blog can be called "Meh...?"
Matty: I would read that.

And that was honestly the best idea for a good 30 minutes.

but then THIS happened:

Matty: Now I'm trying to think of movie titles to sub your name in with, haha. *fail*
Me: Lord of the Audree, Audree of the Ring, Pride & Audree, Bridget Jone's Audree, The Audree Locker, Harry Potter and Audree Stone ... none of these seem to work.

Then it just came to the point where I was just going to settle on "The Nameless Blog: I'm Not Creative." But lo! a worthy idea finally found its way! This blog is supposed to be about general Entertainment, Movie Reviews, Fashion Commentary, Celebrity, etc. but I also wanted it to have a playful tone. Thankfully Kevin was able to come up with a name that fit, and Matt and I came up with a quote that made fun of it just little bit. Perfect.

To be serious, though, I've always been interested in film, what goes on on-screen and off-screen. I'm fascinated by celebrities and fashion, and like many people I have lots of opinions about it all. To me, film in all its complexity is one of the truest forms of art and can speak to the heart in so many different ways. Be it in the acting, the cinematography, the music, whatever, film can touch any number of people for any number of reasons.

So if you're interested [and I hope you are], climb on board and follow my blog!