Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Scorsese’s Element

Roughly five minutes into Shutter Island, I knew more or less how it would end. For a film that invests another two hours and fifteen minutes in building to an ostensibly shocking twist ending, this is not a particularly good thing. All the more so when the film in question is the work of someone who many cinephiles (and I count myself one of them) consider to be the world’s greatest living filmmaker. Shutter Island is most certainly not a bad film, but from the likes of Martin Scorsese, it cannot be considered anything other than a disappointment.

One could argue, of course, that we should simply be grateful to see another Scorsese film at all. In an era when most of his contemporaries from the 1970s New Hollywood era have either burned out (William Friedkin, Peter Bogdonavich), died (Robert Altman), or retreated into comfortable mediocrity (Steven Spielberg, George Lucas), the fact that Scorsese is still making films, and still making them with something like the uncompromising intensity of his youth, often seems like reason enough to be indulgent.