Scorsese's Thriller Foray Nets Mixed Reviews

The admired director channels Hitchcock in Shutter Island

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Martin Scorsese, like many great directors, harbors a crush for thriller-auteur Alfred Hitchcock. But Scorsese's new film Shutter Island--a psychological thriller in the vein of Hitchcock and The Shining--represents a break from Scorsese's recent work. The movie opened Friday, and reviewers are divided over how Scorsese fared.

  • Scorsese Sharp as Ever  Touting Shutter Island as "a supremely well-crafted thriller from an elder statesman whose love of cinema still burns through every frame," Nerve's Scott Von Doviak asserts Scorsese deftly weaves together the horror and thriller motives. "Scorsese takes all these genre trappings just seriously enough. His flirtation with horror-movie conventions allows him to try on a few new moves, even at this late date in his career -- there are hints of The Shining in some of the dream sequences -- and his suspense-building skills remain sharp as ever."
  • A Throwback to His Best  The Wall Street Journal's John Anderson compares Scorsese's directing to a pair of his iconic movies from decades past. "Not since 'Raging Bull' has Mr. Scorsese so brazenly married brutality to beauty," he gushes. "Not since 'Kundun' has one of his films felt so aspirational."
  • So Over-The-Top It's a Parody  The Toronto Star's Peter Howell says Scorsese tried way, way too hard. "Just a couple of smirks shy of a Mel Brooks parody, Shutter Island takes Scorsese's crazy love of cinema to ludicrous extremes, forsaking all logic for a chance to revel in the style of hard-boiled psychodramas and film noir from the '40s and '50s," he scoffs. "Brooks was out for laughs with his Hitchcock riff High Anxiety; Scorsese is painfully serious with his own Hitchcock man-crush."
  • "Shutter Island Is a Disaster," thunders GeekWeek's Luke Thompson, who lists D-list directors who would have done better than Scorsese:
I haven't read the Dennis Lehane novel it's based on, but I suspect the fault does not lie with the source material, as every other scene made me think to myself that David Fincher could have directed the script better. Hell, I'm not sure but that Kevin Smith or even Uwe Boll couldn't have directed it better - they would certainly not have wasted as much money on needless gaudiness, plus Boll would still have cast Ben Kingsley. This doesn't feel like Scorsese ... it feels like Baz Luhrmann with a bad hangover.
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