Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia [1974]

"There's nothing sacred about a hole in the ground... or the man that's in it."

Films that have a reputation for their shocking content often fail to live up to expectations, especially those films that managed to isolate and disturb audiences of 30-40 years ago. The final salvo of machine-gun fire in Bonnie & Clyde still opens your eyes, but surely the most shocking aspect of that films now is that it still carries an 18 certificate? A Clockwork Orange's violence and rape seems tame, almost comical, compared to scenes portrayed on the primetime cop shows of today. It is, sadly, the same for Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. Yet even though the 21 deaths of the film may not seem so bloody to today's audiences the film is still notable for its dream-like progress and its portrait of a man's unswerving ability to see a bloody job through.

Oates plays Bennie, a piano player in a tourist trap cantina in Mexico, bashing out the same old standards on the keys for tips and drinks, 'Viva Zapata' scrawled on his jacket. Alfredo Garcia (or 'Al' as Bennie calls his decapitated and rotting head) was a womaniser who got the wrong girl pregnant. El Jefé, the father of the girl, doesn't take well to this and pledges $1,000,000 to whoever brings him Garcia's head. Bennie takes up the challenge, knowing that Al is already dead from a car crash, and sets out to chop the old boy's head off, taking his courtesan girlfriend (and ex-squeeze of Al's) with him. These fellas are the one's who set Bennie on the trail of Garcia's head....

They're supposed to be hard-cases, but they look like somebodies pervy uncle from the 70s.

It's one hell of an amoral film. Bennie is sick of his bullshit life. "I wanna go somewhere new", he says "This time I'm going up". Whether or not he gets there is another question. The increasingly frequent deaths build up to a crescendo in El Jefé's mansion where Bennie seems to achieve some kind of rehabilitation through violence, a gun in one hand, a case full of money in the other.

(Bennie before and after a rather painful exhumation and burial...)

Oates is brilliant, it is his film, even if he does simply deliver his best Peckinpah impersonation. Only a character actor of such good calibre could play such a lowdown character and manage to squeeze out a few drops of empathy and humanity from Bennie. He is ruthless and unscrupulous, but don't you just want him to succeed and get away with it all? When Kris Kristofferson's biker threatens Bennie's girl with rape you seethe with anger and itch for Bennie to start the bloodshedding. But when it comes it all seems so easy, so pre-determined, as if all of that suspense in such an excellent other-wordly scene bled out of the frame the moment the action started. Bennie points and shoots. The man dies. Move on. Bennie was never in danger. Repeat. 

All violence in the film is offhand: there are no major repercussions, no strenuous grapples or tense gunfights. Bennie obviously isn't a seasoned gunfighter, yet he never fails to gun everyone down with ease. His easy progress makes the film feel like a revenge fantasy where all the bad guys get killed with the littlest amount of effort, the protagonist moving on, seeking out more goons and haters, determined to blow all adversaries away. It is very distancing to the viewer and it's hard to tell if this atmosphere was intended. However, the dreamy atmosphere is there, and as you watch this picture it seems to transcend its thriller constraints and move into the realms of existentialism. You want to see how far Bennie will go, how isolated from society and civilisation he will become, how far he can follow his own whims and emotions, not constrained by regret or distaste, simply exercising his desire for revenge and his ability to realise it.

Many critics at the time of the film's release claimed it was one of the worst films ever made. I suspect this is mostly due to the graphic content, but if this criticism was levelled at the lack of suspense in such a violent, morbid film, then I can understand where they were coming from. However this is not to detract from the strange glory of the film. The lack of suspense and  always-certain progress of Bennie's fates raises what could be simply a duff action revenge thriller into a druggy, angry atmosphere piece well worth viewing. Don't expect to be compelled by this film. Instead allow yourself to be taken along in Bennie's wake. It will wash over you like a wave of blood.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The Man Who Fell To Earth [1975]

If ever there was a man born to play an alien it was David Bowie.

Roeg cast Bowie whilst The Thin White Duke was at the height of his cocaine addiction: deathly thin, red shock of hair and living on a diet purportedly consisting only of glasses of milk. Bowie is as much a character in the film as 'Thomas Newton'. He was a celebrity androgyne who seemed separate to the overwhelming excess of the 70s modern world, but was actually wholly part of it. The same is true of Newton, the alien who falls to Earth, exuding naivety and innocence, yet strangely knowledgeable and intent on corporate conquest.

There is no escaping how strange this film is: it raise more questions than it answers. Newton's plans for space travel seem to peter out, the motives of his business enemies remains vague, the parallel lives of Newton and the scientist Nathan Bryce (Rip Torn) never quite converge. Instead the alien images of Earth seem to offer some sort of explanation - but what? Roeg, ever the exquisite photographer, gives us moonscape deserts, washed out slag heaps and clinical interiors; all scenes of extra-terrestrial life, yet situated here on Earth.

The story is slim: Bowie's alien is on a mission to acquire water for his drought ravaged home planet. He has learned of Earth through intercepting our TV transmissions. He arrives with money and knowledge of exactly how to set up a corporate monopoly on scientific advances only he knows of. Rip Torn is a womanising academic who's life seems connected to the fortunes of Newton. Along the way Newton is distracted and corrupted by drink, women, TV (lots of it), guns, and money.

Was the film meant to be shallow? Perhaps. The synopsis above is quite a spoiler, yet it is 3 sentences long. At times it is like the most tongue in cheek moments in a Godard film: the Americans are very American, so much so that the film seems like a pastiche or attack on American cultural vandalism. The TVs, the adverts, the greed, drink and fast food: We are all Americans now. But we knew that already.

The films seems to disintegrate at the end after so many orgies, moments of hysteria and strange sex scenes. Did anyone in a Nicholas Roeg film ever actually fuck? If you were confused by the bizarre elbow-chewing wrestling match Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie performed in Don't Look Now then you ain't seen nothin' yet.

I apologise if this makes little sense. The film is so odd, so compelling, it can only be approached elliptically. At the end you kind of feel like Newton, confronted with a series of images bombarding you, yet you remain impassive and strangely compelled. Could Bowie have managed such impassivity without the numbing effects of coke? Who cares. Its a great film. Watch it. I'm going to listen to Station to Station.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Across the River and into the Trees [1950] by Ernest Hemingway

The 'Papa' Hemingway persona was well established by the time of the publication of Across the River and into the Trees in 1950. He has forged a bold new style, deeply American and symbolic; his adventures in Spain, the First World War, 20s Paris and the African safari were well documented; his hard living antics of heavy drinking, boxing and bull-fighting were well established. And the public were eager for more. It is not surprising then that the publication of ARIT - a pessimistic, maudlin love story of an ageing colonel and a young Italian aristocrat, empty of the expected scenes of tense action and heroism - was greeted with a mute, if not hostile response. The book still became a best seller: surely it was destined to, how could a novel by such a literary force fail to be? 

However, the critics mauled it. Here was, according to the majority of reviewers, Hemingway as a pastiche of himself. His repetitious conversations about true actions, his lovers opining that they loved each other in every other sentence, the 'silly' woman in thrall to the older man, the thinly veiled autobiography: it had all been done before and reviewers were starting to doubt the authenticity of Hemingway's studied prose. The novel was disregarded and forgotten, especially after the publication of The Old Man and the Sea two years later, a novel that seemed to encapsulate everything Hemingway had been striving for in roughly 100 pages.

ARIT has a reputation as a disappointment: a book for Hemingway enthusiasts and little more. It is a shame that this reputation still pervades because, with the exception of the dragging middle section, ARIT is perhaps Hemingway's most challenging novel, one that sees him writing in a very different perspective than before.

There is deep hurt in the novel. Colonel Cantwell - "half a century" old and visiting Venice after the end of the war - dwells upon the war and the mistakes that cost him the command and lives of his regiment. The desolation and scars of the war abound the book: figuratively in Caldwell's damaged hand and heart condition, metaphorically in the empty, wind swept shell of a wintry Venice.  Cantwell is bitter about how his fortunes were dictated not by his actions, which he cannot fault, but by the forces of power that swept the war along. The duck-shoot that bookends the novel is stunning analogy for the bombing raids and campaigns that ruined Cantwell and his regiment: a pre-planned mass movement of shooters, positioned for optimum impact, reliant on good fortune and vulnerable to the unknowable factors of nature and meddling outsiders.

Cantwell's dream are tied up in Renata, a beautiful 19 year old Venetian aristocrat . She is his, yet she is unattainable, as he knows from the outset that he is soon to die. His resignation to life and listlessness infects her:

"What is your greatest sorrow?"
"Other people's orders," he said. "What's yours?"

 The section of ARIT focusing on their affair can be tiresome. They are filled with endlessly vacuous conversations and strange in-jokes. It is here that most readers must give up or become exasperated. It is hard to get over the shallowness and ridiculousness of some of these scenes, hidden behind the laconic poetry of Hemingway's sentences, especially the excruciating sex scene that takes place in a gondola, the dirty talk replaced by the language of military maneuvers:

"My darling," he said, "My well beloved. Please"
"No. Just hold me very tight and hold the high ground, too."
The Colonel said nothing, because he was assisting, or had made an at of presence, at the only mystery that he believed in except the occasional bravery of man.
"Please don't move," the girl said. "Then move a great amount."

Hemingway is often criticised for his depiction of women. His women are often facilitators or conduits through which the heroes can reach their objectives. They seem to serve the men and dote on them. This says a lot about Hemingway's men that is not necessarily flattering. They are often sentimental and needy (Frederic Henry and his reliance on his nurse lover, Catherine) or wearying of maintaining their public shows of strength and honour, only able to admit their fears and hopes when in the warm embrace of a lover (Robert Jordan, whose cloying childlike love affair with the gypsy girl Maria contrasts with his no-nonsense guerrilla fighter image). Colonel Cantwell's relationship with Renata contains that similar neediness and reliance, but the relationship seems too far-fetched, too much the fantasy of an ageing author. Renata is rich, young, vibrant. She is intelligent and out-going, but it is hard to find a reason why she would be so besotted with Cantwell. There is a brief allusion to Renata's father and his recent death - is her relationship with Cantwell a replacement for her lost father? The suggestion is crass and Hemingway is capable of better. The relationships throughout his novels have never been as two-dimensional as they are sometimes portrayed, but here they are.

However, once the final day arrives the novel comes into it's own. If only Hemingway had started here and cut the first 100 or so pages the novel could be considered a masterpiece in miniature, a terse and compact ode to the aftermath of war. The latter half of the novel sees the lovers together, but this time Cantwell, egged on by Renata, recounts his memories of the war. Several chapters pass as he relates events back to her, explaining his colloquial English, the two of them staring at the patterns of the canal reflected onto the ceiling of their room by the sinking sun. Here are several chapters of sustained brilliance. Time stands still and peace settles on the lovers, as Cantwell remembers:

He looked up at the light on the ceiling and he was completely desperate at the remembrance of his loss of his battalions, and of individual people. He could never hope to have such a regiment, ever. He had not built it. He had inherited it. But, for a time, it had been his great joy. Now every second man in it was dead and the others nearly all were wounded. In the belly, the head, the feet or the hands, the neck, the back, the lucky buttocks, the unfortunate chest and the other places. Tree burst wounds hit men where they would never be wounded in open country. And all the wounded were wounded for life.

It is this second half that is so different to Hemingway's other works. Never before has he created a character so enveloped in the past and the results of his actions. He blames them on others, on the military bureaucracy, on ambitious men with power. His constant assertions that others caused him to lose his regiment suggest a reluctance to address a hidden truth - does he harbour guilt? Does he blame himself for the loss of so many lives? Is he sickened by the part he played? Hemingway's previous novels famously examined men's attempts at 'grace under fire' but here he shows us the depressing aftermath. It is a telling novel, one worthy of reconsideration, written by a man confronting old age and a fight with depression that would eventually consume him.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

L'armee des ombres (Army of Shadows) [1969]

All to often the popular conception of resistance movements can be rose-tinted. We imagine elaborate hide-outs printing propaganda, daring midnight assassinations, cycles through tranquil French countryside with a radio transmitter in the basket, etc. In L'armee des Ombres Melville presents a portrait of the resistance cell as mafia. It is an analogy that initially doesn't make sense but becomes increasingly clear as you progress through this long, immaculately paced and stylish thriller.

Melville is best known for his gangster films - beautiful, fatalistic experiments in crime ennui, shot through with raincoats, trilbies, muscle cars and a love for classic film noir. It is not surprising then that L'armee  des ombres can be seen as one with his other films in its preoccupation with honour and its tense set pieces of thoroughly planned and quickly enacted action. The decision to mold the resistance members in the shape of gangsters may have something to do with Melville's own personal experience of the resistance movement - did he see actions and events that didn't fit in with the glamour? Or was he merely viewing his surrounding through the lens of a American film aficionado, unable to separate the acts of desperation and resistance from those portrayed on screen.

The film follows the fates of a resistance cell based in Vichy France through 1942-1943. The cell is led by Lino Ventura's Phillipe, a calm unassuming looking man capable of great feats of coldness and exactitude. The film begins with Phillipe in a prison camp, being booked in by a collaborator and spending time with the inmates, each of whom have been imprisoned for minor acts of defiance. Phillipe remains distant throughout. It is here that we first see the ambiguity of his character. Is he distant because he doesn't want to make himself a target - is he biding his time? Or does he feel he is more important than these small-fry prisoners? Is he just interested in 'the business' of the resistance. There is a lot to suggest the latter.

As in all of Melville's films Phillipe lives by a code, of which everything else (friendship, compassion) comes secondary. It is due to strict compliance to this code that we see Phillipe perform some of his most despicable acts. A young member of the resistance is strangled to death in painstaking close up with a shocking fatalism. Objections are raised but quickly waved away as adherence to the code of honour that binds the cell together takes precedence. Phillipe seems pained by the death and promises the young man that it will be a quick death, but he still holds his legs down as the boy's last breaths are expelled. Melville shoots such scenes with a formalistic calm, each shot framed like a Vermeer painting.

The code of honour amongst the resistance members seems to consume them all. Apart from one scene where Phillipe kills a German guard in order to escape certain execution, we never witness the assassination of a German military figure or Vichy collaborator. Indeed collaborators in general are conspicuously absent from most of the film: strange considering the Vichy France setting. Most of the action concerns the rescue of imprisoned members, or the assassination of traitors: it is a hermetic worldview and one that seems self-destructive. The final scene is one of the most pessimistic in cinema. The camera focuses on each member of the cell, steely eyed and determined, repressing all emotions after a distasteful but necessary act of violence as title cards explain the bloody fate that awaits them.

Upon its original release the film was derided for its Gaullist perspective, and whilst that reaction may have been mostly due to the politics of 1969 France the film still leaves you questioning the 'heroics' of the resistance. Viewed now the film can be seen as a superb, ambiguous examination of heroics and what it takes to make a stand of defiance.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Robin Hood [2010]

I avoid blogging about films that I didn't enjoy, not wanting to waste my time when I could be doing something genuinely productive. However, Robin Hood is a film so glib and incomprehensible that it must be explained away. Films this bad should be challenged or we will finally be overwhelmed.

Robin, fastest bow in the west
Robin Hood is an easy film to make: its almost guaranteed to be entertaining family fun, a classic narrative with plenty of adventure and high camp. Essentially a traditional western plot, Robin (the stranger arriving in town), fights the forces of despotic King John (the ruthless land-baron) and his lackey the Sheriff of Nottingham (land-baron's henchman) on behalf of the subjugated locals (impoverished dirt farmers) and Maid Marion (the sexy bar maid/school teacher/farmer's wife/etc). He is the greatest archer around (fastest gun in the west) and he has his merry men to back him up (his posse) including Friar Tuck (drunken git/Walter Brennan role) and Will Scarlet (young rookie/Montgomery Clift/Ricky Nelson).

So how did Ridley Scott manage to make such a dud? The acting is competent enough (Crowe's bizarre accent aside). The visuals are on a grand scale and hard not to like, lots of candle lit interiors and wild English countryside. It is shot well, with the Locksley scenes reminiscent of early Scott works like The Duellists or his Hovis advert in its use of magic hour lighting and sentimentally nostalgic scenes. The plot... well that's the problem. Robin Hood is a text book example of how an unengaging and ludicrous plot can scupper a film, even if it is packed with glossy scenes and A-list actors. The perennial Scott criticism of style over substance is especially justified here, a cheap, common story dressed up to the nines. Robin Hood is all fur-coat and no knickers.

Ahhh, Ye Olde English countryside
 The twist on the classic Robin Hood story in the film is that Robin, on returning from Richard the Lionheart's campaigns in France, has stolen the identity of Robert of Locksley, Richard's right hand man who was killed in an ambush by the inexplicably evil Godfrey (Mark Strong).Godfrey is also mates with Prince/King John, and bends his ear to allow him to maraud across the country collecting much needed tax revenue from the Northern Baron's. However, Godfrey is actually a French agent hired to stir up discontent in the provinces in order to allow the French an opportunity to invade Britains undefended coastline. But Robin witnessed Strong and his band of mercenaries killing Robert Locksley so he has to.... oh whats the point? The story is a mess of convoluted plot lines that you quickly tire of. The first act takes up half of the film, so that the middle of the film hasn't time to create any conflicts or character development and the ending feels like a montage of 'revelations' to mysteries that you don't really care about and are so ridiculous as to defy belief.

The recent trend of every protagonist having a destiny is taken to bathetic heights of trite nonsense. The Magna Carta? Robin's dad came up with that. How will the barons unite to defend Britain? Well only Robin can do that, even though he's only just met them yesterday. The secret link between Max Von Sydow (maid Marian's father-in-law) and Robin? Well  Max was best mates with Robin's dad of course, although Robin has completely forgotten about his childhood and only stumbled upon the Sherwood forest thanks to the guiding hands of fate. Robin even develops a social conscience and keen sense of constitutional law when, incredibly, he arrives late at a forum of the baron's and King John, and sets the King straight with impassioned defence of the rights of the individual. Good God.

The Rt Hon. Robin Hood, MP
 This is such a silly film. The sheriff of Nottingham and Robin's Merry Men don't play any discernible parts in the story and one suspects they were included only because they have to be there - this is Robin Hood after all, isn't it? It takes itself too seriously, there are no characters that the audience can emphasise with and the film is devoid of humour (at least the tremendously camp Prince of Thieves was funny). My advice? Watch an episode of Maid Marian and her Merry Men instead, its well better.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The Sunset Limited [2006] by Cormac McCarthy

Released in the same year as The Road, an immediate 21st century masterpiece, it's no wonder that The Sunset Limited slipped by unnoticed. Lazily compared to Beckett on the sleeve (not every dramatic conversation about death has to be "redolent of Beckett") the play concerns a conversation between 'Black' and 'White'; the former an evangelical ex-con and ex-addict, the latter a cynical, suicidal professor. You quickly learn that Black saved White from leaping in front of a train earlier on and has brought him back to his flat in an attempt at persuading him that life is worth living. Failure means that White takes a walk back to the station to face the oncoming rush of The Sunset Limited.

As befits a work described as a "novel in dramatic form" the play doesn't contain much in the shape of actual drama. Instead McCarthy presents an open, often one-sided, conversation that explores the dichotomy inherent in McCarthy's work. White an unflinching, and world weary nihilist, believes he has seen everything that humanity is capable of and is appalled; Black holds an unswerving faith in God and redemption, his belief in God is mystical and focused on perceptions of right and wrong. Black tries to instill his passion in White, realising that without this White will succumb to suicide.

McCarthy manages to keep this doom-laden conceit compelling enough, with Black's humanism and folksy charm just about keeping the narrative from spilling over into a mordant abyss. Yet, as with most of McCarthy's work, the conceptualising of death is often beautiful in its starkness. There are moments of nihilism that are shocking in their logic. White's closing statements, delivered after hearing all the evidence Black can muster, comes as a complete rebuttal of religion and brotherhood:

"I loathe these discussions. The argument of the village atheist whose single passion is to revile endlessly that which he denies the existence of in the first place. Your fellowship is a fellowship of pain and nothing more. And if that pain were actually collective instead of simply reiterative then the sheer weight of it would drag the world from the walls of the universe and send it crashing and burning through whatever night it might be capable of engendering until it was not even ash. And justice? Brotherhood? Eternal life? Good god, man. Show me religion that prepares one for death. For nothingness. There's a church I might enter."

The Road had a relatively simple narrative, one that allowed McCarthy to focus more on the father-son relationship at the novels heart, which in turn allowed him to discuss themes of death, despair, renewal and hope. The Sunset Limited follows this pattern and in its reductive plot and setting allows many ideas and emotions to come to the fore without distraction. McCarthy's next novel is reported to concern a young man's coming to terms with his sister's suicide, another simple yet rich scenario. It will be interesting to see how much further McCarthy can refine his beautiful and affecting style.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Shutter Island [2010]

The Scorcese of the past 15 years or so has been living in one almighty shadow. The past was golden: Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull. Films that buzzed with a strange knowledge, a classical perspective of the dirty streets. 21st century Scorcese is almost unrecognisable to 20th century Scorcese; indeed each of Scorcese's post 2000 films seem to me stylistically unrecognisable from each other, the signature on each piece vague or missing, with only a recent habit of distinctive colour saturation suggesting a stylistic consistency. Granted, the similar Scorcese themes of male relationships, honour, power struggles, greed and ambition permeate each film. Gang's of New York; The Aviator; The Departed; Shutter Island. One of the few certainties of these recent films is the presence of Leonardo Dicaprio playing increasingly troubled and marginalised men.

Maybe I expect too much: he has after all made several of the most distinctive and enjoyable movies in cinema history, which is no small feat. Or maybe most directors of contemporary 'prestige' or indie-crossover movies have learned so much from Scorcese that any new output appears to be modish. His influence haunts the frames of Paul Thomas Anderson, The Coen Brothers and Jacques Audiard all of whom have released decade defining films in the 2000s.

As expected, Shutter Island is nothing like The Departed and it is all the better for being such a unique film. The Departed was Scorcese on auto-pilot: a remake and guaranteed box office success, with a starry line up all queueing up to take turns to shout and ham it up in front of the camera. Shutter Island is an altogether different prospect. A conscious throwback to the best psychological noirs of the 40s and 50s , the film is indebted to Jacques Tourneur and Otto Preminger - not the most obvious box office draw in today's shaky market. 

[SPOILERS] Dicaprio plays US Marshall Teddy Daniels who has been sent to Shutter Island mental institute to find a missing inmate, Rachel Solando, a disturbed woman who murdered her own children. He's ex-army, he's no-nonsense and he has a past, hinted at in several instances of longing stares off camera and 'far-away' looks. Teddy is accompanied by his unassuming new partner played to modest and terrific effect by Mark Ruffalo and together they set about their investigations, guided around by Ben Kingsley's head doctor and and occasionally running into shadowy Max Von Sydow.

Teddy's past starts to crop up frequently, he is plagued with migraines and back story filling dreams where we see Michelle Williams (so good in Wendy and Lucy) - his dead wife - and his experiences in liberating Dachau. When the final revelation comes it is not so much as a revelation but a falling into place, the logical deduction that Teddy is an inmate himself finally confirmed and ironed out by the somewhat far-fetched 'role-play' that Kingsley and Ruffalo had devised. 

What is truly striking about Shutter Island is the verve of the direction. Scorcese makes up for the glib plot by throwing himself into each scene. The period detail is excellent, the acting direction is restrained and subtle, allowing each player to get to grips with their character and never appear as the stencil cutouts that they appear to be under close scrutiny.

The cast is excellent. Dicaprio is safe and competent as the troubled Daniels, as usual not quite showing that spark of brilliance, but never allowing himself to be phony or anything other than charismatic. Von Sydow adds another late career cameo to his growing list with a textbook demonstration of confident, quiet menace. Ruffalo, who was the biggest surprise, was excellent: meek, faithful and mild mannered, he seemed to seep into the air of each scene, never truly standing out, but by the end of the film you understand why he lingered in the background and what a great strain it must be for an actor to play a 'watcher' successfully. Unlike The Departed where everyone seemed to be vying for who could burst a vein first each character in Shutter Island inhabits the film world completely: Ben Kinglsey isn't Ben Kingsley, he is Dr Cawley, which is just as it should be.

The dream sequences, all gaudy colours, heavy symbolism and emotion, were a surreal delight. Several traveling scenes were obviously shot on green screen, and as noted in many reviews and journals, fits in with the nostalgic atmosphere of the film in its conjuring of Hollywood's golden years. The disjointed feel of Dicaprio's wanderings, the many (deliberate?) continuity errors, the saturated blues and greys of the sea and sky, the reliance of CGI for those vertiginous seascapes: Scorcese has crafted a sick mental mindscape for the screen.

A surprise then, after a decade of middling output. It seems Scorcese is starting to experiment again. Lets just hope this warped new perspective isn't lobotomised by box-office success.