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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

I decided to stop pitying myself. Other than my eye, two things aren’t paralyzed, my imagination and my memory.

— Jean-Dominique Bauby

I have wanted to watch Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly for years, but I have not had the chance to watch until I saw it at the local library. The #220 Movie of All-Time on IMDb was nominated for four Oscars including Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. I was so happy that I watched this film.

Based on the book of the same name, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly recounts the harrowing story of French Elle editor, Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric) who was living the life when he is suddenly struck by a massive stroke. He wakes up after a three-week coma in a hospital in Bereck-sur-Mer. The audience could hear Jean-Do talking, but he does not realize that he cannot speak or move anything on his body, except his left eye.

Most of the movie is shown at Jean-Do’s perspective. Very first person. The audience could connect with the lead character this way and gets a taste of his new state of being. His personal doctor Lepage (Patrick Chesnais) discusses with him that he had a cerebrovascular episode that rendered him a vegetable except for blinking in his left eye, otherwise called “Locked-In Syndrome.”

The staff starts the rehabilitation program to help him regain some range of motion. You notice more and more that Jean-Do is always internally flirting with his female speech therapist, Henriette Roi (Marie-Josée Croze). He communicates with blinking once for “yes” and two for “no”, which progresses to Henriette teaching the alphabet in order of frequently used.

Jean-Do does not want to live with Locked-in Syndrome. He wants to die. He has momentary glimpses of his former life being the toast of the town, having a family with his companion, Céline (Emmanuelle Seigner) and being in love with his mistress, Inès (Agathe de La Fontaine). He recounts his many regrets and missed opportunities in his life. Jean-Do wants to tell his story. He decided to dictate his memoirs through Claude (Anne Consigny) one letter at a time.

I cannot imagine anybody except for an artist like Schnabel to make this movie happen. He paints a picture of sorrow, heartbreak, regret, but ultimately it is hopeful. No matters what life throws at you, you can overcome all obstacles. This speaks to the determination of Jean-Do, who did not want to exist, he wanted to leave his mark on life.

The cinematography transfixes the audience to the mindset of Jean-Do, to experience what he is experiencing. It was a great piece of cinema to gaze upon. You would think that hearing the alphabet being repeated a million times would annoy the hell out of you, but it didn’t.

Judgment: This is a perfect example of art imitating life.

Rating: 9/10

Shutter Island (2010)

I wonder, is it better to live like a monster, or die a good man?

— Teddy Daniels

Martin Scorsese’s latest movie Shutter Island, which stands as the 197th movie on the Top 250 of All-Time on IMDb, has been getting a bad rap since its studio, Paramount decide to move the release date of the movie from October 2009 to February 2010, because it couldn’t afford the Oscar campaign for the picture. I call bullshit on that. This could mean certain death for a film not being remember a whole year from now. This is the fourth collaboration of Scorsese and lead actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Even though the movie is highly predictable, I still enjoyed the majority of the ride.

Based on the novel by Dennis Lehane, former WWII soldier/U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and his new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) travel by boat to Shutter Island, which is a home of Ashcliffe, the prison for the criminally insane. They are met by Deputy Marshal McPherson (John Carroll Lynch) who them that they have to surrender their firearms. They take a tour of the complex which has separate wards for men, women prisoners and an old Civil War era, Building C that houses the most dangerous criminals.

The team meets the head psychiatrist of the institution; Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley) to investigate the disappearance of a patient that mysteriously escaped from her cell, who killed her kids, Rachel Solando. She is loose somewhere on the island, because there is no way for her to escape the island without drowning.

Searching through her cell, Teddy fines a piece of paper in her room that has “The law of 4. Who is 67?” scribbled on it. In order to try to find out the circumstances surrounding the escapee, Teddy and Chuck want to interview the staff. Dr. Cawley and Dr. Naehring (Max von Sydow) doesn’t want the investigators to rummage through the staffs personal files. Teddy wants to leave immediately.

The more time that Teddy spends on the island he has flashbacks of an incident when he was a soldier in WWII liberating a Dachau concentration camp or his life with her wife, Dolores (Michelle Williams) that was killed years earlier.

A massive hurricane hits the island and the prisoners try to escape the island, Teddy comes to realization when Rachel is found that they are 66 patients on the island, but Rachel implies there is a 67th patient. Who is that patient?

I thought the performances were very good, especially DiCaprio, Jackie Earle Haley and Patricia Clarkson.

I thought that the score was unnecessary in the beginning segments of the film. I guess, Scorsese wanted to set the mood. It was ear deafening. The biggest problem of the movie is the twist. Watching the trailers lately, they talk about the twist ending. The twist you could predict thirty minutes into the movie. I wasn’t a surprise at all, but I was half right about it. There was another sharp turn that I didn’t see coming.

Judgment: This movie was mess with your mind until the very end.

Rating: ****

The Exorcist (1973)

exorcist

Your mother’s in here, Karras. Would you like to leave a message? I’ll see that she gets it.

— Demon

I owned a VHS copy of The Exorcist for a time, but I have not seen the Director’s Cut of the movie until now. Seeing that this is the end of my “Creep-A-Thon”, I wanted to end on a high with this ten-time Academy award nominated movie and the #208 movie of All Time on IMDb by William Freidkin. It won for Best Adapted Screenplay for William Peter Blatty for adapting his own book. This movie still creeps me out.

It has been a long time since I have seen the movie that I don’t want was or wasn’t in the theatrical cut. In this version, Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) is on an archeological dig in Northern Iraq where he uncovers an ancient artifact that is reminiscent of the devil.

Cut to Georgetown where an actress, Chris McNeill (Ellen Busrtyn) in the middle of filming a movie for Burke Jennings (Jack MacGowran). She rents out a house with her daughter, Regan (Linda Blair). Everything seems to fine, except Mrs. MacNeil hears noises from the attic. She thinks that there are rats. When she investigates, nothing is there.

After Regan’s twelfth birthday, she starts acting weird with spacing out, the inappropriate outbursts and swearing. Chris and Regan don’t know what is going on. Chris contacts Dr. Klein (Barton Heyman) to perform a battery of tests on Regan. He concludes that she has a lesion in her temporal lobe that causes the change in behavior.

In consulting with Dr. Taney (Robert Symonds) with x-rays, they cannot find on her brain. The doctors are stumped. They have exhausts of their options medically. It could be mental. A therapist (Arthur Storch) is called to put Regan under hypnosis. During the session, a spirit that inhabits her body is brought out.

There last resort is an exorcism to drive the spirit out of her body. Father Karras (Jason Miller) wants the task to perform the exorcism, but his superiors want to have a person that had actually performed. The church enlists Father Merrin to lead the exorcism.

I can’t believe that I was bored at some parts with this movie. During the movie, I was dozing. I don’t remember the movie having these B, C and D subplots with Karras’ mother, the mystery of the death of the director, the noises in the attic, etc.

The movie is still good. This movie is so creepy that it might happen to you. Being possessed by the devil. It’s more real than a vampire, a werewolf or a zombie coming after you.

Judgment: After all this time, the movie is very effective by freaking you out.

Rating: ****

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