Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dennis Lehane's Shutter Island

I finally finished reading Dennis Lehane's Shutter Island this week. Phew! I feel like it took me years to read it. I hate when I don't have as much time to devote to reading as I would like, but hey, I have to set priorities and lesson plans and schoolwork must come first. Nonetheless, I finally did it!

I must start with a bit of a spoiler: this novels has an open ending! So, if you're one of those people who can't stand when there isn't a "real" resolution at the end of the story (be it a novel or movie), then don't even bother reading this book. It is somewhat thick and you will be disappointed. With that being said, let's start talking about the good things about it.

I picked it up while stuck in the JFK airport in NYC for 4 hours, having slept for only 6 hours in 2 days and needing to stay up so I wouldn't miss the plane. I needed to find something that would keep my interest up (I'm one of those people who won't fall asleep if I have a good book in hand). My options were tons of Nicholas Sparks' books, some other sappy stories, and this. I didn't even know that the movie that just came out with Leonardo DiCaprio was based on a book, and was pleasantly surprised.

The novels starts out a little confusing, the time and setting jump around a little and it's difficult to follow, but once you get past the first couple of pages, the story is a delight. It tells the story of 2 US Marshalls, Teddy and Chuck, who must go to an island off of the coast of Boston or somewhere in Rhode Island (I'm not sure where, it never really tells in the book, but it's around there). On this island operates a mental hospital, which houses only the most dangerous mental patients in the country. The reason why they were sent to such place is because a patient has apparently ran away and it is up to them to find her. All in all, no one can understand how someone ran away from that place, and Teddy starts to think this is a cover up. On top of everything, a hurricane is upon them. I can't say much more otherwise I'll reveal too much of the plot and totally ruin the book (or possibly the movie. I haven't seen it).

Lehane has some amazing metaphors and imagery. I was pleasantly surprised by them as I didn't think that this book was the kind of have language like that. It seemed as thought it would be more straight forward. His characters are also very round and believable. I hated the antagonist and cheered for Teddy every time he had a breakthrough on the investigation.

The only problem I had with it is that I wished he had more descriptions. Since everything happened in a mental hospital, visuals were important and I don't think that there was enough of those. Maybe the movie version will be easier to understand because of the visual ability.

Monday, April 5, 2010


I spent most of my spring break catching up on movies I wanted to see but haven't had time to. I would like to go ahead and spend time reviewing those as well, since movies are a form of storytelling as well.

This movie was stupendous in my opinion. But, I must say that I find it so because I enjoy apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic movies. This movie is not for the kind of people whom aren't fond of this kind of movie. Most of it is about the special effects. They are excellent, I must say. I am one of those people who prefers a good background story to a car blowing up, but the special effects are essential to this movie. Without them, the movie would not make as much sense as it does. The plot of this movie states the magma in the Earth's crust has soften, and because of that the tectonic plates are moving and the soil has become extremely unstable. Earthquakes are happening left and right, and tsunamis are following suit. So think of it as the perfect blend between Deep Impact and The Core. The one problem I had with this movie, and maybe I am overanalyzing it, is that the president is black. Yes, I know that Danny Glover is a terrific actor, but it almost made the movie look like a warning. Barack Obama will still be the president in 2012. Also, the scientist who is in charge of calculating how much time the US has to make provisions to save the world is black, and he messes up. Yes, I know that if he hadn't messed up there would not be any tension in the movie, but in fact all this makes it somewhat racist. And makes it seem like there is a warning, that because the US chose a black president, now the world will end.

Watch if you love CGI.

Law Abiding Citizen
This is one of the best cop thriller movies I have seen in a while. This one is with Gerard Butler and Jaime Foxx. Foxx is a criminal lawyer, and Butler is a man bent on revenge after his family's killer is let go from prison because of a deal Foxx made while on the case. I don't want to spoil this gem to anyone, so I won't talk any more about the plot. I was very surprised with the ending, it was different and intelligent. Only one warning, this is not for the faint of stomach. There are some quite brutal scenes, but they are essential setting the tone of the movie.

I thought this was going to be a scary thriller, and it turned out to be very political. Now it's no wonder to me to find out that it was based on an European movie, as those tend to be more concerned wth making people think than entertaining the masses, like American movies. The plot is about a marine officer who gets captured by terrorist group in Afghanistan. He left behind a wife wiht 2 young girls, parents who were extremely proud of him, and a brother who jsut recently left jail. He is tortured beyong belief, and made do things no one can even imagine. Everyone back home thinks he is dead, and the brother takes over as the male figure for the girls. He goes over, fixes little problems in the house, plays with them, everything is very innocent. About a year later, the officer is found and goes back home. He is very changed, and no one seems to be able to fit him in back home. Because his wife and brother gets along so well now, he started to suspect that they are having an affair, and turns very violent. I will not ruin the plot by writing the end here.

When I rented this movie I thought about a psychological thriller, but in fact, this movie was made to make people think about the horrors of war. The audience is supposed to think about everything he goes through, and then judge on their own if the war in Afghanistan, or even the one in Iraq are right or wrong. We are supposed to befriend the terrorists, who film the soldiers saying "we have no right to be here. This land belongs to the Afghan people", because that is true. But then, we loathe them again because of their acts, but still continue thinking that they are right, we shouldn't be there. We shouldn't make the soldiers go through what they do while there.

I recommend this for people who are not afraid of thinking.