More Cover-Ups and Conspiracies

Conspiracies have always fascinated me and that’s why I decided to try a few more movies with a deadly cover-up at the heart of it all.

Yesterday, it was State of Play. Russell Crowe stars as a Washington DC reporter named Cal McCaffrey who starts out investigating the murder of two men in an alley and ends up in the middle of a cat and mouse game with politicians and a high-level, private security firm. Rachel McAdams stars as a young reporter who writes for the newspaper’s online blog and I loved the whole “online vs print” feud that goes on between the two of them for much of the movie.

At the center of the plot is Ben Affleck as a Congressman who, while sitting on a committee investigating private security teams in Afghanistan, loses his research assistant in a freak accident. . . or was it murder. . . and were they having an affair. . . and what does all of this have to do with the pizza guy who was shot in the alley? It’s twisty, it’s turny and it has Helen Mirren as the newspaper’s editor and Supernatural’s Rob Benedict in a really tiny role, but I love him, so yeah!

State of Play is talkier than most conspiracy movies, but what it has to say about the demise of newspapers and investigative reporting makes it worth sitting through the slow parts.

Before that, it was Shutter Island with Leonardo DiCaprio. I’m not a huge fan of Leo’s, but he was excellent in this moody Martin Scorsese film about a 1950’s federal marshal investigating a disappearance on an island prison for the criminally insane.

When this movie first came out, I remember being very confused by the promos which made it look like a ghost story. Other promos made it out to be an action thriller and neither of those is correct. Shutter Island is a psychological thriller that is a little too cerebral for its own good. The basic plot is excellent and the setting and the style add so much to the story. Where it fell down for me was in the war flashbacks that seemed to be there simply to confuse the viewer. Not necessary, as the main plot line is confusing enough as DiCaprio begins suffering from delusions.

“Why are you all wet, baby?” Shutter Island is a film that demands your full attention. If you find yourself drifting as you watch, you’ll be hopeless lost long before the final, twisted reveal.

On a slightly lighter note, I watched Rain Man for the first time and was glad I did. The film is so iconic that I thought it wouldn’t live up to the hype, but once I got past the slow start, I was happy to go along for the ride.

In the “not as good as I remember” column were two movies about possession. First, I turned on John Carpenter’s The Thing because I remembered it being very much like this past week’s episode of Supernatural. I’m a huge fan of the original The Thing, it’s one of my favorite movies, but this version didn’t do anything for me this time around. It was slower and grosser than I remembered and I ended up fast forwarding through it in about fifteen minutes.

The other misstep was The Mephisto Waltz which is airing on THIS TV in March. This is an early 70’s movie that stars Alan Alda as a music journalist who becomes the protegee of an aging pianist. Only, Duncan Ely isn’t looking for someone to carry on when he’s gone, he’s looking for a body to inhabit so he won’t have to go at all.

I remember being very inspired by this plot when I was a teen but it just didn’t grab me the same way when I watched it last night. One thing I did notice was how slowly 70’s movies are in the way that they build scenes and characters. I simply couldn’t handle the long, leisurely camera moves and pointless dialogue.  The movie does get points for Pamelyn Ferdin’s creepy portrayal of Alda’s daughter and then there was that dog with a human head being led around on a leash at a party. That was beyond freaky.

Like Shutter Island, The Mephisto Waltz has a nice twist at the end, so if you can make it through the slow parts, you will be rewarded.

What movies did you watch this week?



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