Monday, March 1, 2010

Shutter Island and The Queen

Last weekend, I went to see "Shutter Island". How can you go wrong with a powerhouse team including director, Martin Scorsese, original work and screenplay by Dennis LaHane, and Leonardo DiCaprio starring? Well, something just did not work for me, and from the overheard conversations in the lobby, something did not work for lots of people.

The story? A federal agent is called to a prison island for the criminally insane to investigate the escape of an inmate. He reluctantly surrenders his gun at the gate, and the chaos begins. I won't tell you any more, except that I thought the plot was messy, and reminded me of those old black and white, cheesy rainy Sunday afternoon movies that fascinated me as a teenager. How I looked forward to those days when the weather kept me indoors, and while channel flipping, I'd come across a movie where someone was wrongly accused of a crime and imprisoned, or worse, put into an asylum in which the patients were indistinguishable from the staff. Oh, those movies were so very contrived and melodramatic, but I loved them. Occasionally, I"d stumble across a fine piece like "The Grapes of Wrath' or "The Greatest Show on Earth," both starring Henry Fonda.
Well, "Shutter Island" got mixed reviews. Those reviews that tried hard to convince me that this was a tribute to Scorsese's most admired directors, including Alfred Hitchcock, and the one that worked to explain how the symbolism of the title brought significance to the overall effect failed. I just didn't like the movie.

But, when I got home, I switched on the TV just in time to see the opening credits for "The Queen" with Helen Miron in the defining role of her career. I was hooked, and committed to another two and half hours of movie watching. This one is not to be missed. The reaction to Princess Diana's death took took on a tabloid feel for many Americans, but having been to England a few times, I understood the impact it had on the British people. The last time I went to visit friends of my parents in a little village outside of London, my plane landed the evening before Charles and Diana's wedding. Their wedding date had not been set when I bought my tickets, and I had no choice but to brave the throngs of admirers swarming Victoria station where I had to catch a train.

The little garden is in my friend Margaret's backyard at 84 Watson Road, Sittingbourne, Kent. Nearly everyone lives in connected row houses. Thank goodness each household painted their front door a different color, or I'm sure I would have let myself into a few stranger's living rooms. There's a corner pub complete with pickled eggs and plowman's lunches, Mr. Mockett's grocery store with shelves and shelves of oxtail soup (and the best burnt sugar pie), and a Boots Apothecary. That's about all, really. Every Saturday, the gypsies show up in the center of town, and you can get just about anything from them....clothes, bicycles, umbrellas, toys. I will confess that the meat auction was downright creepy, though. Huge chunks of meat where lifted high above the auctioneer's hear, and everyone started hollering bids. The available meat sold quickly, which was a blessing, since I never saw any type of refrigeration in the vicinity of the auction tent.

On the morning of the wedding, after a restless night in an unfamiliar and oddly short bed, I was awakened at 6 A.M. by disturbingly peculiar sounds. Investigating, I discovered that Gwen, the elderly woman I was staying with, had invited her cronies in to watch the festivities, which began with them singing a spirited, albeit gooselike, rendition of "God Save the Queen." Could those women wail! I didn't stand a chance of getting back to sleep, so I grabbed a cup of tea, some Peek Freens Digestive Biscuits (which have devastating repercussions for inexperienced consumers) and settled in to watch the wedding. I am not kidding when I tell you that the first three hours of coverage consisted of four designers guessing what Diana's dress would look like.

OOPS! Looks like I wandered just a little. "Shutter Island"...NO. "The Queen"...YES.

*****We had a nice night on Saturday with singer-songwriter, Adam Morantez. The small but appreciative crowd was treated to a evening of song by a cool guy with hot pipes and tons of talent. We'll keep you posted on his upcoming shows. You should see this guy if you can.
*****What am I reading? Still working on The Monfils Conspiracy.
*****Emily Update....our sure to be famous Emily will again be doing summer stock with the award winning Utah Shakespeare Company. She has the lead in a world premier musical version of Dickens' Great Expectations. She will also be playing one of Shakespeare's most significant female characters - the feisty, flirty, justice seeking, Portia in the Merchant of Venice. She recently earned rave reviews playing all three witches in Macbeth at Yale University Theatre. Even with all that going on, ET finds time to phone home. Gotta love that girl!
If you've been reading my HTR column, the next one should be this coming Sunday.
Thanks for stopping by.