8:00 PM, 8th May, 2010
He’s dabbled in comedy (The King Of Comedy), sports films (Raging Bull) and even a musical (New York, New York) but will perhaps always be best known for epic gangster thrillers like Goodfellas and Casino. Now legendary director Martin Scorsese is returning to the realm of the psychological thriller – after a solid first attempt with 1991’s Cape Fear remake, also on this semester’s programme – and the results are nothing short of spectacular. Did you honestly expect anything less?
It’s 1954 and two U.S. marshals are dispatched to investigate the disappearance of a patient from a hospital for the criminally insane in what appears to be a usual, run-of-the-mill assignment. For Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio), however, it’s more than just another day on the job: he has more than just an occupational reason to be there and his suspicions of foul play at the facility are quickly realised when the hospital staff begin actively trying to impede his investigation. The mystery deepens as a hurricane and an inmate riot leaves Teddy stranded on the island, and clues conspire to make him doubt everything he knows – even his own sanity.
Based on a novel by Denis Lehane – the man behind the source of other morally-challenging films like Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone – Shutter Island is a twisty, visually-eerie, superbly-crafted tale, populated by a staggering cast of some of the best character actors around. All in all, an example of impeccable filmmaking from one of our greatest living directors. You’d have to be insane not to see this.
10:33 PM, 8th May, 2010
Australian journalist Roger East is approached in Darwin in 1975 by a young man by the name of Jose Ramos-Horta who asks him to come to East Timor to report on the looming Indonesian army presence. East (powerfully played by Lapaglia) is reluctant at first, but he decides to go, drawn by the rumoured disappearance of a number of Australian newsmen four weeks earlier led by fellow reporter Greg Shackleton (Gameau). Before we know it, we are plunged into the intensely rising action of the lurch to war.
The film, scripted and directed by Robert Connolly (Three Dollars, The Bank), is an emotionally gut-wrenching powerhouse that interweaves the narrative of East’s search with the earlier progress of Shackleton and the others. We see Horta, played compellingly by Guatemalan actor Isaac, in both stories, but particularly through his growing friendship with East. Jose Ramos Horta would of course later go on to become President of East Timor.
Many accounts of these events have emerged over the years, including Jill Joliffe’s 2001 book “Cover Up: The Inside Story Of The Balibo Five”, which argues for the Australian government’s complicity through their failure to address the circumstances surrounding the fate of the newsmen. This work has now been re-released as “Balibo” with new cover art to tie-in with the movie.
Still, aspects of the story remain in hot contention. Testimony continues to emerge from eyewitnesses to the events. In Balibo, however, director Robert Connolly sets that aside and delivers a persuasive account full of action, raw emotion and high drama. Make sure you see it!