Tag Archives: Shutter Island

Cure for Insomnia

A Cure for Wellness

by Hope Madden

Not too far into The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter suggests that Buffalo Bill’s behavior seems “desperately random.”

Director Gore Verbinski’s latest, A Cure for Wellness, feels desperately creepy – and far too random.

His film is a little bit Kubrick, a little more Cronenberg, a touch Scorsese and an awful lot Burton. Maybe that’s why it’s so long – it takes Verbinski a while to squeeze all those other people’s vision into his movie.

What’s it about? How avaricious humanity’s lost its way, how an ambitious corporate cog travels to a spa in the Swiss alps to retrieve his boss, and eels.

All of it amounts to a bunch of nothing, but man, the package is great.

Dane DeHaan plays Lockhart, relentless executive headed for the top. When the firm sends him to a “wellness center” in hopes of retrieving a missing CEO, Lockhart sees his chance for the big time. But, like Scorsese’s Shutter Island, things are not as they seem.

Verbinski hasn’t been as visually unleashed in years, and his picture is very pretty, very creepy and endlessly stylized.

Beneath that distracting layer of polish is a hodgepodge – a mainly incoherent assortment of unrelated ideas. A Cure for Wellness slides images at you, each of them meant to conjure a particular feeling, but it never lays out any cohesive narrative to bring them together.

And, my God it’s so long.

On the surface is a familiar story of a man who is not a patient at a sanitarium becoming a patient against his will. And then, of course, is the mystery he must solve concerning his CEO – unless he’s going mad in the process? Mwa ha ha ha ha….

Plus some confluence of vaguely Nazi imagery (this is the whitest film you will ever see), a bit of a creature feature, odds and ends that feel like folklore horror, flashbacks and/or dream sequences, and a dance scene that could be straight out of Harry Potter. (The fact that Lucius Malfoy – Jason Isaacs – plays the villain doesn’t hinder that notion.)

Random creepy images grow tiresome after 80 or so minutes. Unmercifully, A Cure for Wellness has another sixty minutes to go, without a coherent thread or satisfying payoff. Or any payoff, really.


Countdown: Forgetful Movies for Memorial Day Weekend

This Memorial Day Weekend, we remember our dads, a soldier and a sailor who served their countries bravely before coming home, settling down, and raising children they would eventually drive insane. But before all that, they served their countries bravely, and we truly thank them (and all veterans) for that part. That’s what we’ll remember about George and Mark today. Tomorrow is another story…

In the meantime, let’s count down the best movies about people who really can’t remember a thing.

5. Angel Heart (1987)

Pre-freakshow Mickey Rourke is private dick Johnny Angel, looking for a guy who doesn’t want to be found, maybe because a bearded, egg-eating Robert De Niro is the client searching him out. But something’s not quite right with this investigation. A steamy period piece rich with twists and soaked in blood, Angel Heart is a startling bit of filmmaking and an underappreciated gem.

4. Shutter Island (2010)

Scorsese puts DiCaprio in an island asylum in Boston Harbor to suss out the details in a disappearance. But his investigation – like Johnny Angel’s – turns up more hazy mystery than facts. It doesn’t help that his wife’s ghost keeps popping up.

3. The Hangover (2009)

A clever concept fleshed out with stellar performances in well-articulated characters, The Hangover is more than just a lewd throwaway comedy. But as lewd comedies go, the original is a doozy. Injecting the bachelor party romp cliché with more energy, surprises and hilarity than most 90 minute flicks could handle, this is a comedy that remains funny upon repeated viewings.

2. Memento (2000)

Before Memento, we did not know Christopher Nolan was a genius. And then we did. Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) has a short term memory problem. The wrong type of people use this to their advantage. Writer/director Nolan keeps the audience as riveted and confused as poor Leonard with his non-linear approach, and the culminating moments are of devastating genius.

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Jim Carrey has never been better than in this Michel Gondry mind bender penned by genius screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. A fascinatingly twisty, beautiful and clever film filled to bursting with exceptional performances, it’s a film everyone should see. We are our memories, even the bad one.