The underlying tenements of child psychology but also the structure of what parenting should be or consist of in a large sense is an interesting basis for an almost psychological horror story in “Baby Teeth” [Zoje Stage/St. Martin’s Press/320pgs]. The permeation of a mother’s relationship to her child and the logic within the child’s mind has been fodder for horror films but the relevance in the building of a sociopath is very interesting. Whether or not this is the construct of the author’s mind in some details is up for debate but it inherently shows the essence of logic versus emotion. Suzette is the mother and because of inherent medical problems which undoubtedly caused her husband to dote on her, when the arrival of her daughter comes into the world, that inherent social structure where Mommy is more important may have led to a deep seated rage and even animosity for her mother and maybe an over-arching competition for Daddy’s attention. The novel has an underlying essence of Sweden which might have to do with the author’s background. Within the essence of a character like Lisbeth Salenger in the “Dragon Tattoo” novels, this could almost serve as a childhood origin story in a twisted way. Hanna is the precocious little girl but the book takes her point of view in a balanced amount of chapters to Suzette. Her logic but also intelligence is formidable but still within the problem solving structures of a child with the exception of a proponent to violence. Her strategy and even creation of a second identity to psychologically mess with her mother is chilling. Add to that structure being able to appear the perfect daughter to her father until it cannot be hidden anymore. This is where her logic fails her. Add to this fact that Hanna is a mute for her own reasons makes for an unnerving but psychologically fascinating novel.
By Tim Wassberg
Sirk TV On-The-Scene Interview: Kim Klockow [University Of Oklahoma] & Greg Carbin [Severe Storm Center] For The National Weather Center [Norman, OK]
“Shutter Island” is more than meets the eye. Besieged by a pushing in release date from last October to this March, this new Scorsese/DiCaprio pairing is more abstract and less straightforward than their earlier collaborations. It has tinges of indulgences from “Age Of Innocence” in addition to its adaptation roots but unlike the other films made of Dennis Lehane’s books like “Mystic River” or “Gone Baby Gone”, this incarnation is more dreamlike. DiCaprio is effective and more in tune along the lines of raw emotionality than he was even in “Revolutionary Road”. However, there is a lack of connection between him and co-star Michelle Williams despite Leo’s best intentions. What most stands out across the board is the use of classical music instead of a normal score. It definitely gives the picture a different feel. The music supervision was done by Robbie Robertson who also wrote the music for “Ladder 49”. What might be coincidental is that in addition to a foghorn sounding overture in the beginning, the music seems to have been pulled from “The Shining” which gives the initial 20 minutes a bit of a Stanley Kubrick feel. However, as the film moves along, there is almost an arch of overplaying that takes one slightly out of the picture. The reveal at the end is, of course, an interesting one and motivates the entire picture making it indelicatable upon repeat viewings.
In the featurette “Into The Lighthouse” author Lehane talks about the book being a response to post-9/11 thoughts which in certain ways had parrallels to McCarthyism. Another interesting inclusion is consultant James Gilligan who talks about his experience at a mental hospital and the differences between old and new psychology methods. These long featurettes actually get in depth on the aspect of why lobotomy was adopted and the perceptions which fuel certain backgrounds in the picture. The other featurette “Behind The Shutters” which also runs about 20 minutes has lengthy background info including Ruffalo, DiCaprio and Scorsese and takes into account the actual reveal (these behind-the-scenes elements have disclaimers about spoilers as well). They knew, perhaps in some ways similar to “Fight Club”) that they would need to usher the audience in many ways through the narrative to understand its complexity, “Shutter Island” is, in many ways, successful but in others a hard sell which is an interesting conundrum though it is interesting seeing Scorsese work this angle. Another very interesting tidbit is that Elias Koteas, who plays a version of the character Latteus, has such a DeNiro type effectation that you almost mistake him for the legend as a young actor. I thought almost initially they did motion capture on DeNiro but that would make no sense. “Shutter Island”, in all ways, is an interesting exercise. Out of 5, I give the BD a 3.