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Shutter Island

Leonardo DiCaprio in “Shutter Island”

Valentine's Day

“Valentine’s Day”

“Shutter Island”

Throughout his lengthy and prolific career, acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorcese has been the kind of director that other directors admire and emulate. Whether he’s deconstructing the movie musical (“New York, New York”), setting the standard for the concert film (“The Last Waltz”), redefining the biopic (“Raging Bull,” “The Aviator”), commenting on modern culture (“Taxi Driver,” “The King of Comedy”) or the mob (“Casino,” “Good Fellas”) or exploring period pieces (“The Age of Innocence,” “Gangs of New York”), Scorcese’s vision is uniquely his own.

For years, New York was his primary focus, but 2006’s “The Departed” took him north to Boston and it’s to Boston that he returns with “Shutter Island.”

Working once again with Leonardo DiCaprio, Scorcese appears to be taking this opportunity to also pay homage to directors whose work he admires, including Alfred Hitchcock and Michael Powell, along with a touch of David Lynch.

“Shutter Island” is set in 1954 on an island off the coast of Massachusetts, where a psychiatric hospital houses some of the most dangerous criminals within three separate wards. Summoned there on the pretense of tracking down a female prisoner who simply disappeared from her cell, Teddy (DiCaprio), a U.S. marshal, is joined by Chuck (Mark Ruffalo), another marshal from the west coast. Once on the island, the marshals surrender their weapons. As a storm with hurricane force winds rages outside, they become acquainted with the facility, the staff and the men who run the place, including doctors Cawley (Ben Kingsley) and Naehring (Max Von Sydow).

But nothing is as it seems. Teddy’s own mental state is in question. A World War II vet, Teddy was among the soldiers who liberated the Dachau concentration camp. He is constantly haunted by visions of the atrocities that he witnessed. He also is dealing, although not well, with the death of his wife Dolores (Michelle Williams), who is said to have died in an apartment fire set by a madman named Laeddis (Elias Koteas), who is supposed to be in captivity on Shutter Island.

Pretty soon, however, it becomes clear after the missing patient is found that Teddy may never get off the island. Or maybe he’s been there all along. Is he really a government employee or a patient who has invented a convoluted and convincing lie to avoid facing the truth? Highly suspenseful and creepy, often terrifying, “Shutter Island” will make you shudder in your seat as it reveals an array of unexpected twists and turns that will keep you guessing where it will go next until the very last scene. “Shutter Island” is the first must-see movie of 2010.

“Valentine’s Day”

Warning: This review contains spoilers.

Director Garry Marshall singlehandedly massacres Cupid and his winged pals in “Valentine’s Day,” a third-rate Hollywood take on the nauseating multiple storyline “Love Actually” theme. This star-studded dud begins with florist and hopeless romantic Reed (Ashton Kutcher) proposing to Kara (the life-like Jessica Alba). Then it’s off to the flower shop with buddy and flower delivery van driver Alphonso (George Lopez) for the busiest day of the year.

All across Los Angeles, Valentine’s Day is being celebrated and dreaded with equal energy. TV news reporter Kelvin (Jamie Foxx) isn’t thrilled about Susan (Kathy Bates) assigning him a gig interviewing people on the street about the holiday. Jason (a lean and ripped Topher Grace) has no idea that his new love Liz (Anne Hathaway) is leading a double life as a phone sex operator. Married doctor Harrison (Patrick Dempsey) is two-timing his wife with girlfriend schoolteacher Julia (Jennifer Garner). Coincidentally, Julia is Reed’s BFF, and when Harrison comes in to buy flowers for both of his ladies at Reed’s shop, the secret is spilled. But will Reed spare Julia the bad news?

The Taylors, Swift and Lautner, play high school sweethearts Felicia and Willy, respectively, who are saving themselves. Lautner continues to act with his abs, and Swift is so abysmal that she makes Miley Cyrus look like Meryl Streep. Classmates Alex (Carter Jenkins) and Grace (Emma Roberts), on the other hand, plan on losing their virginity to each other in her bedroom in honor of Valentine’s Day. At the opposite end of the age spectrum, Edgar (Hector Elizondo) and Estelle’s (Shirley MacLaine) 50-plus years of wedded bliss is threatened by the confession of an affair early in their marriage.

Aging football player Sean (Eric Dane) is too busy trying to keep his troubled career afloat to worry about the fact that he’s by himself on Valentine’s Day. But a press conference in which he comes out as gay has the potential to change all of that. Also alone on VD is publicist Morley (Jessica Biel) and sports agent Paula (Queen Latifah).

Meanwhile, there’s a jet carrying soldier Kate (a somber Julia Roberts) and businessman Holden (a dour Bradley Cooper), back to Los Angeles. Both are tight-lipped about their personal lives, but fear not, a surely as chocolate is fattening, Katherine Fugate’s silly screenplay delivers a high-caloric conclusion.

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