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Now in our eleventh calendar year!
PCR #517 (Vol. 11, No. 8). This edition is for the week of February 15--21, 2010.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Shutter Island"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

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Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Rated: R
Running Time: 2 hours 18 mins

1954. A ferry is fighting choppy water. On board are two Federal Marshalls: Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and his newly assigned partner Chuck Aule (Ruffalo). They are in route to investigate the disappearance of a federally held mental patient. Their destination: Shutter Island.

In 2007 Martin Scorsese finally won the Best Director Oscar he so richly deserved. You might think that now that he has a golden boy on his mantle that he would relax. Hardly. In “Shutter Island” he returns to the terror and suspense he first explored with “Cape Fear.” And I’m happy to report that he hasn’t lost his touch. Daniels and Aule have been summoned to help find a woman who drowned her own children. The authorities have searched the island with no success. The two men interrogate the physicians in charge of the facility, doctors Cawley (Kingsley) and Naehring (the always great to see on screen Max von Sydow). The doctors consider themselves pioneers in the treatment of mentally-ill patients, preferring to use narcotics and therapy rather than the harsh treatment of the past. They prefer the prisoners on the island to be referred to as “patients,” During the investigation Daniels begins to dwell on the tragedies of his past. While in the army he helped free the Jewish prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp. The image of the many bodies he found still haunts him, as does the memory of his late wife (Michelle Williams), who died in a fire. As Daniels begins to unravel the mystery he was sent to solve he begins to tangle himself deeper into the tragedies of his past.

In a span of twenty three years Scorsese made eight films with Robert DeNiro. As the 21st century began Scorsese turned to a new on-screen collaborator: DiCaprio. It’s no coincidence that the three previous films they made together (“Gangs of New York,” “The Aviator” and “The Departed”) were all nominated for Best Picture. These two seem to bring the best out in each other, in the same way that Scorsese and DeNiro did.

DiCaprio has come a long way as an actor since “Titanic.” In “Shutter Island” he gives the performance of his career, fighting himself and others in an attempt to stay sane in a truly insane world. With this year’s Academy Awards less than a month away, my fingers are crossed that the academy will remember Leo next year. I do know that “Silence of the Lambs” opened on Valentine’s Day and went on to win the Big Five at the next years’ Oscar ceremonies so hopefully next year at this time DiCaprio is remembered by his peers. The rest of the cast is equally outstanding. Oscar winners Kingsley and von Sydow are top notch and it’s a pleasure to see both veterans still at the top of their game. Jackie Earle Haley continues his career resurrection as a patient with a secret while Emily Mortimer and Patricia Clarkson excel in a shared role. The mood of the film is perfectly set thanks to the fine camera work of six-time Oscar nominee Robert Richardson. Scorsese hired former Band guitarist Robbie Robertson to oversee the music and he has picked a classic, Bernard Hermann-inspired theme that drives the picture throughout.

On a scale of zero to four I give “Shutter Island”  

This week's movie review of "Shutter Island" is ©2010 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2010, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.