Monday, February 26, 2007

Re: The Departed

I am a cynic by nature. Most of you know this. I am very quick to criticize and rare to praise. But what you may not know is how hard I actually work to avoid this. Although I know it may not seem that way to a casual observer, I actually do a pretty good job of catching my tongue. One of my occasional moments of indiscretion is what led to the fake MySpace page of a couple of weeks ago. So with that in mind, I'd like to talk a little bit about my conflicted feelings over The Departed, the movie that won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and won director Martin Scorcese his first Oscar in his fantastic career.

The cynic in me wants to complain about how this is simply a lifetime achievement award. The Departed is not as good a movie as Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, or Casino. (Some would add Raging Bull to that list. Not me, but that's a whole 'nother story). People have been clamoring that Scorcese was "due" for Bringing Out the Dead, Gangs of New York, and The Aviator, three good-but-not-great movies. The Departed is better than any of those, but still doesn't match the achievements of his hey-day.

The cynic in me wants to complain about how this is simply a remake of an already fantastic Hong Kong movie called Infernal Affairs. That The Departed was really unnecessary because it didn't add anything to an already great film. And I do wholly recommend that anyone who liked The Departed check out Infernal Affairs.

The cynic in me wants to complain. But I'm not. Because, you know what? The Departed is a great movie. I saw it twice in the theater and will certainly buy it on DVD. It had fantastic character work by Alec Baldwin and Marky Mark. Solid lead performances by Leo DiCaprio and Matt Damon. A terrific adaptation of the Infernal Affairs script. Perfect use of music (I'll never here Gimme Shelter by the Stones again without thinking of the movie). And filmed by Scorcese with an energy that he hasn't tapped into in years, since Casino at least. So what if is isn't on quite the same level as Goodfellas? Why should that be held against this movie? For the first time in several years the Oscar went to the best new release film that I saw that year (Although, to be fair, I've only also seen Little Miss Sunshine. Babel is coming up soon in my Netflix queue, and I still have several non-nominated films to get through before I decide on my true favorite of 2006). I completely recommend it (except to you mom . . .and any one else who gets squeamish around bad language and violence), cynic in me be damned.