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The Departed [HD DVD]  [US Import]
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Martin Scorsese makes a welcomed return to the mean streets (of Boston, in this case) with The Departed, hailed by many as Scorsese's best film since Casino. Since this crackling crime thriller is essentially a Scorsese-stamped remake of the acclaimed 2002 Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs, the film was intensely scrutinized by devoted critics and cinephiles, and while Scorsese's intense filmmaking and all-star cast deserve ample acclaim, The Departed is also worthy of serious re-assessment, especially with regard to what some attentive viewers described as sloppy craftsmanship (!), notably in terms of mismatched shots and jagged continuity. But no matter where you fall on the Scorsese appreciation scale, there's no denying that The Departed is a signature piece of work from one of America's finest directors, designed for maximum impact with a breathtaking series of twists, turns, and violent surprises. It's an intricate cat-and-mouse game, but this time the cat and mouse are both moles: Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) is an ambitious cop on the rise, planted in the Boston police force by criminal kingpin Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a hot-tempered police cadet who's been artificially disgraced and then planted into Costigan's crime operation as a seemingly trustworthy soldier. As the multilayered plot unfolds (courtesy of a scorching adaptation by Kingdom of Heaven screenwriter William Monahan), Costigan and Sullivan conduct a volatile search for each other (they're essentially looking for "themselves") while simultaneously wooing the psychiatrist (Vera Farmiga) assigned to treat their crime-driven anxieties.
Such convenient coincidences might sink a lesser film, but The Departed is so electrifying that you barely notice the plot-holes. And while Nicholson's profane swagger is too much "Jack" and not enough "Costello," he's still a joy to watch, especially in a film that's additionally energised by memorable (and frequently hilarious) supporting roles for Alec Baldwin, Mark Wahlberg, and a host of other big-name performers. The Departed also makes clever and plot-dependent use of mobile phones, to the extent that it couldn't exist without them. Powered by Scorsese's trademark use of well-chosen soundtrack songs (from vintage rock to Puccini's operas), The Departed may not be perfect, but it's one helluva ride for moviegoers, proving popular enough to become the biggest box-office hit of Scorsese's commercially rocky career. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to the DVD edition.
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Not only was this film a complete disappointment and a pale facade of Scorcese's earlier work, it has absolutely nothing of value to say. It is thin, inconsequential and at times crass, dull and uninspired.The script is utterly awful, shot full through with as much verbal tonnage of such profanity and misogyny as the writer could muster in the clear absence of skillful narrative structure or character development.
In short, I think the script stinks. If you do watch it, check out the scene where Jack Nicholson's character meets his adoptive "son", Matt Damon, in a porno cinema, whipping out a false rubber penis and giving him a lecture in misogyny.There are many such moments,arbitrary plot devices and unfocussed characterisations that are simply superfluous and gratuitous. The whole film is such.
The vision here is one of a completely loveless,hate-filled world where the stereotypical male roles abuse each other,annihilating and destroying at will. Jack Nicholson is hopelessly miscast as the kingpin thug/crime overlord,. He just simply is not believable in the role of the heavy. Some of his scenes are so badly acted where he mugs away in an excuse for true characterisation. Once again he is as bad as he was in The Shining. Too broad, too unrealistic and big on mugging.
The token female role is breathtakingly naff. She is thinly drawn, yet her ability seems to be in the fact that she is a talented psychologist/psychiatrist who makes life choices that a moron would be too bright to make and she is about as insightful as a slug when it comes to understanding people and human relationships.
Leonardo di Caprio is definitely another matter. I have given this otherwise tawdry, lazy excuse for a crime thriller one star. But the star is only for him. His performance is excellent and yet, sadly, it cannot redeem the multiplicity of faults within this redundant drama.
I felt cheated and patronised by this dumbed down gangster/police corruption farrago. I can recall films of immense achievement way better than this for which Martin Scorcese was not lauded, oscar-wise. "Raging Bull", "Goodfellas", "The Last Temptation of Christ" are to name only three and there are many,many more so much better than this.
What angered me most was the representation of the male gender in this film. We have been told a million times that men are bad, evil, aggressive, lying, violent, destructive, foul-mouthed, women abusing, conniving animals devoid of morality and only motivated by fear, hate and greed. In the twenty first century this is a given. Everybody and his aunt knows this to be true. However, there is no sense, it seems to me, to perpetually excoriate a vein which has already been sucked dry. This is what The Departed does; low-witted indulgence in limited male stereotyping with nothing new or fresh to say about anything.There is more being said in a Dirty Harry movie or a Bogart than anything here.
There is nothing in me as a man that can accept this continuous and narrowing view of the male world as a turbulent, loveless pit of rage and destruction. Women complain about the limited, degrading representations of their gender as the mother or the whore. That given, then what exactly is this film doing for men? There isn't even a second option. Scorcese is presenting a cack-handed and reductive view of maleness that I find offensive and unacceptable. All of life is not simply fear and aggression. This is not insightful like Raging Bull or Taxi Driver both of which deal quite profoundly with issues of fear and aggression boiled up with a soupcon of morality and a sprinkling of catholic guilt. This film is really quite awful.I fail to understand how anyone can regard this as good filmmaking.Perhaps they have never seen what a good film can be?
The ending sums up the immense lack of wit or taste which pervades this film in the telegraphed,dumbed-down way a CG matted rat crawls along the railing outside the "top of the city" penthouse. Talk about spelling it out for the less-intelligent audience? It is hardly a poetic vision. It is unfortunately cringeworthy.
By all means watch it if you have nothing better to do. Better still, give yourself a real treat and watch "Little Miss Sunshine", the film that ought to have cleared the board at the oscars.
The performances: all-star cast delivering all-star performances
The music: perfect
The Directing: Martin Scorsese at his finest and that is saying something.
Once again Scorsese delivers a film that meets or exceeds the expectations of its audience in nearly every way. There are moments of incredible tension, violence, and drama, moments where characters reveal their vulnerabilities and weakness. Comedic moments and moments of sadness and through it all a multi layered and brilliant story is told by an American film maker who once again proves Harvey Keitel correct when he said, "Maybe he (Scorsese) got what he deserves--exclusion from the mediocre."
This film is Scorsese's finest work since Raging Bull, but it is not simply about Martin Scorsese or the amazing screen play by William Monahan, it is more than an amazing score, and great cinematography. While many of the accolades for this film belong to those behind the scenes people who envisioned and directed this film. One would be remiss to not point out the great performances of an all-star cast, many of whom deliver the finest performances of long and storied careers. Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon deliver incredible performances.
However the performance that stood out for me was Wahlberg, Mark Wahlberg's Sgt. Dignam stole every scene he was in, and he shared screen time with each of the afore mentioned actors. He gets to deliver some of the best lines, and with every scene he leaves the audience wanting more, and anticipating his next scene.
That was the long version; the short version is if you like a movie with incredible performances, direction, music and visuals. If you like a layered story that is not formulaic, in short if you appreciate film making and story telling at its finest then see this film. Even with the glowing reviews of myself and others, and the high expectations they will undoubtedly bring I assure you that you will not be disappointed.
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