Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Departed

Last year I wrote a review of "The Corpse Bride", saying that Tim Burton had finally returned to his strengths. The same could be said about "The Departed". Except Scorcese is ten times a director than Burton.

RG says this is Scorcese's best movie ever, better even than "Goodfellas". I can't agree with that yet. I've seen that film at least 30 times. I even wrote my term paper for film class on it. I can't compare a film I've seen once.

But in the opening sequence, when the camera sweeps into a run-down deli to the sound of "Gimme Shelter" we know we're home again. That and the violence. Scorcese speaks the language of film so well, English could be his second language. He always knows just when to use a zomm, dolly or a cut. There's a surprising amount of contrast in this one. Songs drop into silence and shots freeze frame at unexpected moments.

It's impossible to discuss the plot and stay spoiler free. So let's avoid the plot and just say that the story (based on the Hong Kong film "Infernal Affairs") twists and turns until it folds in on itself. It's a film that you need to see a number of times. Then argue with your friends.

The cast is perfect. I've spent years defending Jack Nicholson to people. Some say he does the same thing in every movie. And while he does play to his persona, Jack can always deliver a layered performance with a surprising emotional range. He plays his age here and for the most part plays it close to the vest. I've always dreamed of seeing him team up with Scorcese and the result does not disappoint.

DiCaprio is another actor that deserves defending. Since "Titanic" he's been unfairly maligned as an overhyped, over handsome movie star. But DiCaprio was never Tom Cruise. Even as a young actor he was capable of performances such as "The Basketball Diaries" and "What's Eating Gilbert Grape". And this is the third time he's worked with Scorcese. Only DeNiro and Pesci have done more. Matt Damon's gives his usual solid performance, proving once again that he needed to get far away from Ben Affleck.

Other critics are raving about "The Departed".


Brian Kunath said...

Nice review.

Haven't seen the movie yet, but I think you speak to Scorsese's strengths really well. He's the master of using music set mood, above other greats like Tarantino and Wes Anderson -- who I'm sure used Scrosese as a blueprint on how to correctly use music.

I also like Nicholson -- he doesn't dissapear into his roles like other actors do (early DeNiro, for example), but he's not simply a movie star persona either. He brings his personality to his roles and makes it work for the character he's playing.

Can't wait to see this one.

Dave said...

Scorsese. Nicholson. I'm there.