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The Departed

About a month ago I saw The Departed. It was a fairly underwhelming experience.

In case you haven't heard of the film (a remake of the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs), it follows two cops, one going undercover in a crime family led by Jack Nicholson, and the other going undercover in the Police department, because Jack Nicholson seems to think it'll protect him. Or some such thing. The whole undercover in the cops world bit isn't explored at all, really. Anyhow: the first cop is played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who does his angst thing, and the second is played by Matt Damon, who appears to be attempting to win the Worlds-Stupidist-Accent-Award. What happens in the film is fairly by the numbers, in that as the film goes on each character goes further into his world, with pills and booze and doubts for DiCaprio, and promotions and nice apartments and a sexy girl for Damon, thus giving the classic, I've-Lost-Everything-I-Want-Out cliche for the first and the I've-Got-So-Much-I-Can't-Lose-It cliche for the second. Both characters even begin a romantic liaison with a psychiatrist, played by Kirsten Dalton, though why exactly she decides to fuck DiCaprio's burnt out ex-cop recently done jail time and now seeing her because he must, is beyond me.

The biggest problem with the film, if you can't tell already, is that it is flat and lifeless. I remember when a Martin Scorsese film actually had life, and energy, but fuck me if the last ones feel as if they've been made by a robot. There's no touch of style, no touch of energy, and when, in the end, Scorsese ends the film with a rat crawling out in front of a church, which he has positioned to be representative of the whole city and its institutions, you want to head out of the cinema, find Scorsese, and beat the fuck out of him for being so uncreative.

I mean, really, a rat.

Now, it should be said that I'm not any kind of flag waving Scorsese fan, but I've liked my share of his films. Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Mean Streets, and Bringing Out the Dead pretty much sum up the ones I dig--and quite dig--and there's a few I don't care for one way another, and one that I actively dislike, which is Goodfellas. At least, that was until he made The Gangs of New York and began working with Leonardo DiCaprio. That first film of their relationship was so bad that I refused to see The Aviator and only changed my mind about Scorsese when I heard that Jack Nicholson and Ray Winstone had found their way into The Departed and that the film itself looked like it was going to slip into the kind of Scorsese film I enjoyed.

It didn't. It's by the numbers, as I said, and the one twist at the end of the film, is so unsupported throughout the entirety of the film that it's actually rather annoying. It is the equivalent of having a bumbling, idiot cop roaming around with Matt Damon, and who rocks up at the end when Damon's in trouble and shoots Leonardo DiCaprio in the head, and then says, "What, you think you're the only person Nicholson had in the cops?"

Actually, it's just like that.

Stupid, yes?

The rest of the film hits its predictable marks, often with no concern about if it is credible or not. For example, while the death of Martin Sheen forces the plot along so that DiCaprio, now so deep undercover that know one knows who he is, and that is all fine, is overshadowed by the silly reveal of Matt Damon who keeps his incriminating evidence on his desk at work in the Police Station. And then there is DiCaprio running off, of course, because who is going to believe him in a station full of cops? Or Marky Mark's return at the end, because he disappeared after Sheen's death for no real reason, except to leave DiCaprio out in the cold. And I'm not even getting into the laughable use of mobile phones, but a special moment should be spared for DiCaprio who, while in the middle of a tense arms deal with shady Asian Gangs, leans around a column where no one can see him and sends a text message to the cops. Moments before, Damon, in a room full of cops watching the two gangs meets, reaches into the pocket of his pants and sends a message to Nicholson to warn him he's being watched. The cops around him do nothing. Maybe they thought he was jerking off. Who knows?

I don't know what it is, but Scorsese is losing everything that he had going for him. He no longer gets interesting performances out of his actors--Nicholson seems bored and Ray Winstone is just wasted and the highlight of the film is a foul mouthed, scene chewing Marky Mark--and all the energy that he displayed before is just wasted. I suspect that until Scorsese wins and Oscar and gets this whole acknowledged by the establishment thing he seems to have going out of his system, he's films aren't going to be watchable for a long time.

Comments

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benpeek
Nov. 30th, 2006 03:05 am (UTC)
you know, he is planning to make another film with leonardo...
(no subject) - ataxi - Nov. 30th, 2006 03:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - Nov. 30th, 2006 03:22 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - benpeek - Nov. 30th, 2006 09:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Nov. 30th, 2006 03:10 am (UTC)
Infernal Affairs is a Hong Kong film - not Japanese.

If you have a chance, try watching the original

A passerby
benpeek
Nov. 30th, 2006 03:21 am (UTC)
whoops. fixed.

THE DEPARTED has kinda soured me on watching the original, tho a lot of people say it's really fine. a lot of people say this about THE DEPARTED as well.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Nov. 30th, 2006 12:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - Nov. 30th, 2006 12:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
angriest
Nov. 30th, 2006 03:38 am (UTC)
The thing that irritates me in relation to Scorsese is the way that the entire industry is sitting on the edge of their seat, desperately waiting for him to make just one more Oscar-calibre movie so that they can finally give him the Best Director award he deserved for all those movies 20 years ago. It puts this remarkable critical pressure on his work that doesn't help anyone just watch or assess them as films, rather than as pre-emptively assumed (and thus ultimately disappointing) master works.

I watched this happen with Gangs of New York and The Aviator, both of which I found reasonably enjoyable movies but which the film critics and commentators would have you believe were simultaneously masterpieces and travesties.

They're just films!
benpeek
Nov. 30th, 2006 03:42 am (UTC)
you know, i don't know if i would ever think that the scorsese films were masterpieces. when they work for me, they're more character driven, little rough and tumble films filled with energy. these new ones feel like they're meant to be more--to be master pieces.
(no subject) - angriest - Nov. 30th, 2006 03:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - Nov. 30th, 2006 03:56 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - ataxi - Nov. 30th, 2006 03:49 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - angriest - Nov. 30th, 2006 05:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - Nov. 30th, 2006 08:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - angriest - Nov. 30th, 2006 08:31 am (UTC) - Expand
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paulhaines
Nov. 30th, 2006 04:55 am (UTC)
It does not surprise me you say this, mr peek, everyone seems to be loving this flick and heralding it as a return to form for the man.

Except you. Ha! Like what macca said on his blog.

I'm hanging out to see it though, but dunno when I can, because my daughter can't sit still for that long in a cinema resounding of gunfire. Damn it.

Now tell me you liked Borat, despite the hype!

benpeek
Nov. 30th, 2006 08:17 am (UTC)
heh. you know, i actually do wanna see borat. it looks funny--i'm not sure if it's fifteen bucks funny, tho, so i'm more interested in seeing children of men and the prestige. but i shall go see it and test myself for you, haines!
(no subject) - paulhaines - Nov. 30th, 2006 08:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - Nov. 30th, 2006 10:01 am (UTC) - Expand
tigersmeleth_86
Nov. 30th, 2006 06:14 am (UTC)
In Matt Damon's defense, the man is from Boston (and so am I for that matter), so his accent from my POV was fine. DiCaprio on the other hand....honestly...if you're gonna do a Boston accent, get someone from Boston as a coach, or don't do it at all!
benpeek
Nov. 30th, 2006 08:20 am (UTC)
really? shit. that accent just bugged the shit out of me all through the film. dicaprio didn't even register as really having one, much like everyone else int he film. but damon was soout of synch with everyone else it shat me :)
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - benpeek - Nov. 30th, 2006 10:00 am (UTC) - Expand
shadowsandice
Nov. 30th, 2006 08:45 am (UTC)
I didn't know it was a remake until there was so much plot similarity happening that I knew it couldn't not be a remake.

And yes, the original is better. And mildly more evil, too.

That rat at the end was a bit like Jet Li at the end of THE ONE, screaming "I am Udon Law! I am nobody's bitch! You are all my bitches!" Comical.
benpeek
Nov. 30th, 2006 09:59 am (UTC)
that's such a bad comparison. 'the end of THE DEPARTED reminded me of that shitty jet li film, THE ONE. you know, the one where he has multiple jet li's. yeah. that shit one.'

heh.
(no subject) - ninebelow - Nov. 30th, 2006 10:48 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - shadowsandice - Dec. 1st, 2006 08:55 am (UTC) - Expand
ninebelow
Nov. 30th, 2006 10:48 am (UTC)
I thought the actors all gave very good performances (though Winstone was wasted.) However, as you say, the film is flat and lifeless and surprisingly often Scorcese lapses into cliche. And yeah, the rat was like being hit in the face with a hammer.

I've not seen Infernal Affairs but my all accounts it is much better.
benpeek
Nov. 30th, 2006 11:32 am (UTC)
yeah, i've heard it's a lot better too. i'm just afraid if i see it, all i'll see is the taint of this film.
(Anonymous)
Nov. 30th, 2006 11:31 am (UTC)
Departed
I don't think Scorcese's done a movie worth a shit since mean streets. The most overrated director ever. Fuck, though, give him the Oscar. Barbra Streisand's got an Oscar, so does Julia freaking Roberts. Give him ten Oscars if it'll stop him making shitty movies.

Lucius
benpeek
Nov. 30th, 2006 11:34 am (UTC)
Re: Departed
i like the theory that he dies when he gets an oscar. i bet i could make a bit selling scorsese is dead t-shirts, too...
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