September 20, 2006
More "Departed" dishing...

I can't get this thing out of my mind. It's interesting that I love this film so much, and still recognize the visible stitches that keep it around the fourth or fifth best film of the year in my current perspective, rather than the second or third. "The Last King of Scotland" is a better film, for instance, and as much as I love Kevin Macdonald's work, given a choice of the year's cinematic output so far, "The Departed" will be the film I will watch over and over and over and over again.

And "Scorsese's best since 'Goodfellas'" will be the ubiquitous pull-quote on this film throughout the fall. However, what many will fail to comment on amongst the jubilation of the director's return to form is the fact that "The Departed" is Scorsese's most violent, darkest immersion in 30 years. It is his most cynical and blood-letting effort since "Taxi Driver," and that's a story unto itself. It would be like Francis Coppola coughing up something approaching the epic, sinister majesty of "The Godfather" today, or if Woody Allen crafted something approaching the intellect and sophistication of "Annie Hall." Better yet, imagine William Friedkin turning genre on its ear again as he did with "The French Connection," or Sidney Lumet knocking something out of the park with the consistency of "Dog Day Afternoon" and "Network." That's the kind of return to form we're talking about here.

Also, this isn't just the ravings of someone who has been fed up with what Scorsese has had to offer the last 16 years. You're talking to a guy who considered "Gangs of New York" and "The Aviator" to be top ten qualifiers in 2002 and 2004 respectively. And I LOVE 1999's "Bringing Out the Dead." I can't get on the buses for "The Age of Innocence" or "Kundun," but I certainly haven't been aching for quality Marty for nearly two decades.

Oscar talk is what it is - a bunch of hype that means nothing until people start seeing the film and talking about it. A lot of viewers out there think maybe this will give the Academy reason to finally hand Marty an Oscar for Best Director. That is so doubtful that I remain happy to expect nothing of this film's award prospects, because "The Departed" is the kind of movie that finds a place in history despite a lack of prestigious rememberance. Can William Monahan grab a win for his stunning screenplay? There are those who think a case is there. I am not one of them. Can Leonardo DiCaprio snag a nomination for what is perhaps his best performance to date? Another turn in Ed Zwick's "Blood Diamond" can help matters, but again, I doubt it. And that simply doesn't bother me in the least.

The reaction to the film so far is overwhelmingly positive, so much so that the praise might become boring by the time the film releases in a few weeks. Jeff Wells is on board. David Poland is so giddy he can't stop writing about it. And you're currently reading my third posting on the film in less than 24 hours. People are going to want to talk about this film, and people are going to want to leave analysis out of the picture. Wells mentions four times in his review that the film doesn't have thematic resilience, but that it doesn't have to have as much. I don't think the matter even needs to be qualified, because "The Departed" is just too damn good on its own terms to be judged on any other terms.

I'm unravelling again and running out of gas, but I'm sure something will spark my mind where this flick is concerned and I'll find myself writing about it yet again. I can't wait to take it in again next week, and I'll likely buy ticket after ticket when it releases. I can't stop telling people how much ass it kicks and how much they should see it. My 50 year old mother who isn't exactly into blood and violence? I still couldn't refrain from telling her to see it. It's a movie I want EVERYONE to see, because it's just "one of those." One of those films that commands a place as a definitive example of an auteur's talent.

And I'm so happy Jack waited over 30 years to finally partner up with Marty on a project, because the resulting performance is epic and so much more than "Jack doing his thing." If "his thing" is being brilliant and carrying across a character like no other actor alive or dead could dream of accomplishing, then yeah, it's "Jack doing his thing."



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