Bob and Justin's Mad Movie Blog

My name is Bob. My friend Justin and I are aspiring filmmakers and we have pretty similar tastes in movies. This will include our take on what's going on in film and television today as well as updating you on the status of our own work.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Departed

For most people, event movies are the ones with the words "Pirates," or "Spider-Man," or "of the" in the title. And while I enjoy a lot of those movies, for me, event movies are the ones from the Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson, Clint Eastwood, etc. Directors who put a distinct stamp on whatever it is they do. And few words stir up more excitement in me than "A Martin Scorsese Picture."
Much is made of the violence, brutality, religious imagery, and use of the Rolling Stones (particularly "Gimme Shelter") in the vast majority of his films. My favorite actually includes very little of any of those, and is perhaps his most understated (and certainly his funniest), 1983's "The King of Comedy." But I sure do enjoy the ones he's known for: "Mean Streets," "Taxi Driver," "Raging Bull," "Goodfellas," "Casino." With "The Departed" he returns to the subject matter he knows so well, and the result is one of the best films of 2006.
Boston mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) took young Colin Sullivan under his wing "some years ago," and today Colin (Matt Damon) has been given his badge and gun. Working as a mole inside the Special Investigations Unit, Colin keeps Costello informed and out of the grip of the Boston police. Meanwhile William Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is working undercover, becoming a key member of Costello's gang. Only Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) and Captain Queenan (Martin Sheen) know William is a cop. Soon, both Sullivan and Costigan are involved with psychologist Madolyn (Vera Farmiga). From here, the less you know about the details the better. It's a film full of real surprises and it's riveting from start to finish.
William Monahan's ("Kingdom of Heaven"-watch the director's cut, it's much better) script is terrific. While the movie is a re-make of 2002's Hong Kong film "Infernal Affairs" (which I haven't yet seen) he places "The Departed" and its characters very firmly in Boston. You can't imagine the film taking place anywhere else. His dialogue is outstanding as well. You believe every word that comes out of these characters mouths.
Acting wise, it doesn't get much better than this. Any doubts we had about DiCaprio were washed away by "Catch Me If You Can" and "The Aviator" (which he should have won the Oscar for), and he's perfect here. His Costigan is terrified but his "hand never shakes" even in the most frightening situations. Sullivan is of course conflicted, and Damon does a great job of keeping his character on edge, about to burst on the surface. This may be his best work yet. Nicholson is Nicholson, but he reigns himself in enough that we're often surprised by where he goes. He's descending into madness and Costigan and Sullivan both know it. Early on, after Costello executes a young woman he laughs and remarks curiously, "She fell funny." Nicholson makes Costello funny but genuinely menacing. Wahlberg steals every scene he's in. His Dignam is the film's most honest character. He speaks his mind and wants everyone to know exactly where they stand with him. Most don't stand well. There's also great supporting work from Sheen, Alec Baldwin, and especially Ray Winstone ("Sexy Beast," "The Proposition") as Costello's right hand man, Mr. French.
From top to bottom, "The Departed" is Scorsese all the way. Don't miss this one. 9/10

More Bob Event Movies in two weeks: "The Prestige" (Christopher Nolan), "Marie Antoinette" (Sofia Coppola), and "Flags of Our Fathers" (Eastwood) on the 20th. I declare a Bob National Holiday.


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