Saturday, October 21, 2006

how a very unfortunate streak should probably end this year

"the departed"
starring matt damon, leonardo dicaprio, jack nicholson, mark walhberg, alec baldwin and vera farmiga
written by william monahan
directed by martin scorcese
viewed at amc 1000 van ness, san francisco, ca

in any article written about martin scorcese, you'll read how he's the victim of the injustice of never winning an academy award. and yes, it's not right that he hasn't won one, but it's not an injustice. he's just barely lost out to better films.

anyways, although it's still october, i highly doubt i'll see a better movie this year than "the departed". and since directing nods usually go the way of whoever wins best picture, then he probably should get the speech ready.

i haven't seen "infernal affairs", which is the original chinese movie, but i can't imagine how much better that could be than this - if it is at all. it's just a tense, taut, highly stylized, well crafted, well acted, well written and masterfully directed film that doesn't relent from the first minute to the last. i mean, it's completely exhausting. and you're one step ahead of them, and then one step behind. you're completely involved, and then taken aback. all this, with suspense and humor.

as for the acting, matt damon is quickly becoming one of our finest actors. dicaprio is physically miscast in these roles, but he's a really good actor. nicholson is nicholson. baldwin and wahlberg do their best to steal the movie, and they're hilarious in doing so. and vera farmiga made a whole audience fall in love with her.

but the star here is scorcese, who made a "goodfellas" movie that's nothing like it. i mean. "goodfellas" is great, but because it's been ripped off over and over again (even by scorcese with "casino"), it's become a cliche. mafia guys in neighborhood. voiceovers talking about what they're thinking. soundtrack featuring doo-wop songs from the 50s and pertinent rock songs to frame the passage of time. and the same actors playing the same roles, but with different names. the whole thing is tired.

but scorcese just changed all that. the editing is fast paced. the music is there to set a mood. the sound design keeps your nerves on edge. and the story is told through actions and not through voiceovers. it's a tremendous achievement of storytelling by an american master.

can i say any more about this film?

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