Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Departed

Fans Buzzing Over Chance of Spielberg, Coppola and Lucas Giving Scorsese Overdue Oscar by Jeffrey Jolson.


We'll see tonight, huh?

If Scorsese wins tonight, and I suspect he will, it will be for the most poorly directed movie of his long, illustrious career.

Mind you, things like this happen with some regularity. John Wayne won an acting award for a moderate performance in a pretty bad movie. Al Pacino won his undeniably belated Oscar for the worst performance he ever gave.

As best I can assess - and I admit I've been remarkably uninterested in the Oscar nominees in recent years, especially this year, so I've not seen many - there's no director who will be robbed like Denzel Washington was as an actor for Malcolm X.

However, The Departed represents an incredibly lazy nadir in Scorsese's oeuvre. Most of the cast is specifically cast to type and their performances reflect that same lack of interest. The exception, in terms of casting and performances, is Leonardo DiCaprio, who I think gives a magnificent and compelling performance. If you want to challenge this, just look at Goodfellas, in which almost no one was cast to type, if you look at their previous work, and they all gave such amazing and dynamic performances that, in many cases, they were typed by that movie.

DiCaprio still excepted, as well as the nice touch of having everyone speak in Boston accents, everything good in The Departed is better in Infernal Affairs, a much more dynamic, tense and believable movie. In his review, Elvis Mitchell complains about the title, although I still think it says something more about this story than "The Departed" does, although, I suppose, the remake's title does somewhat represent one of the major changes.

The original film seems to be called "Continuous Hell" in Cantonese, which represents its content incredibly well, but represents a concept sadly, and confusingly, absent from Scorsese's remake. Certainly the concept of "continuous hell" is a major part of what makes Infernal Affairs thought provoking and meaningful in a way that I don't think The Departed is.

Honestly, if you haven't seen it. Sit down with Goodfellas and Infernal Affairs and imagine the remake that could have been. I expect it'll be better than the one that is.

Myself, I'm not taking any of it seriously, I'll be watching the Oscars at the "Funniest Oscar Party Ever!" with The People's Republik of Komedy and merely hoping that they give the Ennio Morricone segment a chance to speak for itself, so I don't have to go search for it on YouTube in the upcoming week.


Jeffrey said...

You forgot to add Paul Newman for "Color of Money" instead of "The Verdict" or maybe "Hud." When its your year, it doesn't matter what the film is. At some point the Academy stops thinking its cute and indicative of exclusivity that someone of major importance has never received an Oscar. At some point it becomes an embarassment, a reflection of their ability to gauge what makes an endellible impact on the film world, like Scorsese's "Raging Bull."
BTW, I'm the author on the orginal story, and I'm glad you brought this all up. We get a little pressed for time during the Oscarcast and can't get everything in.

Neil said...

Thank you for your comment.

The distinction I would personally draw between Wayne and Pacino (and others we're both neglecting) and Newman, for me, is that I think Newman is very good in The Color of Money and that it's overall a good movie. It's a small distinction, but a worthy one for me.

That said, because of the lack of a directorial equivilant of Denzel Washington, I simply can't be unhappy that Scorsese got this overdue award, for all the reasons you stated.

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