Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Let the race begin...with The Departed

Sorry for the delay - Monday is my day and I was in Pittsburgh with my 92 year old grandmother. I had not anticipated the little love affair that would bloom between Oma and my 9 month old son whose name she never remembers - but it happened and that combined with a wind storm convinced me to stay an extra day. Mick was a delirious flirt for two days and lit up like a sparkler every time he caught sight of her - how could I break them up?

Anyway - it gave me some extra time to think about this...my favorite time of year. Recognizable not so much by the turning of the leaves or the cool nights. But by the appearance of Kate Winslet, Sean Penn and Clint Eastwood films at the movie theater. Yep - it's Oscar race time.

Pretentious and overreaching and exciting all at the same time. Now - Maureen is really the reigning film fan - and my standards have taken a serious blow (Sinead's standards have taken a hit since admitting she owns the Chronicles of Riddick - still can't get over that) with lack of sleep. (We rented Benchwarmers the other night and I howled until I cried at the various ways Jon Heder could hit himself in the balls with a baseball bat) but I adore the Oscar race. All that earnest over-acting (sorry Sean Penn) gets me pretty revved up.

Last week we went to go see The Departed - the new Martin Scorsese film. While not a huge fan of Scorsese I can appreciate what he's done for modern movie-making (the man deserves an Oscar alone for bringing us DeNiro) and there's a pretty good chance that he'll get an Oscar for this movie. Most people will say it's sort of an honorary Oscar -- like Denzel Washington's for Training Day (when he deserved it for The Hurricane) but I gotta say -- The Departed deserves it on it's own merits. It is a hell of a movie.

I think leaving behind New York and his usual cast revitalized him. And the cast he assembled for this film is brilliant. He found the right guys - and it's not just about getting the right South Boston accent -- it's about finding the actors that can portray men that live on that line between good and bad and have no qualms about going one way or another whatever the situation dictates. Mark Whalberg might very well have been playing some kind of version of himself but I have never seen such authentic non-acting. And Jack -- just when you thought the guy was going to keep phoning in performances he pulls this monster out. He's terrifying and electric. DiCaprio should finally get that nomination he's been so pissed about. And he looks really good in jeans. Really good.

Scorsese knows how to put together a cast and a soundtrack -- both are amazing.

What I really love is how the characters are what they are. The motivations are simple and they permeate every single action -- as they should be. He doesn't spend a lot of time showing us why or how (although he does a bit with Matt Damon) these men just explode on the screen - same as the one female role -- all of her motivation summed up by DiCaprio saying "you're the kid of an alcoholic." And the action just unfolds -- nice and slow no manipulation, no flashbacks - every character reveals himself, further creates the tone and mood and then pushes the action ever forward which starts slow and then beings a horrible gut wrenching wind up that is unrelenting. My heart rate was elevated to an uncomfortable level for the last half of the film.

There's a lot of violence -- poetic and raw in the Scorsese style. Some amazing camera tricks (Mark Whalberg in the briefing with Alec Baldwin in front of the task force -- WOW!) And Scorsese will be nominated and so far -- I think he should win. Sorry, Clint.


Maureen McGowan said...

I loved the Departed, too. Matt Damon makes one compelling and charming bad guy. Who knew? (although I have to admit I thought he was pretty good as Tom Ripley)

I may see more films than you do, Molly, but you're the better critic. I usually can't justify why I did or didn't like a film as well as you can. Great review! Maybe I'll do a review this week, too...

Maureen McGowan said...

Hey, and didn't Di Caprio win as Oscar for Gilbert Grape? or was that just a Golden Globe? but I guess he hasn't got a "grown up" one.

Anonymous said...

Damn it. I still haven't seen it and I must really soon.
This weekend for sure.

I'm trying not to pay attention to any of the raves I've heard, so I don't get my expectations too high.

And hey, don't knock Chronicles of Riddick, until you appreciate the great Sci Fi flick, Pitch Black.

Unknown said...

I haven't seen The Departed yet, but my husband raved about it for weeks. I need to try and sneak out of the theatre.

And I'll back you up on Riddick, Sinead! Pitch Black is a creepy, totally under rated sci fi/thriller/horror movie.

Molly O'Keefe said...

Damon was totally nuanced -- there were scenes where you could actually see his ulcers eating away at him. I just really loved how no one was good -- even Martin Sheen with his whole "i need you to do this for me" stuff was totally manipulative and evil. ANd Alec Bladwin was just this side of lunatic -- it was really amazing. And with a soundtrack that include Van Morrison singing Comfortably Numb...well...

Sinead -- I will borrow Pitch Black. You have been right on many things - opened my eyes to great television and film delights -- but I think I gotta draw the line at Riddick. Don't I? Maureen?

Maureen McGowan said...

I'm tempted to back you up on the Riddick thing, Molly... But I haven't seen either movie and Sinead did turn me on to the Alien movies and Firefly. I was a huge Vin Diesel fan after I first saw him in Boiler Room, but he's mostly disappointed me since then. The Pacifier? Are you kidding me?

Anonymous said...

Pitch Black is the ultimate Vin movie, although I saw it before he became huge, so he was a definite surprise.

I understand Molly's POV on Chronicles, my tastes are often left of center.

But Molly, your Dexter recommendation. Pure gold. LOVE that show.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the back up, Christine.

Saw that movie without hearing much about it, and loved it.

Great cast too. It had Vin, Radha Mitchell and Cole Hauser.

The movie did a particularly nice job of reversing your expectations about the characters.

Molly O'Keefe said...

OH I like Cole Hauser -- you know why? Because of Good WIll Hunting!

DEXTER!!! You watched it this weekend? How amazing is that character? Can't wait to talk about that show!!!

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