Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, February 19, 2007

The Departed: Top notch thriller or a collection of Martin Scorsese's Greatest Hits?

I watched The Departed on DVD this weekend and had such a good time that my only regret was not seeing this movie on the big screen. Since it's a big Oscar contender this year,with five noms under it's belt,I was hoping to see if I could gauge it's chances of winning better after seeing it.

However,I also read EW's Oscar prediction issue as well and one of the features has voter insider buzz(given anonymously by folks in the biz),which doesn't bode well for The Departed. One of the participants called TD"a tv movie with a great cast" and another said it was"s Scorsese leftovers taken out of the refrigerator and put into the microwave.''

Pretty harsh there,guys. You could say that's just their opinion and what does it matter but I suspect that they're not the only Oscar voters with that mindset. Let's examine The Departed thru glimpses at Scorsese's other films and see if any of their arguments have merit.

Sidekicks: Many of the best known Scorese films have memorable supporting roles,such as Cathy Moriaty's Vicki LaMotta in Raging Bull(which landed her a Best Supporting actress nom),Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs of New York as Bill The Butcher or even Robert DeNiro in Mean Streets. Mark Walhberg is up for Best Supporting Actor in The Departed and while he does a great job,I don't know why he was selected. Especially over Jack Nicholson,who plays his part low-key(for Nicholson,that is)in the same movie. Not to mention that Wahlberg's barely onscreen for most of the film.

Nothing against Marky Mark but a supporting role in a Scorsese flick is a pretty sweet deal for any actor looking to strut their stuff. Joe Pesci made his movie bones in films like Goodfellas and is a prime example of this:

The Beatdown: Any good Scorsese film has a couple of really memorable beatdown scenes(even Age of Innocence,only it's done without phyiscal bloodshed)that make you stop and watch the movie if it's on TV,even if it's only for five minutes. The Departed does have a few,with DiCaprio taking on a couple of guys shaking down a convience store owner,which had me going "whoa!":

Not bad,but let's look a few other classic Scorsese smackdowns,like this one from Casino,where Joe Pesci settles a dispute over a pen:

The opening scene from Gangs of New York,which sets the tone of the film nicely:

And no discussion of Scorsese fight scenes would be complete without a look at Raging Bull,which sets the standard for all others to follow:

The Love Interest

Some would say that men get the best roles in a Scorsese film but let's not count the ladies out just yet. From the previously mentioned Cathy Moriaty to a pre-Sopranos Lorraine Bracco in Goodfellas down to Sharon Stone's memorable turn in Casino,strong women have not been sight unseen. Vera Farmiga joins their ranks as Madolyn,a shrink who winds up romancing both men who mirror each other in more ways than one. She does a nice job of it:

One of my favorite Scorsese films has the toughest gals in it,The Age of Innocence. Winona Ryder recieved a Best Supporting Actress nom that year for her role as May Welland(one of her top performances as an actress on film,in my opinion)and Michelle Pfieffer really should've been nominated as well for her work in AOI. You may think this is some artsy PBS version of a Lifetime channel movie but you would be seriously mistaken. This story has more cutthroats than any pirate movie with or without Johnny Depp:

So,is The Departed a retread or what? While it is loosely based on the Hong Kong film"Infernal Affairs" and does take a page or two from the usual Scorsese film playbook,this is a film that can stand firmly on it's own two feet. It's well worth the watching and should hopefully get Marty that Best Director Oscar that's been long overdue to him. I don't think it'll get Best Picture but it does deserve to be right up there with the rest of the usual suspects for 2006.


Pop Culture Diva said...

I got The Departed through Netflix but haven't watched it yet. I'm waiting for J but can't wait. Thanks for the heads up.

lady t said...

You're welcome-enjoy:)