Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Departed

Long after the movie is over, I keep hearing Jack Nicholson. "In this country, we don't come to a business meeting with automatic weapons, because in this country that don't add inches to your dick. It gets you in jail," he tells Chinese businessmen trying to buy stolen microprocessors from him. Jack is playing Frank Costello, a mafia head based in Boston. But he is really playing himself or the screen persona that he has developed over the years. Not even Martin Scorcese, who has finally made a movie that audiences and critics alike have come to expect of him, can rein Jack in. Sometimes the swagger in Jack's tone is delicious, but in a couple of scenes it does grate a bit. Especially when he and Capiro are discussing the rat in their gang.

Scorcese has based his movie on the script of Infernal Affairs, a wildly popular Hong Kong film. Which is to say that screenwriter William Monohan has said that he didn't see the original, instead choosing to just write his script based on the script of Infernal Affairs. Jack gets the best of Monohan's lines; some of them will no doubt go on to become as famous as Travis's (Robert De Niro) monologues in Taxi Driver.
The story revolves around Bill Costigan and Collin Sullivan played by Leonardo Di Capiro and Matt Damon. Collin is groomed from his early teens by Costello and he becomes the gang's man inside the Boston police department. Costigan, who uncle is a don, wants to join the police department but is forced to go undercover within the Costello gang.

Scorcese, much more that Coppola, is the granddaddy of mafia movies. Much like Casino, The Departed is not romantic. There is no glorification of violence. Rather, the end that most characters meet in the movie is a sort of moral lecture Scorcese is making; For instance, violence begets violence. But it is incredibly interesting anyway and so you tend to watch.

I haven't yet taken a good look at the Oscar nominations, but a friend told me that Jack has been nominated for the umpteenth time. Just a few years ago he was up there getting the Oscar for As Good As It Gets. Hope he is not back again this time, because terrific as he is, this is not his best performance in recent years.

Hope you guys have interesting comments to make. I am looking forward to a slow, deliberate discussion over a really erratic and frustatingly slow connection at the yoga camp. I could not really rewrite the review like the way I want to. So sorry for being sketchy.