Dearly Departed

I can’t believe I finally got out to see The Departed, and it was worth the wait!

Now, I do not belong to the Cult of Scorsese. I think he is a good director, but I don’t buy into any of the “best filmmaker”, “genius”, “artiste”, etc etc etc hype that gets heaped onto his head. I hate Taxi Driver. I hate Mean Streets. And I nearly committed suicide during The Age of Innocence. So I’m not just praising The Departed because I think I have to ’cause it’s Scorsese, ok?

But I will say that Departed is my new favorite Scorsese film. (The previous title holder was Last Temptation of Christ.) Maybe it’s better than his usual fare because it’s a remake of a Hong Kong action flick. But it’s still marked with the stamp of Marty…the high bodycount…the almost comical amount of cussing. In this one Scorsese manages to keep the narrative humming along at a tight pace. The suspense is played out masterfully. It’s a taut, muscular story..not a lot of wasted time or slow moments…but the characters develop pretty well in spite of this. Maybe thanks to the really great cast.

Matt Damon is superb in The Departed; I have more respect for him all the time. Leo is good, overacts a lot, but since most of his scenes are played with Nicholson, who can tell? The supporting players are all gems. Martin Sheen…check. The always good Ray Winstone…check. (In fact, after having some time to muse upon it, I am really pissed off that a good, solid, reliable actor like Ray Winstone should have to play Jack Nicholson’s flunky for 2.5 hours!! Bullshit! He should have been playing Nicholson’s part! Then the movie would have been perfect. Nicholson isn’t fit to tie Ray’s shoes.) Marky Marky Wahlberg is even great, though his part is limited to almost all swearing. And THEN, I was so delighted (and amused) to discover that the awesome Kevin Corrigan had a bit part! For them that don’t know, Kevin played Donal’s brother on Grounded for Life, and ran off with the show half the time! I love Kevin! AND…the big female love-interest part is played by a former cast member of ROAR. I cracked up when I saw her. Yes, a former scantily-clad, midriff-baring Irish archer is now appearing alongside a cast member of Grounded for Life in a Martin Scorsese Picture. What is the world coming to? Next thing you know, they’ll be casting Heath Ledger in big, serious movies. Oh…wait…

Which brings us to the only real flaw in The Departed. Jack fucking Nicholson. How I loathe him. It’s been 40 years, can we as the movie-watching public please finally admit that the Emperor has no clothes? This man sucks. I don’t know if he CAN act because he DOESN’T act. EVER. He shows up, and he acts like Jack fucking Nicholson. And people think it’s cool. But it isn’t.

I have no problem with movie stars who have a ‘persona’ and just get by on that. Hell, The Golden Age of Hollywood was founded upon the notion. Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Bogart…always playing the same guy. The difference is that THEY (rightfully so) didn’t didn’t hailed as brilliant, genius actors! Jack does. WHY?? And THEIR screen personas were charming, sexy, whatever. Nicholson’s persona doesn’t have a single redeeming quality. He shows up, acts like a smug arrogant asshole, and film critics line up ’round the block to kiss his ass for it. WHY??! Stop the insanity already and stop giving that dickwipe work!!

Ahem. So I suppose the true measure of how good The Departed is, is that it’s so good that Nicholson’s presence didn’t ruin it for me. At least his sleaze bucket character matches his persona well. I’ve rarely been so happy to watch a movie character die. And if he didn’t ruin it for me, he probably won’t ruin it for you, the people who don’t have a violent anti-Jack jihad going on.

So see The Departed. It’s a violent, well-acted movie about soulless people, identity, corruption, and mirror images. It’s a maze of a movie, and very enjoyable to get lost in for 2.5 hours. Good job, Marty!

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