Sunday, 3 February 2008

The Departed

Okay! Tentatively, I'm going to try writing on here again. This is largely because I'm well into what is known, with an appropriate yet chilling sense of finality, as the 'writing up time', and I need to keep in practice. Furthermore, it's early on a freezing Sunday morning, when I always get up at an ungodly hour to go and play football so there's nobody to talk to.

Looking out of the window of my flat into one of the houses opposite, I can see an extremely small cat, coloured like a Frisian cow, pawing a Beware of the Dog sign. Poetic justice, perhaps. It's significantly more endearing than the couple a few doors down who don't see the need to close the shutter in the bathroom whenever, erm, 'bodily functions' need attending to. I can't make up my mind as to whether or not they're extremely absent-minded or just particularly sadistic exhibitionist perverts.

Okay, I'm leading the witnesses. I just couldn't work out how to get from the delightful view out of my window to The Departed, which I watched last night, without going down the 'they're perverts, and so is Jack Nicholson's character in The Departed' route, which would have been rather cheap. Kwik Save continuity, if you will. Instead, therefore, you've got the 'disingenuous male twenty-something blogger' (cf. ironic sweeping pan shot) approach.

The Departed is heavy on non-ironic sweeping pan shots of Boston, a city which has always exerted a strange fascination over me: largely, I think, because it's a six point Gamma World City named after a small cabbage farm in south Lincs. Now I don't want to get too Soccer Am about it, but I was enjoying the thought of this remake of 2002 Hong Kong flick Infernal Affairs being plotted around corruption and quasi-existentialist tensions in the Boston (Lincs) 'PD'. Matt Damon (who plays the mob's 'man on the inside') could sit and stare moodily out of his window at the Boston Stump, and Jack Nicholson's crime boss could be reconfigured as a Yellowbelly gangmaster.

More seriously, this is Scorsese doing what he does best (except with the added benefit of a clearly expensively-assembled ensemble cast). Nicholson is, as usual, excellent, and I can't help but feel that he should stick to the demented evil-guy roles rather than doing bumbling Victor Meldrew impressions like in Anger Management or As Good as it Gets. Scorsese's humanisation of mobsters is achieved in this case through Nicholson's character being (as I understand it) a sex addict with a secretly-harboured desire for a true son and heir. The perplexingly similar-looking Damon and DiCaprio- who plays Damon's counterpart as the cop inside the mob- both seem to occupy the filial role to Nicholson at times, when DiCaprio isn't being taught all about sacrifice and redemption by Martin Sheen's police captain.

As the above paragraph might indicate, the film is perhaps indicative of how Scorsese doesn't need Paul Schrader to make films that are ever-so-slightly overwrought on the 'morals and masculinity' front. Nevertheless, the taut, suspenseful plotting at least compensates for this, and the action (well, the violence) is done tremendously on both sides of the camera. Ray Winstone, of all people, gets the 'Joe Pesci' role (I'm not sure Scorsese thought we'd believe Pesci as an Irish-American) and does a terrifying job. Balancing up the unstable psychopath quotient on the side of the cops is none other than Marky Mark, who actually gets to have the last laugh for a change.

Okay, that's my dilettante's go at film reviewing. Time for some football.

Joe x

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