Every now and then I team up with one of you beautiful people to hash out a classic and call it a Double Take. We both write something about one of these highly regarded movies and see what each other has to say. We don’t talk about it behind the scenes or anything, I just do my thing and my co-worker does his or hers. If you ever wanted to sign up to do one of these with me, just let me know. You can see some of the other entries HERE. Without any further adoo-doo, let’s see what we’ve got!
Let’s see – how should I approach this…? If you know me, either personally or here on the site – you might remember that I don’t really like things that come with a lot of fanfare or pomp or circumstance and when people tell me that I “HAVE TO SEE THIS!!!!” or read something or wear it or listen to it or eat it, I will almost always go the other way. Take the 80s and those Brat Pack movies or the 90s (that’s right, the entire decade) or fucking goddamn Napoleon Dynamite or Survivor or Juno or Harry Potter or this or this and that and that – I am a man who likes to learn for himself what he likes and doesn’t.
So – “What’s that all about, Isaacs, you fucker? My time is precious.” You ask. Well – and this may get me some boos but – most of my life I’ve heard how good Martin Scorcese is and this and that and how fucking beautiful his shit is / was so it pushed me away and…… I had never seen a Scorcese film until this came out. No lies. Plus I was really down on DiCaprio, I wasn’t crazy about Whalberg and was iffy on Matt Damon. And then they throw in Martin Sheen who I have never liked so there was nothing going on for me with this thing.
But my friend Lem (not his real name, mind you) went and saw it – and I trust him – and he texted me afterwards, saying: “RUN DON’T WALK TO THE DEPARTED. YOU’LL LOVE IT. I MEAN IT”. That may not be totally verbatim or textbatim or (sic) since it’s been so long but, since I am always in the mood for Movie Nachos and a Hot Dog, I agreed, took a day off and my old friend and I went to see it at this movie theater that nobody went to (it was wonderful, no one around you, bothering you) that no longer exists (it’s now a small trade college). Skeptical and leery I sat down with my nachos, it started and the first twenty or so minutes –> BLEW US THE FUCK AWAY!!!
The other two hours were pretty fucking fantastic too and I’ve seen it a bunch of times over the years but, just having watched this for this Double Take, man… and jeez… this is a GOOD FUCKING MOVIE.
Oh and, by the way, since I watched this I have also, since, watched THE AVIATOR (which I LOVED), GANGS OF NEW YORK (which I thought was not-too-bad) and SHUTTER ISLAND (which I thought was kind of dumb). Looking at his IMDB profile, I have to now apologize for absently lying and tell you that I had seen something of his before this – the CAPE FEAR remake which was pretty fucking awesome too. Oh, and some BOARDWALK EMPIRE, which he has a hand in, but that series got kind of boring pretty quick.
So, yeah, this movie fucking rocks my lame ass. I’ve never been to the Boston area and really, kind of avoided movies like this – this isn’t my type of thing – but when the “Go fuck yourself”s started flying around all over the place I was all, “this is wonderful”. I mean, in one short scene, Alec Baldwin’s vice guys – who work in the same department with Sheen / Whalberg’s undercover guys, asks if Whalberg has any guys in Nicholson’s organization. The response from Whalberg? “Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe go fuck yourself”, and then he storms out of the room so Baldwin adds “Staff Sergeant Dignan is normally a really pleasant fellow” (or something).
And later – Damon and his man are at a doorstep questioning the mother of a suspect about something. The mom sees Nicholson drive by and finishes the interview with a “I don’t know nuthin! Go fuck yourself!!” And this is prevalent and adds to the enormous fun that’s found in THE DEPARTED. This is a wonderful movie that is amazingly violent and blood filled and totally in my top fifteen or top ten of favorite movies. And, if you haven’t seen this, this may not resonate with you but there’s a long running thing in my household from this, aside from the “Go Fuck Yourself” thing. Damon is interviewing an actor named David Patrick O’Hara who has one of the thickest accents I’ve ever heard. Damon says “Do you know who I am?” or something and O’Hara replies with a drawling, non English “Youuuu…. paaaaaged…. mehhhhh” It’s hilarious and wonderful
“Tell ya mutha ya won’t be home fa suppah.”
THE DEPARTED is wicked SMAHT.!
Now – let’s see what my main Scotsman and main Muckers has to say about this beauty!!
Despite Martin Scorsese directing consistently great films since the 1970’s, the well deserved Academy Award always eluded him. His nose was rubbed in shit after such classics as “Raging Bull” and “Goodfellas” but he finally got his hands on that long-awaited gong for this remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film “Infernal Affairs”.
For those in the dark, I’ll give a brief plot summary before quickly moving on…
After graduating from the Boston police academy, cadet Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is put undercover to infiltrate the city’s Irish-American gangland of violent and volatile mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). However, Costello has an ace up his sleeve in Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), another new recruit from the police department who climbs the ladder to lead a task force in bringing Costello down. It’s a front for Sullivan, of course, as his main aim is to leak information back to Costello.
After his Howard Hughes biopic “The Aviator” in 2004, and a few other period pieces like “Gangs of New York”, “Kundun” and “The Age of Innocence”, Scorsese makes a welcome return to what he does best – dealing with organised crime and corruption. Along with him, is a top-notch cast. Okay, I can understand Eric’s feelings on some of them – particularly Sheen and Damon. Personally, I’m not all that keen on Wahlberg but he really gets his shit on in this film. Don’t get wrong, he’s no better than anyone else but he happens to get the best lines with dialogue that’s tighter than two nuts in a ball sack.
As for the lead, DiCaprio is one I’ve always quite liked and his intensity and desperation here is confirmation why he’s replaced Robert DeNiro as the great auteurs actor of choice but ultimately, though, it’s Scorsese’s long-awaited collaboration with contemporary actor Jack Nicholson that’s the real draw. Needless to say, there’s no disappointment to be found; Nicholson looks like he’s been snorting Ketamine and adds real danger and unpredictability to an already complex film and the type of role that he has outdone himself with in the past. Here, he’s no different and it’s great to see him and Scorsese finally working together. It’s a solid ensemble overall but, ultimately, it’s Scorsese’s expertise in this genre that pays dividends. He constructs the cat and mouse, race-against-time, structure with the deftness of a master and adds a real density to, not just time and place, but to the multi-layered character’s while assuredly building at a pace that’s entirely on his own terms. This, in turn, lends to numerous moments of well played tension while maintaining an investment in everyone involved. The story is fucking labyrinthine, to say the least, and some plot developments may creak under the immense weight but it’s so well delivered that it doesn’t matter. This is arguably Scorsese at his most entertaining since Billy Batts’ head-stomping in “Goodfellas”.
I’m not normally an advocate for remakes but the when the quality behind, and in front of, the camera are this good, how can I really complain? This is one of the most enjoyable and accessible films in Scorsese’s canon – the only thing missing is Bobby DeNiro, but then he has an electric, crazier than a shit house rat, Jack Nicholson to make up for that.