Sunday, May 23, 2010

You know what's a good movie? (Part 5) The Departed

Part 1: Forrest Gump

Connection: Tom Hanks

Part 2: Toy Story

Connection: Pixar

Part 3: The Incredibles

Connection: Superhero Films

Part 4: Batman (1989)

Connection: Jack Nicholson

Part 5: The Departed

The Departed is about two Massachusetts State Police troopers; one played by Matt Damon, the other by Leonardo DiCaprio. Two troopers, two very different paths. I'm sorry, but we don't talk plot on AtD, it's more about opinion... for plot, WATCH THE MOVIE!

Let's start with Matt Damon. Damon has to play possibly the most difficult role in the film. He has to play it cool as a State Trooper, so he doesn't get caught tipping off Jack Nicholson and his thugs. But he also has a dark side; staying loyal to Jack Nicholson. Playing on both sides of the fence AND keeping a relationship going with a State Trooper therapist (Vera Farmiga) proves to be very difficult for Damon. Spectacular acting.

Leonardo DiCaprio has a similar role, but it's not quite so difficult. DiCaprio does a great job portraying someone who is tormented by the job he has taken on. He can't tell anyone who he is, he has to try and find the mole in the State Troopers (Damon) and he's falling for his therapist (Farmiga). It's a great performance, but again, Damon's is more difficult.


And then there's good old Jack Nicholson. The mob boss who NO ONE messes with. He loves Damon like a son, and uses him for his own benefit. As an audience we all think Nicholson is avoiding jail because of Damon helping him; well there's a lot more to the story. I've read that the part was originally written for Robert De Niro, but he had to pull out because of The Good Shepherd, a film he directed also starring Damon. Nicholson is ok in this movie. You see, no matter what Nicholson does, it feels like he's over-acting. I don't know how else to explain it, but I do like him in this film. He demands attention, takes over every scene he's in, and is very charismatic every time there's a run-in with the law.

Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin give amazing performances in supporting character roles. Wahlberg is the only actor from the movie to be nominated for an Academy Award that year. He has some great one-liners that will either get you to love him or want to hit him right square in the eye. Great movies seem to always have great supporting casts.

Then there's the man that has to tie this tangled web of story together. Don't get me wrong, the movie is easy to follow, but that's only because of Martin Scorsese. Any other director would have lost the audience. There is a lot of double-crossing, deception, lies, cheating, cover-ups, etc. that could lose even the most sophisticated of movie fans. But Scorsese finds a way to make it flow very nicely, very simply. He was rewarded with his FIRST Oscar for Best Director on his 8th nomination. The movie also won Best Picture of the year. The Departed is a smart, very well executed thriller, that deserved the recognition it received in 2006. Thanks to a legendary director, and an excellent cast who gave spectacular performances.

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