Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Truly Infernal Affair

So I saw "The Departed" yesterday, with Riro, and I have to say I was kind of disappointed. The crazy thing is that until the last five minutes, I was loving the movie: the pace, the electricity, the inventiveness, the dialogue is all vintage Scorcese. As far as the characters are concerned, Leonardo DiCaprio was sensational as usual, but the real scene stealers were Mark Wahlberg and Alec Baldwin. They were simply terrific. Matt Damon was tepid and as for Jack Nicholson, his problem is the same as Al Pacino: they bring too much baggage to any role they play and find it hard to convince you they're anyone but the same character they've been playing for the past ten years.

Anyways, for those who don't know, "The Departed" is a remake of a terrific Hong Kong movie called "Infernal Affairs" starring Andy Lau and the superb Tony Leung. Scorcese adapted the movie...and then decided to change the ending! Not only was the string of violence that capped this 2+ hour feature, was clear that the ending had been changed so the bad guys don't appear to win (trying not to give too much away here).

"Infernal Affairs" rightly let the bad guy escape as an indictment of the corruption and moral ambiguity of the "good guys" whom we elect and rely on to serve and protect us, but it seems that Scorcese (or maybe the studio and their focus groups decided, who knows) that that kind of ending wouldn't work for an American audience who seem to need to be rewarded for their self-rightousness by clearly seeing vengeance meted out on those who would transgress.

It's classic Hollywood playing down to the lowest common denominator, or maybe it's to the current political climate. Whichever it is, it's a copout and Scorcese should be ASHAMED of himself for ruining a perfectly good story. I'm truly disgusted. One of the all time greats compromising himself in that way. The day that the film industry starts catering to the great unwashed masses, instead of showing them art and shineing a light to lead them, that's when you know a country is in cultural decline. I'm bitterly, bitterly disappointed.

Ok, maybe not bitterly, but bummed out all the same.


Blogger jokerman said...

I am worried when you say di caprio was sensational as usual, that i truly find scary.
As for Jack & pacino, they do display some undying characteristics, like pacinos gaze & his tone of voice when he starts to yell a bit, jack has his eyebrow thing & gritting teeth, & its been going on for longer than ten years. see jack in Batman as the joker, when was that, 1988?
Quite a number of Hollywood films turn out to be remakes. After it was french films, they started on spanish/latin cinema in recent years. Ofcourse they americanise the story, but thats for artistic adaptation.

7:10 AM  
Blogger Basil Fawlty said...

J-man: Leonardo is a terrific and very underrated actor. What's eating Gilbert Grape and Catch me if you can alone prove that. His achilles heel is his 'perpetually 14-year old' face.

I agree with you about all the rest.

11:05 AM  
Blogger Carmen said...

They filmed "The Basketball Diaries" at my high school years ago and I met him when DiCaprio was just starting out. Of course back then I had no idea who he was.

I agree that the ending was a bit too much and Wahlberg was GREAT. I curse the fact that he wasn't in enough scenes.

8:06 PM  

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