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PCR # 341  (Vol. 7, No. 40)  This edition is for the week of October 2--8, 2006.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"The Departed"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Four stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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Excuses, Excuses....Funny Book Movies....My Favorite Films, Part 40: "The Breakfast Club"  by Mike Smith
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Warner Brothers     
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Rated: R
Running Time: 2 hours 29 mins

I must admit that over the years I've never kept my admiration for director Martin Scorsese hidden. Twice in my annual Oscar choices I've given him my vote, only to see another director walk away with the prize. In the past, he has lost to very talented directors in their own right (Robert Redford, Oliver Stone, Roman Polanski, Clint Eastwood). He has also lost to Kevin Costner. Here's hoping that "The Departed" gives him his sixth opportunity.

Boston. Home of beans. Aerosmith. The Cars. And the Irish mafia. Run with an iron hand and a sly sense of humor by Frank Costello (Nicholson), the moral that crime doesn't pay seems to be untrue. Two young men from different parts of the city join the police force. Colin Sullivan (Damon) has looked to Costello as a father since he was a boy. Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) is an educated lad with various family members on the other side of the tracks. Two different men take two different paths which will lead them on a collision course. Based on the Hong Kong film "Infernal Affairs," "The Departed" is a cat and mouse story about a dirty cop and a police mole burrowed deep into the mob, each trying to discover who the other is. With secret cell phones and even more secretive policemen, the film is packed full of little scenes that create one terrific film.

The casting is literally pitch perfect, with Damon and Wahlberg using the accents they picked up growing up in Beantown. Add to the mix Martin Sheen, who has played both John AND Robert Kennedy in the past, and before you know it you'll think you're standing right outside Fenway Park. They all do fantastic work, but the scene stealer is Jack Nicholson. Whether he's giving advice to a young protege' or going off on a rant against someone that's upset him, Nicholson gives Costello life and manages to turn him into a flesh and blood character instead of the standard mob guy.

Working with his usual crew including cinematographer Michael Ballhaus and film editor Thelma Schoonmaker, Scorsese once again paints a portrait of a city in extreme detail, right down to having a picture of JFK hanging in almost every room. And is there a better director working today that can find just the right song to capture the mood of the story on screen? From the first shot of the film, accompanied by the opening riffs of "Gimme Shelter" by the Rolling Stones (a favorite of the director who has also included the song in "Goodfellas" and "Casino") the soundtrack helps tell the story. DiCaprio got his big break in Hollywood by appearing with Scorsese's long time collaborator Robert DeNiro in "This Boy's Life." Now, with starring roles in the director's "Gangs of New York" and "The Aviator," it looks Leo has replaced Bobby and become Scorsese's new alter ego!

A true drama with outstanding performances, "The Departed" joins last month's "Black Dahlia" as a great example of filmmaking. On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "The Departed"  Four stars

This week's movie review of "The Departed" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2006, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.