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MovieChick checks out the latest tweaking of THE DEPARTED!

Hey folks, Harry here with MovieChick33 and her look at the latest test screening of Martin Scorsese's THE DEPARTED. Seems the film is coming together stronger and stronger - and for a viewer that wasn't a fan of THE AVIATOR or GANGS OF NEW YORK - it seems Scorsese has brought her back into the fold. Here ya go...

Here you go! Please don't use my real name. You can use moviechick33. I know, very original.

Hi all. On Wednesday, August 23, I attended a private screening of the new Martin Scorsese film THE DEPARTED in Edgewater, NJ. The Movie View people explained that this was still a rough cut and will likely be rated R for strong violence, language and sexuality. It?s Scorsese, duh!

They gave us the following synopsis: The film is set in South Boston, where the state police force is waging war on organized crime. Young undercover cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is assigned to infiltrate the gang run by boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). While Billy is quickly gaining Costello?s confidence, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), a hardened young criminal who has infiltrated the police department as an informer for the gang, is rising to a position of power. Colin tries to marry up by getting involved with a police psychiatrist. As the situation reaches its dramatic climax, all three men must race to protect their fate and the lives of everyone around them. The movie also stars Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, Anthony Anderson and Vera Farmiga.

Having absolutely hated GANGS OF NEW YORK (shot cool and all, but was quite literary my #1 worse film of 2002) and found THE AVIATOR pretty damn boring, I didn?t have high hopes going in. Boy was I pleasantly surprised. I?m glad Scorsese went back to what he does best: dirty, bloody mob-crime stories.

I would say the first half hour was a blur. They cut from scene to scene, jumping all over the place - obviously to set up the character and story. It was at this point that I was a little nervous because nothing jelled yet; every character came off bland and cartoonish and to me, a Boston native, the accents were laughable. Why oh why do actors attempt Boston accents? BLOWN AWAY or THIRTEEN DAYS anyone? Only Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg were excused because they actually grew up in the Southie area. To me it was just distracting.

Once the meat of the story got going, it was very intense and well acted. Baldwin and Wahlberg stole their scenes and provided much needed humor to cut the tension. Nicholson played Nicholson he didn?t do anything that you haven?t already seen in another movie of his. He played nuts, looked crusty, flailed his arms around doing that Joker dance of his, and basically looked like he was having a ball. It took a while for DiCaprio to settle into his character but when he did he was probably the best of the three top-billed actors. Damon was good in the way he always is playing subtle and walking the line.

Before I talk about the best part of the movie, I have to mention the worst: Vera Farmiga. To me, she is best known for playing one of the leads in the short-lived 2004 television series TOUCHING EVIL. Farmiga played Madeleine, the psychiatrist who had connections to both Damon and DiCaprio?s characters. I?m not sure if it was the way her character was written, but I thought she wasn?t up to the acting chops of her peers. Without giving anything away, the romance plot made little sense and really served no purpose other than getting her on a bed in her underwear. Okay, for some of you, the half naked girl thing probably worked fine. There was no chemistry with either Damon or DiCaprio. In a movie that was pretty strong, this was by far the weakest plot point.

Just a few other tiny things that bugged me: it is trademark Scorsese but the gratuitous use of offensive racial terms in the beginning of the movie added little to the character development; there were a few too many extraneous characters that could have been edited out; and it was hard to distinguish how much time passed and what events were occurring contemporaneously.

THE DEPARTED was about 2 hours, 15 minutes long felt longer, but most Scorsese movies do it is just the pacing. Didn?t bother me because the last 20 minutes were fantastic and I would recommend the movie based on just the end. A bunch of ?shocker? moments, that I wouldn?t call twists, but I didn?t see them coming and I, 90% of the time, see what?s coming.

So yeah, I rated it Very Good on the score sheet, not Excellent, but Very Good. I was also part of the focus group after the movie. I would say that 95% of the 25 of us really liked it. Not one person mentioned that this was a remake of the Hong Kong movie INFERNAL AFFAIRS though. The biggest complaint from most people was that the film didn?t explain certain things: What was in the box? What was in the envelope? How did a character find out something in the end? For me, none of that mattered, I felt it was all inferred and I don?t think it is always necessary to spell out everything for a moviegoer. It is like the suitcase in PULP FICTION. Do you really need to know what was in it? Isn?t it more fun guessing? Explaining every plot point dumbs down a movie and for THE DEPARTED, I thought the mystery worked.


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