Far be it for me to say that Scorsese doesn't deserve an Oscar, but geez, did they have to give him one for The Departed? It wasn't so bad as a movie, but it was a pale imitation of the original, Infernal Affairs.
(Here is a link to Hamish McKenzie's interview with Infernal Affairs' writer, Alan Mak. Bumpy - but funny stuff.)
Sure, it added a bit of Irish-American homophobia and machismo into the mix, turned Hong Kong-spunk into Boston-rough, but essentially, it followed all the major twists and turns of the original, down to a hell of a lot of cinematic details that were simply yoinked. The female characters (which were purely decorative in the original) were merged into a new subplot - which was interesting, but that was the only improvement made on the original.
Jack Nicolson's own take on the boss character was just too frazzled and insane to be menacing; and god, Mark Wahlberg's character was just a completely incongruous and jarring addition, ripping apart every scene he's in, and ruining Martin Sheen's presence to boot.
They all took away from the delicious moral ambiguity of the original. Di Caprio came close, but wasn't quite there. Ironically, the beauty of Andy Lau's original performance was that it drew on the same self-loathing and fear as Matt Damon in The Talented Mr Ripley, yet, Matt Damon's character just became too much of an #######, and never really had that desperate desire to cling on to his life of respectability.
And oh god, the ending - the ending!
In the original Infernal Affairs, two endings were produced - the real version and another one for release in Mainland China. In the Mainland version, Andy Lau (the fake cop) exits the lift, and is immediately confronted by a whole bunch of cops. They know everything - of course they do, they're the AUTHORITIES - they arrest him and take him away. The mainland censors were uncomfortable with the idea that the main character could be shown to be a dirty criminal, kill people, cheat the system and get away with it.
This was retarded, of course. The whole *point* of the movie was the same as The Talented Mr Ripley's - it was about the ambiguity of living a double life, the lies, the guilt, the desperate, muffled cries of not being able to tell anyone. And like Mr Ripley, it's the loneliness of the character (after killing everyone who knows the truth) that leaves the chill in your bones.
It's pretty goddamn disappointing that Scorsese has as much faith in his audience as the Chinese government censors have in theirs.
In other news...
I'm in Sri Lanka! I'm going off-blog for a while - have a pile of deadlines waiting for me. So, it's likely that I'll do a time-delayed travel blog when I'm back vegging out in Hong Kong, so I can do it properly with photos and all.
Keeping a close eye on the Rickards/Shipton/Schollum case.
Of course, this case was the one that was being seriously threatened by the pamphleteers last year. It's likely that the lawyers had a go at arguing that a fair trial was made impossible by the pamphleteers' action.
I'm not sure whether a conviction or another accquittal would hurt the reputation of the police more...