Sunday, October 29, 2006

Boston's Bad Guys

Just back from seeing "The Departed" -- whew! Haven't seen that much fake blood since last Halloween when our neighbor put on the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Not everyone dies of gunshot, but there is plenty of violence. Trust and betrayal are the major themes in this film, as we have seen in other films by Martin Scorcese.

The setting is Boston, the characters are wiseguys and cops, with a police psychiatrist thrown in, and the plot is tangled enough to give anyone whiplash. Actors Leonardo Di Caprio, Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, Mark Wahlberg, Ray Witone, Anthony Anderson, Vera Farmigia and Martin Sheen give excellent performances, but this one is all Jack Nicholson's. His portrayal of the Whitey Bulger type crime boss was something you just know he enjoyed playing -- like his McMurtry in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." We wouldn't be surprised to see another Oscar nomination. Nicholson is one scary dude; his imitation of a rat is truly frightening.

Left to right: Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg, and Jack Nicholson. Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures

Did Freud truly say the Irish were the only people who are impervious to psychoanalysis? Boston cops and Boston criminals -- but, as Nicholson says, "When you're facing a loaded gun, what's the difference?" Martin Scorcese has done an excellent job of portraying the terror involved in such a situation, whether it's the streets of Boston or Belfast, Denmark or Dunsinane.

We don't wonder that Michael Patrick MacDonald, who survived South Boston in the 1970's, wrote about revisiting Southie's culture of death in The Boston Globe in response to this movie.

And oh, yes, that was Martin Sheen quoting "Hamlet" -- "the readiness is all." See this movie.

Patricia Jameson-Sammartano,
WGT Culture Editor

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