Archives for February, 2007

The Departed

Sometimes I wonder if I really don’t like anything popular. Because I wasn’t crazy about the Departed. My Dad’s almost stopped watching American movies mainly because he prefers watching actors that he’s not familiar with and whose personalities can’t distract him from the film. I don’t find that to be a problem with flicks where there are only one or two stars and you can settle in and forget that’s Liam Neeson or Scarlett Johanson or whatever. But with The Departed, that’s just about impossible. There are so many marquee names in so many bit parts, that my internal dialogue watching the film was something like,

hey! that’s Marky Mark who’s giving DiCaprio crap. I wonder if Marky Mark and Leo hung out on the set. Or does MM think Leo’s a wus? If so, does Leo snub him back, like: listen man, you’re the male underwear model who sang Good Vibration, don’t try to be too cool to me. I wonder if Marky Mark regrets his former career… There’s Alec Baldwin doing the skeezy but likeable fat guy role again that he’s done so well since he gave up trying to be a leading man. Hard to believe he was the original Jack Ryan in Hunt for Red October. There goes Martin Sheen off the roof. It’s easy to forget Martin Sheen is Irish…

One of the things I like about HBO’s Rome is although there are some superlative actors in it, you’ve never seen any of them before. So Lucius Varenus is Lucius Varenus, not some guy who used to date Leelee Sobieski or whatever.

The other thing I didn’t like about The Departed: it was no Goodfellas. God knows I’m a sucker for movies about the Irish Mob. I’ve watched State of Grace twice, and that movie’s just terrible. But Goodfellas was entirely believable, in large part because it was based on Henry Hill’s memoir Wiseguys and largely faithful to it–but also because it took pains to put you in an actual place and time–and not to add a lot of Hollywood BS to what was already an interesting story. .

For the Departed, they had an interesting story to work with: Whitey Bulger and the Winter Hill Gang. And that story was interesting enough to carry a movie in its own right. Whitey did have his own mick in the FBI helping him out, and others who colluded with him. But he didn’t have umpteen double agents infiltrating federal, state, and city law enforcement, sleeping with the same shrink and popping up out of nowhere to whack main characters. Interestingly, the FBI scandal surrounding Bulger became the basis for the Bush administration’s first executive privilege claim. Not because any Bush people were implicated, but to defend the important principle that executive abuses of power get settled behind closed doors if they get settled at all.

Anyhow, this was a great story in its own right, and Scorcese just used it as a star vehicle and an excuse for Jack Nicholson to chew up the scenery. It was enjoyable, but nothing special. For a far superior Irish gangster movie, try the General.

Posted on Feb 28, 2007 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Radicals for Capitalism

I’m back, I guess. I had some computer issues and a general lack of interest for the last month or two, but I plan to try to up the dosage here for a while. Look for me to post ALMOST DAILY.

I don’t know how a noncrazy person would like Brian Doherty’s new book Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, but I think it’s terrific. I wouldn’t recommend doing what I just did, though. Due to a cancelled flight and some airline-related hassles, I spent an enormous amount of time Sunday and Monday sitting around airports, plowing through Brian’s book. I must have done 450 pages in two concentrated chunks. Story after story of surpassingly weird and sometimes wonderful people in an intense blur, with my back up against a post, waiting for the Southwest Airlines cattle call. It was like a self-imposed Clockwork Orange experiment designed to cure me of libertarianism. Ha, ha: it didn’t take. Though at the end of it, I hesitated to go to sleep for fear I’d have nightmares about Ayn Rand chasing me from arrival gate to baggage claim, loudly demanding sexual favors.

Posted on Feb 27, 2007 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments