Archive for April 15th, 2010

by Allan Fish

(USA 2006 152m) DVD1/2

Heavy lies the crown

p  Jennifer Aniston, Brad Grey, Graham King, Brad Pitt, Martin Scorsese  d  Martin Scorsese  w  William Monahan  ph  Michael Ballhaus  ed  Thelma Schoonmaker  m  Howard Shore  art  Kristi Zea

Leonardo DiCaprio (William Costigan Jr), Matt Damon (Colin Sullivan), Jack Nicholson (Frankie Costello), Mark Wahlberg (Dignam), Martin Sheen (Queenan), Ray Winstone (French), Vera Farmiga (Madolyn), Anthony Anderson (Brown), Alec Baldwin (Ellerby),

Is it really nearly twenty years since Quentin Tarantino took an average Hong Kong thriller, City on Fire, and turned it into cinematic magic as Reservoir Dogs?  I must be getting old.  How ironic, then, that Tarantino’s predecessor, Scorsese, takes a leaf out of the apprentice’s book and takes another Hong Kong flick, the satisfactory Infernal Affairs, and turns this into cinematic magic.  At first glance, it might seem like a return to familiar ground for Scorsese, and yet really it isn’t.  His underworld is the Italian-American variety which has since almost become a cliché, while this film is set in another place entirely, the dark side of the Irish-Americans, and indeed of the police set to catch them.  Look not here for double-cross, or even triple-cross, we’re beyond that.  One is reminded mid way through the film of a line from Michael Caine in the TV drama Jack the Ripper, in which he castigates the formation of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee by saying that if he was the murderer, he’d join this committee and go out looking for himself.  Such is the opportunity granted Matt Damon’s two-faced mob informant, Colin Sullivan.

            Sullivan has been groomed since childhood for stardom through the Boston police ranks by local Irish kingpin Frank Costello.  On the other hand, the blood kin of a definitely criminal Irish American family, the Costigans, wants to become a cop to redeem the family name.  The cops, however, want him to go undercover, and soon it becomes a battle between whether the police mole or the mob mole gets the upper hand. (more…)

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