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Keyser Corleone's Martin Scorsese Week Extra

Getting back here with so many Scorsese reviews was only for the purpose of preparing for the new film, The Irishman, which is to be available on Netflix in America late November, 2019. I spent two weeks with movies for this purpose and this has been two of the most entertaining weeks of my movie reviewing life, and I'd like to thank my readers for joining me this week.

Of the seven films I reviewed, I had to be very careful about my selection, and I ended up posting more five-star reviews than I wanted. I planned on reviewing Hugo, but gave it up in favor of Cape Fear. And I was going to review the Aviator, but I wouldn't have room for a rockumentary and Goodfellas. By the last review, I didn't even review my favorite Scorsese movie. Two people guessed Raging Bull, but no. Thankfully, it's not my favoreite Scorsese film. I say "thankfully" because I'm saving that for a possible boxing week. My favorite Scorsese film is an essential of his that unfortunately does not have Robert De Niro...

The Departed (2006) - Directed by Martin Scorsese

"One of us had to die. With me, it tends to be the other guy."

The Departed is a unique police tale about a young man raised by gangster Frank Costello to act as a mole for the Massachusetts State Police. Groomed to be a success, he now has to butt heads with the State Police's own weapon: a mole in Costello's gang. Coming from a family of criminals who he rejected, he now sets out to prove his worth by gaining Costello's trust. It's now a game of trust and wits as both moles attempt to find each other out.

That description I gave you is by far the most interesting Scorsese plot in my eyes, and Scorsese's sense of direction does not wane. It doesn't have that same aural presence as earlier movies like Taxi Driver or Cape Fear, but does this movie need it? This is a movie for both gangster fans and police drama fans, and the resulting show is full of plot twists, wit and action.

The reason I'd take this unconventional choice favorite over the classics is simple: in most of Scorsese's films, the way he handles main characters and side characters is unbalanced. The Departed was chock-full of great characters who you either really liked, really hated, or felt both for. The Departed boasts my favorite Mark Wahlberg role: Sgt. Dignam, a self-centered and easily angered state policeman who you could easily hate but also felt he really deserved the badge due to his special brand of work for the force. And it was really easy to sympathize with Leonardo DiCaprio's character: Costigan, the mole in Costello's gang. Running away from the gang violence to join the police, and then being brought into that gang for intel provides a strong internal conflict which DiCaprio delivers flawlessly. And Martin Sheen played his role as Captain Queenan more like a father figure than a cop, which added a new level of humanity to the movie.

The best character was easily Frank Costello, played by the magnificent Jack Nicholson, one of my ten favorite actors. Nicholson does his own thing again, using faces and motions similar to his role in The Shining but in a new way: the gangster way. Frank's a true villain down to the bone, and he has his even balance between easy-going professionalism and penis-obsessed childishness that brings both a comedic value and dramatic value very similar to The Joker.

And once again, we can rely on Scorsese to use a soundtrack full of classic rock artists. We have Roger Waters with Van Morrison and The Band (not surprising considering Scorsese directed The Last Waltz) giving us a cover of one of Pink Floyd's best songs, "Comfortably Numb," and songs by Southern rock band the Allman Brothers, folk punk act Dropkick Murphys in a fine badass moment, a sweet Patsy Cline song, and more classics like Rolling Stones and Beach Boys. It's easy to feel right at home with Scorsese given his exquisite taste in music.

The Departed is the one Scorsese movie I can find myself watching over and over again without feeling obligated to watch it again for critical purposes. It's an excellent cat-and-mouse movie with a great story and a lot of humanity, and the humanity is the one reason this is my favorite Scorsese movie. I saw this last week and it shot up to the top of my Scorsese list immediately.