Archive for organized crime

THE DEPARTED (2006)

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2018 by cdascher

Departed234Our most recent Oscars film as part of our red carpet roulette project was The Departed, an American crime drama from 2006 directed by Martin Scorsese. I have to say, the first thing I commented on as we were watching this movie was the all-star cast. I looked at Mouse with each new person on the screen and said, “Wait – he’s in it too?!”

Indeed, it is chock full of heavyweights – Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Sheen, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin. A story about Irish mob boss Frank Costello (played by Jack Nicholson) in Boston, the film was a success both critically and at the box office. While I am not a fan of many of his political ideas, Marky Mark is fan-freakin-tastic in this. He is so Boston I can’t handle it. It’s a film about loyalty, infiltration, trust, family, and ambition. I was prepared to not really care that much about this film, but I have to say it is one of my favorites that we’ve watched so far.

I did have one looming question, though: in a film with so many heavyweight stars, why did they cast a woman who was not nearly as famous as the lead? Vera Farmiga plays Madolyn Madden, the love interest of both Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) and Billy (Leonardo DiCaprio). She’s great in the role, but this question did occur to me. Also, as ever, I wished in this epic film that there were more roles for women and that Madolyn herself was better developed.

So much Irish. So much Boston. Are you not clear about that? Just to be sure, we’re going to play Dropkick Murphys and put a shirt on Nicholson that says IRISH.

OK, let’s talk about Marky Mark, since you brought him up. I don’t fault Wahlberg’s acting. If you want a wicked accurate portrayal of a tough Bostonian, whom else would you call? But there’s something about the character of Dignam that I found overblown to the point of being distracting. He’s a ‘tough cop’, the guy who got here by way of hard work and street smarts, not education and high connections. I get it. But at some point I found myself wondering “How does someone this incessantly abrasive get himself into this extremely sensitive position on the police force?” Continue reading

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THE GODFATHER (1972)

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2016 by cdascher

Godfather_ver1Well, here we are. This one had us stalled out a bit while we put off watching it. Not because watching would be a chore, or that we felt we’d have little to say about the movie. Quite the contrary. 1972’s The Godfather is a staple of best-ever lists and has achieved the cinematic triple crown of enduring critical regard, commercial success and lasting cultural significance both artistic and popular. I’ve heard it called the best movie ever made and I honestly can’t find an argument against that statement. This really is where it all came together. So while I quite looked forward to watching it yet again and discussing it yet again, we run into the problem of just what to say about it that hasn’t been said a thousand times over. I mean, this is normally where I’d summarize the story, but I can’t imagine you’d actually be reading a movie blog if you haven’t seen this film at least once in your life. So these two bloggers stalled and tried to find an angle to work that could manage a fresh viewpoint. We tried to secure an actual Italian-American to watch with us but that proved fruitless, despite our South Philly locale. But when we realized the blog could wait no longer, we declared this holiday to be an Italian-American cultural appreciation day, set to work on several recipes from Chloe Coscarelli’s Vegan Italian Kitchen and treated ourselves to a New Year’s Day viewing of a classic saga of organized crime.

Given how intimidated I feel making a stab at intelligently discussing The Godfather, I’ll pursue a more personal approach. I’ll bet everyone has story about this movie, and here is mine. The first time I ever saw it, I inadvertently rented a special VHS release that combined both The Godfather and The Godfather Part II into a single piece, edited into chronological order. I was about three and half hours into watching, with no ending in sight, when I began to wonder just how long this damn movie was? I somehow made it through that six hour, 15 minute beast only to learn the truth later.

Also, putting an orange peel in one’s mouth really can frighten a small child, something I learned personally by trying the experiment on my nephew. I have, in fact, photographic evidence of him fleeing in fear as I approach menacingly, citrus rind in mouth. Fans of The Godfather know that much of its content was inspired by actual people and events, but I’m living proof of real-world basis for that famous scene.

This was my second time watching the film, and I enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time. There is a lot that is emotionally compelling about this movie. It’s also my strongest experience with both Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. Mouse mentioned to me that one critique of the film centered on how it glorified organized crime – and I imagine that is a valid one. The original Don Corleone, Vito (played to perfection by Brando) is an extremely sympathetic character. He appears to have a moral compass and a deep regard for family, and as audience members we remain shielded from what I have to imagine are some of his worst actions. Continue reading