Category Archives: Movies


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” wasn’t screened in time for reviewers to make their Friday papers, and it was a long weekend, so Metro and I have to weigh in a few days late.

And as long as I’m at it, here’s everything else that opened last Friday …

Employee of the Month“: Dane Cook is the Scarlett Johansson of comedy, in that every time I see him there’s a little less substance. But even he looks like Laurence frickin’ Olivier next to Jessica Simpson.

The Last King of Scotland“: It stumbles at a crucial moment, but Forest Whitaker never does. I hate the whole Oscar handicapping thing, but he sure looks like a lock from here.

Shortbus“: John Cameron Mitchell is a talented and compassionate filmmaker, and the idea of a New York relationship dramedy with actual sex is intriguing … but since he doesn’t choreograph the sex in a manner that drives the story forward, he’s just, well, jerking off.

Trailer Park Boys“: Yeah, it’s a feature-length episode of the show. What, you were expecting something innovative and daring? You might as well ask for a musical number.

The Dear “Departed”

He makes the best f**king films!

He makes the best f**king films!

If I ever meet him, I’m gonna grab his f**king neck and just shake him and say:

“Thank you. Thank you for making such excellent f**king movies!”

– King Missile, “Martin Scorsese”

It’s been a long, long time since a Scorsese movie has made me feel like spinning up that song … but “The Departed” is a welcome return home.

Now, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Jim Emerson would probably take issue with that — actually, there’s no “probably” to it; he goes after the “Marty’s back where he belongs” sentiment in the very first graph of this post on his Scanners blog — but for me, the glory of “The Departed” wasn’t that Scorsese was back in gangland … it was that Scorsese has stopped trying to win an Oscar.

I mean, we must be honest. Most of his choices in the last decade have been a little … well, craven. “The Age of Innocence”, “Kundun”, “The Aviator” — they’re all respectable projects that feel like someone else directed them.

“Bringing Out the Dead” and “Gangs of New York” have a jangled energy and a sense of purpose that makes them more immediately identifiable as Scorsese pictures, but they fall short of actually working.

“Cape Fear” and “Casino” are decent genre exercises with a couple of bravura set pieces apiece, but they’re just exercises … and it probably doesn’t help that both films are remakes. (Apologies to Nick Pileggi, but “Casino” is just “GoodFellas Go to Vegas”, and everybody knows it.)

“The Departed” is a remake, too, but Scorsese doesn’t let it feel like one this time around; he tackles the material head-on, without a hint of artifice or posturing, and with none of the affected, this-is-art-here pretense you could feel underneath all those self-important tracking shots in his previous pictures.

From beginning to end, it’s its own thing, with William Monahan’s screenplay taking the bones of the exquisite Hong Kong thriller “Infernal Affairs” and rebuilding them into a shape that’s somehow burlier and meaner than the original, while staying just as light on its narrative feet.

And the director? He’s not worrying about which clip they’ll use at the Oscar ceremonies, or how the “For Your Consideration” ads will look. He’s actually excited about the movie he’s making. God bless him.

Just in case you’d lost your faith in the moviegoers of North America, the movie won the weekend, beating that pointless “Texas Chainsaw” prequel by almost eight million dollars — a feat that’s even more impressive when one considers that the “Chainsaw” prequel is over an hour shorter than “The Departed”, and can be shown more often in a day.

Also, there’s the small matter of it sucking. But we’ll get to that later in the week.