Friday, February 09, 2007

"Marty Goes Undercover"

When I heard that Martin Scorsese had won the Directors' Guild of America Award for filmmaker of the year(post-super successful film "The Departed"), the inevitable smile crept up and was glued there for about the whole day. The talk of the town is that Marty is now more than ever in the running for the Best Director accolade doled out by none other than the Academy. This is more fact than fiction at the moment given that in the parallel history of the Guild and the Academy very rarely has the winner of the Guild Award lost out on the Oscar for the same picture in the same year. The precise number would be 6. Sceptics may refer to Wikipedia.

Martin Scorsese may have waited far too long for this one but the naked truth is that he should have won it aeons ago. Having lost out on films like Raging Bull and The Goodfellas, winning while riding on the commercial success of The Departed won't be winning after all.

After watching The Departed, exhilarated as I was, I couldnt help feeling a little cheated. Seems to me that Scorsese had lowered his guard a bit too much to deliver a star-studded big banner production that fell far below the bar he had previously set for himself with films like Taxi Driver, Raging bull, Goodfellas and the heavily underrated Casino. Of course The Departed is not comparable in genre or style to Taxi Driver. I'm not suggesting that. But what I am suggesting is that Scorsese was next to invisible in the film that is being touted by some as his magnum opus. Save for some recognizable tropes like use of voiceover and familiar gangster territory, the watermark blazed into each work with astonishing cinematography and a powerful screenplay was nowhere to be seen. A critic put it eloquently when she wrote, "Marty went undercover on this one."

But to give due credit to the director and the film, the soundtrack was vivid and the editing impeccable as always (thanks to long time collaborator thelma Schoonmaker). Sound performances by both Leo Dicaprio and Mark Whalberg. Frank Costello's transformation from the smooth overlord to an absentminded close-to-senile overlord is remarkable. But cinephiles ask yourself this - does Costello surpass in character the likes of Jake La Motta, Nicky Santuro, Ace Rothstein and Tommy DeVito?

So if Marty does win, I'll be cheering myself hoarse but it'll be for a victory won long before when the Movie Brats were still bratty enough to believe in a producers' nightmare like Travis Bickle!

P.S. - The Movie Brats were Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Brian de Palma, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and John Milius.

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