I will see any movie because it was directed by Martin Scorsese -- and -- I'll see any movie with Robert De Niro. Put the two together, and, well, I buy the disc and admire their work again and again. Scorsese's latest, "The Departed", will surely be nominated for Best Picture and he will probably get another Best Director nod. This will make the sixth time Scorsese will be up for top honors. Stephen Hunter (story at WP) asks whether we should care, calling “The Departed” 'an earnest bit of corporate filmmaking designed to honorably milk genre expectations for maximum profit'. This is exactly the impression I've gotten from the previews. 'Departed' just doesn't seem to have the power of "Goodfellas" or "Casino", and Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson don't have quite the magnetism of De Niro.
Hunter continues with, "It's somehow largely unconnected with his previous great films..." -- and, "The irony? If he wins, it'll be for one of his least Scorsesesque films. It even could be argued that "The Departed" is an imitation Scorsese film." Again, reading my mind. "Gangs of New York" was a far cry from the gritty quality of, say, "Taxi Driver" and Scorsese seems to be continuing the trend with ‘Departed’. His recent work, while avoiding self-parody, does strike me as a tad derivative and a little too pretty, a little too safe, a little too 'product'.
This leaves us with the possibility that, if he wins for "The Departed" Scorsese may be left high and dry when and if he makes some future picture with the snap and click of his earlier movies. I'm not a fan of proper epics like "The Aviator" (and Gangs) and keep holding my breath for this auteur to deliver another 'shoot from the hip' crime saga. For now, I'll get the sit-up-straight 'Departed' on disc and hope it's a bit edgier than most are saying.
Scorsese seems to be striving for a glossier, more conventional, more mainstream professionalism is his recent movies, and it just doesn’t quite come off. Marty, give me the spiked energy and slick subversive sleight of hand I fell in love with when I first watched “Goodfellas” -- just one more time -- and if it goes unrecognized by the Academy (again), well, that’ll be okay.