Friday, February 16, 2007

February 16th Log

2006, Martin Scorsese, United States
Repeat Viewing, DVD

"They want me to find me... Good luck with that" This is a revealing moment of dialogue that comes more then halfway through this thrilling Martin Scorsese gangster film. The line captures one of the films essential themes, which is finding who you are. And perhaps even Scorsese is finding who he is as a filmmaker in the sense that he seems to be returning to the more traditional roots that his fans love so much. Ironically the film is a remake of a Scorsese-influenced Hong Kong action film (2002 Infernal Affairs starring Tony Leung and Andy Lau). With the exception of some cultural differences and location (here the city of Boston) not much has changed, but the Scorsese-connection is in full force as he is remaking a Hong Kong film which is influenced from Scorsese which is ultimately influenced from many previous filmmakers throughout the world. The Departed again evokes Scorsese’s rooted influence in classic gangster Hollywood films (you can’t help thinking of the ending of White Heat during the climax scene with Jack Nicholson). Overall I think Scorsese has topped the original film simply in the overall flow of the narrative, which is far more involving and suspenseful (and a bit more coherent). In a word, it is intense! It's Scorsese so you know he is not going to hold back his own ambivalent views of violence and brutality on screen, and with The Departed he seems even less focused on a sense of morality. Obviously there is lots of blood, montage editing sequences, and a trademark use of Rolling Stones 'Gimme Shelter', which have become Scorsese's trademarks of the genre. Not to go without mentioning here are the incredible performances. I'm not so sure Leonardo DiCaprio worked for Scorsese in Gangs of New York, but with this and their previous collaboration (The Aviator) they prove to be one of the great actors-director duos in film. The rest of the cast is extremely strong as well, highlighted by a memorable performance from Nicholson, who is creepy as ever in the role of mob boss Frank Costello. The film is thrilling from beginning to end, capped off by a fitting final shot (take note of the contents in the grocery bag!!) of a rat walking from right to left of the frame. Even if this isn't in the class of his very best, Scorsese's mastery is always present and The Departed seems to be a film made for his fans. It is a film about finding yourself and perhaps Scorsese can relate as a filmmaker who finds himself returning to the crime thriller films his fans so deeply admire.

1958, Yasujiro Ozu, Japan
Repeat Viewing, DVD

Ozu was never one to quickly change with the technology of art form. His first sound film came in 1936 and he never made a film in Widescreen format. He also did not make a color film until 1958 with this film, Equinox Flower. A late arrival to color, but remarkable none-the-less, as this is a beautiful film. Ozu enhances the expression of the film through color and gives the film his patent simplistic beauty, richness, and poetry. Ozu features his traditional views of family and father-daughter generation differences. Equinox Flower details Japanese rebellious and independent post war youth generation that went against many of the common Japanese traditions (such as arranged marriages). The father doesn't necessarily dislike the man his daughter wants to marry, or even her desire to go against tradition and choose, but he can not accept the fact that she has "defied" her parents. Ozu leaves the film open and sympathizes with both the father and daughters feelings. With a detailed vision of object placement, color, and composition, Ozu perfectly captures the emotional tone with a trademark subtle visual expression and here a blend of lighthearted humor (through the inconsistency and ironies that make up living).

>> More on Equinox Flower @ A2P Cinema's Yasujiro Ozu website HERE

>>> Here is a scene from Yasujiro Ozu's 1958 film Equinox Flower. The scene is reflective of the films themes in transition and change:


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