Friday, October 20, 2006

Black Dahlia vs The Departed

Last weekend, when an opportunity arose to watch a movie in the local multiplex (it is a 7 minutes walk from where I stay), I had to choose between Martin Scorsese's The Departed and Brian de Palma's Black Dahlia. I chose the latter as I had seen the original, Infernal Affairs, the Hong Kong film behind Scorsese's remake.

I was disappointed with Black Dahlia which is a murder mystery and the story of relationships as well. The saving grace of the film is Mia Krishner(her audition videos are tasteful); another interesting part of the film is the family of Hilary Swank. Hilary looks totally unattractive in this film, and sometimes, the look on her face is like gosh, what am I doing in this film. The film is based on a James Ellroy's novel about two 1940s L.A. cops, the same writer behind the superb L A Confidential, but this de Palma film comes no where near that one.

Meanhile, The Departed is doing very well, and despite being a remake, is No. 1 at the Singapore Box Office. The film reviewers are going ga ga over this movie where Hong Kong has been replaced with Boston.

Director Scorsese admits in this interview that "from now on, I will only make remakes of Asian films." By Asian films, he means China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and not India:

Scorsese's introduction to Chinese-language cinema came with the late director King Hu's A Touch of Zen (1969), he said. Countless others followed before the director saw John Woo's seminal shoot-'em-up The Killer (1989) and was blown away.

"You can't go near that, you can't even begin," Scorsese said, gesticulating wildly. "As far as my skills as a film-maker, you can't. That's taking our films and their culture and mixing everything up together.

"Even if I had a moment where I said to myself: 'Gee, maybe I can make a film like John Woo,' the minute I get to design the shoot or I get behind the camera with the cinematographer, many times I've said: 'My god, I've done this shot five times already in two other movies.'"

Undeniably, the maestro always leaves his fingerprints on his films. The Departed is no exception.

While following the Hong Kong original's premise, the film is quintessential Scorsese — a loud and brash gangster epic that's reminiscent of slow-burning thrillers like his Cape Fear (1991).

Set in a grimy-looking Boston, Damon takes the Andy Lau role of a gangster who infiltrates the police while DiCaprio tackles Tony Leung Chiu Wai's part as an undercover cop who penetrates the mob syndicate run by kingpin Jack Nicholson.

"It doesn't matter if it's Boston, Chicago, New York, Miami, anywhere," said Scorsese of the decision to shift the action from Hong Kong to Boston. "It all filters down to survival level on the streets. There's a war on the streets. If they make one mistake, they're killed. They're dead."

Asked about what influenced his depiction of the violence in his films, his eyes — framed by two shockingly thick, black eyebrows set behind thick glasses — darted around as if he was searching for the answer.

He gave up.

"The violence in my films, I really don't know what to say. I approach it the way I thought I experienced it," Scorsese said. "There's absurdity in some of the violence, but that's just the absurdity of being alive."

Born to Italian-American parents, the man who would go on to become one of America's most respected film-makers grew up in a working class area of New York.

"And part of that environment was organised crime. It was difficult," he said.

Andrew Lau, who co-directed Infernal Affairs, gives credit to Scorsese for his remake.

"Of course, I think the version I did was better," Lau was quoted as saying to Hong Kong's The Apple Daily newspaper. "But the Hollywood version is pretty good, too. Scorsese made the Hollywood version more attuned to American culture."

While The Departed is his first remake of an Asian film, Scorsese said it wouldn't be the last.

"I admire and respect their works, all of the Chinese cinemas — Hong Kong, Beijing and Taiwan. I know I can't go there, so I've had to find my own way and that was interesting. The film I hope to make next is also a remake of another Asian movie," he said, laughing but declining to elaborate.

"We'll be remaking Asian films from now. That's it."

Full text of the article is here.

Hollywood has really become besotted with the Asian films as I have heard the same thing (love for Asian films) being said by so many Hollywood filmmakers, the most prominent being the Kill Bill director Tarantino.

Bollywood, are you listening?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i was curious abt johnny lever and black dahlia.
thanks for ur review!!
very nice blog (^-^)b