Volume 76, Number 22 | October 18 - 24, 2006

Koch on film

By Ed Koch

“The Departed” (+)

This script contains a few holes and relies in one case on an improbable, dying hood’s statement to clear up an important matter. But quibbles aside, “The Departed” is very exciting, filled with constant action, a few torrid love scenes and above all, a great cast.

The clashes and tensions are maintained by Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) and Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), two young Irish men living in the south end of Boston.  Colin and Billy, who do not know one another, are both from crime families and each joins the Massachusetts State Troopers. The twist is that each ultimately becomes a mole. Colin works for the crime boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), and Billy is a mole for the police in the organized crime family. Colin and Billy also become intimately involved with the police psychiatrist, Madolyn (Vera Farmiga), to whom they are both sent for professional assistance.

Adding to the remarkable cast are Mark Wahlberg as Dignam, the ferocious assistant to Police Captain Queenan (Martin Sheen), and Alec Baldwin as Ellerby, a detective in charge of the local cops assigned to bringing down Costello. Martin Scorsese directed the film, and one of the producers is Brad Pitt.

With few exceptions, the City of Boston is not lovingly displayed. Scorsese was obviously more attracted to its mean streets. The acting of everyone is top notch, and Nicholson does his usual sneering bit from which I doubt the public will ever tire. The shooting and physical assaults produce scenes of pain, blood and deaths equal to or better than I have seen in any movie in years.

I saw the show on a Friday night at 7:40 p.m. after my weekly Bloomberg Radio Program from 6:00-7:00 p.m. on WBBR 1130AM. The ticket-holder line was around the block, but it was well worth the wait to see this well-done flick on organized crime in Boston.  Everyone associated with the film had clearly mastered his or her art.

“Little Children” (+)

This is excellent film despite one small cavil, which I will detail later. 

The characters in this suburban Massachusetts location interconnect with one another very much in the style of Robert Altman’s films. Sarah (Kate Winslet), a beautiful woman in her 30s, takes her daughter Lucy (Sadie Goldstein) to a playground every day where they meet Brad (Patrick Wilson) and his son Aaron (Ty Simpkins). Brad, who is waiting to take the bar exam, takes care of his son during the day while his wife Kathy (Jennifer Connelly) works as a documentary filmmaker. Sarah and Brad begin an affair.

Sarah’s husband Richard (Greg Edelman), a marketing consultant, is addicted to Internet porn. A registered pedophile, Ronald  (Jackie Earle Haley), lives in their neighborhood with his mother, May (Phyllis Somerville). May is a tough lady who defends her son from the concerned neighbors and worries about what will happen to him when she dies. Haley creates the pedophile character superbly. I thought he did as well as Peter Lorre in the German film, “M,” which set the standard. Larry (Noah Emmerich) is a former cop and a bully who plays football with Brad and others in the evening. One of Larry’s hang-ups is his physical harassment of the pedophile.

The characters and story add up to a fine film. My cavil is that the superb scriptwriters, Todd Field and Tom Perrotta, conclude the movie with what appears to be a fantasy. However, it doesn’t ruin the story, and the film, based on a novel by Tom Perrotta, is worth seeing.

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