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A decent first Hollywood picture from the director of Oldboy
The English debut feature from Oldboy director Chan-wook Park has a lot going for it as far a style and technique is concerned, but this cast and crew deserve a better film to showcase their talents than the film Stoker ultimately ends up being.
In fact there is so much to recommend in Stoker to anyone who appreciates and revels in watching a director tell their story, the film is a minor masterpiece of independent film making during its first hour. The story is so dark, tense, and saturated in repressed sexual desires and sexual awakenings that the audiences has no idea where the film will take them or what the motivations are for any of these lonely characters to be with each other. We just know that something isn't right when the uncle of India Stoker comes to live with her and her mother just after her father's funeral.
During this first hour, Park shows off a perfectly controlled display of a static and moving camera, off-centre framing and empty spaces, and unsettlingly shots of everyday activities; when has putting ice cream in a freezer looked as eerie as it does here? Park, unlike so many directors making American films, doesn't copy any style to make his film seem familiar to his audience (slow mo, shaky camera, sweeping aerial shots) but does draw attention to the fact that his camera movement is purposeful but never careless. It's a joy to watch this man direct because he really knows how to tell a story through the camera.
The dialogue is playful and dangerous, often alluding to a sexual desire or foreboding actions and is delivered by the excellent cast without it ever coming across as unnatural or uncharacteristic of whoever is speaking. This is, until the final third when, like so many films which leave the audience in the dark for so long, the eventual exposition comes flooding through and drowns out the tightly wound film it had become. Whilst maintaining a spoiler-free review, what was once a story told through dark, Gothic visuals becomes a exercise in cramming in as much backstory and flashbacks as possible to make sense of what's come before; the pace changes, the visuals become clichéd (spurting red blood on white flowers, reflections in Aviator sunglasses) and the film loses credibility in favour for a shock ending which it simply doesn't need.
Stoker is a good dry run for Park's career in American cinema and he's showed what he can do with a western cast and setting, and has chosen a superb set of actors to help him realise his obvious technical prowess for this story. There is a lot of good in this film is you just enjoy the beauty of a good director at work, but anyone expecting a story of equal enjoyment will be slightly disappointed at the end.
Side by Side (2012)
Excellent insight into the film making process with major Hollywood directors
Side By Side is a must for anyone with an interest in the history of movies and the process of making them regardless of your background knowledge of the subject. I have a good understanding of the history of cinema and the (literal) film making process and the rise of digital camera within the Hollywood mainstream, and there was still plenty to take away from this. It is highly recommended.
The documentary could, and probably will, be used in film schools thanks to the educational sections on how a film camera works and how film is developed and the progress of digital from its early SD days through to today's 4K camera and the revolutionary RED cameras. Combined with this element are interviews with host/narrator Keanu Reeves with a who's who of cinema, ranging from James Cameron and George Lucas to recent film school graduates.
The documentary doesn't take sides on film verses digital because ultimately it's either fact or opinion. Examples: Fact, digital does not have the dynamic range (being the range between dark and light) that films does. Opinion, film looks 'better' than digital. However, what really struck me was the reasoning behind some film maker's preference of digital over film camera.
Take David Fincher, a film maker I admire greatly. He obsesses over the ability a digital camera gives to playback footage instantly, without the need to wait 24 hours to review film dailies (the footage filmed the day before which has now been developed); If the scene isn't right or something is wrong, then you know there and then and correct it. Yet I ask this question; he never had that privilege in 1995 when he made his greatest film to date, the modern masterpiece Se7en, so was it such a problem before the technology was around? Moreover, why are his experience on digital some of his weakest films?
James Cameron gushes over the 'virtual lenses' he used for the majority of Avatar, a film which has, for better or worse (well, worse) changed the landscape of film making forever and the ways in which studios want their blockbusters to look. So why is Avatar infinitely inferior to the movies he shot on film, even with all the CGI and state of the art technology they encompassed, like Terminator 2 and Aliens? Furthermore, Cameron delivers a comment which, when played over footage of Avatar, was a truly laugh-out-loud moment: "We never shot in a real jungle, we had to create a jungle." Really, James? Next you'll be telling us those blue aliens weren't actually real.
It amazes me when I hear some of the film makers like Steven Soderbergh saying that loading a flash card into a camera in 15 seconds rather than lugging film reels around made Che a "better movie". Better how, he never says. Moreover, his love of digital film making has seen him churn out second rate crap like Haywire and The Girlfriend Experience which I doubt he'd ever have made on film. And where is David Lynch's evidence for never wanting to back to film? It's certainly not in the short films he makes for his website. Will he ever touch the brilliance of Blue Velvet or Wild At Heart again on digital?
My opinion from watching Side By Side is that these great film makers are now manufacturing their films within an inch of the film's life, as is shown in the section where we see the advancements in colour timing. So much attention is put on post-production fixing that the visuals are now unrecognisable to what was actually filmed. It begs the question why even film a real tree any more if the tree's real leaves aren't the right colour. That's not to say colour correction is a new thing (of course it's not), but the shift in focus from what was captured to what will be shown is getting greater all the time. These pro-digital directors only seem to praise the ease in the beginning to end process, but not the actual quality of the product it produces.
The quality of a movie still remains in the talent of the film maker, regardless of the format. A movie can be shot on film and be total garbage like A Good Day To Die Hard or a film can be shot digitally and look exemplary like Skyfall. The reasons why these two recent big-budget films are poles apart isn't to do with the camera they used, but in the quality of writing, directing, and storytelling.
There is no substitute for talent either on celluloid or on digital.
Cage is on his last warning with this utter trash
Last year Nicolas Cage had four films released, three of which made it to my top 10 worst of the year (Trespass, Season of the Witch, and Drive Angry) and his most recent output, Stolen, is sure to find a place on the list come December of this year. It is dreadful and marks his sixth appallingly bad film in a row.
Stolen is nothing more than a made-for-TV film with an Academy Award winner headlining, giving it just enough pedigree to warrant it a cinematic release. However, the film was only released for 14 days at 141 cinemas in the US; to put that in perspective, Cage's previous release Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance opened at 3174 cinemas. That signals an actor in serious decline and a reputation that will soon no longer be sustained by his 1995 Oscar win alone.
The story and script penned by Safe House writer David Guggenheim, is ludicrous to the point of becoming comedic. Cage plays a thief who come out of jail after 8 years only to find his daughter has been kidnapped and held in the boot of a taxi by his former partner in crime. That story is as by-the-numbers as they come, but moves into farcical territory when he has to pay $10 million to get his daughter back and the means in which he does so is beyond stupid and so implausible that it would have lost all credibility had there been any credibility left to lose.
The film is said to have had a budget of $35 million but it looks like, at very best, a flashy TV pilot and it saddens me to think that the director and star of 1997's Con Air have been reduced to this utter rubbish. Apparently Clive Owen and Jason Statham were attached to this film yet somehow found better work and left Cage to pick up the pay cheque and drop his standards yet again. Director Simon West tries to make the film look like a Jerry Bruckheimer production but the cars flipping and crashing and fast editing only serve to make the film look silly and even more unbelievable. The only positive comes from the score by Mark Isham which belongs to a much better film than this and ironically comes across as if it were another film's score played over the top of the nonsense on screen.
Despite being one of the best actors of his generation and producing performances that no other actor could have given (examples include Leaving Las Vegas, Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans, Adaptation), the roles Cage is choosing and the performances he is now churning out are undoing all the good work he has achieved and are turning him into box office poison and a name synonymous with B-movie fodder.
Nicolas Cage has always been a firm favourite of mine and I'll still watch anything he makes, but it's becoming harder to forgive him as each new below-par film gets made, gets released, and gets forgotten about.
The Paperboy (2012)
Almost a total disaster, saved by some good performances
Simply put The Paperboy is a complete mess of a film, wasting a great cast. The film is all over the place in terms of story, narrative, and character motivation and rapidly falls apart, outstaying its welcome long before even the halfway mark.
Director Lee Daniels is too concerned with making the film look 'period' to match its 1969 setting with, admittedly, a great range of colours and tones and hoping source music will fill the gaps in tension or atmosphere where his direction is lacking to make the film remotely engaging. The Paperboy just doesn't know what it wants to be and as the audience, this soon becomes frustratingly apparent.
The screenplay tries to be exploitative and shocking with scenes of S&M, sodomy, rough sex, and the now-infamous scene where Nicole Kidman pees on Zac Efron after he's stung by jellyfish. These scenes are not shocking, just laughably ridiculous and only add to the contempt one feels for the camp nonsense which unfolds. The Paperboy wants us to laugh with it, but laughing at it is the only result.
The film isn't a total write-off thanks to an excellent performance from Nicole Kidman who does her best with the crazy script and a genuinely great score by Mario Grigorov who channels the late 60s/early 70s setting with music which deserves a much better film to be showcased. Aside from this, there is precious little reason why anyone should watch this film.
Side Effects (2013)
A near-perfect modern Hollwood thriller
Steven Soderbergh is undeniably one of the most important directors to breakout into Hollywood in the last 30 years, and his filmography, whilst not always successful, can never be accused of sticking to a winning formula and rarely taking the blockbuster route.
Soderbergh is a progressive film maker, always looking to experiment in film making techniques and different ways of telling a story even if this is sometimes to the detriment of the film in question. His love of shooting on digital has seen him release eight films in just over four years and has seen some of his weakest output, namely the awful The Girlfriend Experience and Haywire, Contagion (which would have been far better if he'd made it as an HBO mini series), and the highly over rated Magic Mike. Recently Soderbergh announced his retirement from directing and said Side Effects will be his last cinematic release; if it is, he will have bowed out with one of his very best films.
Side Effects is vintage Soderbergh and easily his best film since his foray into digital. Gone is the low budget, TV-feel look of recent films and back is the quality, cinematic film making we saw with Che: Parts One and Two with a gripping, twisting story to complement the direction. One can't say too much about the story of this film without spoiling the film entirely, but it's no spoiler to say Side Effects keeps the audience guessing from beginning to end and nothing should be taken for granted.
The film evokes a 'Hitchcockian' feel throughout, opening with a slow zoom on a New York apartment window, several extreme low angles, a foreboding tracking shot of a blood-splattered floor, and a femme fatale (I'll say no more) and Soderbergh cranks the tension patiently and steadily without ever once going overboard. It is the sign of a director who has total control over his production, and that is something so rare in modern cinema. Moreover, Soderbergh has always demonstrated total control over his films and this is something which sets him apart from many of his contemporaries.
One of the most impressive aspects of the film is the performances by Rooney Mara and Jude Law. Mara shows a range which is far beyond what her limited filmography might suggest, and gets more to do here than in her breakout performance The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and her performance ultimately makes or breaks the film; in lesser hands (Blake Lively was once attached...) the film could have fallen flat. Moreover, Jude Law gives one of the best performances of his career and is superbly convincing as the 'real man' in peril where so often he just appears to be going through the motions and picking up the paycheque. Law is an actor who has never quite lived up to the potential he showed in The Talented Mr Ripley and Road To Perdition although not through a lack of talent, and with Side Effects he has material where he can really shine and show range.
The film isn't quite perfect and there are problems with the final 20 minutes. The reliance on the 'this is how I did it' flashback and exposition feels a little rushed and too familiar a plot device for a film displaying the quality up until that point. There are several twist in the final act, and not perhaps not enough time is given to help flesh these out to help make it truly believable, and the conclusion of Jude Law's character felt a little empty; there was potential for a great twist that was expected considering everything that we'd seen thus far, but never actually happened. A spoiler-free review can't go into too much detail on this, but let's just say 'ex-patient' and leave it at that.
Minor quibbles aside, Side Effects is as near-perfect a thriller as we've seen in many, many years and is a certain top ten for 2013. It may go down as one of the best Hollywood releases of the decade. Yes, it's that good.
The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)
Too clichéd to be anything other than average
This review contains some plot details.
The Place Beyond The Pines deserves praise for its ambition to weave together three stories linked to the same event in an art house style, however the only people who will walk away from this thinking it's anything more than a nice looking cliché are those who must have seen very few films.
Director Derek Cianfrance's film suffocates under the weight of its own attempts to be an epic drama, spanning 15 years and three chapters in the lives of all involved. This is a perfect example of a film forcing itself to be something it's not; there is never enough character arc or substantial depth of character development to warrant the overbearing 150 minute running time.
As mentioned, the film is complied of three stories, the first of which is easily the most accomplished section of the film, albeit far from original. We follow Luke (Ryan Gosling), a man with a violent history who now wants to care for Romina (Eva Mendes) and their baby boy whom she has kept a secret from him and now lives with another man. He turns to robbing banks in the small town of Schenectady, New York, and gives her some of the cash he steals. So, a man with the love of a woman in his heart jumps on to the desk at a bank and points a gun... Heat, Public Enemies, The Town, Point Blank have all told a similar story over two hours allowing the audience to invest in the characters, not cramming it into 30-odd minutes.
The success of this section of the film comes not from the dialogue or set-up, but from the great performance by Ryan Gosling, channelling some of the brooding madman vibe we saw in Drive. Gosling is a very effective actor with this smaller, character-driven material and the difference between him here and in Gangster Squad couldn't be greater. Cianfrance also demonstrates both excellent and awful directorial decisions in this act; the opening tracking shot is tremendous as is a car/bike chase which shows a fantastic new way of capturing the action from inside the police car in a single take, but then Cianfrance ruins it all when the action goes hand-held and the shakycam comes out like Paul Greengrass with caffeine jitters.
The transition from story one into story two introduces Bradley Cooper as cop Avery Cross in a delightfully matter-of-fact manner, not the way you'd usually expect to see a movie star introduced; he simply appears as a cop giving chase when Luke is attempting to get away from his latest bank robbery. This was a very nice touch.
The second story, however, soon has little to do with the opening story. After events which won't get detailed here, the story goes into a police corruption scandal which is familiar to anyone who has seen a Sidney Lumet picture, Copland or even recent trash such as Pride and Glory. The film is now rapidly running out of steam as everything unfolding is a cliché of much better films (again, see Lumet's work) and the crime thriller aspect which was set-up in the opening third is now over and, essentially, a new film has begun, and we have to focus now on caring about Avery Cross. However, the corruption case is neatly resolved with no impact whatsoever on the characters or audience and then the dreaded '15 years later' title card appears.
Fifteen years on and the third story begins, and the cliché machine goes into overdrive and The Place Beyond The Pines loses any interest it may have had left. Luke's son and Avery's son become friends! They both like drugs! They have both missed father figures in their journey to adulthood! But, remember everyone, AVERY KILLED Luke, so this new friendship surely won't fall apart within 30 minutes and one of the boys won't do a Google search on their father and throw away 17 years of good upbringing bar the occasional recreational drug indulgence to take revenge on the cop who is now running for District Attorney! Oh... yes it does and yes they do. It's just screen writing by connecting the dots and is wholly disengaging and uninteresting.
This final story ultimately sums up The Place Beyond The Pines; trying making something out of nothing for there is really nothing under the surface. Crime thriller, corruption story, father and son Greek tragedy, revenge story, family drama; this film wants to be it all but ends up like a film adaptation of a 600 page novel which was never written. Shame, because it would probably make for a great novel as well.
To the Wonder (2012)
Malick's first non-masterpiece, but still a beautiful film.
Terrence Malick is placed on a pedestal with very few other directors. His films are like no others I have seen or will ever see and they speak to me in a way no other director can. I claimed his previous film, The Tree Of Life, to be the best film of the decade with 9 years still remaining when it was released in 2011. Nothing has come close to it since. It greatly saddens me to write a review where I am unable to bestow the same praise of Malick's previous five masterpieces on his latest release To The Wonder.
First and foremost, To The Wonder is a greater success than it is a disappointment. The film is never anything other than a triumph of artistic beauty to look at and the 'trademark Malick' shots are ever-present although his camera feels more active and agitated than before and the frequency of edits seem greater than any of this previous films.
The problem with To The Wonder is that, for the first time, we don't care about the characters enough to allow Malick's narrative style to flow freely as it did before. Malick is pushing the boundaries of cinematic narrative to their very limits with this film but without the connection he usually brings so effortlessly to the audience's heart. We find out precious little about the two lovers, Maria (Olga Kurylenko) and Neil (Ben Affleck) and why they are going through their troubles. Moreover, the film is told almost entirely from Maria's viewpoint, leaving Affleck with very little to do and hinders his performance. It seems like Affleck never knows if his scenes will even make it to the final cut whereas Kurylenko is given free rein to act her heart out.
To The Wonder is most comparable with Malick's 2005 masterpiece The New World. The issue here is that when we see Pocahontas running and dancing through the fields and grass we understand her motivation for doing so; she is from another culture, another world, and has met this strange new man from a far away land and is expressing herself in a way Captain Smith has never seen before. In To The Wonder, there appears to be no reason why Maria acts similarly, and the magic Malick creates is for the first time questioned.
One of the major flaws in this film is the decision to have the voice-over of the central character, Marina and supporting character Father Quintana (Javier Bardem) in French and Spanish and subtitled on the screen in English. The intrusion of the subtitles and forcing the audience to look away from the images breaks the connection Malick's use of voice-over has in his films. Take any of his previous five films as examples; the voice-over ghosts through the films and has an omnipotent feeling. Seeing the words on the screen ruins the impact they have in the context of Malick's narrative style and loses the naturalism the words evoke, and is even more frustrating when we hear the characters speak in English to other people.
Around the hour mark, the film feels exhausted and lost in its own beauty, rather than telling a story in a unique way. It's Malick's first film set in the present day (save for the Sean Penn scenes in The Tree Of Life) and the story doesn't feel like it has anything to say, which is a shame because his other works say so much. This film also contains the only footage in his films I wish I could remove. The film opens with dreadful digital video camera footage and I went into something of a panic sat there in my seat... I've just hated something Terrence Malick has shot. Thankfully the footage is never repeated but it's a terrible few scenes. Maybe it's his way of saying man-made metropolis is ugly, but it's an ugly way of starting a beautiful film, regardless of symbolism.
To The Wonder feels like it is in need of an extended cut, adding more to the story and characters than what has been released because I am positive there is more to this film than this theatrical cut; In fact we already know Malick has completely cut out scenes with stars Rachel Weisz, Michael Sheen, Amanda Peet and Barry Pepper. The New World got its much needed extended edition on Blu-ray, and there has been talk of a six hour release of The Tree Of Life; To The Wonder needs this treatment if it is to ever stand up to the masterpieces which we have been privileged to watch up until now.
The Conspirator (2010)
Superb film making, and works well as an historical comment, too
Director Robert Redford takes the story of the conspiracy to kill, and subsequent murder of President Abraham Lincoln and expertly creates a courtroom drama in his latest film, The Conspirator.
Set shortly after the Civil War, the film tells the story of Mary Surratt, a Southern woman who ran a boarding house where several of the men (including the eventual assassin John Wilkes Booth) met and devised their plot. There was no evidence to suggest she was a conspirator herself, but swift justice was needed to appease the mournful Americans. To complicate matters, Surratt's son was one of the conspirators, but he vanished once the assassination had taken place.
Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy with a wonderful American accent) is the war-hero turned lawyer who is assigned to defend her, and like any good courtroom film, he doubts her innocence to begin with. Although in this film, his doubts are born from his prejudice against the South, not the defendant herself.
The film is well paced throughout its two hour screen time, and is intelligent, thought-provoking, well acted and scripted, and blends history and entertainment which satisfied me on many levels.
The film boasts an excellent cast including Tom Wilkinson, Kevin Kline, and Robin Wright as the conflicted Mary Surratt. I was also impressed to see younger actors like Justin Long, Evan Rachel Wood and Alexis Bledel adding historical drama to their CVs. All in all, an excellent cast on top form, all helped by a script which knows where it wants to go and what it wants to say, without preaching to its audience about right and wrong.
Aiken is faced with an ever increasingly difficult task of defending Surratt when the powers above him start applying the pressure by getting to his witnesses, and also interfering in his personal life. Yet this is all done with a level of believability and at no time do you question the film's historical accuracy. Surratt's case was a landmark case for the US judicial system, and the ethics between justice vs country are still as relevant now as they were then; Redford knows this and has made a film which asks its audience to think about how the past events resonate today.
For historians and anyone interested in history, The Conspirator is essential viewing for it educates, asks questions, and entertains. Not many films this year will do all three, and it is a shame this film will be overshadowed by the sequels, comic-book adaptations, and animations; all of which could learn from film-making like this.
VERDICT - 7 OUT OF 10
The Tree of Life (2011)
The film of the decade. Simply Flawless.
Terrence Malick directed his first feature film, Badlands, in 1973 and subsequently has made only four films since then. Each is a masterpiece of film making, and I am very happy to say The Tree of Life is no exception. Quite possibly, it is his most important and most heartbreakingly beautiful film to date.
The film does not follow a typical narrative structure - we see Jack as a man, Jack as a young boy, Jack as a baby, Jack in the afterlife, and the creation of life itself - all weaved across 140 magical minutes.
There has been much written about the meaning of this film and the messages and symbolism Malick may (or may not) be telling us. I am not writing to discuss that - that is for another essay all on its own. Moreover, 'understanding' the film in that depth of detail won't necessarily enhance my viewing pleasure any more than it could possibly be right now. What will enhance it is repeated viewings, and this is a film I will watch over and over again for years to come.
Let me begin with the creation of life sequence. The beauty of Malick's work technique he has to 'capture' moments and place them on film for our viewing pleasure; nothing ever seems forced or deliberate, but natural and organic. When I heard that he was using CGI for a large segment of his new film, I was immediately intrigued to see what he would do. I knew it wouldn't be some ILM-created digital world, but nothing could have prepared me for a 22 minute sequence which holds the attention unlike anything I'd seen before. I had purposefully stayed away from reviews and essays before seeing the film for myself, and was unsurprised to read afterwards that Malick had indeed worked with Douglas Trumbull to create the effects - it is the single greatest visual feast for the senses we have witnessed since 2001: A Space Odyssey. Using fluorescent dyes, flares, CO2, paints, chemicals, and even milk to create the effects, this sequence MUST be seen at the cinema to do it justice. It is beyond special effects. I won't even begin to describe its visual beauty, but I am happy to admit it brought a tear to my eye - this is what every film lover wants to see, and seeing it was an emotional experience.
The Tree of Life immerses the viewer with shots and scenes of pure cinematic poetry - this is the experience of cinema at its grandest. The 70mm sequences (if only the whole film were shot this way!); his trademark low tracking shots through grass; his trademark low angles, looking up a man and nature; the voice-over and narration; the classical score; It is all there throughout the film.
The lighting and cinematography is a thing of beauty in itself - the innocent soft whites of the 1950s, and the metallic, harsh palate of the modern day. It was interesting to see Malick's first representation of the present day on film, as all other films tale place in the past. The low angles are distorted by glass ceilings, the tall trees replaced by skyscrapers, Sean Penn rides an elevator as the scenery disappears behind him. Malick does not seem happy with the modern world, yet his style never flags, not for a second. We can tell so much of his thoughts with what the camera does - it is a talent unlike no other. His camera rarely stays still and the sense of movement is so natural, floating around the characters and scenery, that we get caught up in its flow, taken along in the journey of just a few seconds, before the next one begins. Malick doesn't linger on shots for too long, but scenes like the perfectly framed shot of the new born baby's foot between the hands of Brad Pitt stays in the memory long after it is over - perfection.
I can not fault this film. To me, it is film making of the highest order and has no equal. Yet I understand why many people will not enjoy it. They will say it is boring as there is no plot; they will say it is two or three different films put together and neither fit the others; they will say it makes no sense. I say the same thing about 75% of the new films released. Each person enjoys different things. Moreover, The Tree Of Life doesn't have the same level of enjoyment I get from such greats as The Godfather, Taxi Driver, The Searchers, The Apartment, or even Malick's The Thin Red Line.
What it does have is a unique quality that I had not seen before, and a cinematic experience I may never have again.
VERDICT - 10 OUT OF 10. Flawless film making and a true experience for the master.
The Departed (2006)
Sensational film from Scorsese
Having seen The Departed, it simply shows us why Martin Scorsese is still one of the best directors working today. The pace, music, characters, action, dialogue, and casting are all perfect - you would not expect anything else from the director who has brought us some of the greatest films in modern film-making history. Following on from Gangs of New York and The Aviator, the Scorsese/DiCaprio relationship is at its strongest with this tour de force from both - anyone who may still doubt Dicaprio's acting ability need look no further than his first encounter with the police psychiatrist (Vera Farmiga)and his the 'Cranberry juice' scene - reminiscent of Joe Pesci at his uncontrollable best. The inspired choice of Jack Nicholson is something film lovers have been waiting to see for many years, and under the masterful eye of Scorsese, Nicholson is able to give a performance that is both menacing and dangerous with flashes of brutality which are utterly believable. Matt Damon gives, what I think, is his best performance since Goodwill Hunting. Perhaps overshadowed at times by DiCaprio, but any Damon fan will find him a delight to watch. The same must be said, too, of the supporting cast - Mark Wahlberg is excellent in his support role and has some of the films best lines which are delivered well. Alec Baldwin does the role of Police chief with ease, and Martin sheen is, as always, terrific. I urge any fan of great storytelling and character-driven cinema to see The Departed - Scorsese's best film since Casino. 10/10