Howard Hawks could direct anything. He was so versatile, he made excellent films in almost every genre. There are not many directors who can do that. Frank Capra and Alfred Hitchcock were at their best when they stuck to the thing they did best. The same can be said of Martin Scorsese. Scorsese recently made films like Gangs of New York and The Aviator. While these films were not bad, they were not as good as they could have been. I did not care for Gangs of New York. It seemed to me Leonardo DeCaprio was miscast. It also seems that DeCaprio is Scorsese's new DeNiro. Scorsese evidently likes DeCaprio's work. DeCaprio does seem to be maturing and he is at his best in The Departed. So is Scorsese. Scorsese's best work has been in violent, gangster films. Mean Streets and Goodfellas are already classics of that genre.

Like Robert Altman, Scorsese has no trouble recruiting actors to play in his films. The Departed is like a who's who in Hollywood. In addition to DeCaprio, there is Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, and Mark Wahlberg. They are all well cast. Damon and DeCaprio do their best to keep Jack Nicholson from stealing the film. To their credit, they do so. Nicholson is powerful as usual in the role of Costello, the mob boss in South Boston. Damon and DeCaprio are both "rats." Damon, on the police force, is a spy for Nicholson. DeCaprio is an undercover cop who has infiltrated the mob. It becomes general knowledge that each side has a "rat." Who will uncover "the rat" in their midst first?

The plot is deliciously complex and rather unpredictable. As is the case with Scorsese's gangster films, this one is riddled with the "F" word. How this will be cleaned up for television is beyond me. There's a lot of blood and gore in addition to the foul language. But the film is one of Scorcese's best. He has been nominated for an Oscar for best director six times but has never won. Could this be his year?






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