If F-words were horses, Martin Scorcese’s The Departed would be a stampede. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Scorcese film without an intensive barrage of R-rated language and this is a prime example of the director in his natural environment, among cops and wise guys and navigating a morally ambiguous urban landscape.
Scorcese has spent the last decade away from his natural milieu, possibly pursuing a level of artsy respectability that would earn him that long denied Best Director Oscar. That makes it someone ironic that he finally won the award with a lurid, violent but insightful crime film that played to his strengths.
Take a screenwriting class, any screenwriting class, and I almost guarantee you that, before the first session is over, your teacher will mention Robert Towne‘s script for Chinatown in a tone that grown men usually reserve for talking about their first crush. The screenplay for this film has been held up as an example of near perfection of the screenwriting craft and, if I were more cynical, I might look hard for a reason to find fault with that opinion. I probably wouldn’t find it, though.
In the late 1980s, Batman was enjoying quite a renaissance, mostly on the strength of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One, along with Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke which rescued the character from the campy 1960s television show and returned him to the dark, gritty streets from which he came. When it was announced that Warner Brothers was producing a motion picture version, the comic’s legions of fans could scarcely contain themselves. The film attracted A-List talent, most notably Jack Nicholson as the Joker and was Warner’s big film of 1989.
What the fans got, however, was a bit of a mixed bag. Continue reading