Movie Reviews

Just writing a blog entry to let the weather warm up a bit, so that biking down to farmer's market will be a little less painful. Currently 41 F out; high today will be 50 F. Yay!

Martin Scorsese's latest movie, which is a remake of the Hong Kong movie Infernal Affairs, in a modern-day Boston setting. The plot involves a cop recruited to go deep undercover in an organized crime gang (Leonardo DiCaprio), and a guy who grew up under the organized crime kingpin, and joined the police to inform for him (Matt Damon). The crime boss is a Whitey Bulger-esque figure, played in classic menacing villain form by Jack Nicholson. The whole movie was tension-filled, cat-and-mouse, and violent--classic Scorsese. I agree with the critics who say it will be up there with Goodfellas and Taxi Driver; incidentally, I've also seen The Aviator and The Gangs of New York and thought they were both worthwhile. And yeah, I have a few choice Joe Pesci quotes from Casino memorized.

One thing I loved about this film is that it was filled with Boston atmosphere--from the townie accents, triple deckers, the real touches of the Whitey character (cops in his pocket; informing for the FBI on the side), the Irish fighting the Italian mob from Providence, hopping on the Red Line. The government building used in exterior establishing shots is a downtown courthouse that my former company did work on. Much of the movie was filmed in New York City, but there were definitely some Boston-flimed scenes. For instance, in Chinatown, you get to see the sign for China Pearl (my favorite Dim Sum place) and Hing Shing (my favorite place to get pork buns). I thought it was up there with Mystic River and Monument Ave. in evoking Boston and its underworld. Man... makes me really miss the place.

A complete change of pace--on Friday, I went to out to a Vietnamese place with Dan (mmmm.. tasty noodles), and he rented this French Canadian film. Four men and four women, all of them university professors and their friends/spouses, talk about sex, love, and the fall of civilization. The men and women are first introduced and their characters established in separate groups, with the women at the gym, and the men cooking and drinking at the lake house where they will be having dinner. Also complicating things is that many of the characters have slept with each other. It is a very talky film, and the wit of the conversation is wonderful; some critics have compared it to The Big Chill and My Dinner with Andre. Dan's review of the movie captures my reaction pretty well.

I have actually seen the sequel to this movie, The Barbarian Invasions--it has the same characters at the same lake house, except one of them is dying of cancer, and the folks from the first movie fly in from all over the globe to say their goodbyes. It is also about the conflict between the dying character (a hedonistic socialist university professor) and his son (a more straitlaced, rich and successful commodities trader). Both of these films were thoroughly worthwhile.

As a side note, one thing I liked about these films was the atmosphere of the lake house scenes--friends who have known each other for ages, preparing dinner, drinking, and talking and laughing together. Folks bundled up against the chill in chairs on the deck, drinking into the night. Like I've mentioned before, I'd love to split a summer/vacation house with folks someday in Western MA, NH, or upstate NY. Of course, we can leave out the melodrama of who-slept-with-who... oh wait... we have those in our group too. Never mind... (actually, in our group's case, I'd say that it's not melodrama, it's just history).

Anyway, it's up to 49 F--time to get going. Cooking dinner for a fellow grad student tonight.


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