The Movie Club
Wesley, Dana, Carina, and everyone,
Well, I don't want to go down as the Lake House guy. I liked it just fine, but it was probably something like the 47th-best film I saw last year. I'll go down swinging for The Departed, however, whose pop-crackle stirred up a haze of moral confusion. Sure, Nicholson does little more than play Satan in the shape of Jack Nicholson, but Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio take Scorsese's career-long concern with men who lose themselves chasing the American dream in piles of cash, stacks of guns, and smoke-filled backrooms into what feels like its endgame. Nobody here gets out alive.
David Denby has an alarming/alarmist piece in the current New Yorker worrying about the future of film-going, given that the coming generation is "platform agnostic": They're just as has happy watching something on their iPod as in a theater. It's a legitimate concern, but I think the worrying has its limits. I can't imagine anyone getting the same buzz off watching a film downloaded on a whim to an iPod that I got seeing the movies that drove me into this career. I left The Departed shaken, which is something I hadn't expected going in, just as I hadn't expected to be as moved as I was by any of the great films I saw this year. It's easy to get beaten down by the movies—did anyone else see Smokin' Aces yet?—but there was a lot out there this year to shock the faith back into even the most skeptical filmgoers. I look forward to another year at the movies. See you there.
Keith Phipps is a Chicago-based freelance writer and editor specializing in film and other aspects of pop culture.