Monday, December 11, 2006

Why? (Or do I really have to ask?)

Matt Damon seems to be responding to the news from Wesley Morris

"Here's a shock," Wesley Morris, the Globe's witty-but-superficial movie second-stringer informs us in today's paper: "The Departed, Martin Scorsese's hit about Boston mobsters and the cops they corrupt, was a hit with the Boston Society of Film Critics, too. The thriller was voted best picture, and the society named Scorsese best director and William Monahan's adaptation of a Hong Kong cat-and-mouse tale best screenplay."

Morris doesn't tell us who's actually IN the Boston Society of Film Critics, but I suppose it's the usual list of suspects from the Globe, Phoenix and Herald. And looking over the history of their award, it's clear they haven't done so badly in the past (Brokeback Mountain, Sideways, The Pianist . . .) But really - was the hometown buzz of The Departed enough to banish ALL thought of its many flaws? Was it really a better movie than Little Children, Shortbus, or even Little Miss Sunshine? I suppose the Scorsese award is just one more attempt to give the guy the recognition he was due in the seventies (but no longer merits) - but how, exactly can you justify giving Best Supporting Actor to Mark Wahlberg? Or best screenplay to William Monahan? The mind continues to boggle.

A quick addendum: And why, exactly, does the Boston Society of Film Critics have a "foreign film" category (the award this year apparently went to Pan's Labyrinth, which I haven't seen). I understand why the Oscars hold on to that anachronism - they are, in the end, a marketing tool for Hollywood. But why would a film critics' society maintain the fiction that Hollywood cinema should be held to a different (i.e., lower) standard than world cinema (except, perhaps, to participate vicariously in "Oscar buzz")?


  1. I have to say that I had a great time watching The Departed in packed theatre in Boston on opening weekend.

    But the selection as best film does boggle.

    In fact, Scorcese didn't seem to put the full effort into this picture. Jim Emerson, over at Roger Ebert's site had this post about how the Departed is actually a little sloppy in its craftsmanship:

  2. You can agree or disagree with our choices. I don't always agree myself. But do try to get the facts straight.

    Not all members write for the Globe, Phoenix or Herald. Among us are reviewers for the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, WBZ, The Weekly Dig, NECN, the Patriot Ledger, Bay Windows, WBUR, the Cambridge Chronicle, and the MetroWest Daily News.

    And we make no apologies for selected "The Departed" which was chosen on its merits, and not because it was based locally.

    As for Mark Wahlberg, I'll let others speak for themselves, but I found his performance frequently blew everyone else off the screen. He was my first choice and I was pleased to see so many of my colleagues agreed, given how often we don't.

  3. Hey, I googled you, I used zoominfo - nada; no member list; no phone number; nothing. Get a web site, honey! What, you think I'm going to call Wesley Morris and say, "Hi, Wesley, would you tell me who's in your club before I tear it apart on my blog?"

    As for "making no apologies" - hey, I'd just balls it out, too, if I were you. Mr. Ys has it right - Scorsese hardly seems engaged through much of the picture, and William Monahan's screenplay is gritty but thin. The "Goodfellas" soundtrack doesn't help much - nor does watching Jack Nicholson reprise his Joker schtick for the umpteenth time. But then how can you argue with someone who thinks Mark Wahlberg "blew everyone off the screen"? All I can say is the movie blew, all right.

  4. Hmmm. "Balls it out"? Is that a legitimate grammatical construction? What would Steven Pinker say? Still, "ball it out" sounds odd. Perhaps I should have said, "Hey, I'd just go balls out on this too, if I were you." My apologies for the error.