It’s not Goodfellas or Taxi Driver or Raging Bull, but it’s still a superior film. And if I saw Marty’s little face drop one more time at the Academy Awards - as someone else’s name is read out - I might have to have blown my brains out. If Scorsese had won the Oscar for directing Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure I would still have heartily joined in the celebrations and wished him well because at last, justice had been done. Thankfully though, he won it for making something decent.
It’s an exemplary thriller. Having seen it initially when it came out, on the second viewing it was even better. Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is Bostonian undercover cop looking constantly as if he’s about to implode. Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) is the big boss he’s trying to take down with Mr French (Ray Winstone) as his henchman. Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) is bullshit artiste extraordinaire and rotten apple in the police department. And Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg almost steal the film even though they are barely in it.
It’s not the sexiest of crime flicks. Here Jack Nicholson must be the worst dressed gangster ever committed to celluloid. Look, I know this is a taught thriller with the emphasis on plot and tension but in the name of the fashion police, it is painfully apparent that the styling of everyone involved is, frankly, appalling. This appears to be the price you have to pay for authenticity, which I’m sure is faultless.
Scorsese and Nicholson is a marriage made in heaven but the film is distinctly lacking a killer Nicholson scene. If you’ve seen the film, think about it – what’s the classic Nicholson scene? Answer: there isn’t one. Which is a damn shame and the blame has to lie with writer, William Monahan. While we’re quibbling, the inescapable soundtrack is quite a distraction. There are a number of scenes where the drama is completely sucked out due to wall-to-wall music. Blimey, this is what it’s come to. This narcissistic blogger is now offering advice to Scorsese. In my defence, we all have to start somewhere. (By the way if anyone in the industry is reading, I have just polished my spec script for Christmas Vacation 3D: Cousin Eddie’s Revenge.)