- The impotent/viral dynamic between Colin (Damon) and Billy (DiCaprio)/Frank (Nicholson) is still the film’s funniest subtext, though I seem to have missed one of its key appearances. After Frank and Colin meet at Frank’s porn theater (where studly Frank waves a dildo at limp-dicked Colin), Colin is chased by Billy into an alley, where he attempts to stab Billy but instead accidentally and incorrectly knifes an innocent Asian man – another case of Colin’s inability to properly wield a phallic object.
- Vera Farmiga remains the weak link, not simply because her character’s romantic entanglement with Colin and Billy is ridiculous, but because it’s so insanely contrived and phony. Farmiga’s shrink Madolyn has no truly independent character traits – a (poorly Photoshopped) childhood photo of her on a horse is the only thing Scorsese gives the character in terms of detail or depth. She’s the epitome of a plot device, there only to lamely serve the development of the story and the two protagonists with whom she interacts. Farmiga makes the most of the “character,” but Madolyn’s presence barely adds anything to the film, and thus comes off as borderline embarrassing.
- In most reviews of the film (mine included), the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” is the primary song referenced. Yet upon second viewing, the track that really gives the film it’s powerhouse oomph is the Dropkick Murphy’s propulsive, rambunctious “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” which is used so brilliantly during the film’s delayed opening credit sequence – where Scorsese intercuts between Damon on the “outside,” and DiCaprio in prison – that it practically makes me want to jump out of my seat with excitement.
- Scorsese’s eventual operatic instincts (just like Nicholson’s flamboyant antics) didn’t bother me as much this time around, and his direction seems pretty great all the way through. After the first twenty minutes or so, however, no shot is quite as sweet as the one of Martin Sheen taking a slow-mo dive off a building rooftop – an image that once again made me gasp.
- The rat punchline at the end is not only too cheesy (and stupid) by half, but it’s completely unnecessary, and spoils what otherwise would have been a perfectly fitting final pan from Damon’s corpse to the state building/halls of governmental power to which he aspired.
That Dropkick Murphy's song has aggressively pushed its way up my iTunes list since re-watching the film (not to mention that stellar Van Morrison / Pink Floyd live performance of "Comfortably Numb"). Vera Farmiga was so good in the film that it downright pisses me off that she wasn't put to better use. And yes...I still hate the rat (c'mon, Marty). Nonetheless, while I prefer Eastwood's work in "Letters", I hope this film finally gives Scorsese the gold (imagine the ovation!).
Posted by: rob | February 22, 2007 at 01:23 PM
This is pilfered from another poster suggesting that Damon is gay, and it may add some indirect support to your first comment. I think these are all good points:
* Damon's character addresses the rival Fire Department team as a bunch of "homos" and "queers." He says it repeatedly. At one point, he says it to teammate while sitting on a bench. One almost gets the feeling that he is not only obsessed with the idea, but he is also feeling out the teammate.
* Another clue involved Damon's looking at his soon to be apartment. The realtor asks if he is married. When Damon responds that he is not, the realtor makes some insinuating comments. For example, he mentions that it is a big place for one who is not involved with anyone. An exasperated Damon tells him to just give him the papers. He was clearly offended by something.
* Of course, there is also the dysfunctional sexual relationship between Damon's character and the psychiatrist. At one point, the latter asks him if he wants to discuss what happened the night before while eating a bananna. She then states that it is common and happens to a lot of guys. Is it not safe to assume what transpired that previous evening?
* There is also the scene in which Billy calls Colin (Damon) a "two-faced ******." This could indeed just be verbal abuse in a macho world, but Damon responds in a very startled way. Perhaps Costello's (Nicholson) tapes revealed something about Colin's sexual orientation.
Posted by: mpatton | February 22, 2007 at 09:19 PM
Rob - I too prefer Eastwood's work, but given Scorsese's past snubs, I'm also fine with him winning.
mpatton - An interesting read, and one which seems to have some substance. Certainly would explain why (in the scene referenced above) Damon stabs a guy with his phallic knife...
Posted by: Nick | February 22, 2007 at 11:20 PM
I saw the film for the second time tonight - just finished it. Indeed, one has to really connect the nuances that the story gives to come to a conclusion if Daemon's character is either gay or impotent (or both!). In fact, I think that alongside the main plot, that part of the story is quite intriguing. It's also a bit misleading. Although there are enough tips that Daemon's character indeed can't get his "fellow" up (remember what Daemon says to the captain at the golf driving range: "oh yeah, it's in overdrive", referring to his dick as he nervously reacts to a joke made by the captain), there are also evidences that he may be gay (like when he defends himself like a girls would when punched and slapped by the furious investigator inside the meeting room in the police department).
A great story, I think.
Posted by: Luciano Finardi | December 18, 2008 at 11:41 PM