Thursday, October 19, 2006

Things I have been up to of late:

The post I wrote up yesterday got deleted somehow and didn't get published. I'm trying to recall what I said there. Here's a rough summary, because I couldn't be arsed to put the proper links in and all that.

[/edit]: Erm.. it came through afterall. My bad. Also I finally finished season 1 of Lost. Daniel, the recapper on TWoP ends season 1 with this; "
If they get down that hatch and there's somebody at the bottom named Rambaldi, I'm done." Heh. Oh JJ Abrams, how you have scarred us all.

So, if you haven't noticed it already, I was very, very, majorly against remaking
Infernal Affairs. Since I found out there were even talks of it in the works, the alarm bells went on full psychotic alert and have stayed on since. So finally watching The Departed is a big deal to me, not cause that's an indication of my unhealthy tendencies to get too attached to movies/TV series and the like, but cause I wanted to laugh in Hollywood's face and give it a smug one finger salute when it turned out to be an absolute suckfest thus proving the theory that remakes, especially of really excellent films to start with, are unnecessary with the emphasis on the UN-. Boy, that was a type-ful.

The way I see it, the general critic/viewer will fall into a number of categories which will subsequently affect what they thought of the movie.

Type A viewers are the ones who went into the The Departed without watching the original Hong Kong flick. They might have heard about the huge furore regarding the remake, but either due to apathy, inability to get their hands on Infernal Affairs, or refusal to watch a movie with subtitles (what the fuck, right?) they go into the movie with little or no prior knowledge of the original. These are the viewers who most likely will come out raving about the movie going on about how it was a masterpiece and the best cinematic experience of 2006. You can smell their obnoxious "Fuck the original, this movie is the shizz, yo" stench from three forum boards away.

Type B is made up of the Scorsese fanboys. These are the people who have been following Scorsese from the start and feel a particular affinity towards the remake because, and this is not limited to, general obnoxiousness and their need to validate their "Scorsese is the best director in the world" claim. Their obnoxiousness can be explained by the fact that their self-esteem have been torn to shreds and withered since Gangs of New York. Type B viewers can be seen trolling online forums telling anyone and everyone that Scorsese "better be clearing his mantlepiece for Oscar" next year. For better or worse, most critics seem to fall into this category.

Type C is best seen here. They are the ones who were completely enamoured by the original and were vehemently opposed to the remake. Regardless of whichever god they believe in and worship, Roy Lee is commonly acknowledged as the devil that needs to be purged from society, STAT. They are obnoxiously waving their "Y'all nOObz ain't got nothin' on the original" flag in everyone's faces. Depressed and to afraid to end your own life? Just casually mention how you preferred the remake and in seconds, dude, we're talking a bloodbath massacre of epic proportions.

Type D, my favourite kind, has this to say when questioned about the The Departed vs Infernal Affairs debate; [in the most obnoxious voice ever] "Who the fuck cares? TRANSFORMERS IS GOING TO TRUMP EVERYONE'S ASSES." -cue loud cricket noises in the background-

Right. No takers for guessing which type I am? Which is why it kills me to say this,
yeah.. The Departed wasn't too damn bad. Oh my street cred.. what's going to happen to us now?


Fuck me but I'll admit that as adamantly against as I was towards to remake, it kinda impressed this cynic. The performance by the two leads, Leo DiCaprio and Matt Damon, in particular really blew me away. The last DiCaprio flick I watched was Romeo + Juliet, so I had no idea his talent grew exponentially throughout the years. I mean he almost does justice to Tony 'The fucking Man' Leung! And Matt Damon, who I associate most with Team America's caricature, "Mattt Damoooonn", completely floored me. When he was in suave mode, I was all "[Joey Tribbiani] Yo, how you doing?", and he actually held his ground against DiCaprio throughout the tense moments near the end. Not bad for a guy who I previously thought was about as talented as Ben Affleck (Oh dear god, please let this not mean that I have to change my opinion about Ben 'for crissakes, it's Ben frickin' Affleck' Affleck).

The only other thing noteworthy was the decision to merge the girlfriend and therapist in IA into one singular role in TD. I've always thought the female characters were the weakest link in an otherwise solid classic so creating one female lead who served both purposes was the best thing TD brought to the remake. At first I agreed with Ad when she mentioned about Madolyn's non-reservations regarding sex outside her relationship (re: Meredith Grey-type slutty behaviour), but after ruminating about it, I realized if both Costigan and Sullivan managed to charmed my cynical ass off, who's to say it couldn't happen to her too.

Apart from those two points, the remake was as a whole, subpar to the original. The plot to IA had a certain poetry to it, the idea of Karma, purgatory, Hell, the philosophical subtexts of good and evil were portrayed better in the characters of Ming and Yan. There was a lot of emphasis placed on the idea of being a cop and subsequently, what it meant to Yan (Tony Leung, the 'good' mole). This is especially evident in the scene where Yan gets reprimanded by the Superintendant for acting like a gangster and he yells out his own inner conflict between remaining the farce and keeping the faith. In Costigan, Yan's Western reincarnation, he wanted an identity. I understood that he wanted to escape his family's past identity of the Irish mob business, and his goals of being a cop, but his lack of wanting to a future that was so abstract detracted from the full impact of his death.

In the original, Ming (Andy Lau aka the 'bad' mole) as well struggles with the idea of good and bad. He may have started out a mole but by the end it becomes pretty clear that he yearns to be the good guy. I might be reading too much but the flashbacks to their police training days especially signified how his desire to be a mole was more a matter of fate playing her hand than intentional. The scene where he shoots Eric Tsang's character, the triad boss, in that shit-inducing climax was where he made the choice between good and evil. Had Yan not find out his true nature he would have gone on living an exemplary lifestyle, discarding of his ties with the triad and being a good cop. With Sullivan, I got the feeling that he wasn't motivated by this good/bad conundrum. It seemed like his main motivation was himself. He killed Connelly because he was getting out of hand and not listening to him, he wanted to protect himself so he shot the second mole, basically all that he does is for self-promotion. Or at least that's what I got from it. Which isn't to say that this interpretation made for a shit remake, just that Infernal Affairs had more contextual meaning, and thus, oomph. Ya know, that wow factor.

I'm getting tired of comparing the two and I'm only halfway through, so I'll just write up the rest of it in this simplistic and totally obnoxious manner which I should start using more because I love;

25 minutes of the Exposition Fairy at the beginning before the title came on = UNnecessary.
Dingham, Mark Wahlberg = UNnecessary = way to perfect a stocktype 'bad' cop = Doogie McDoucheBag.
Connelly = FBI Informant =WTF? UNnecessary plot point.
Connelly = Jack Nicholson = Something's Gotta Give = hospital robes = heh.
Cousin Sean = Kevin Corrigan from Grounded For Life = coolest uncle on TV = I knew he looked familiar!
Boston accents = much love = well done from all cast with exception of Doogie McDoucheBag.

And just to sell the whole thing home;

Tony Leung >> Leo DiCaprio
Andy Lau = Matt Damon
Anthony Wong >>>>>>>> Martin Sheen. He sold the father figure so much better. And the death scene? No contest.
Doogie McDoucheBag = Will he ever outgrow the days of Marky Mark? Not as long as VH1 or YouTube lives on, says a giggling Karen.

I also watched Little Miss Sunshine with AdLee, but then I fell asleep halfway through which actually does not say a lot about the film. I fall asleep everywhere, whenever.

As expected, The Departed jacked up the amount of violence and sex in the remake. However it didn't quite suck as bad as I wanted and expected it to. I wonder if Tony Leung is sitting somewhere in Hong Kong going, "Sei gwai lo! Wo ho seong sat sei Doogie McDoucheBag. Tiu lah.. gam cha tho ho yi?!"