Today I'm comparing The Departed with No Country for Old Men.
The short answer: It's a tie.
Chris and I watched most of No Country for Old Men a couple of months before the Popcorn Bowl challenge even started. I didn't realize it was the 2007 Academy Award winner for best picture. Based on a Cormac McCarthy novel and written/directed by the Coen brothers (I loved Fargo and O Brother, Where Art Thou?), I figured it'd be a good movie.
Well, we watched about 2/3 of it before I fell asleep. I didn't like any of the characters (and believe me, characters don't have to be "likeable" in order for me to like them--many a villain has captured a piece of my heart). I didn't really get what was going on most of the time. Though the fact that I was falling asleep may have influenced that, toward the middle. We said we'd watch the rest tomorrow, and tomorrow never came. Then it showed up on the Popcorn Challenge list, and rather than forcing myself to rewatch it, I hoped that the movie it was up against would be so amazing that there would be no contest between them.
Enter The Departed.
This 2006 winner was directed by Martin Scorcese, who's famous for movies that I mostly haven't watched because Chris has told me I'd hate them (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Shutter Island). I did like what he did with Hugo, and I'm pretty sure I didn't hate GoodFellas despite the excessive violence, but that was 1990 so it's a little fuzzy.
Now, before I go on, there's one thing you have to know about me: I am not good with the faces in movies. I like for movies to be filmed like The Amazing Race where there is the pink couple and the guy who wears crazy hats, so I can keep track of who is who. I can and did get through half of Platoon before saying, "So which one is Willem Dafoe again?"
There are certain actors whose faces stick with me--I can always pick out Tom Hanks or Julia Roberts, for example. I'm really good at spotting Morgan Freeman (no, come on, I'm serious! Even when there's another black man in the film.) And I thought I had Leonardo DiCaprio down pretty well.
So The Departed begins, and there's two young guys: Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon, who are somewhat similar looking. (And then there's Jack Nicholson, who I can even pick out at baseball games on TV). And they each have a separate story line, which then merges into one story line, and by ten minutes into the movie I had no idea which guy went with which back story. I spent an inordinate amount of time throughout the movie (just ask Chris and Ben) asking, "So, is that the one who was in the taxi with Jack Nicholson at the beginning?" and "Wait, so this is the good cop posing as a bad cop, or the bad cop posing as a good cop? And how does he know Jack Nicholson again?"
I was even annoying to myself.
And I realize this is more of an issue for me than for most people, but I think dying Matt Damon's hair hot pink wouldn't have been such a bad idea. Or choosing an actor who was heavier set, or not white, or wore glasses.
|Wait, which one's Beyoncé again?|
However. Even if Colin Sullivan had been played by Beyoncé, it would not have changed the fact that by the end of the movie, any character that I could possibly have cared about had managed to either fully disappoint me, or die, or both. Chris, who can always tell his diCaprios from his Damons, was disgusted by the end, too. Not just because his movie companion kept asking annoying questions.
So I spent about 5 minutes trying to decide which of these two movies I hated less, or whether I needed to give No Country for Old Men another try, before I realized that no matter which one wins, it will be up against either Rocky or Slumdog Millionaire, both of which leave these two at the bottom of the bowl with the greasy dregs of unpopped kernels, as far as I'm concerned.