Left: Thank goodness I'm from NYC, and not like those Boston cops at all! (From DMTC's recent production of "West Side Story." Photo by Dannette Vassar. But wait! Dannette is in the foreground. How can that be? I smell a rat!)
Went and saw Martin Scorcese's new crime epic, "The Departed." Lots of unexpected corruption in the Boston Police Department. There was an undercover case opened several years ago that may have been a partial inspiration for this movie - the discovery that the FBI had been using a Boston mafia member in the 70's and 80's as an informant, and hence was directly implicated in at least one murder. Nevertheless, reality aside, it appears the plot of this movie comes from a 2002 Hong Kong film, suggesting the universality of this particular theme:
Years ago, a powerful Irish mafia figure placed a small selection of his youngest, brightest men into the Massachusetts Police Academy as cadets. Their purpose is to eventually rise within the prestigious ranks of the city's police department, to serve as the eyes and ears of their boss. While somewhere else, a young cadet was assigned with an equally dangerous task: infiltrate the Irish syndicate headed by the man sending in his own to the Boston Police.Very interesting film! The movie has the characteristic Scorcese Taxi-Driver type of bloody grandeur, with language too coarse to be realistic, and lots of blood-spattering gunplay - the inspiration for Tarantino and a whole younger generation of filmmakers. Hooray for the old man! He can still pack the theaters!
...The Departed is set in South Boston, where the state police force is waging war on Irish-American organized crime. Young undercover cop Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) is assigned to infiltrate the mob syndicate run by gangland chief Frank Costello (Nicholson). While Billy quickly gains Costello's confidence, Colin Sullivan (Damon), a hardened young criminal who has infiltrated the police department as an informer for the syndicate, is rising to a position of power in the Special Investigation Unit. Each man becomes deeply consumed by his double life, gathering information about the plans and counter-plans of the operations he has penetrated. But when it becomes clear to both the mob and the police that there's a mole in their midst, Billy and Colin are suddenly in danger of being caught and exposed to the enemy-and each must race to uncover the identity of the other man in time to save himself. But is either willing to turn on the friends and comrades they've made during their long stints undercover?
Afterwards we wondered: who can you trust? People in power? Not if they are like Scorcese's Boston Police Department. Even if you rely only on yourself, what you believe to be true may be so utterly wrong as to render your judgement useless.
Jack Nicholson, that corrupt, debauched galleon of a small-time Don, is priceless "smelling a rat".