Sunday, December 29, 2013

Top 31 Things I Love About The Departed (that no one talks about)

Call me cynical, but I honestly didn’t know if Martin Scorsese had another film in him as compulsively addicting as The Departed. The Wolf of Wall Street proved me wrong, but really, I can watch The Departed anytime, anywhere. It simply never gets old. During a recent viewing, I thought it’d be fun to track a few things I love about the film that don’t get mentioned much. Enjoy!

The way Jack Nicolson’s Frank Costello wins over young Carmen. Our first insight into his unique charm. 

The fading sound design that plays over Colin’s jump cut into manhood.

No one but Scorsese could get away with this shot in today’s American cinema.

I love how Colin calls the receptionist, “Hon.” He’s such a slime ball.

The way Matt Damon says: “SIU. Whatta country.”

“Maybe it woulda done you some good to have some questions from time to time. ‘Am I an asshole? Are my kids a mess?’”

This is one of my favorite Good Cop-Bad Cop scenes ever filmed. In particular, I love how Mark Wahlberg goes from being a complete asshole to, “We need you, pal.”

The way the music’s volume increases when this scene cuts. An inspired motif Scorsese uses throughout the film.

Okay, I know people talk about this a lot, but I fucking love that the title card doesn’t appear until 19 minutes into the film.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s shakey voice the first time he talks to Mr. French.

Look, it’s Mark Wahlberg’s brother. No, the other brother.

My favorite scene of the film. It never gets enough credit.

The way the camera gently moves to a Dutch angle as Billy is beating up the guys from Providence.

My favorite cross-cut of the film: Colin happy on his date, to Billy admiring a nurse but ultimately too ashamed to say anything.

“This crazy fuck knocked Jimmy Bags’ teeth out.” “…So.”

As bad of a guy as Frank Costello is, you have to admire the fact that he uses his power to protect the kids.

I love Vera Farmiga bringing up a failed sexual escapade as she peels and strokes a banana. Seriously, the film’s subtlety has never been given enough credit.

Alec Baldwin grabbing his crouch during his motivational speech.

“Patriot Act, Patriot Aaaaact.”

The subtle reveal that Mark Wahlberg’s character is married.

Captain Queenan’s paternal instinct.

The jump cut of Billy and Madolyn talking from across the kitchen to them embracing. (I stole this exact cut for the movie I’m currently shooting.)

The overall identical attitude Costello has toward Colin and Billy.

Dignam flipping Colin off as he walks by Colin’s office.

The exaggerated sound design of cell phones throughout the film.

This bitchin’ “hero” shot:

“Fuck it.”

“Oh what is this, a citizen’s arrest? Blow me.”

The way Anthony Anderson’s voice cracks when he’s yelling at DiCaprio on the roof.

Colin crying as he begs Billy to kill him.

This flawless tribute to The Third Man.

 Click here for more lists from And So it Begins, including:
Top 27 Things I Love About Scream (that no one talks about)
Top 30 Things I Love About Se7en (that no one talks about)
Top 28 Things I Love About Heat (that no one talks about)
Top 22 Things I Love About Goodfellas (that no one talks about)
Top 13 Things I Love About Mulholland Dr. (that no one talks about)

Listen to my podcast commentary on THE DEPARTED!


  1. Great post! I could watch this one over and over too. I like that you singled out the fact that Wahlberg's character is married. That stuck out for me too. Like, this guy is a total asshole, but he's probably got a wife and kids.

    1. Speaking from experience, I know a number of cops like Wahlberg's character who somehow found a woman to put up with their shit. Another wrinkle: some of them are macho on the job but pussy cats at home. I'm curious which one Wahlberg would be.

      Great post, Alex!

    2. Thanks guys!! I always hoped that his character was the pussy cat kind. I know some women who are married to some real assholes, but it never ceases to amaze me as to how (and why) they put up with it.

      Still, a great character. I love the hell out of him.

  2. I love that "Fuck it!" shot. Ray Winstone is great in that film. So you stole a shot for your film. Well, if you're going to steal. Steal from the best. After all, Marty rules. I think he's got a few more films in him. I would love to see him do a micro-budget film with his regular actors doing something just for fun. Leo, de Niro, Keitel, and Liotta just having a good time and do the film w/o pay.

    Is there any word about the Five Obstructions thing he's doing w/ von Trier?

    1. My direction for the actors was literally: "Yeah, like that embrace in The Departed." Best to nab from the best.

      Dude, you're coming up with some great film ideas lately. I would genuinely love to see that micro budget flick.

  3. This really makes me want to go watch this film again. In fact, I may just do that. A great list of features, some of which had completely passed by me on first viewing (if I wrote a similar list it'd be mostly Alec Baldwin scenes).

    Oh, and regarding The Third Man tribute, the only time I've ever submitted anything to IMDB was when I went to the site and noticed that the "Connections" section didn't mention anything about it. Had to write that wrong :)

    1. Uh, right that wrong, even.

    2. Did they post your connection?! I love that sort of stuff. I'm glad the post makes you want to watch the flick again...this one never gets old!

  4. Guess what film I happened to rewatch this weekend?

    Five more for you...

    "How's your mother?" "She's good, she's tired from fuckin' my father"
    The iconic image of Queenan falling
    The cross-culture branding of "Shipping Up to Boston". I dare you to hear that song and not associate it with this film ever again.
    "What're you, on your period?'. Twice.

    1. Great picks! I've always been curious about that "Citizins" bit. Why does David O'Hara decide to write that word on the envelope to begin with? Seems like such a weird word for the context of what they're doing. But that's probably why that scene is so funny.

      "Shipping Up to Boston" is forever linked with the film. No doubt.

  5. The Departed is an awesome movie. I have to second McNeil, the whole scene revolving around cranberry juice is amazing.

    1. Hell yeah, great flick. I love that scene, particularly Billy's reaction to Mr. French. He really sells the idea that he doesn't know who Mr. French is. Very convincing.

  6. Mark Wahlberg’s character was married!? Holy shit I never picked up on that one or the banana thing.

    Alec Baldwin is so freaking hilarious in this. One little thing he says that I quote a lot is when Damon says he doesn't smoke and Baldwin goes "Keeping in shape? Go fuck yourself!".

    I love that movie.

    1. Part of the fun of Wahlberg's character for me is wondering if he's as much of an asshole at home as he is at the office. Obviously, he's a man capable of most anything, so it's a fun thought.

      That Baldwin line is my favorite in the film. I love it.

  7. Oh and :

    - You got that?
    - "Allegedly" or "fuck yourself"?

  8. This is making me want to re-watch the movie. Totally didn't know one of Mark Wahlberg's brothers was in the movie. Also, love this part:

    Costigan: "Families are always rising and falling in America", am I right?
    Queenan: Who said that?
    Costigan: Hawthorne.
    Dignam: What's the matter, smart ass? Don't know any fuckin' Shakespeare?

    Great moments mentioned here and looking forward to the jump-cut shot in your upcoming movie!

    1. I love how Wahlberg does a mock fart in that scene. So goddamn priceless. Thanks for reading! Can't wait to share the movie with everyone!

  9. So many things on this list are what I find so addictive about the film. A standout scene for me is the fight between Dignam, Billy and Queenan on the dockside(?). Dignam's threat of erasing Billy is so sad and almost scary when Billy later confronts Madolyn in the hallway and tells her there's no one else he can give his tapes to - there really isn't! Such a fantastic list, Alex!

    1. Thanks Katy!! It really is terrifying how easily Billy could be literally erased. He has so much riding on this operation. I've always wondered how much money he made as an undercover cop. Hard to think it was worth it.

  10. Man, I fucking lose it when I see that title card. I'm a huge nut for typography and design in films and man, that title card is fucking flawless, that cut is unbelievable. 19 minutes, Scorsese gets away with so much shit haha

    1. I'm a nut for that stuff too, and the timing is just perfect in this film. Scorsese, man... what a master.

  11. Amazing list here! This movie is so great, and you've highlighted a handful of scenes I never picked up on. I'll have to watch this one again despite frequently getting anxiety from it! haha

    1. Thanks! Ha, I know what you mean, this flick can definitely make you anxious. Scorsese cuts like a master.

  12. Fantastic work, as always! Children of Men is my #1 film of 2006, but The Departed is easily my most watched film of that year. Such a brilliant film.

    1. Thanks man! Babel is my favorite of the year, but yeah, nothing tops The Departed in terms of rewatchability.

  13. Awesome list. Absolutely love this flick to pieces. I actually bought a steelcase bluray for my friend for Christmas (it's her favorite film).

    One little quote that I love (I don't think many people point it out?)..."GET RIDDA THE FUCKIN' TAIL!!!" I love how Nicholson says that line.

    I don't drop by as much as I'd like these days but you keep writing about The Departed and I'll be there!!!

    1. Haha it's all good man, I love that you stop by at all! You're welcome anytime!

      I love that damn line from The Departed. Costello at his most insane and vulnerable. What a great flick.

  14. I love how the camera moves from left to right side of the screen during title credits as we see DiCaprio in prison, Matt Damon enjoying a cup of coffee in his apartment. You should definitely add this to the list.

    I also love how the scene of DiCaprio meeting with Vera Farmiga in her clinic is interspersed with him having a meeting with Martin Sheen & Mark Wahlberg in the car. The entire sequence very effectively tells us how the undercover work is taking a toll on DiCaprio's life.

    And yeah, this scene- "She fell funny"