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Movie review

  • 2006-10-18
The Devil Wears Prada
The Departed

The Devil Wears Prada
Based on the true story detailed in a best-selling book, "The Devil Wears Prada," recounts the story of Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), a young journalism graduate who is hired as the assistant to the high-powered editor of a glamorous fashion magazine, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). Priestly is a workaholic, fear-inspiring bitch who sets industry trends and goes through assistants like aging supermodels go through botox injections. Detached from the finicky world of high fashion initially, Andy is eventually sucked into glamour-land and transforms herself from a frumpy, forgetful secretary into tres chic uber-assistant. But as she pays her dues and climbs the ladder, she begins to lose her integrity and compromise her true ambitions. In short, the girl next door starts treating those around her like a bad neighbor. The film is a light-hearted satire about an industry obsessed with image. The title suggests an updated haute couture version of the emperor's new clothes, seeking to illuminate the pull of groupthink on young people today. The opening scene, in which Priestly's earlier than expected entry into the office sets off a frenzied rush to create a semblance of order, is particularly well-done. Streep and Stanley Tucci, who plays the magazine's ironic creative director, are enjoyable to watch and increase the appeal of an otherwise ordinary film. 
1/2 ( Sherwin Das )

Wholesome Ohio girl Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) moves to New York to try and get into journalism but the only job she can find is as an assistant to Runway magazine editor Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). The problem is Runway is a glossy fashion magazine and Priestly is the mother of all bitches. But despite her contempt for the fashion industry, Sachs is determined to stick the job out for a year in the hope it will open all sorts of doors for her. "The Devil Wears Prada" dazzles to deceive, as you might expect from such a high-profile Hollywood comedy. The fashion element lends an intriguing novelty to it for a while but in the end it's just another unconvincing morality tale with labels conspicuously sticking out of every shot. Indeed, it's actually far more Mephistophelean than meets the eye. As for Hathaway, she is predictably bland as the naive young girl seduced by the world of glamour. The undoubted highlight of the film is Meryl Streep who is mesmerizing as the imperious high priest of fashion. A single disapproving nod from her is far more devastating than the usual ranting and raving we associate with the boss from hell.
1/2 ( Tim Ochser )

The Departed
Set in contemporary Boston, Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" is about two young Irish-American men, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) and Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) who graduate from the Police Academy at the same time but whose lives take different turns. Sullivan becomes a star state police detective who's secretly in bed with local mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). Costigan is persuaded to become an undercover police informant whose identity is only known by his superiors Oliver Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Dignam (Mark Wahlberg). Costello and attractive police shrink Madolyn (Vera Farmiga) provide vehicles for the men's separate stories to converge. Once Costigan penetrates Costello's organization, the tension increases as both Costigan and Sullivan race to expose the identity of the other in order to protect their own covers. I enjoyed this film quite a bit as, beneath the police story, it explores the working class Irish-American psyche and echoes the deeper themes of human capacity for deception and sons in search of fathers. Scorsese creates a world which feels authentic and draws memorable performances out of his all-star cast, particularly DiCaprio whose forceful turn here reminded me of his impressive debut in "The Basketball Diaries." Dicaprio starred with Wahlberg in that movie, and the two actors share one of the most memorable and revealing scenes in this film. 
( Sherwin Das )

It's good to see director Martin Scorsese return to his familiar stomping ground after his unconvincing efforts with "The Aviator" and "Gangs of New York." "The Departed" is an absolutely riveting story that revolves around brutal Irish mafia boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an undercover cop who infiltrates his gang, while Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) is a gang member who quickly rises through the police ranks to become a detective working on the team against Costello. As it becomes apparent to both sides that there are moles among them, Costigan and Sullivan become increasingly desperate to expose the other before they get found out. "The Departed" is probably Scorsese's best film since "Goodfellas." It's an outstanding example of good storytelling from jumpy start to frantic finish. No one exploits the tension between reality and appearance in the codified behavior of the mafia quite like Scorsese does. The whole thing is almost impossibly masculine but in this case the end certainly justifies the means. The sole female character, police psychologist Madolyn (Vera Farmiga), is the only disappointing element. Hopefully Scorsese will put aside his fixation with Hollywood recognition and get back to what he does best: telling stories. 
( Tim Ochser )
 

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