Looking for Infernal Affairs while Being Departed

Posted: January 21, 2007 in All and Sundry, Film Reviews, Musings


Now I understand why Martin Scorsese had to say thanks to Asian cinema’s crime thriller tradition in his Golden Globes acceptance speech this year. He had to, and it was I think an honorable act since his latest film ,The Departed was adapted loosely from Hongkong’s 2002 sleeper hit Infernal Affairs, which Ms. Bette (thanks for the info) pointed out as “the masterpiece.” Perhaps this might be true (although I haven’t seen the movie yet) since it was considered as a miracle hit beating blockbuster movie Hero ( a Zhang Yimou film and Jet Li starrer) in the 2002 Hongkong Film Awards as the Infernal Affairs won best Film. The movie marked the revival of Hongkong cinema so critics say.

According to Ms. Bette, if you see the original version (referring to Infernal Affairs), “you will weep.”This I’ve got to find out for myself. Reason why I’m going to ask my fellow cineastes (or filmlovers) to look for a copy in this city’s popular dvd outlets (if you know what I mean.) I’m quite sure we’ll be able to find a copy. But it’s going to be a difficult quest of sifting through piles and piles of 8 in 1 dvds. The most obvious Asian movies sold at these stores are Korean produced ones. So looking for Japanese, Chinese or other Asian movies will be like finding needles in a haystack, to use the cliche. Although, Dennis recently bought an 8 in 1 dvd containing most of Akira Kurusawa’s masterpieces. Now that’s comforting news.

Like all adaptations, William Monahan’s screen adaptation of Infernal Affairs original script by Felix Chong and Siu Fai might perhaps suffer from constant comparison. One can’t help but compare the two especially if you have seen both movies. But I might be forgiving enough, fan that I am of Martin Scorsese, to avoid comparing Monahan’s script to the original. After all, as we learned in Literary studies, adaptations are considered originals themselves. Here lies the paradox: adaptations should be read and critqued as separate from the original that it was based on, at the same time, not discounting the fact that it is an adaptation and must still retain (as an assumption) the aura of its original.Having said that, I am still going to say that The Departed might still be one of the best movies I watched last year. And it’s going to (I hope) still win the Oscars. It’s only disadvantage according to my Paulette friend Douglas is that “Martin made a movie and not a film. But fuck those who think in those terms!” Agree. It’s perhaps Martin’s passion for anything that cinema offers (movies or films or what not) that made him appreciate the beauty of Infernal Affairs. (I am reminded of Quentin T’s interview article in the New Yorker. He credited his love for Japanese Samurai movies, Anime, mixed with Spaghetti westerns as the influences of the cult favorite  Kill Bill.) 

Speaking of movies, Pauline Kael said it perfectly when she wrote: “I lost it at the movies.” Sometimes, when we are so caught up with drawing the line between a film and a movie that we often forget to even enjoy the pleasure of watching moving images. I still maintain that what makes a good movie is the way it draws you into a world like Plato’s Cave that will be as real as you could imagine it to be at that moment you are watching it. It is not suspension of disbelief, as Nino said, it is more than that because what happens is that the story in that world will be told to you through film language as something “real” and believable minus the premise it is not. (Note: I am not referring here to real as in the tradion of “Realism” in film.)

Having said that, The Departed, with its fast paced storytelling is the shortest two hour movie that I have ever experienced. And when it ended, I felt like going back to its world all over again, just to change things and make it all right. I anticipate that the Infernal Affairs will give me a similar experience too, if not, an approximate. But it would perhaps be another wonderful ride. (Thanks Ms. Bette for the suggestion again.)

Same thing is true with Guillermo del Torro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. This year’s Golden Globe nominee for best foreign language film lost to Eastwood’s American apologist film Letters to Iwo Jimma. (I wonder why it always takes an American director to make a movie from the point of view of Japanese to make people understand the Jap-American war–that the Japanese were not monsters after all, and that the Americans were also partly to blame.) Pan’s Labyrinth is a must-see for those who loved Life is Beautiful because it is like the latter in terms of theme but more like a drugged-out, lsd junkie’s morbid version told from the point-of-view of a child. Fantasy is more real thant reality, and reality here, is more fantastic than fantasy. (Join me for a ride next entry into Pan’s Labyrinth. Beware: the article will be in Bisaya as I pay homage to del Torro’s Spanish. muy bien)

My list would go on and on if I’m allowed to write all the must-sees last year and this year. Besides, I don’t want to appear like your typical poseur movie critic. So I guess you’ll just have to discover the movies by yourselves.  Meanwhile, I think I’ll end this entry sooner. Lindsey Lohan’s Just My Luck was an entertainment disaster so I better move on to watching Mean Girls again, for laughs. Ciao!

And oh… Rent the movie had a cool soundtrack but ShortBus had more depth, and Chen Kaige’s The Promise was a visual feast but I liked The Banquet’s kitschiness better, and Babel was an exhausting watch but better than any sappy moralistic Spielberg movie (minus ET), and…I really gotta go (shake head, wave hand, runs to door, opens it, slams it shut)

  1. I have Infernal Affairs I, II and III! Will ask Mr J to bring over if you can wait for a few weeks!

    Oh – forgot to mention – the men in it are *HOT*! 😛

  2. yeah i know. andy lau and tony leung. ooooh…

  3. JerryWho says:

    so is the man who is bringing you the disc… he is super *HOT*


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s