Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse is a documentary about the making of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. Coppola fired his lead actor after several weeks of shooting, his replacement lead actor had a heart attack half way through the 238-day shoot, hurricanes destroyed his sets, army helicopters were called away in the middle of hugely expensive shots, and he didn’t have an ending. Good times!
In watching Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse again for the first time in a few years, I was struck by the sheer egomaniacal drive that spurred Apocalypse Now director Francis Ford Coppola forward — this is a man who, seemingly quite literally, went incrementally insane in the Philippine jungle… The overwhelming ambition and staggering scale of Coppola’s Vietnam-centric riff upon Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” are relics from another time, an era when filmmaking was a creative enterprise, not a corporate one.
The Departed is the most fun I had watching a movie in a movie theatre in 2006. (The packed audience was into the movie, everyone jumping, reacting, listening, dreading at the same moments. I’m happy to watch most movies with a minimal audience, but in this case, my initial viewing experience may have been improved by the presence of such a good audience.)
It’s been well over a decade since Martin Scorsese made a worthwhile film. Now, with The Departed, he’s hit a grand-slam home-run right out of the park. It’s great to see Scorsese return to form at what he does best: the crime drama. This isn’t a retread of old territory like Casino. Although he does a few things we’ve seen before, it’s fresh and exciting and fantastic. It reminds me of how cool it was to watch Goodfellas for the first time. Both movies glorify the criminal lifestyle; even though things are not likely to turn out well for anyone who lives that life, for the young and impressionable, Goodfellas and The Departed kind of make you want to be a criminal. The Departed may not the greatest Scorsese, but it’s certainly one of the most entertaining.