Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Departed versus Infernal Affairs

Tomorrow night, the Oscars will announce their awards, and I hope the Academy chooses The Departed as the best picture of 2006 (the other nominees are The Queen, Little Miss Sunshine, Babel, and Letters from Iwo Jima). I also hope that the Departed's Martin Scorsese (director) and William Monahan (screewriter) receive Oscars tomorrow night.

Tonight, however, I watched the movie Infernal Affairs, the original Hong Kong movie from which "The Departed" is based.

I was struck by how close the movies matched one another. (I heard they were close, but seeing is believing in this case.) Both movies shared a lot of touchstone scenes (cops following bad guys on the highway, rooftop confrontations, and a rendezvous in a movie theater). But both movies also differed in key areas (the relationship of the psychiatrist being one of the bigger ones).

The American version packs the punch with star power (it's hard to compete with Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, and Martin Sheen). However, the Hong Kong version packs as big a punch with two strong performances by Andy Lau (the Damon character), and Tony Leung (the DiCaprio character). Because Lau and Leung looked much older than their youthful counterparts in "The Departed", "Infernal Affairs" had a weightier feel. More pathos.

The climactic scenes and the incredulous reveals seemed tighter in "Infernal Affairs". Whereas Scorsese goes over the top with the violence, the violence in "Affairs" felt more vicious, more cold-blooded.

So what's "better?" I'd probably give a slight nod to the Hong Kong version, but in the end, both movies made me appreciate the other. So when you're in the DVD store, or browsing through your NetFlix queue, get both of them. And tomorrow night, root for the American version of "Infernal Affairs".

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Scene from a Marriage

This past week, a small Nor'easter blew through. The mixture of icy rain and heavy snow produced a thick layer of ice on my driveway that I had to pick apart. The ice was quite hard and thick, and with the vicious cycle of thaw-then-freeze, I was picking at the ice all week. I used a heavier and older garden shovel. It has a solid steel blade, and its true purpose is for moving soil. (My snow shovels are all plastic.) I worked the ice by reversing the blade, and driving it into the ice, breaking the ice apart. The weight and the blade make for a great ice breaker.

One night, after dinner, after another session of ice picking, I began to feel a small sharp pain in my right hand. When I turned it over, I saw it. Somehow, while working the old shovel, I managed to get a small splinter in my right hand. My gloves didn't prevent the splinter from piercing me. It was a burr, no larger than a thorn of a small rose. It was in the fleshy part of my palm, under my thumb. It seemed to get more painful now that I knew what it was.

We have a first aid kit, and I found some plastic tweezers inside it. I worked without glasses, wishing that we had one of those magnifying monocles. I couldn't get it out, despite my careful work. If I pinched the area where the splinter was, I saw that I might be able to get it, but I'd need a third hand. Would I have to peel back my skin, like an onion, to get at this sliver of shovel wood?

I went to Jenn, and told her my woe. She was in bed, reading. (She goes to bed earlier than I do, so I was glad she was still up.) She took my hand, saw my splinter, made a face, looked at my plastic tweezers, and said "get the ones that I use." I fetched hers, and gave it to her. She pulled my hand close to her face, and she worked the wound.

I remember that she had picked out a splinter from our daughter's hand one summer. Mia was crying, no doubt from this new feeling of pain, but Jenn was gentle. I felt like Mia just then. Minus the crying.

Jenn peeled back a bit of the flesh, which stung a bit. Then she squeezed the tweezers, trying to clasp the splinter. She got it out in a few tries. My hand felt immediately better. Funny how a foreign object in your body makes you uncomfortable.

"Go wash your hands," Jenn said. I kissed her goodnight again. "Thank you," I said.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Your Super Bowl Pick

Rick the Flip says take the Colts!

The line on the game shows the Indianapolis Colts favored by 6.5 over the Chicago Bears. But it's hard to pick against the team with the better quarterback (and that would be Peyton Manning). Sorry, Chicago! You all should know that my wife (Happy Birthday, Jenn) is rooting for Chicago, which means I'm on my own for Super Bowl dinner.