Box office: ‘Maze Runner 2’ outracing Johnny Depp’s ‘Black Mass’

17 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Familiar faces at ‘Black Mass’ screening.

(L-R) Actors Julianne Nicholson, Joel Edgerton, Dakota Johnson, producer Scott Cooper and producer John Lesher attend The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences Hosts An Official Academy Screning of ‘Black Mass’ at SVA Theater on September 10, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images) Having played real-life gangster John Dillinger in Public Enemies in 2009, Depp relocates to Boston to try on his reel-life criminal’s hat once again in Black Mass.Granted, the Whitey Bulger mask Johnny Depp wears in “Black Mass” is a step up from Captain Jack Sparrow’s mascara, or the stuffed bird he stuck on top of his head as Tonto.If you are wondering how Johnny Depp and the stars of Black Mass nailed down their Boston accents, there’s a lot more that went into it than just rewatching a copy of Good Will Hunting.

In “Dark Shadows,” Tim Burton’s 2012 film version of the TV soap opera, Johnny Depp went for high camp in his portrayal of doomed vampire Barnabas Collins, leaching out whatever frights might have been in store. Depp portrays congenitally manipulative and unpredictably murderous Irish-American mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, who rose to become the kingpin of organized crime in the South Boston underworld and eventually became an informant for the FBI for three decades so he could take down a Mafia family he felt was invading his turf. A lot of the credit for the cast’s spot-on inflections goes to dialect coaches Carla Meyer and Howard Samuelsohn, who aided Depp and company throughout the film’s production. There was Whitey himself, at first a minor criminal who became one of the most feared crime bosses in history, ruling his turf for two decades and evading capture for nearly two more. For his involvement in 19 murders, the still-imprisoned Bulger, who was also the inspiration for the character played by Jack Nicholson in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed,would be sentenced in 2013 to two consecutive life sentences plus five years.

The thinning, slicked-back hair, the tight jeans and fitted shirts Johnny wears throughout most of the film were all drawn from a State Police surveillance video circa 1982. The key to getting the Boston accent down, according to Samuelsohn, is to take a very Yoda-like approach to the accent: don’t think about it, just do it. “Once you nail down the sounds, you kind of have to forget about it,” Samuelsohn said. “The most important thing is that you forget about it when you act and you let the dialect coach remind you of things.

Joel Edgerton co-stars, playing FBI agent John Connolly, a childhood buddy of Bulger’s whose career was completely entangled with his, and Benedict Cumberbatch plays Bulger’s brother, Massachusetts state senator William “Billy” Bulger. Cooper doesn’t break any new ground here in terms of movies about gangsters, and he doesn’t delve too deeply into the machinations of the deal between the feds and Bulger. (For an outstanding film about that, see “Whitey: United States of America v. But it’s difficult to ignore the impression that we’re seeing too much of the overindulged Edgerton and not enough of the underemployed Cumberbatch. The performance is more important than the accent.” Meyer spent about three weeks with the cast during prep work prior to filming, and then an additional few weeks during the start of shooting before Samuelsohn took over. “The first thing you do, of course, with Boston is you work on dropping the R’s.

Carney Jr., Congressman Joe Kennedy III, former Congressman Bill Delahunt, retired DEA agent Dan Doherty, IRS agent Sandra Lemanski, retired Inspector General’s Office agent James Marra, defense attorneys Bob Sheketoff and Rosemary Scapicchio, Boston developers Joe O’Donnell and Steve Karp, Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton, Patriots owners Robert and Jonathan Kraft, Pats players Patrick Chung, Nate Ebner, and Ryan Allen, Red Sox pitcher Clay Buccholz’s wife Lindsay Clubine, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, Aisha Dee from the ABC Family show “Chasing Life,” author Ben Mezrich and his wife Tonya, Globe reporters and editors past and present, WBUR’s David Boeri, and WGBH’s Margery Eagan and Jim Braude. The plot thrust that demonstrates the way Connolly is able to keep the FBI off Bulger’s back by singing his undeserved praises as an informant is the most fascinating and ironic aspect of the narrative, but it doesn’t end up amounting to much.

Popcorn critics will no doubt conclude, “Whoa, that Whitey, he sure was a monster.” I’ll give you an example: More than 30 years ago, the late, legendary crime reporter Paul Corsetti and I worked on a story about the murder of Louis Litif. They drop their R’s a little differently than New York,” Samuelsohn said. “It’s really fascinating sometimes when you see actors actually transform into their characters just by doing the dialect right.

There was an after-party at Seth Greenberg’s Bastille Kitchen following Tuesday’s screening, and there the crowd included the director, cast members Dakota Johnson, Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane, Adam Scott, and Corey Stoll, who plays Wyshak in the movie. Director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart, Out of the Furnace) populates his film with a large and generally convincing supporting cast that includes Kevin Bacon, Dakota Johnson, Corey Stull, Peter Sarsgaard, Jesse Plemons, Adam Scott, David Harbour, Julianne Nicholson, Rory Cochrane, and Juno Temple. The Motion Picture Association of America this week issued statement “Black Mass” not for its artistic achievemnent, but for the money it says the movie generated for the Massachusetts economy.

He would watch films of him all the time,” Samuelsohn said. “He would actually try to take some of the jokes he made because he was famous for being a raconteur. According to the MPAA, the production contributed nearly $20 million to the state’s economy, with $8.5 million of that going to the 660 local cast and crew members hired for the film. The screenplay by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth, which focuses on the period of the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Bulger was rising to the top of the Irish-American Winter Hill Gang. is based on the 2001 novel, Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob, by former Boston Globe staffers Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill.

Paul waited until almost one in the morning and was about to leave when a rather ordinary-looking guy approached and asked, “You’re Paul Corsetti, aren’t you?” Paul shook his head, and the stranger told him: “I’m Whitey Bulger, mother (expletive).” Though Whitey announced that he killed people, what he told Corsetti was far more terrifying. He loved to make his jokes, and Benedict was trying to find places to put those in.” But if there’s one quick trick to nailing down the accent, Howard points to a scene from Family Guy that focused on a certain, popular breakfast treat. “Pop tart,” Samuelsohn said. “You do the ‘ô’ sound, which is very unique to Boston and then you have the ‘tärt’ which is very much a Boston sound.

But there’s too much on-the-nose dialogue and pure exposition and too little in the way of a narrative arc: that is, Bulger remains pretty much the same repellent, self-serving thug from beginning to end despite the occasional scene offered to humanize him. He described the make, model, color and license plate of the car Paul’s wife used and the name of the daycare center where she dropped their daughter off. Cooper uses this technique throughout, as Bulger’s former underlings talk about the crimes; this frames the action moving forward. “I am not a rat,” Weeks insists, a theme that runs throughout the film.

It bastardizes the book, completely cuts out the two real women in Bulger’s life, Teresa Stanley and Catherine Greig, reduces Kevin Weeks and Stevie Flemmi to little more than stick figures. Bulger can be charming, particularly to the old-timers in the neighborhood, but he turns on a dime with a violent outburst if he thinks he has been threatened or wronged. These include putting a bullet into the head of an associate who addresses him inappropriately; strangling a disloyal henchman with chains, and choking to death the young stepdaughter (Juno Temple) of a colleague (her last gasps are a sound you won’t soon forget.) He becomes so menacing, you truly fear for the one person seemingly unafraid to talk back to him: the mother of his young child (an affecting, but underused Dakota Johnson). Without revealing too much, let’s just say that his sinister, is-he-kidding-or-isn’t-he demeanor immediately recalls Joe Pesci in “Goodfellas” in that “I’m funny, how?” scene.

If you haven’t read the detailed news accounts of Bulger’s years on the run and eventual capture, now’s not the time — in other words, see the movie first. He’s the character who is developed the most, and Edgerton takes him through his devolution from a tough investigator to an arrogant man who thinks he’s untouchable.

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