The Many Shades of White(y) — Johnny Depp Nails Notorious Gangster in “Black …

19 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Black Mass.

After years of roles that led Johnny Depp into cartoonish directions that didn’t quite connect with audiences, the Pirates of the Caribbean actor returns in strong form with Black Mass. Like any movie based on a true story, Black Mass was bound to take dramatic license with the story of the FBI’s unholy alliance with James “Whitey” Bulger.Boston mobster Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp, right) is given way too much leeway by FBI agent and former school pal John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) in “Black Mass.” Boston mobster Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp, right) is given way too much leeway by FBI agent and former school pal John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) in “Black Mass.” (Photo: Warner Bros.

Until he was handed a life sentence after being convicted of 19 counts of murder, gangster Whitey Bulger topped the FBI’s Most Wanted list – and was considered the most dangerous man in America.A double bill from someplace near Hell, Black Mass and Sicario both feature extreme violence, ethically unmoored lawmen, and abundant father-child trauma. Playing real-life Boston crime lord James “Whitey” Bulger, Depp has received near-unanimous praise for his chilling performance, but can the rest of the film and its deep bench of supporting players live up to that central role? The new movie, directed by Scott Cooper, accurately depicts the broad strokes of the characters: Whitey is still terrifying, FBI agent John Connolly is still corrupt, and Bulger sidekick Stephen Flemmi still kills people.

Now a new book has revealed the full extent of the horrors he meted out to hapless victims – and how he was protected for years by ‘petty bureaucrats’ more interested in ‘protecting their own a**es’. Filmed in Imax 3-D, the movie is an orgy of suffering, a powerfully affecting experience that you feel with your gut more than with your emotions.” – Michael O’Sullivan ★★★ “Pawn Sacrifice” (PG-13) “Overall, the movie presents a worthy and historical look at the link between genius and mental illness. Black Mass follows Bulger as he finds himself caught between his criminal life and acting as an FBI informant in an attempt to protect the area he claims from an invading Mafia family.

Neither Tom Holkenborg’s strings (Black Mass) nor Johann Johannson’s synths (Sicario) ever let viewers forget that they’re watching a funereal procession. Bulger, a Boston-based mobster whose reign of terror that lasted from the 1970s until his disappearance in 1995, has now been immortalized in new Johnny Depp film Black Mass. His real adversary was himself.” – Stephanie Merry ★★★ “Time Out of Mind” (Unrated) “Decades after ‘An Officer and a Gentleman,’ Richard Gere hasn’t quite shaken the image of the silver fox, even if recent roles have been less swoon-worthy. Based on the career of South Boston psychopath James Bulger — who apparently didn’t like to be called “Whitey” — Black Mass has the advantage of being rooted in real events. But for all that has been written and scripted about the criminal, the details of his sickening crimes and 16 years on the run have never been fully revealed.

But as well-crafted and well-acted as it is, it never rises to greatness because we’ve been watching this story in one way or another going back to the time of Jimmy Cagney and Edward G. The prominent gangster had long functioned as the de facto mob boss of New England – as well as a top informant for the FBI, who fed information on other mob figures to eliminate them as rivals while protecting himself from prosecution. Whether it’s fair or not, all modern day gangster flicks are held up to the Martin Scorsese standard, and “Black Mass” lacks the energy and impact of a “Goodfellas” or “The Departed.” Director Scott Cooper whose previous work includes “Crazy Heart” and the very underrated “Out of the Furnace” has made a very, very good film. Read my review here. “Everest” (3 stars): A decent telling of the disastrous 1996 ascent of Mount Everest, but you feel like it could have been great. He was often romanticized as a Robin Hood-type character for keeping drugs out South Boston but in truth, he had taken over the drug trade and became the largest peddler of illegal narcotics in the area’s history.

Emulating Michael Mann and Kathryn Bigelow, Denis Villeneuve brings much more flair to Sicario, but the result is a film whose swagger flirts with slapstick. Whitey may now be in good (which is to say, bad) company, but he’s still the same old monster.” Read on for more on what Nashawaty and other critics from around the country though of Black Mass, its cast, and perhaps most importantly of all, the Boston accents. “… Cooper’s working in a genre that’s become so familiar to us that we’re able to see most of his film’s beats coming before they arrive: the hair-trigger outbursts of violence, the whispered-threat monologues, the montages of corruption, and the double crosses that eventually tighten the noose around Connolly and send Whitey on the lam.” “Bulger shows up regularly and imparts The World According to Whitey life lessons like, ‘If nobody sees it, it didn’t happen.’ Finally, however, Bulger is a scary, menacing individual, and attempts to paint him as otherwise are doomed to failure.

That dinner scene from the movie actuallyhappened numerous times, but with a twist: The dinners were actually hosted at Morris’s house, not at Connolly’s. Beginning with the testimony of former confederates who in the 1990s turned against the vanished Bulger, Black Mass rewinds to 1975 to introduce the then-small-time crime boss. To see him simultaneously flirt with and threaten Connolly’s wife, Marianne (Julianne Nicholson), is to see both a nightmare in flesh and blood and one of the most indelible moments in Johnny Depp’s career.” “Is there any sympathy for the devil that is Whitey?

Indeed, when Bulger, now 86, finally did go to trial in late July 2013, his rap sheet included 32 counts of racketeering and 19 murders – brutal killings that included the savage strangulation of Debra Davis who disappeared in the early 1980s. He’s played by Johnny Depp, outfitted with sunglasses, pallor, rotten teeth, and a receding hairline; he resembles a demonic version of the actor’s old mentor, Hunter S. Morris and Connolly went to the prosecutor and personally asked them to drop the charges for Bulger and Flemmi because they were high-level FBI informants. Another recommendation this week for “Everest”— Jake Gyllenhaal and Josh Brolin star in a big screen account of the 1996 disaster which killed 8 people during a climb on top of the world’s highest mountain. Her body had been tightly tied up in the fetal position, encased in a plastic body bag and buried in a lumpy marshland area covered with water at high tide.

It counts both as essential history and a primer in making sense of how we live now.” – Ann Hornaday ★★★ “The New Girlfriend” (R) “In (Francois) Ozon’s confident hands, ‘The New Girlfriend’ has moments that juxtapose gentle humor and surprising depth of feeling. After a robbery in 1955, he fled Boston after his partner told police of his involvement but returned in early 1956 – despite the arrest warrant on his head.

The kind of guy who routinely kills underlings who disappoint him, Bulger is nonetheless loyal to his mom and his brother Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch), who happens to be a state senator. This film, while not based specifically on that book, tells the same story, but does so in almost docudrama form recreating the harrowing trek that tragically ended for many of the players involved. He was caught and began a prison term in Atlanta, Georgia before being shipped off to Alcatraz on the big rock in the San Francisco Bay and then to the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas.

Jason Clarke’s role as Rob Hall, the adventure guide in charge of a team of adrenaline junkie climbers, is so completely convincing that you really do almost feel like you’re watching a documentary. Cumberbatch reveals Billy’s loyalty in the space between words.” “The psychological push-pull between the Bulger brothers and Connolly alone would provide Black Mass with a fascinating cat-and-mouse dynamic.

In another dinner in 1985, Morris’s wife — not Connolly’s wife, as the movie depicts — expressed reservations about letting the bad guys into their home. Bulger will help the agency apprehend the Italian-American gangsters of the North End, who just happen to be the gangster’s competition for running Boston’s rackets.

Years later, Bulger claimed he subsequently suffered headaches and persistent insomnia and told his associates he would use this LSD experiment as a defense in court if he were ever arrested. But Cooper, working from a script by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth, keeps the story literal and linear, bouncing from a shot of Jimmy Bulger (no one in the know ever called him “Whitey”) tenderly helping an old lady with her groceries to a scene in which he casually shoots a colleague’s brains out on a deserted riverbank.” “I have seen Goodfellas and the Godfather movies more times than I can count, and I’m as susceptible as any other deskbound, conflict-averse fantasist to the visceral appeal of a good gangster movie. Not unlike “Gravity” from two years ago, “Everest” is meant to be viewed in its large screen IMAX 3D format—so don’t cheat yourself by seeing it on a small screen. Depp’s performance is intense but mostly one-dimensional, aside from a few Joe-Pesci-like moments in which his violence is ominous rather than explicit.

After his young son becomes seriously ill, Bulger turns on the boy’s mother (Dakota Johnson); he also menaces Connolly’s mob-averse wife (Julianne Nicholson), caressing her throat with a vampiric ardor — a scene heightened by what we’ve already seen him do to another woman (Juno Temple). Cooper’s direction is skillful, if overly reliant on borrowed Scorseseisms (especially when it comes to music), and the cast is first-rate, but the film is a muddle of secondhand attitudes and half-baked ideas. Barrett, a likeable guy according to sources, was doing well from his legitimate business but his greed for stolen jewelry that he could resell for a profit proved his undoing.

You can feel the chill, whether it’s a light dusting of snow that none of the characters seem dressed for, or the sudden fear of a South Boston outsider who realizes he’s in over his head. He also told Connolly that Halloran had flipped, and “fully believed” that information would then reach Bulger’s ears, Lehr and O’Neill write.

He was lured to the same Third Street house on the premise that there was stolen jewelry to be assessed but when he got there, all he saw was Bulger pointing a gun at him and telling him to freeze. More problematically, the movie gives short shrift to the social canvas that’s specific to this town, that can create a Jimmy Bulger (and a Billy Bulger) in hermetically sealed enclaves of class and clan and poverty and potential.” “Edgerton’s physicality takes the movie. Kate Macy (a steely Emily Blunt) has taken her first step into a labyrinth of horrors. “Sicario” is a Mexican term for hitman, but most of the killing here is not detached and professional.

When he’s strutting and strolling around the office, or virtually floating to heaven as a cluster of agents sit in a conference room listening to a mafioso incriminate himself, or speaking in a treble accent that exists in Boston but that I’ve never heard in a movie because the degree of difficulty is high, it’s like he’s inventing some new kind of machismo. Impressed by her coolness in the drug-cartel charnel house, an operative who’s casual in both dress and manner (James Brolin) invites Kate to join an inter-agency task force. If that happened, his own wrongdoing — “that I had accepted money, gifts, and in turn had compromised an investigation” — might be buried forever. They tried to squeeze more cash out of Bucky’s partner in the cocaine and marijuana business who told Bucky to ‘F*** off!’ Bulger rested on the couch upstairs while other gang members buried Bucky in the same dirt basement where Hussey’s body would be buried later that same year. ‘Bucky tumbled down to the bottom of the stairs, where Stevie grabbed his body and dragged him over to the side,’ Weeks later revealed at Bulger’s trial. ‘Stevie had me go get a plastic container with water. The dialogue occasionally enters a realm of fanciful criminalspeak straight out of Damon Runyon. (I’m paraphrasing, but at one point Bulger says to a local cop giving him grief: “It’s a sad day when a good man takes up with his oppressor.”) And yet, in scene after scene, some fine actors go to town and dive into the material gratefully.” “Mr.

So is the exact identity of Alejandro, a cartel expert whose weary yet twinkling delivery could only emanate from the always-entertaining Benicio Del Toro. She learns that she’s joined a group that operates outside the law, and eventually is told that Alejandro is on a personal mission that somewhat overlaps the interests of a cynical U.S. government. The Zero Dark Thirty of drug-war pictures, the torture-justifying Sicario is basically a combat movie, complete with simulated night-vision and heat-sensor footage. When Whitey’s follow-up shipment of marijuana was busted, he learned from his man in the FBI, John Connolly, that John McIntyre was suspected and he was soon brought to Third Street. But especially in regard to some key interior dramatic sequences, Cooper would seem to have given the Godfather films some very close re-viewings, as his typical approach is much like Coppola’s, starting with carefully composed and sometimes lengthily held master shots that are followed by unusually tight and sustained close-ups, which make the actors look really good.”

But there was a problem: the wrong kind of lime had been used when the victims were initially buried and instead of one that accelerates decomposition, a lime that mummified the bodies had been used. Once in the body bags, the bodies were moved to a dense gully in Dorchester, Massachusetts, near Florian Hall where civil servants often met for social functions. English writes: ‘Flemmi, an Italian-American, had connections among nearly every criminal faction in the city, including, as it turn out, the FBI’. Flemmi didn’t think he could be prosecuted for his crimes because of the immunity given both men as informants in the Justice Department’s war against the Mafia.

But Flemmi’s claim was dismissed by the presiding judges in a Boston federal courtroom in late 1997 and ’98 in what became known as the Wolf Hearings, where he pleaded guilty to committing 11 murders. Eventually, in 2011, he was found living in a two-bedroom apartment in Santa Monica, California – a comfortable property that he shared with his platinum blonde girlfriend Catherine Greig.

Bulger’s relationship with the criminal justice system—an arrangement he inherited from a previous generation of gangsters and corrupt lawmen—represents the hidden horror of the Bulger story – and was the battleground on which prosecutors and defense lawyers clashed at his trial. Despite his best efforts and the expensive defense lawyers contracted to fight his corner, Bulger was finally convicted and sentenced to two life sentences in prison plus five years. Now serving out his sentence in a federal prison in Sumterville, Florida, Bulger might be the toast of Hollywood but for the families of his victims, the pain goes on.

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