Month: September 2015

Movie Review – ‘Black Mass’

Crime starters – I love mob movies. Sure, it’s been awhile since we had a really good one to sink our teeth in, but that’s mostly because this has never been a genre you want to oversaturate. Instead you want to forget about them until something like “Black Mass” is released.  Then and only then you will reengage and remember what it’s like to sit through one of these amazing stories. They may or may not always be based on real events, but that won’t deter from the pure enjoyment you will have watching the drama play out on the big screen. What’s it about? Based on the 2001 book by Dick Lehr, Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob, the story here follows one James ‘Whitey’ Bulger (Johnny Depp) and his notorious mob career in Boston, Ma. In charge of what was known as the Winter Hill Gang, Whitey operated primarily out of South Boston with the help of guys like Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi (Rory Cochrane), Kevin Weeks (Jesse Plemons) and Johnny Martorano (W. Earl Brown). And for a while, Whitey really never overstepped his boundaries, but after the sudden death of his son and losing his mother, Whitey sort of flew off the rails. It was then his old childhood friend John Connolly’s (Joel Edgerton) plan started...

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Black Mass

Peabody award winning film maker Joe Berlinger’s high profile documentary, “Whitey: United States of America vs. James J. Bulger”, kicks off with a frightening tale of extortion. South Bostoner, “Southie”, Stephen Rakes recounts the ominous visit from Bulger and his henchman, Kevin Weeks, and their murderous threats against him and his family. Weeks and his wife had just opened a liquor store that Whitey Bulger “insisted” be-coming a “partner” in. With the life of his family, particularly his two young daughters at stake, Weeks had no choice but to comply. It’s so unfortunate that despite Whitey Bulger’s savage, merciless actions, not to mention money laundering, racketeering, and drug trafficking, our own FBI forged an “alliance” with a gangster so notorious, he moved up second to Osama Bin Laden on their most wanted list. Prayerfully they have learned that making a deal with the devil has tragic consequences. In any case, Bulger and the FBI was more than ready for big screen treatment. After a few cinematic missfires i.e. Transcendence, but especially Mortdecai, the incredibly versatile Johnny Depp is back in superb form as the titular Irish gangster James “Whitey” Bulger in director Scott Cooper”s “Black Mass.” Indeed, according to Entertainment Weekly, Depp’s makeup was so impeccable, that some on the film set who knew Bulger intimately could not even look at him. Maybe it was like looking at a...

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The Visit

It has always been apparent that when M. Night Shyamalan reverts to his dark Sixth Sense/Signs roots, he makes really good movies. The type so engaging and frightening, they make your heart jump. His reputation had been so tarnished for films like The Village, Lady in the Water, and the hugely unpopular The Last Airbender, he was literally booed by a New York City audience when his credit as a producer and writer came up on the Devil movie trailer back in 2010. The Visit just might get Shyamalan out of what the industry characterizes as “director’s jail.” At least temporarily. Although he still has quite a ways to go before he attempts to ingratiate himself amongst movie goers. His latest pic touts that tried and true formula of telling a seemingly ordinary story, and then blindsiding you with something you never ever saw coming. Employing the slightly overused method of live footage, Becca and her brother Tyler (Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould) are determined to document a personal family history, starting with mom, played by a pretty down to earth Kathryn Hahn. They’re also determined to see their grandparents whom their mom has been estranged from for 15 years, and despite her strongest objections, the precocious pair board a train bound for Masonville, PA. to see them for the first time. Naturally their welcomed with open arms in...

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The Transporter Refueled

Seems reboots are becoming as prolific as sequels in Tinsel Town. If not more. Some, like Terminator Genysis and Star Trek, have managed to over-lap their original predecessors with a radical timeline change. Others are simply straight up with no relationship to their originals. And of course there are the “Fantastic Four” types where certain elements produce grave disappointment instead of rabid applause. Jason Statham skillfully fought his way into our hearts as Frank Martin, the super tough and meticulously intelligent Transporter. It made him a bonafide action star, and set a standard, timbered by two sequels. Judging by Hollywood’s apparent obsession with making old things new again, it’s probably not surprising that some of the original creative crew decided on a restart with a new Frank Martin. Ed Skrein, who will be appearing in next year’s “Deadpool”, takes over the reigns from Statham in the appropriately titled “The Transporter Refueled.” Not a bad choice either. No doubt Statham could still play the role, but Skrien maintains that savvy, suave, gentlemanly dangerous attitude and kinetically physical gravitas which made the character so appealing. We open with a bit of a proverbial blast from the past. No, not the 50’s, but 1995. And in France, where a hostile takeover is taking place. Russian crime kingpin Arkady Karasov (Radivoje Bukvic) literally shoots his way into a red light district territory, forcing...

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Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

If a certain majority of movie fans could get over their casual dislike for Tom Cruise, the Mission Impossible franchise would probably make considerably more at the box office. At various times when I have mentioned any of the MI picks, there were those who told me that they simply did not care for the former Top Gunner, and didn’t want to see it. Not because of the mo-vie itself, but because of the leading man. Despite his critics, Cruise still proves his ability to fill theater seats as he takes on a fifth impossible mission with Rogue Nation. He returns as death defying Ethan Hunt, the intrepid leader of the IMF, whose methods for get-ting the job done have become increasingly unorthodox. And that of course, is just putting it mildly. Alec Baldwin is able bodied CIA Director Alan Hunley, determined to dismantle the IMF due to what he believes, is sheer luck when it comes to the organizations missions accomplished record. He forcibly argues points before a Senate committee, with IMF agent William Brandt ( Jeremy Renner) just as forcibly opposing, that include some imaginary criminal organization known only as “The Syndicate.” He also readily reminds them of a certain critical incident which occurred over a major city during IMF’s last undertaking. Meanwhile, Hunt is out in the field, on an actual mission. It involves some slightly...

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