Directed by: Scott Cooper
Run time: 123 minutes
The Lowdown: Johnny Depp is magnetic as notorious mob boss Whitey Bulger, but following on
the heels of some truly revelatory gangster films in recent memory, Black Mass turns out to be
more Black Meh than anything else.
There’s very little here for the average viewer to hold on to. Film snobs will have a field day
picking apart the various Boston accents, although Benedict Cumberbatch deserves definite kudos
for nailing his inflection.
The rest of the film, which is told in flashback vignettes by various members of Bulger’s former
gang, is nothing that you haven’t seen before. There’s the good neighborhood boy Whitey who
cares about his community and makes his goons carry groceries for elderly residents, and there’s
the terrifying monster Whitey who deals with anyone expressing an opinion contrary to his with
abject, extreme violence.
Depp commands the screen in an almost unrecognizable performance that, for once, doesn’t feel
like Johnny Depp covered up in prosthetic makeup. He becomes Bulger in the scariest of ways. It’s
a performance worthy of an Oscar nomination, though that didn’t happen.
And the film tonally and thematically is top-notch. It’s just not enough to make a good gangster
movie anymore. You have to make the godfather (excuse the pun) of gangster movies these days to
truly elevate above the pack.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Yes.
Nudity – No.
Gore – Gun violence.
Drug use – Yes.
Bad Guys/Killers – One of the most notorious gangsters ofall time.
Buy/Rent – Rent it.
Not to be Overlooked:
American Horror Project, Vol. 1 (Arrow Video, 251 minutes, R,Blu-Ray): Kudos to Arrow Video for
reminding cinephiles that there are other,worthy U.S. horror films yet to be discovered. This
impressive six-disc collection spotlights three such unheralded gems – 1973’s “Malatesta’s
Carnivalof Blood,” 1976’s “The Witch Who Came from the Sea” and 1976’s “The Premonition.”
These are raw, vibrant exercises in experimental horror that predate many similar, more polished
movies, but are no less deserving of recognition and renown. “Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood,”
directed by Christopher Speeth, revels in its DIY-infused shot composition. Many scenes include
POV shots that languish, fixated on a point in the distance while the actors go about their
discussions off-camera. There are some laughably cheesy bad moments, some seriously amateur
performances, but you know what, the film holds your attention and then pays off in a big,
wonderful way about 35-to-40 minutes in. That’s when Speeth allows his camera to travel below
ground, beneath the run-down carnival recently purchased by a seemingly all-American idyllic
family who have much more going on than one might suspect. It’s deep in the dark that
“Malatesta’s” comes alive, revealing a dirty, subterranean showcase of monsters and freak show
denizens that reminded me almost immediately of Midian, the land of the monsters made so
famous by Clive Barker’s short story, ‘Cabal.’ I really enjoyed the feeling of discovery that Arrow
provided by placing this movie on my radar, and I’m betting you will too. Plus you get the gorgeous
boxed treatment that Arrow in known for with its impressively detailed box art and liner notes,
which make each new release fromthe company a keeper.
The Brady Kids: The Complete Animated Series
Taviani Brothers Collection
Saints & Strangers
Pray for Death
The Vincent Price Collection III