New Releases for Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Genre: Drama Directed by: Scott Cooper Run time: 123 minutes Rating: R Format: Blu-Ray 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.
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