18 September 2015
Watching Jack Nicholson in The Departed it would be easy to think "Wow, this guy can't be real" but that would be incorrect. Frank Costello was based in part on James "Whitey" Bulger, maybe the most notorious gangster in U.S. history. What viewers will also learn is the FBI and Bulger worked together for years before he was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List. John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) and Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp) grew up together in South Boston, but years later Connolly, now a FBI Agent, makes a deal with the devil. More accurately, he tries to place a rabid dog on a leash.
Reporting to the FBI is a hard sell for Connolly because Bulger takes personal offense to playing informant. Bulger killed men for giving up much less, but Connolly manages to convince the crime boss a partnership would be mutually beneficial. Both men see this as an opportunity to rid Boston of the Italian mafia, but only one of them is honest about how this will all play out. Being an informant means giving up intel on occasion, yet it comes with no strings. Connolly--and by proxy the FBI--look the other way while Bulger deals and murders his way into mythic status. Meanwhile, Special Agent Charles McGuire (Kevin Bacon) can’t explain why crime is still flourishing in Boston.
Black Mass spent several years in production while Depp and Edgerton both left the project, and now it has the unfair responsibility of being the movie that brings Depp back to relevance. Luckily the film shoulders that weight with ease. Yes, Depp is wearing another wig, but this isn't like his other Disney work. Depp layers Bulger with nuance, playing a man who would violently murder members of his organization for being rats when he himself reported to the FBI. Those contradictions would trip up a lot of actors, but Depp handles himself magnificently.
It would be easy for Depp to crank out every scene on 11, but there is a reserve present that couldn't be said for Joe Pesci in Goodfellas. Take a dinner scene where Bulger needles a FBI agent for the secret family recipe. What seems like an innocuous slip on the part of the agent turns unbearably tense as Bulger questions just how easy he gives up information. Then Bulger punctuates the exchange with a chilling laugh. Too often films depicting criminals glorify the lifestyle, but if Black Mass is a testament to anything, it's what a sociopath Whitey Bulger was. That the FBI would team up with a maniac of that caliber to shut down the Mafia is an indictment not only of law enforcement, but the misguided native pride of Boston. A monster was unleashed on society only because Connolly was more comfortable with a crime syndicate run by white men.
The film presents a great deal of information, but everything is presented in a brisk fashion and aided by a stellar cast. Those who don't know anything about Whitey Bulger will be fine. Scott Cooper (Out of the Furnace) wisely surrounds Depp with the highly talented Rory Cochrane, Julianne Nicholson, W. Earl Brown and Kevin Bacon. As great as that cast is, sometimes Cooper focuses too much on his ensemble, leaving audiences wondering when Depp strikes next. A more present p.o.v. would definitely cement Black Mass as one of the defining crime films of the genre, but as it stands the film is a handsomely directed picture featuring a career resurgence for Johnny Depp.
03 September 2015
Each household is only eligible to win (1) The Vampire Diaries Season 6 or The Originals Season 2 chosen at random via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
28 April 2015
When Irish woman Christina Noble flies into Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in 1989, 14 years after the end of the war, she leaves behind an extraordinary life story. But the best is yet to come. Christina lands in a country "that she wouldn't be able to show you on a map". With a few dollars, a dream and her own hard-won courage, she is about to make life better for thousands of people. Noble tells the inspirational true story of a woman who believes that it only takes one person to make a difference, and how she proved right.
Noble hits theatres May 8th
24 April 2015
Fan speculation about what Batman's archnemesis might look like can cease today because Suicide Squad director David Ayer has dropped the first official look at Jared Leto's interpretation of The Joker on Twitter. It's certainly unique, although tattooing "Damaged" on his forehead is a touch on the nose.
The famous feature are all present: the green hair, pale skin, and crazy eyes, but they are tweaked to look a little more unwholesome than in the past. The tattoos are a different touch, as are the replacement teeth that Batman (Ben Affleck) has likely knocked out in their interactions, so fans worrying that this next Joker would be a rehash of Heath Ledger's have little to worry about.
Well fans, you have finally seen Leto’s Joker. What do you think?
(Per David Ayer's Twitter)
26 March 2015
PartnersHub and Warner Bros. are giving away a blu-ray of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, all you have to do to win the copy is play the app below to find out if you're Brave like Bilbo. Once you have that, reply the answer to @ with #TheHobbit. Leaving a comment below can't hurt your chances either.
Contest ends April 6th, so have all entries in before then.
Each household is only eligible to win One (1) Blu-ray The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
20 March 2015
PartnersHub and Warner Bros. are giving away a digital copy of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, all you have to do to win the copy is play the app below to uncover your Middle-Earth Weapon of choice. Once you have that, reply the answer to @ with #TheHobbit. Leaving a comment below can't hurt your chances either.
Contest ends April 1st, so have all entries in before then.
Each household is only eligible to win One (1) Digital Download Coupon for The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
15 March 2015
Cymbeline is director Michael Almereyda’s second Shakespeare adaptation set in modern day, his last being 2000’s Hamlet, also starring Ethan Hawke. The Bard’s late work tragedy, previously set in the Royal Court of Olde England, receives a face-lift, updated to a war between the Roman police force and the Briton Motorcycle Club ran by Cymbeline (Ed Harris). The King trades in a crown for an Uzi and a leather jacket as a drug kingpin troubled by familial strife. His second wife (the serpentine Milla Jovovich) despises Cymbeline’s daughter, Imogen (Dakota Johnson, proving she has acting chops not found in Fifty Shades of Grey), for not marrying her son, Cloten (Anton Yelchin).
In secret, Imogen has pledged herself to Posthumus (Penn Badgley), much to Cymbeline’s displeasure. Posthumus, like all men freshly betrothed, proceeds to make a bet that his friend Iachimo (Hawke) cannot steal his love’s chastity; Hawke is evidently having a ball with the part of a man of very little moral fiber, slithering through his scenes, abusing the trust of all those who place such faith in him.
Read the rest at Sound on Sight!
27 February 2015
Westerns have never recovered from the oversaturation that killed off viewer interest decades ago, but every now and then a gem pops up. Recent successes like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers adaptation of True Grit all did well because they tweaked the genre slightly, but director Kristian Levring goes with an old school approach. A faithful recreation of those revenge Westerns made so popular in the 1970s, The Salvation envelopes many elements of previous Clint Eastwood classics and wraps it into a tidy package.
The Salvation starts in on the central dilemma, joining Jon (Hannibal‘s Mad Mikkelsen) at the train station where he awaits the arrival of his wife and son. Jon and his brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), have lived in the United States long enough to build a hospitable life for their family back in Denmark. This homecoming should be a sweet moment to establish the family important to Jon, but fate plays out rather differently. A swap at the train station places two rowdy drunks in the same stagecoach as Jon and his family–and before audiences can really settle into their seats–his wife and son are killed.
Read the rest at Sound on Sight!
17 February 2015
There was a time when geniuses were professionals who were not only good at their jobs, but pleasant to others as well. The entrenched stereotype of geniuses once labeled them as shy outsiders or tongue-tied geeks, not arrogant narcissists. Somewhere down the line, Hollywood stopped telling stories of gifted individuals who were mild-mannered and jump-started the difficult genius routine.
Take television’s long-running tortured genius, Dr. Gregory House. House, starring Hugh Laurie as the highly critical medical genius, started a trend of anti-social geniuses and audiences ate it up. For all of the highly unusual medical cases and House’s wizardry in solving them, the reason viewers tuned in was to see what exactly the caustic doctor would say next. With all of his intellect and glee in exposing hypocrisy in others, House indulged his own demons early and often. A man so talented at saving others despite his own grand self-destruction made for unique television, the industry took notice, and more series about disgruntled intellectuals came along.
Read the rest at Movie Mezzanine!
16 February 2015
A New Hope was now dubbed the “The Special Edition” and the picture was rumored to have millions of dollars in special effects added following it’s 20th anniversary. The inspiration to re-release the trilogy came after George Lucas saw what Industrial Lights & Magic had done with computer-generated effects for Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Digital effects had finally caught up with the stories filmmakers wanted to make. Now was the right time, Lucas felt, to use ILM to create his original vision for Star Wars. What these changes could add to the film was a mystery in my mind, but I already loved A New Hope, so new digital effects could only be an improvement. Right?
Read the rest at Sound on Sight!
13 February 2015
Lego Justice League vs. Bizarro League hits shelves on DVD/Blu-ray soon and Warner Brothers is promoting the film with a giveaway. Never Mind Pop Film has been given a prize pack (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD UltraViolet Combo Pack + a Batzarro LEGO minifigure) to award to one lucky reader! To win, tweet use the #JusticeLeague and #BizarroLeague hashtags and follow/mention @ on Twitter. Contest ends February 23rd.
Each household is only eligible to win LEGO: DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League vs. Bizarro League (Blu-ray+DVD+Digital HD UltraViolet Combo Pack) Blu-ray via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.