Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Black Mass Could Have Been Way Bettah

Eh.  That sums it up.  The highly anticipated crime drama Black Mass directed by Scott Cooper was good but ultimately, could have been significantly better.  Living in the Boston area, everyone and their mothah was wicked excited about the movie about South Bawston’s own Whitey Bulgah.  Many in this area have vivid memories of the notorious crime boss and his penchant for violence.  After the media storm surrounding his capture and trial in 2011, it made sense for Hollywood to cash in and the result is a film that follows all the standard “mafia movie” tropes.  As a result, the movie comes across as an amalgam of themes, scenes, and dialog that feels straight out of BETTER organized crime dramas of the past.  That being said, the film is essentially a story about the character of Whitey Bulger – a man whose brutality has become myth.  In this respect, it was well done.  Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Bulger while over the top at times felt authentic and conveyed the deep seated madness behind the family man from Southie.  Regardless, you’re always aware that it’s Johnny Depp (the problem with such recognizable actors) and you’re even more aware that Depp’s accent is false.  Given, he does a pretty phenomenal job as fake Boston accents go but it’s still a hurdle to get over that distracts you from the dialog (which admittedly has its ups and downs).  Supporting actors Benedict Cumberbatch as Billy Bulger and Joel Edgerton as dirty cop John Connolly are shadowed by Depp and feel almost unnecessary.  It would have been nice to focus solely on Bulger himself and not get bogged down with the story of Connolly’s role in getting Bulger set up as an informant for the FBI.  Overall, the film was OK but disappointing in that it could have been great.

Today's Playlist

1. Coffee - Kal Marks
2. Walk on the Wild Side - Lou Reed
3. Blank Generation - Richard Hell and the Voidoids
4. The Weather Song - Ought
5. Jane - Barenaked Ladies
6. Nightswimming - REM
7. Where is My Mind? - Pixies
8. Future Police - Downtown Boys
9. Lemmings - Blink 182
10. Promises - Fugazi

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Daniel Craig's Time as James Bond Ends with A Flop

                James Bond is an icon; an eternal character too large for one man.  Thus every actor’s stint as the suave British agent with a license to kill must come to an end.  Connery, Dalton, Moore, Brosnan…their times have all come to a close and with the release of Spectre, Daniel Craig’s chapter as the tuxedo wearing, martini drinking, Astin Martin driving spy is now part of the pantheon of greats that have come before him.  But that’s the problem.  Throughout the course of Craig’s four Bond films the character has become a shadow of itself.  Maybe it was a Bond for a new generation; a Bond with an edge who sacrificed the debonair attitude for some grit and grime.  I’d be able to accept that if the films were any good.
                Now don’t get me wrong.  I enjoyed 2 out of 4 of the Craig films.  Casino Royale was based on the first Ian Fleming Bond novel and thus had most of the elements of what we’ve all come to expect in a 007 flick: the Astin Martin, the martinis, the sex on the beach.  Quantum of Solace was a miss in my book, a continuation of the events of Casino Royale in a way that DID NOT feel like a Bond film.  Part of that comes from the fact that they were forced to create a plot without the help of a Fleming novel.  They took this “new” Bond which Craig had helped create – the kind that rudely says “I don’t give a damn” instead of “shaken not stirred” to the bartender – and thrust him into a new world.  While Quantum fell flat, Craig and co. turned it around with Skyfall, a film that in every way felt like classic Bond.  Diving deep into James’ past as well as his lifelong personal relationship with Judy Dench’s M was spectacular.  Javier Bardem’s villain was superb.  He was the classy, sophisticated psychopath you expect to try and take over the world.  I was blown away and had such high hopes for the follow up; which brings us to Spectre.
                What happened??  The film fell flat and was not the “go out with a bang” I was hoping for for Craig’s last iteration of Bond.  While Ralph Fiennes is INCREDIBLE as M, Christopher Waltz’s rendition of classic Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld was bland and forgettable.  This is immensely disappointing as I’ve come to adore Waltz as an actor, particularly in the role of the villain and yet he is completely forgettable.  Gadgets are nowhere to be found and the sleek, bullet proof spy car only has a rear flamethrower...whoop dee doo.  The evil organization SPECTRE where the film gets it’s title does not come across as all powerful but instead a rather plain group of individuals ruled by…money? power? influence? force? It’s never abundantly clear leading you to not really believe the fact that they are “everywhere” so to speak.  Aspects of Bond’s character are almost non existent and make the film feel like a generic, run of the mill action movie with dark undertones.  If it weren’t for the Bond theme playing in the background, it would be possible to write off the film as just that.  Ultimately, it’s a poor and disappointing end to Craig’s time as the titular hero but ultimately, an accurate reflection of his version of the character from the beginning.
                Craig’s “rough around the edges” adaptation of 007 has never quite fit.  Something has always been a little off and Spectre seals the deal.  It reminds us that while his four films have elements and aspects of the classic Bond movies that came before, they never quite hit the mark.  Something was always missing.  Now that he’s moving on from the character the world will wait anxiously for a new Bond to take up the reigns.  Without the constraints of the Fleming novels the character could go in any direction.  But I’m holding out hope that after the raucous thrill ride that was the last four, we’ll see a return to form.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hot New Movies!

The Duxbury Free Library carries the newest,
most popular films - typically right as they come out!
If you're a movie lover it's crucial you keep an eye on
our "NEW" section as it is updated regularly.  Get on
the hold list early for some of Hollywood's biggest flicks
by signing up for DVD bookletters!  We'll email you
when all the great new titles arrive in the catalog.
For now, check out some of these great new titles!

Poldark: Season One

This dark, Colonial period drama from the BBC stars Aidan Turner (The Hobbit) as Ross Poldark.  The shows 8 episodes chronicle his return to his small Cornish town after years away fighting in the American War for Independence.  If you're disappointed that there aren't more episodes, fret not! Season two is on its way.

Ted 2

Seth MacFarlane's sequel to his hysterical live action debut starring a crude stuffed bear magically brought to life by the love of his owner sees much of the same humor and jokes.  That being said, it's certainly got it's laugh out loud moments.  Mark Wahlberg is so unbelievable in comedic roles his time on screen is almost funny in and of itself.  If you're a Family Guy fan than odds are you enjoyed the first Ted and odds are you will enjoy the second.

Diary of a Teenage Girl

This fabulous coming of age drama is one part funny, two parts creepy, and three parts brilliantly emotional.  Based on the graphic novel memoir of the same name by Phoebe Gloeckner, the film stars Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood), Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids), and introduces Bel Powley as protagonist Minnie Goetze.  Minnie's middle teen years and her sexual awakening at the hands of her mothers boyfriend (Skarsgard) paint an interesting portrait of mid-70's San Francisco in the wake of the hippie movement.

The 88th Annual Academy Awards Approaches!

It's February and that means one thing (besides Valentines Day)...the Academy Awards are approaching!!  I have high hopes for this year and maintain the belief that the Oscars is the LAST truly sensible award show.  After the farce that was this years Golden Globes (see my post on The Martian) I'm really hoping the Academy can pull it together to make some wise, multicultural, intelligent picks this year.  Though it seems popular opinion has continuously found it's way into the mix with movies like Mad Max Fury Road getting a nom for Best Picture....give me a break!! That being said there are some truly amazing films and actors up for awards this year.  Best Picture noms include Spielberg's Bridge of Spies and the Boston based Catholic Church drama Spotlight.  Leo is up for Best Actor again for his emotional role in The Revenant who's mastermind Alejandro Inarritu is also up for Best Director.  Jennifer Lawrence is quickly establishing herself as a core part of the next generation of iconic Hollywood actresses and is nominated for her role in Joy.  As far as animation goes, there is only one film in the category in my opinion; Pixar's fabulous Inside Out.  Other things to watch for include whether John Williams will take home his sixth Oscar for Best Original Score for his work on Star Wars: The Force Awakens and whether or not The Martian will win Best Adapted Screenplay (it should!).  In the weeks leading up to the film industries biggest night, stop by the DFL and pick up a Best Picture winner from years past!