Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Reel Preview: Everything You Need To Know About BLACK MASS

The summer heat may still be hanging around, but Oscar Season is fully underway…with one of the first hopeful contenders entering the ring this weekend. Here is everything you need to know about BLACK MASS.
What is this about? – Based on a 2011 non-fiction book, BLACK MASS follows the life and career of infamous mobster Whitey Bulger, who among other crimes, was allegedly responsible for 19 murders in the Boston area and worked as an FBI informant for over 30 years in an attempt to wipe out a rival gang.
Who is in this? – The lead role of Whitey is being played by Johnny Depp, whose recent output includes hits and misses such as MORTDECAI (2015), INTO THE WOODS (2014), TRANSCENDENCE (2014), DARK SHADOWS (2013), THE LONE RANGER (2013), and THE RUM DIARY (2011). Depp is joined by a heavyweight cast which includes Joel Edgerton (WARRIOR), Benedict Cumberbatch (THE IMITATION GAME), Corey Stoll (ANT-MAN), Peter Sarsgaard (JARHEAD), Dakota Johnson (50 SHADES OF GREY), and Kevin Bacon.
Who is the director? – BLACK MASS is directed by Scott Cooper, who has brought us the Oscar nominated CRAZY HEART in 2009, and the gritty family/crime drama OUT OF THE FURNACE in 2013.
Random Facts – In preparation for the role, Johnny Depp studied police surveillance footage and audio. He attempted to meet with Bulger (currently in prison), but was denied access * BLACK MASS was originally to be directed by Barry Levinson (THE NATURAL, GOOD MORNING VIETNAM) * The film was shot on location in Boston * Sienna Miller was cast in the movie and filmed scenes, but her part was cut due to pacing reasons * Many of the scenes where a murder takes place were filmed in the actual location where the real event took place * Johnny Depp has declared BLACK MASS his favorite out of all of his films * Martin Scorsese’s 2006 gangster film THE DEPARTED, which won Best Picture, was heavily influenced by Whitey Bulger’s life and career.
What to Expect? – Beginning with the director, Scott Cooper has had an uneven directing output thus far. His two films, CRAZY HEART and OUT OF THE FURNACE, have received mixed reviews, but the one thing that Cooper has proven is that he is an actor’s director. CRAZY HEART earned Jeff Bridges an Oscar for Best Actor, and although it didn’t receive any awards or nominations, the strong cast of OUT OF THE FURNACE (Christain Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker, Wilem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana, and Sam Shepard), all put in memorable performances. If getting a great actor to be great is what Cooper does, then we can at least expect something special out of Johnny Depp. Depp, who has spent the better part of the last decade buried in too much makeup and acting weird in one-too-many Tim Burton films, has thus far given BLACK MASS some serious praise, which is something that he doesn’t do too often. Depp has been slowly eeking his way out of the ridiculous-character phase of his career with mixed results; he had the shitty tech-drama TRANSCENDENCE in 2014, and the duller-than-shit PUBLIC ENEMIES in 2009 in which he also played a real-life gangster (John Dillinger). If Depp is really inspired here, he could easily shoulder the weight of the film, which would make Cooper’s job easy. Expectations should be high.


BLACK MASS opens September 18th.

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