Black Mass

BlackMass Review of Black Mass for Carla Renata's Corner

A few little known facts about me...I 'm obsessed with mafia films.  The Godfather 1, 2 &3, Goodfellas, Donnie Brasco, Casino, The Departed, American Gangster. Bugsy, Prizzi's name it...I've seen it!! I'm a HUGE Johnny Depp fan going back to the "21 JumpStreet" days. He's  an extraordinary actor with skills, talent and definitely more than just a pretty face.

The most important little known fact, I actually dated a mob dude (Latin Mob) back in the day when I lived in NYC.  Needless to say, it abruptly ended the morning I was awaken to a hail of bullets coming through the front door of his apartment.  It was a buzz kill to say the least, not to mention the fact that it scared the poop out of me!!!

Cut to 2011, I clicked on the evening news to discover that one of the most notorious mobsters in Boston, Mass. history has been arrested in Santa Monica!!!  WTH??!!  The mobster seen cuffed on my television set was James "Whitey" Bulger, who was #2 on the FBI Most Wanted List right behind Osama Bin Laden and he had been living less than an hour away from me for nearly 16 years.

So, when the trailers aired showing Depp as Bulger in those blue contacts, I didn't think I would be able to get past that look to enjoy his performance.  Well baby, not only did only did I enjoy his performance -- I was spell-bound!  Not only did I forget Depp was wearing contacts, but his uncanny ability to take on Bulger's persona having never met the man was brilliant.  Boston accents are very tricky to master, but Johnny Depp is like the Lon Chaney of accents and characters.  He masters them and pulls it off without a hitch!

Having watched the documentary about "Whitey" Bulger and knowing the recordings used for were the only reference Depp had made his performance even more of a revelation.

So, for those of you non-mafia fans, James "Whitey" Bulger was the ringleader of the Winter Hill Gang, which terrorized Boston in the 70's and 80's.  In 1972, Bulger supposedly became a FBI informant,  allegedly provided prosecution protection (by childhood friend/FBI Agent John Connolly) for him and his gang's illegal activities.  Ultimately, Bulger's arrest turned into a conviction of 31 our of 32 counts of everything ranging from racketeering to murder.  Connolly got sentenced to 40 years.  Associates and Winter Hill Gang Members Kevin Weeks, Steve Flemmi and John Martorano all received lesser sentences are now walking the streets of Boston as free men.

Joel Edgerton as John Connolly allows the audience to watch as the Bostonian bravado, über confidence that is a staple for this FBI Agent  fade into a paranoid, desperate man willing to protect himself and his friends by any means necessary.

Dakota Johnson, fresh off of her controversial "Fifty Shades of Grey", as Bulger's love interest Lindsey Cyr gives a heart wrenching performance as a mother whose son' medical condition tips the scales of her relationship to a point of no return.

Peters Sarsgaard as Halloran knows all too well how to give you the fine line between crazy and vulnerable.  I've been a huge fan of his since "Boys Don't Cry".  Oscar Nominee Benedict Cumberbatch displays what a true acting chameleon he is portraying Bulger's younger brother Billy with just enough chilliness that one can see that the Senator and his brother could have possibly been one in the same.

Last, but certainly not least, Kevin Bacon rounds out this stellar cast and is obviously having a great year in film with this film following his fantabulous performance in "Cop Car"

Having already made a huge splash at the Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals, Black Mass opened in the #1 spot at box offices across country in the US - making a particularly stong showing in Boston...where the whole story began.


Review: Cop Car

IMG_0866 When I was a kid living on yet another military base with my family, my brother and I would pretend to look for treasure in the Yuma desert that was our backyard.  As kids we were always looking for what our next adventure would be.  On one day it would be a treasure hunt, the next,  it could be pretending to drive our own car with a license and everything!!!

As a matter of fact, my brother actually had that car moment and ran through the garage of one of our neighbors.  However, that's another blog on another

Well, imagine if all that pretending turned into a reality when some kids find what they think is an abandoned cop car and go joy riding?  They soon discover their actions are full of consequences they never see coming which changes the trajectory of their lives and the lives of those they come in contact with throughout their adventure.

"Cop Car" director, Jon Watts explains that this taut thriller originally sprouted roots as a recurring stress dream from childhood, "I'm with my friend and we're in my mom's car, driving around town.  I'm in the passengers seat and he's driving, going faster and faster, and we're passing by people but no one's stopping us, and I'm getting more and more freaked out. And then I wake up...

I was wide awake for the ride and loved every single moment!  Mostly, because it made me nostalgic of days long gone by back in Yuma and St. Louis, where my brother and I grew up and nourished our over-active imaginations.

The key successful element for this feature is having the right kids in the leading roles, since they carry the majority of the film.  After an extensive nationwide search, Watts casts James Freedson-Jackson (Travis) and Hays Wellford (Harrison), who are equally "crushing it" and give the adults a run for their money. They're like all four of the boys from "Stand By Me", but younger and fiercer!!!


Emmy-winner Camyrn Manheim makes a small, but brief appearance, which in my opinion was a waste of her talent.  Don't get me wrong...I love me some Miss Camyrn, but felt like her talent wasn't really utilized in this particular role as the small town lady who peeps the kids driving the cop car, reports it and lives to regret the moment she ever saw them.

Shea Whigham (Man) is hilariously frightening during his brief, but impactful appearance on-screen. Last, but not least is Executive Producer and star - Kevin Bacon.

Kevin Bacon mixes comedy with crazy and creepy better than anyone I have ever seen on-screen, all of which are necessary to make Sheriff Kretzer work on every level.  My favorite moments are those when Kretzer relies on his charming craftiness to throw everyone at the precinct off, while plotting to get his cop car back in his possession.  I love Bacon in these type of roles, as it gently reminds us that we need to see him on screen waaaaay more often kicking character role booty.


"Cop Car" is a thrilling ride from the first frame to the last without a weak link in the bunch.  Catch it while you can when it screeches into a theater near you on August 7th.