Monday, September 28, 2015
"Black Mass": Crime drama about a psychopathic mafia informant could have used Scriabin's Sonata in the score
“Black Mass”, directed by Scott Cooper, and based on the non-fiction book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neil, is a biographical drama about Whitey Bulger, one of South Boston’s violent gangsters, who turned undercover snitch for the FBI to get back at a rival crime family, from the 1970s until 1995. .
Yes, Johnny Depp protects the evil of a psychopath – in one early scene, he teaches his young son that something didn’t happen if nobody sees it. Benedict Cumberbatch has a bit of Turning in him as he plays the somewhat lawyer brother (Billy) and state senator (eventually forced to resign from a later university job for contacting Bugler as a fugitive).
There is an impressive cast, with Kevin Bacon (so smooth) as the FBI agent, Peter Sarsgaard as Brian Halloran, Joel Edgerton (“The Gift”) as John Connoly, who goes down himself, and Adam Scott as FBI Agent FitzPatrick..
The film has plenty of scenes of gross violence, including close range executions and chokings (with rape in one instance). Bulger did awful stuff, like pushing drugs in Newton high schools. He also helped supply arms to the IRA, if I interpret the film right. There were some silly references to England-Ireland politics in the St. Patrick's Day Parade scene. There is also an interesting medical episode where Bulger's son dies of Reye's Syndrome.
Having grown used to “The Godfather” franchise, and then films like “Mystic River” and “The Town” a few years ago, the film has a lot to live up to.
The brooding music score by Torn Holkenborg fits the mood (in a manner that could resemble Clint Eastwood), but there was a missed opportunity, maybe in the closing credits, to play the nine-minute “Black Mass” Piano Sonata #9 by Alexander Scriabin, a dissonant work that would fit perfectly. (See my Drama and Music blog, August 1, 2015).
The official site from Warner Brothers for the film is here
I saw the film late Monday at Regal Ballston Common in a small auditorium. I wish the theater would label the films on each auditorium. Maybe this will happen with planned remodeling.
Picture: West of downtown Boston, my tri[, August, 2015. I’ve only been in Southie once recently, in 2002.