Black Mass: follows the criminal activities of the notorious James “Whitey” Bulger and his closest conspirators. First off; why the fuck would anyone want to make such a pointless film? One that tells the story of an evil murderer, pointing out that he’s an evil murderer by showing him commit and sanction said evil murders. We get it; but y tho? There’s no arc, no development, no story… it’s just a series of decreasingly effective cold-blooded killings. The pacing is dead slow, full of unlikable characters and shows zero motivation for anyone’s actions; especially the vampiric and despicable lead. If anything, it felt farcical that a FBI would allow such openly compromised detective to continue working on cases they were obviously invested in! Being set in Boston we’re treated to everyone trying (but failing) to nail BAWSTAN accent: Cumberbatch lands poll position with a change in both pitch and hammy accent, that feels like a straight-up comedy voice. The ensemble cast are phenomenal, but nobody is given a credible character to work with, and although he’s as good as he’s been in the last 10 years or so Johnny Depp continues his obsession with distracting dressing up / make up to get in to character. Black mass is well shot, boasts a couple of good scenes, and a decent central performance but it is the opposite of an enjoyable or interesting film. It’s the film that nobody was crying out for; and a great companion piece for Killing Them Softly.
In the Electric Mist (Dans la brume électrique): a New Orleans detective is trying to link the murdering of local prostitutes with a 1965 lynching and corrupt local businessmen. So you’re sitting there thinking this is a normal(-ish) police investigation then 40 minutes in BAM! Our lead is taking advice from – and having conversations with – a Confederate soldier ghost… WTF?? For a sleepy town there’s also a whole lotta murdering happening with very little law intervention. Tommy Lee Jones plays the lead pretty well, but as a grouchy, craggy, snarly, old-school detective – it’s nothing we haven’t seen already. By the time the final act rolls round there’s almost too much going on; new murders, old murders, suspicious movie set, troubled film stars, conspiracies, kidnapping. The confusion is compounded by almost everyone having a comically hillbilly name, and some fairly hooky narration. In the end ‘Electric Mist’ is watchable enough, but completely unremarkable, flat, and has a look and ‘vibe’ of a film that could be 20 years older than it is. Ultimately, it’s a pretty big waste of an impressive cast.
Robot and Frank: an aging jewel thief with dementia strikes up an unlikely relationship with his disability “death machine” robot helper – and re-ignites his criminal career. Frank is a great character; grumpy, witty, cheeky… a hard bunch to juggle and still keep the audience sympathetic. It would have also been too easy for Langella to over-cook his performance, but his chops are superb – it’s best thing I’ve seen him in, and great to see older actors / aging issues at the heart of a movie. Other than the slightly downbeat ending it’s a film that manages to stay charming, enjoyable and amusing for the duration. It’s also rrrrather quirky, but not in a ridiculous way. Surprisingly well-judged for such a pure-bred indie movie.
Knight and Day A wanted super spy (Cruise) somehow thinks it’s OK to tangle a random civilian (Diaz) into his escape plans. Up front – there are simply too many things to dislike in this movie; the plot is terrible, the tone is uneven – big action or goofy parody, derivative script, neither lead is any good, neither lead is watchable or likable, etc, etc… The secret agent keeps knocking out the gal when she’s just about to put 2 + 2 together, that’s no way to treat a Lady, even if she is only with you for the money! Moreover, the whole film feels like a big, strategic, crass plan to simply make a ton of box office, without as much of a thought given to the actual product.
It genuinely made the Mrs and I want to make a suicide pact, but before things got that far, we switched it off after a record-breaking 15 minutes. Bankable A-list stars, does not a good movie make! GAME OVER, Cruise.
Alternative Plans: just went to bed early that night, ‘cos that’s how we roll.