Whitey: United States of America v. James J Bulger (2014)

Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger (2014) ★★★★☆ Dir: Joe Berlinger Magnolia Pictures (Official Site) 120 minutes U.S. Theatrical Release: June 27, 2014 (Limited) – Just before Christmas in 1994, James “Whitey” Bulger, a big player in the so-called Irish Mafia in South Boston, was tipped off that the FBI had issued a warrant for his arrest. Having spent decades as an FBI informant, Bulger had cultivated plenty of friends in law enforcement, several of whom were happy to give him a head start in what would become 16 years of life on the lam. By the time he was finally caught and arrested in 2011, several individuals in the Boston office of the FBI were known to have ignored the crimes of the Irish Mafia — everything from extortion to theft to murder — in exchange for information from these gangsters that would allow them to take down the Irish Mafia’s biggest competitors: the Italian Mafia. Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger is a startling new documentary that investigates the overwhelming deception, corruption and brutality of organized crime, not just by the gangsters, but by those in the FBI and Boston law enforcement who enabled them for decades. Boston FBI agent John Connolly, who grew up in Southie idolizing a teenaged yet already notorious Bulger, was especially involved in the perverse tit-for-tat that existed between the agency and the Irish Mafia. Connolly helped develop the Top Echelon Informant Program and promptly recruited Whitey, … Continue reading

Elsewhere: The Rainy Season Edition

Thanks for your patience during SBBN’s downtime last week. The site should be stable from now on, though my time here will remain limited because of some life issues; to be both vague and blunt, I have to spend my time making money and not entertaining the masses for free. Speaking of free, here are some recent articles I’ve written around the intertubes: My last ClassicFlix articles: * Partners in Crime: Sidekicks in Film Noir * I Live My Life DVD review * Clara Bow: Life As the It Girl Recent Reviews and Articles at Spectrum Culture: * Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (2013): I no longer remember what review this was from, but not long ago I stumbled across a description of a film as being an exasperating hagiography, a film “by friends, for friends.” The same could be said for Supermensch, which is one of the most accidentally creepy films I have ever seen in my life. The image of the good-natured, awesome, karmatastic Shep Gordon only barely hides the judgmental one-percenter underneath. * Oeuvre: A Woman Under the Influence (1974): Though I recognize how influential and groundbreaking they are, I don’t click with John Cassavetes’ films and I struggle not to actively loathe them. That’s why you shouldn’t bother reading this article. Recent SBBN Articles and Reviews You May Have Missed: * We Are the Best! (2013): I really loved this film. Viewers should stay for the end credits, a nice nod to a comparative sequence … Continue reading

White Elephant Blogathon: The Dunwich Horror (1970)

This is the SBBN entry for this year’s White Elephant Blogathon, hosted by Philip Tatler IV of Diary of a Country Pickpocket. – “These terrors are of older standing. They date beyond the body — or without the body, they would have been the same…” – Charles Lamb, Witches and other Night-Fears – To call H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction evocative would be to commit one of the most egregious literary understatements possible, second only to “Bukowski’s poetry is bleak,” or maybe “Shakespeare was kind of wordy.” The Dunwich Horror, a short story written by Lovecraft in 1928, was somewhere between the second and eighth entry in what would become known as The Cthulhu Mythos. In most of these stories, ancient gods from another realm terrorize simple folk in the American Northeast, in frightening tales that — and I must quote Wikipedia here — reflect “the complete irrelevance of mankind in the face of … cosmic horrors.” Evocative! Roger Corman, born less than two years before the publication of The Dunwich Horror, produced and directed some of the best B-movie horror films during the 1960s, often borrowing from the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Corman was nearing the end of what would be his most artistically productive and compelling period when he stopped making films based on Poe’s stories, and it must have seemed only natural to move on to Lovecraft, a fine horror craftsman who was also inspired by Poe. But there was a problem with adapting Lovecraft for modern audiences: … Continue reading