Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger
Runtime 107 minutes.
OK for children.
This shocking film completely overturns what most people know about the notorious crime boss, James “Whitey” Bulger. Bulger’s brother was a prominent Democrat politician, for years the President of the Massachusetts Senate and President of the University of Massachusetts, when everybody knew his brother was a mobster. In fact, he was forced to resign after he refused to testify at a 2003 Congressional hearing about communications he had with his brother who was at that time a fugitive from justice, which says a lot about the Massachusetts Democrat party.
But this movie isn’t about corruption in the Democratic party, it’s mostly about alleged corruption in the FBI and the Department of Justice. Like most people, I thought that once Bulger was captured living in plain view in a mundane Santa Monica, California apartment for 16 years with his gun moll, Catherine Greig, he would be quickly tried and convicted of all his brutal crimes. In fact, he was tried but only convicted of some of them. But that’s not the half of it.
This movie shows all the machinations that went on. Bulger was alleged to have been an informant for the FBI and the idea was that he was given a pass, even immunity, for all his crimes for turning rat. Bulger denied this, but at least one member of the FBI, John Connolly, went to prison for what he did in the Bulger affair, including presently serving 40 years for one of the murders. There’s little doubt that in addition to being a thief and a murderer, nothing Bulger ever said could be taken for truth and that he was ratting out his criminal colleagues.
Director Joe Berlinger follows the trial and interviews many of Bulger’s victims’ survivors, none of whom come across as pleased with the trial or the outcome. Although Bulger was not interviewed on camera, he is heard being interviewed by his attorney off camera.
The trial was as much a trial of the Boston authorities, both FBI and DOJ, who appear to be involved and perhaps responsible for many of Bulger’s horrible crimes, including many murders. One main problem in watching the film is that it is enormously confusing. There are so many people with Irish names, Connolly, Kelly, Condon, Fitzpatrick, Long, Foley, Duffy, O’Sullivan, O’Brien, O’Toole, and Brennan, interviewed, referred to, and talked about that it becomes dizzily confusing as the film progresses.
The upshot is that the film is far too long for what it is. While it raises disturbing questions about those who are supposed to be protecting us, it needs serious editing. Still, it is a film I recommend as entertaining and educational.
Transformers: Age of Extinction
Runtime 145 minutes
OK for children
7:00: Arrived at historic Paramount lot for 7:30 screening, driving through the iconic gate: I hate movies like this. Potential grade 1/10
7:05: Enter theater: no production notes or cast & crew “We don’t give notes for these types of movies.” This is a bad sign.
7:40: Movie Starts: Good start for action director Michael Bay. 3/10
8:00: Mark Wahlburg very good; Kelsey Grammer very good; story interesting: Wahlburg’s daughter, Nicola Peltz whose real father is a billionaire, is pretty and a good actress in a difficult part (especially given that the stars are the machines). Her boyfriend, Irishman Jack Reynor is also pretty but his part is relatively papier-maché, so one can’t make a judgment on his ability; he does a good job for what it is. 7/10
8:30: Special effects spectacular: Humans play a big part in the story: Grammer, the head of the CIA, is out to get Wahlburg and his daughter but they’re being defended by some of the machines, all of whom have personalities: 8/10
9:00: Story still appealing: Big bad government in movies used to be annoying to me but recently, the plotline of corrupt government seems more plausible: Stanley Tucci appears as an avaricious entrepreneur working with Grammer to develop the best fighting machine ever, and is at the top of his game in a part that is undemanding, to say the least. 8/10
9:30: Lots and lots and lots of machines fighting one another: Implausible situations (well, OK, the entire thing is ridiculous, but there should be some logic in all movies. The machines seem indestructible, but they can die. Some survive the same things that kill others). 7/10
9:45: Still more fighting between machines; special effects still good but how much can one take? I start counting the seconds. 6/10
10:00: Will this never end? 5/10
10:15: I’m exhausted. Although I never once felt sleepy because of all the noise and action, this is just too much for any normal human to endure. But I firmly believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I start counting the half-seconds. 4/10
10:25: It’s over! I’m so tired I barely make it back to my car. Grade: 3/10.