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items tagged with Jez Butterworth

Johnny B. Bad: "Black Mass" and "Grandma"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2015-09-20 01:40:19

Johnny Depp in Black MassBLACK MASS

There’s a scene in the gangster thriller Black Mass that should sound bells of recognition for all fans of the genre. In it, legendary crime lord James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp) and some friends are enjoying a dinner prepared by one of Bulger’s associates: FBI agent John Morris (David Harbour). Bulger compliments Morris on their steaks and asks what seasoning was used, to which the agent replies that it’s a secret family recipe whose ingredients, upon further pressing, he genially reveals. That’s when Bulger seems to snap.

His smile curls into a frown, his eyes go deader than usual, and he calmly inquires of Morris that if the agent is willing to share this “family secret” so quickly, what other secrets – perhaps secrets about Bulger – might he have shared? During the unbearably thick silence that follows, Morris and his tablemates appear nearly frozen with panic. Bulger, meanwhile, stares and stares, and we in the audience prepare for an inevitable, horrific burst of violence. And then ... Bulger laughs. A lot. Exclaiming “You should see your face!”, he insists he was just busting Morris’ balls. Very slowly, the others begin to smile, and then they, too, laugh. And as this sensationally tense sequence ends on a note of cautious cheer, it’s impossible to ignore the suggestion of what we just witnessed: GoodFellas with Johnny Depp in the Joe Pesci role. All that was missing was the psychotic query “I’m funny how?!"

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Secret Agent Woman: "Fair Game" and "The Warrior's Way"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2010-12-05 19:03:54

Naomi Watts and Sean Penn in Fair GameFAIR GAME

Presuming that it might not open locally, I caught director Doug Liman’s Fair Game – in which Naomi Watts plays outed CIA operative Valerie Plame, and Sean Penn plays Plame’s husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson – in Chicagoland on Thanksgiving night. I thought the movie was intelligent and intensely well acted, but still didn’t feel much toward it, and with so many of the film’s characters arguing over events that, by 2010, have become old (if still infuriating) news, my eyelids grew droopy during a few scenes too many.

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Story Saves "The Count": "The Count of Monte Cristo," "Birthday Girl," and "Slackers"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2002-02-06 00:00:00

Henry Cavill, Dagmara Dominczyk, James Caviezel, and Luis Guzman in The Count of Monte CristoTHE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO

The best reason to see the latest remake of The Count of Monte Cristo is the source material. You can easily shrug off the movie’s unimaginative staging, corny laugh lines, and obtrusive score for the chance to enjoy an opulently designed adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ audience-grabbing tale; it’s the sort of story that was once called “a ripping good yarn.”

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