July 2024


Johnny Depp

Black Mass (2015)

BulgerDIRECTOR: Scott Cooper

CAST: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane, David Harbour, Peter Sarsgaard, Corey Stoll


Black Mass, a docudrama of the unholy alliance between FBI agents and 1970s-1990s crime lord Whitey Bulger, has a feel of “Scorsese-lite” (Jack Nicholson’s mob boss in Scorsese’s The Departed was loosely modeled after Bulger).  Solid acting and some memorable individual scenes enliven a straightforward gangster crime drama that’s otherwise serviceable but generic.  Black Mass is reasonably engaging, but nothing groundbreaking, and there’s a sense of a rushed and underdeveloped storyline.  Among the many gangland flicks to come out over the years, it’s not a bad installment, but also not a classic.  A chilling lead performance by Johnny Depp is likely to linger longer in the memory than the pedestrian narrative. Continue reading

Into the Woods (2014)

Into-The-Woods-e1415275006650DIRECTOR: Rob Marshall

CAST: Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, James Corden, Emily Blunt, Daniel Huttlestone, Lilla Crawford, Mackenzie Mauzy, Chris Pine, Billy Magnussen, Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski, Johnny Depp


Into the Woods doesn’t make the journey worth taking.  Perhaps part of the blame lies with Disney neutering Stephen Sondheim’s original play, a dark-edged satire of classic fairy tales, toning down darker and more sexually suggestive moments in the name of “family friendliness”, but the generic musical numbers, with nary a catchy tune to be found (just compare it to the list of memorable songs in, say, Les Miserables) aren’t a promising advertisement for Sondheim’s original material either.  Satire only fully works when it’s a razor-sharp, incisive blade.  Whether or not the fault lies with Disney softening its edges, the movie adaptation of Sondheim’s play is a dull butter knife. Continue reading

Public Enemies (2009)

DIRECTOR: Michael Mann

CAST: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, Billy Crudup, Stephen Graham, Stephen Lang, Jason Clarke, Stephen Dorff, Giovanni Ribisi, Lili Taylor, David Wenham, Leelee Sobieski, Branka Katic, Channing Tatum


Public Enemies is not the first film to portray legendary bank robber John Dillinger, but it’s the most high-profile and the most accomplished, but certain elements keep it from gangster genre classic status, not least of which is that director Michael Mann (The Last of the Mohicans, Heat) elects to film the events in docudrama style instead of aiming for grandeur and glamor.  It could be argued that Public Enemies is an independent art film masquerading as a gangster epic, and how audiences react to that will determine how absorbed they become by the film’s content.  Continue reading

Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)

DIRECTOR: Robert Rodriguez


Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Johnny Depp, Mickey Rourke, Willem Dafoe, Eva Mendes, Ruben Blades, Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin, Enrique Iglesias, Gerardo Vigil, Pedro Armendariz, Julio Oscar Mechoso


To put it simply and bluntly, Once Upon A Time In Mexico is a mess of a movie, but it’s enough of a colorful, stylish, entertaining mess that it’s possible to enjoy as a series of action/comedic setpieces even if the overall story is a convoluted jumble. Continue reading

Chocolat (2000)

chocolatDIRECTOR: Lasse Hallstrom

CAST: Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp, Alfred Molina, Judi Dench, Lena Olin, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugh O’Conor, Peter Stormare, John Wood, Leslie Caron, Victoire Thivisol


Chocolat is a fluffy dessert rather than a full banquet of cinematic depth, but if it stays on the side of being a trifle insubstantial, it’s still a delightful confection that whips light humor, a dash of romance, and food porn into a cute, safe little feel good movie that goes down as pleasantly and as easily as a cup of hot chocolate. Continue reading