I like movies. Cross that.
I like movies. I love movies.
I am no critique though. Like in books, I can’t tell what is the measurement of perfect lighting. I can’t distinguish the cinematographic technique used. I can’t use those technical movie-making terms because I don’t know them.
I am a fan. That’s it. I have my own criteria for judging a movie.
So, yeah, Black Mass.
I know nothing of its plot. I have never seen its trailer. I wanted to watch it because of Johnny Depp and Benedict Cumberbatch (shameless fangirl moment. I know, forgive me).
I give it an 8.0 out of 10 stars. This rating was not significantly influenced by the presence of the two aforementioned actors. Also, may I add a disclaimer that this movie is based on a book of the same title which I have only learned while watching the end credits. This resulted in me recalling that I did find such a book in a second-hand bookshop a few days or a week back. I thought that it might just be a coincidence that it had the same title as the movie as I knew nothing about it so I did not buy it. Add that to my list of mundane regrets.
What I liked
1. The presence of ‘garnish’ scenes. I don’t know what to call those scenes that are not technically needed for the plot arrangement but is there in the movie anyway to give depth and flavour to a specific event or character. Thus, I will call them ‘garnish’ scenes. The movie has plenty of those. I have notices it also in the previous movies that I have watched. I like how it serves as a passageway for the reader to connect with the characters of the story to a more equal level.
2. The focus on the faces of the characters during different parts of their lives. It appears as if you were there with them and you really wanna feel sorry for them and pat their back or something.
3. The diversity of the issues being discussed. I like how each character represents a different issue and situation. I like how the movie makes you think about each of them and take them into consideration. I’ll discuss more later on.
What I did not like
1. Nothing really… Told you that I am no critique. I can’t pinpoint wrongs. All I know that it was not perfect. Is there honestly a perfect movie?
Black Mass was an excellent film. Go watch it if you like mafia movies, family relationships, and those that tackle morality. It got that all covered.
PS. For the Cumbercookies out there, Mr. Cumberbatch makes a great American accent. Is there such a thing as ear candy?
PPS. For the Deppheads out there, the Master of Disguise sports a thinning hairline with blue eyes and wrinkles + freckles. Its like his version of Old Man Logan (X-Men special).
Now, I am going to talk about the issues in the film like I promised earlier. IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED BLACK MASS YET, STOP READING RIGHT NOW.
This is a major spoiler alert. I have spoiler-phobia so I would not read any further if I were you. But if you’re really persistent then go knock yourself out and read on.
I honestly don’t know how to start. Told you that I’m no critique. I’ll just go on at random parts of the movie. The ones that I am talking about are the ones that focused on specific themes (in short the ones that I remembered). That being said, I am writing this review amidst the aftermath effect that the movie has on my head. The effect lasts for at least an hour for this movie so forgive my inaccuracy in some points of the discussion. I’m trying to write this while the effect is still fresh on me.
1. The Card Game Scene
Jimmy goes on and play Gin(Jin?) with his mom after he was reminded by her that he still owes her from their previous game. Her mother teases him on his inability of defeating her and goes on taunting him of not learning how to win the game despite being in Alcatraz for a decade. Jimmy answers that he has not learned how to cheat his mother.
Jimmy’s mother cheats a game against her son. She is well aware of his previous imprisonment and accepted it like nothing. Yet, it was clear that she is a sweet woman who loves her kids. It gives some thought that his mother more or less grew up in the same environment that he did. She must have been involved in the Mafia business in some point of her life.
2. Jimmy and the Old Lady
Jimmy and his pals were driving along town when Jimmy orders them to stop the car just so he could step out and greet an old neighbor. The scene was so innocent and simple. A homeboy goes on and interact with an elder of the community like the good homeboy that he is. He even ordered his pals to assist the said woman to her house.
3. Senator Billy Bulger
Jimmy’s brother is a member of the State Senate. He is well aware of Jimmy’s business. He decides to act as if he knows nothing. He does not ask. He leaves Jimmy alone.
4. The family dinner and the family breakdown
Jimmy teaches his son how to deal with bullies. We all know that he was giving bad advice. His wife knows it. He gives it anyway because that is what he knows on how he can protect his boy and teaching him to protect himself. Later on, his son dies. It is said that if you do not take care of the good things in your life then they are taken away from you earlier than it should be.
Could it be said that Jimmy was a bad father? He taught immorally wrong ideas to his son. Yet, he was immaculately affectionate to him and he wished good things for him. Then, there are fathers who are pushing their sons to be good people. Yet, the child grows up bitter towards his father as he has not experiences the affection that he wished he did. It makes you think about what could be the measurement of a good father or a good parent in general.
5. The loyalty of John Connoly
He helps Jimmy to the most that he could. He ignored all the negative signs. He was loyal to Jimmy to the end as it was proven by his denial to persecute him. Even if his relationship with his wife was in stake, he still chose Jimmy. Jimmy must have done something truly great for John to offer such service.
I believe all these scenes and events state one idea. Family comes first above all. If that is the rule to follow then family comes first before morality, etiquette, or the common good.
Jimmy’s mom loved her sons and changed to show them love and affection. She accepted them whatever they did. Perhaps it was because she did the same before family came into her life. Perhaps because she could not stop them. Children are very stubborn after all. End point was that she loved her sons to the end. Family first.
Jimmy was kind to the elderly because they painfully remind him of his mother. He would never disrespect an oldie because it was the equivalent of disrespecting his own mother. Family first.
Billy did not bring Jimmy to justice because they were brothers. He was aware but he did not want to know the details. He was a servant of the law. Not knowing of his brother’s deeds helps him work with a clean conscience.
Justice is blind. So he is blind to his big brother’s actions. Why? Billy appeared to be a good senator but, honestly, would you have the heart to bring your own brother to jail? I know I don’t. Family first.
Coming from a family such as theirs, I can think of two reasons why Billy entered the political scene in the first place. One is that he thinks that his good deeds will somehow repay the crimes of his family especially his brother. Another is that he also seeks power. Jimmy got it by the Mafia. He got it by going into office. I am more inclined towards the first reason.
I have heard from many that your life truly changes once you see your first born for the first time. You grow soft. You become protective. You suddenly realize that the world is not about you.
Jimmy’s mother became loving when he was born. Jimmy must have experienced the same when he had his son. He was the Kingpin of Boston but his son was his own king. Family first.
John Connoly thought of Jimmy as his own brother. He owed him his life for some reason. He was loyal to the end. He let his marriage crumble for his sake. You only do that to family. Blood is not always thicker than water. But, family comes first.
In the end, John paid for his loyalty. He paid 40 years. Did he regret it? Perhaps eventually he did. But he knew what he was getting himself into when he denied the FBI any information on Jimmy.
It was stated that Jimmy was no longer the same when his son and mother died. He was devastated. It can do so much to a person and it must have tripled Jimmy’s foul behavior.
I have to give him credit. He never used his power over Billy as his big brother. He was nice enough to play with his game of ignoring his crimes. He was extra nice enough to say goodbye to him although that phone call costs Billy’s political career. Perhaps that was the payment of Billy’s assumed ignorance. But if I were him, I would have no regrets. He knew that Jimmy should be arrested but if he would then he would make sure that it was not because of him. Really, who will bring their own family to trouble?
Family. Loyalty. Power.
They are all good.
Truly, all things that are done in excess are not good.
What is the measurement of the limits of such?
So that ends my first ever movie review.
Yeap, Black Mass is a must-watch.
What do you guys think? Share your thoughts and let’s discuss.