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    • More +
      12.12.2016 15:57

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      Black Mass - a film I saw here

      Star – Johnny Depp
      Genre – Drama> Crime
      Run Time – 123 minutes
      Certificate – 18
      Country – USA
      Amazon – £4.99 DVD £7.99Blue Ray
      Awards – 5 Wins & 20 Nominations
      = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

      I think it’s fair to say Johnny Depp’s career has gone quiet of late and nothing really of note, flogging the tired Pirates of the Caribbean franchise to death to retain A-List status and reaching a new low in Vampires Suck, sending up his own Gothic providence. Without Tim Burton he seems lost. That annoying cologne commercials sum up the middle aged Depps need to project himself as still young and cool. He has been hanging on to his heartthrob status too long and not really risked himself in many projects because of. The beautiful Jon Bon Jovi knew the right time to cut his mane. But Black Mass is certainly a radical diversion of late as Depp not only plays a notorious nasty villain on screen but changes his appearance radically. This is no Captain Jack Sparrow. This is a proper acting performance for once.

      Jimmy ‘Whitey’ Bulger, the head of the ‘Winterhill Mob’, was a well known Irish mobster in Boston in the 1980s and 90s and his story something that interested Depp for a while. Depp is no stranger to mob movies and his fourth career role playing a real-life gangster. He was Joseph D. Pistone in Donnie Brasco (1997), of course, George Jung in Blow (2001) and John Dillinger in Public Enemies (2009), Donnie Brasco by far the best of those, each role more psychotic and violent than the other, Whitey Bulger the worse of them all. Depp repeatedly tried to contact Bulger in prison to work on the character but he wanted nothing to do with it as he felt the book of the film was not that accurate. He simply did not want to admit to his crimes and the monster he clearly is. But Depp and the team did their research and many of the murder scenes in the movie were shot in the actual locations where the real-life murders took place. There is no doubt this was Jonny Depps first Oscar shot for a long time.


      ===Cast===

      Johnny Depp as…… James "Whitey" Bulger
      Joel Edgerton as……. John Connolly
      Benedict Cumberbatch as…. William "Billy"
      Rory Cochrane as……. Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi
      Kevin Bacon as…… Charles McGuire
      Jesse Plemons as……. Kevin Weeks
      Peter Sarsgaard as…… Brian Halloran
      Dakota Johnson as….. Lindsey Cyr
      Corey Stoll as…… Fred Wyshak
      David Harbour as….. John Morris
      Julianne Nicholson as ……Marianne Connolly
      Adam Scott as…… Robert Fitzpatrick
      Brad Carter as…….. John McIntyre
      W. Earl Brown as….. Johnny Martorano
      Mark Mahoney as…… Mickey Maloney
      Juno Temple as…… Deborah Hussey
      Erica McDermott as ……..Mary Bulger
      Bill Camp as….. John Callahan
      Scott Anderson as….. Tommy King
      David DeBeck as….. Roger Wheeler
      Jamie Donnelly as….. Ms. Cody
      Patrick M. Walsh as….. Michael Donahue
      Jeremy Strong as……. Josh Bond
      James Russo as…….. Scott Garriola

      ===Plot===

      Agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) of the Boston FBI office has a cunning but risky plan. He wants to cut a deal with local mobster James "Whitey" Bulger (Depp) to turn a blind eye to his relatively small criminal operation in return for information on the Italian mob families to clean them out of town, notably Johnny Martorano (W. Earl Brown) and his crew. FBI chief Charles McGuire (Kevin Bacon) begrudgingly agrees and Operation Echelon is underway.

      Connelly grew up on the same South Boston streets with Whitey and offers him the deal in a bar they once drank together in. Whitey is up for it and although no information in the early days of mafia crimes, and one or two unsolved murders for the FBI to deal with around Whitey, the deal survives and Whitey gives up Martorano’s hideout and the FBI get to bug it, decisive intel for a case against the Boston mafia. But with the FBI backing off the Winterhill Gang, the murders and extortion increase and the money starts rolling in as Whitey exploits his new found freedoms. And where there is money there is corruption, Connelly soon on the take from Whitey as the Italian mob crumbles and Connelly wins promotion at work.

      Also growing up with Whitey is William "Billy" Connelly (Benedict Cumberbatch), the mayor of Boston and John’s brother. William wants nothing to do with ‘legitimate’ businessman Whitey and uses his brother is a buffer but the flushing of the Italian mob out of town is sure to get him reelected. But how far can Whitey go to remain unchecked as the new head of the regional FBI in town begins to investigate the tryst and ask why no one has arrested Bulger. There are plenty people close to Whitey that hate him for the things he has done and willing to testify, especially his right hand man Kevin Weekes (Jesse Plemons)…


      ===Results===

      I think The Daily Telegraph film critic summed up this movie the most with the line that …“Bulger was a cruel killer and an ally of Irish Republican fascism but it's not all bad, he gave us Johnny Depp back”. It’s a really good performance by Johnny but in a cliché packed genre that’s been done to death over the decades Black Mass doesn’t stand out. It’s a magpie of a movie as the director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) plucks bits out of other mob movies to develop the characters with Joe Pesci immediately coming to mind, even doing a version of the ‘funny how’ scene from Goodfellas. It’s a cross between Donnie Brasco, The Departed and Goodfellas although nothing will ever equal those Italian mob movies of Pacino and Deniro in the 1980s. The Departed annoyed me as it was a remake of a superior Honk Kong Triad movie, ignored only because of its subtitles.

      For its relatively cheap budget of $53 million - which includes an excellent cast - it did an ok $96m back and OK film festival award interest. But it’s just a movie that feels restrained and intimidated by those great gangster films of the past and without Depp’s performance this could have easily gone unnoticed. The strength of his performance weakens the main characters around him and the film becomes about him and the story lost and the Donnie Brasco tweak of the FBI agent not being undercover and still working wit the mob a missed opportunity. Lord knows what Benedict Cumberbatch is doing in it. The real William "Billy" Connelly was 7 inches shorter and nastier than the frightfully British tea drinking actor.

      On the whole its worth watching just to see Johnny act again but don’t expect that slick dialogue, wonderful music and the flash suits of the Italian mob movies that make them so watchable. This simply loses the appeal of the true story early on and we end up watching a series of Hollywood actors playing roles and little more. Yes there is gruesome sadistic death and guys getting whacked but even that is done at a distance that doesn’t involve you. It just lacked the magic of the genre and so misses its 4th star for me.

      ===RATINGS===


      Imdb.com –6.9 /10.0 (126.429votes)
      Rottentomatos.com – 75% critic’s approval
      Metacritic.com – 68% critic’s approval

      ===Trailer===




      ===Special Features===


      Johnny Depp: Becoming ‘Whitey’ Bulger.

      A decent behind the scenes film

      ===Critics===

      The Daily Telegraph –‘’Bulger was a cruel killer and an ally of Irish Republican fascism but it's not all bad, he gave us Johnny Depp back’.


      Little White Lies –‘A compendium of dull gangster shenanigans which shirks hard reality at every turn’.

      NY Times – ‘It's as if the spirit of a psychopath like Bulger resists the camera. Or maybe the movie isn't imaginative enough to penetrate his shell’.

      Baltimoor –‘Yes, it's a relief to see Depp playing a real character again, not another one of his circus freaks -- I just wish he'd been given a better film to operate in’.

      San Franciso –‘.[Black Mass] is powered by Depp's depiction of the man as a coiled spring, as likely to give an associate a hug as three lead slugs in the face’.

      Hot Press –‘Luckily, though, Depp's performance is brilliant and essentially the only thing about the film that could be called 'great'.

      The Sun –‘Black Mass is all about Bulger. But thankfully, that means it's all about Depp. And you won't be able to tear your eyes from him - even when you want to’.


      ==========

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      24.10.2009 23:50

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      i was not impressed by the vue cinema in reading at all today. we all turned up with the tickets we bought online and we were not allowed to go in because we did not have ID ?!?! i meen, im sorry but we are 15, we are not expected to carry around ID with us. and the tickets were bought online and it did not say on the website anything about needing ID, it is a silly rule and it ruined my friends b-day... we were not allowed to go in and therefore had to get a refund from all 7 tickets - couples retreat. i was very dissapointed.... and soo were my gallsss/joeee x

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      22.09.2009 22:46
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      a cinema in the heart of Reading

      There can be few cinemas with such a prime location as Vue Reading. Nestled on the river side, in the heart of Reading, right next to the Oracle centre and a short walk from the station, Vue Reading is a modern and deceptively large cinema.

      There are 10 screens in all; this being a chain cinema you won't find this cinema showing many "arty" films - but all the blockbusters and new releases are generally available. Parking is in the adjacent Oracle carpark, a short lift ride away, and is at your own cost.

      Tickets can be pre-booked on the Vue website at www.myvue.com ; I find this worth doing even at the slight extra card cost of £2.50, as even at quite busy times the only ticket booths open can be those on the first floor, which means queing up with those buying quite expensive popcorn. There are 3 tills on the ground floor in the rather small lobby, but these are often closed or at times when they are open rather frantic. By reserving online you can also pick the exact seat you want and see how large the auditorium is, as they do vary. I have always found printing out ticket in the machines in the lobby to be quick and hassle free.

      You will also find up to date ticket prices on the website, at my last visit the adult price was £7.65, a child £5.75, with concessions available. A particularly good deal is the popular "kids AM" which runs at the weekend and every day during school holidays, with tickets being a bargain 95p each at the time of writing. The cinema also participates in the Orange Wednesday scheme, and if you are a member of www.seefilmfirst.com you are likely to be offered free viewings here too.

      This cinema has all the usual offerings - as well as the aforementioned dual snack and ticket booth, there is also a sweet stand, icecream and most recently a dvd dispenser machine, for some strange reason.

      I have been coming to the cinema regularly for the last couple of years and find it to be the most pleasant place in my area to see a film. The seats are much more comfortable than at the other Reading cinema, The Showcase (actually located in Winnersh), and generally the sound and lighting are good, and seats are well staggered on quite an incline. Two of the screens are also equipped for 3-D.

      Booster seats are available for children on request, though if booking online if you select the seats in the second section of seats you will find yourself on a raised platform with no one in front of you, which I personally find makes for a good film viewing - if anyone was going to end up behind the world's most fidgety person with a big hairstyle it would be me. Actually it has been me before at other times and in other places.

      That this particular cinema the staff are polite and helpful in the main, and everything is clean and innocuous, and not looking too worn or dated.
      The cinema is accessible to all, there is access to every screen for those in wheelchairs, and hearing assistance in all screens for those who need it. If visiting with small children the only way down from the cinema after a showing is via some quite steep open stairs, which can be quite scary at peak times as people rush out, so you are advised to either head out speedily or wait for the rush to subside.

      You will find plenty of restaurants and bars right next to the cinema, as well as the Oracle for shopping.

      Overall this is a good place to see a film, it may be a bit souless, but it is modern, comfortable and a perfectly pleasant, I just wish it offered a more adventurous range of films.

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        10.05.2009 02:24
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        As good a cinema to go to as any..

        I was quite impressed with this cinema the first time I went. As you walk up to it the entrance is surrounded by little screens which show you still adverts of current and upcoming films which is nice to give you an idea of whats being shown before you even walk in.
        When you go in there is a reasonably big ticket dispensory, probably about six tills. There are also a few self service tills if you're paying by card or have prebooked your tickets.
        You then head on upstairs to the food section, which also doubles as a ticket sales area sometimes when the cinema is quiet. Again there are quite a few tills and a specific Ben and Jerrys ice cream area, as well as a section with a few games machines. In the middle there is a small seating area and around the edge are some more seats for people waiting for their films. There are lots of screens showing a variety of adverts, again for current and upcoming films.
        When you go into the screens, some are quite big and some are quite small, however they are all spacious and the seats are very padded and comfortable, something I think is standard throughout VUE. In the biggest rooms, the seats go up quite steeply rather than the standard shallow incline, which means that even if someone tall sits in front of you, its still very clear to see the screen.
        Overall I have been very impressed with this cinema everytime I've been, its generally always clean and well staffed with polite staff members. The prices of food are extortionate, but this is the same with every cinema I've ever been to so I won't hold it against this particular venue.

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          11.12.2008 23:49
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          Not my first choice

          I went to this cinema to see Quantu of Solace not too long ago. This was my first visit to any Vue cinema.

          My first impression when I walked in was slightly confused. The ticket office was there but no one was around and the display was off. Instead, a crude sign told us to go and buy tickets from the food place. There was nowhere giving us a brief descriptions of the films as in Showcase, Cineworld, Savoy and just about every other cinema I've been to. This was annoying as we didn't really know what was on or have a film in mind we wanted to see - hence why we ended up going to see James Bond.

          The cinema was a lovely size, and they had a good range of food on offer, albeit at expensive cinema prices. The toilets were also nothing to complain about.

          Upon going to enter the screen, there was a sign on the way rudely stating that bags would be searched. They weren't, and even so I wouldn't have minded because of recording equipment etc., but it was worded quite aggressively which made me think they'd had problems with people. This made me a bit uncomfortable.

          The film itself was incredibly loud. We were sitting in the middle, and I was practically deaf after the first ten minutes. I sat with my hands over my ears for most of it. In that position, the film was still louder than average. I do have more sensitive ears and can hear higher frequencies than the average person, but I still don't understand how people managed to sit through it!

          Halfway through, a man in the audience started shouting really aggressively at some girls to stop talking. I hadn't heard them making any noise (not that I could over the film and my fingers in my ears), but they seemed to shut up.

          All in all, my experience was pretty bad. If I went again, it would be purely because of its convenient location near the shopping centre and good selection of restaurants, and also because I'm not familiar with Reading generally.

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