Entries tagged with “Benedict Cumberbatch”.


The season for screening films with ambitions for Academy Awards must have started. Black Mass is directed by – a relative newcomer (this is only his third film) but a rising star among directors at Hollywood if we are to judge the impressing cast he succeeds to enroll – better and better and certainly more expensive from movie to movie. It seems to meet at least a few conditions to enter the competition for Academy nominations. It stars in a role we barely recognize him which may well get him into the Final 5. It tells a story that captured at some point in time the interest and imagination of big audiences, and it deals with a Big American character. The fact that this character is a despicable gangster, who was in control of one of the lead Mafia gangs (‘the Irish one’) in Boston in the 80s and early 90s and was responsible for numerous murders and organized crime felonies may eventually matter when the jury will debate. Or maybe not. Until then, let us take our places in the theaters or download from the Internet and watch the movies.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1355683/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1355683/

 

James ‘Whitey’ Bulger now serving a couple of life sentences is the kind of anti-hero America is fascinated with. The story starts in 1975, when Bulger is enrolled as an informant by the FBI – a status which together with the family ties (his brother played by Benedict Cumberbatch was a state senator) ensured him two decades of immunity and the almost total dominance on the crime industries in the Boston area after eliminating (with the help of the police and justice system) the Italian rival gangs. The story on screen mentions nothing about the still not elucidated episode of the murder of the ”Lady of the Dunes” that took place a year before, but does include the death of Bulger’s only child that actually took place in 1973. From this episode we may or maybe are supposed to understand the motivations of his violence and lack of respect for law or human life? Quite thin for an explanation in my opinion. Despite Depp’s fantastic acting the man behind the crimes remains an enigma.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

The rest is a ‘true crime’ story (the film is inspired by a true crime book) with the relations between the boss and his acolytes, the treasons and executions of the traitors, the have-heard-it-already rants about the Mafia honor code, with corrupt cops and victimized girlfriends, and with a twist towards Bulger’s support for Irish nationalism and terror movements, which was part of the reasons that led to his eventual fall. It started quite confusing to my taste, it improved as the story grew and the relation between characters became more clear (and the number of characters decreased :-) ) but it did not reach any of the peaks of the genre like in Scorsese’s films or in Mystic River. Depp’s performance is hypnotic, I will try a metaphor and say that he brings death to his hero on screen. Cumberbatch on the other hand will not get another Academy nomination for his role here. I know nothing at this point about the other candidates, but in an average to weak year I would bet for a couple of awards.

The Brits have their institutions that they carry on with for centuries – the monarchy, the Parliament, Shakespeare, fish&chips, etc. Some say that their adherence to tradition is what keeps those alive, I say yes, it is tradition, but combined with the will or at least the recognition that traditions need to be combined with a dose of novelty, and this is to the same extent as the consevative philosophy what maintains institutions alive over centuries. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’ has become one of these traditions and it includes tens of variants of bringing them to screen. The latest on big screens (starring Robert Downey Jr.) and the BBC (another British institution on its own) series ‘Sherlock’ are I believe one more example. It’s probably the most daring version and an update of the Holmes stories to modern times, and it’s pretty good.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1475582/

 

Let me say from the start that it took me time to get used and love this new incarnation of the detective on Baker Street. Fortunately the Israeli Cable TV broadcast the six series of the two first seasons one after the other, so I had not enough time to be discouraged by the first episodes, which I felt were too long and too complex for me to enjoy. I also perceived the adaptation to the 21st century realities to be rather inconsistent, with some of the feminine characters entering and disappearing the plot, and with Sherlock speaking way too fast and too smart for me to understand, not to speak about enjoying. But then, starting with the third episodes things started to come together in the story, and the appearance of this version of Moriarty really made the difference and built up the material of the second season. Andrew Scott’s Moriarty is a real treat, great acting and a typology that balances the triangle of him, Sherlock and dr. Watson.

 

(video source TVpotatoes)

 

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as doctor Watson are fine actor selections for the two characters, which you would expect from any good quality BBC series. What is less expected are the perspectives we get about the two characters relocated in the London of the beginning of the third millennium. Sherlock is a mind too smart for his human peers, and a poor communicator, so poor that it lets us wonder if he really has human feelings or rather belongs to the Mr. Data category. The last episode in the second season provides at least a partial answer. Dr. Watson is nothing less than a medical officer traumatized by what he witnessed in the Afghan war, but a short documentation revealed to me that the original character of Conan Doyle has a similar background, which shows that history had its own loops during the last 150 years. The script is a little bit hesitant on what to do with his character, he does take a more important role than in the novels, but this role seems to go to different directions in different episodes. Sherlock’s brother character keeps a dose of mystery which can be used in the coming season.

 

(video source BBCWorldwide)

 

Yes, there will be a next season, as the producers announced and after the last and great season finale of the second one I am looking forward to it. I started as a doubter, I am now a converted. The Sherlock Holmes in this series may be using the most advanced technology of the century he lives (as the original character also did), but it’s the human dimensions, the characters and the relationship between themselves, and between themselves and the world around which make the film captivating. With most if not all American series failing us this year, and a couple which were atop the line being discontinued as they failed the American TV rating thresholds, thanks to the BBC for coming to rescue and saving the season.