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Tag: Review

NYT Film Review: ‘(T)error’ Documentary ‘Leaves Too Much Unverified’

By Ken Jaworowski
New York Times

If you assume everything said in “(T)error” is true — and for the most part, I do — it’s a sobering story. Still, though the film gains your trust, it leaves too much unverified.

The movie, billed as the first documentary to embed filmmakers in an F.B.I. counterterrorism operation, follows Saeed Torres, a former Black Panther and self-described “civilian operative” who says he works as a paid undercover informant.

Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe, the directors, travel with Mr. Torres to Pittsburgh, where Mr. Torres says his mission is to befriend Khalifah al-Akili, a man who may have, among other things, posted pro-Taliban statements online. Mr. Torres, who is untrained, is supposed to gauge the potential for terrorist activity and help the F.B.I. build a case against Mr. al-Akili.

Mr. Torres meets Mr. al-Akili several times (none of those encounters, nor any with the F.B.I., are shown, only mentioned) and concludes that he isn’t a serious threat. Despite this, Mr. Torres says, he is told to press on, which casts suspicion on the F.B.I.’s investigation and, by association, its use of informants.

While the agency’s methods appear dubious, the film’s approach is sometimes lacking. No F.B.I. agents, current or retired, are interviewed for context or corroboration; an ending note says only that the agency did not respond to a request for comment.

To read more click here. 

Review: Johnny Depp Gives ‘Riveting, Rattlesnake Performance’ in ‘Black Mass’

Scene from "Black Mass."

Scene from “Black Mass.”

By Peter Travers
Rolling Stone

Ice-cold. Dead eyes. Demonic laugh. His face a mask you can’t read until he’s up in yours. Then run. That’s Johnny Depp giving everything he’s got in a riveting, rattlesnake performance as South Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger in Black Mass. The FBI finally grabbed this Osama bin Laden of gangsters in 2011. The Irish mobster had been hiding in plain sight since 1994. Now 86, Bulger molders in prison, found guilty of 11 of the 19 murders with which he’d been charged.

Jack Nicholson did a fictional take on Bulger in 2006’s Oscar-winning The Departed (while a fugitive, Bulger reportedly sneaked in to see the film). Black Mass, smartly directed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart), casts a wide if hardly deep net, since the tentacles of Bulger’s tale could fill a mini-series or five. The script, by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth, is based on the 2000 book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob, by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill. And an unholy alliance it truly was.

Bulger had known FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) from the Boston hood. It’s Connolly who persuades his fellow Southie to turn FBI informant in return for help in crushing the Italian Mob. Bulger got the best of that deal, leaving the FBI boss (Kevin Bacon) fuming. Edgerton excels at detailing the dread eating at Connolly; the dread also infects his ethical wife, Marianne (a superb Julianne Nicholson), whose quiet scene with Depp instills more terror than a hail of bullets.

But you get the bullets, too, and the gore, especially when Bulger lieutenant Stephen Flemmi, expertly slimed by Rory Cochrane, is on the scene. And duck when Bulger turns his gun on informant Brian Halloran, played with bug-fuck lunacy by Peter Sarsgaard.

To read more click here.

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