Black Mass (2015)


The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf. (IMDb)
Depp puts in a good turn as the menacing lead (the “I thought it was a family secret” moment is excellent), but while Bulger’s biography is well-paced and structured, there’s nothing unique or spectacular to separate it from other similar gangster movies; it covers all the bases but never soars high or digs deep. Instead, it’s Edgerton’s slimy FBI agent that steals the show, particularly in the final act as he starts to flounder in his falsities. A better “cop” flick than a “robber” one.
7/10 (Good)

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)


The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school. (IMDb)
Lots to like here, with a few concessions, in the characters (the meek and kind-hearted Newt and the fun Kowalski with a nice character arc are great, but Grindewald’s motivations needed more fleshing out); the plot (a nuanced take on good vs. evil–every party has both–is hindered by too many loose threads and a dragged-out ending); the themes (those on politics and environmental care are intriguing but surface-y); and the directing (the music and sets are excellent but the CGI is a bit much).
7/10 (Good)

Private Resort (1985)

The story of two adolescent boys who are guests at a Florida resort for the week-end. Their only interest is, of course, chasing girls, but fate has much more in store for them. (IMDb)
A horribly made racy comedy with awful acting, eye-rolling characters, and an almost non-existent plot. On the plus side, although the slapstick is predictable and poorly-executed, and the situational comedy contrived, each aspect does provide a few laugh out loud moments. In the end though, this still remains a very poorly crafted film that I probably would have given more grace thanks to its humour if it hadn’t kept trying to distract from its near-complete ineptitude with boobs and bikinis.
4/10 (Bad)

Secret Window (2004)

A writer is accused for plagiarism by a strange man, who then starts haunting him for “justice.” (IMDb)
A very odd thriller-turned-horror flick. The acting and screenplay are laughably bad at certain points but the creepy slasher ending (as predictable and easy as it is) seems, upon reflection, to justify those moments as intentionally weird (like a cheesy horror movie) and not unintentionally bad. The film starts off bland, underwhelming, and even painful to watch at times, but it builds into something delightfully odd and unnerving and so leaves a surprisingly good impression in the end.
6.5/10 (Alright)