Tag Archives: Joel Edgerton

Black Mass

If there’s anything young Bostonians learn, it’s that “mates stick together, no matter what …”.  It’s no different for John Connolly (played by Joel Edgerton) and James “Whitey” Bulger (by Johnny Depp) who grow up together on the streets of South Boston. They stay in touch, but their paths go separate ways. Years later, in the late 1970s, Connolly and “Whitey” meet again as adults. Connolly’s already made a name for himself in the FBI – and Whitey’s become a notorious Irish Mobster across South Boston. When the Italian Mob start to gain power in the area, Whitey and Connolly do everything they can to fight back and retain the turf. They form a strong alliance and resist the Italian Mob. Their loyalty knows no bounds – it’s stronger than geographic and legal limits and involves them in a downward spiral of crime, murder, drugs and power. Connolly navigates the fine line between keeping his career intact and living with his long-held loyalty, while Bulger’s double-life gets complex – at home he’s a calm and caring family man while at work his activities get more and more violent, eventually landing him on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list.

This is your run-of-the-mill “notorious gangster versus FBI” movie – but with two key features … first, Whitey Bulger is played by a totally unrecognisable Johnny Depp – it’s remarkable and you’d never really know it’s Depp. There’s something weirdly artificial about his performance too – it’s not the makeup, it’s about his behaviour, he’s often like a cold, clinical robot. Second, this frightening story is true – the guy brutally and violently operated in South Boston for decades. Joel Edgerton’s performance is very strong – he really deserves the Hollywood Film Award for Breakthrough Actor and the Virtuoso Award from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2016. The movie also received the Hollywood Film Editor of the Year Award. Johnny Depps’ portrayal of Bulger is magnificent. He’s totally believable and thoroughly deserves the Palm Springs International Film Festival Palm Achievement Award and the People’s Choice Award for Favourite Dramatic Movie Actor – also much more. Benedict Cumberbatch’s role as Billy Bulger, Whitey’s brother, doesn’t add a whole lot to it.  As a story, it’s just average – but the performances are great.

Made in 2015. Directed by Scott Cooper.

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Posted by on January 25, 2016 in Movies


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Zero Dark Thirty

Soon after the Al Qaeda attacks of 11th September 2001, Maya (played by Jessica Chastain) is fresh out of agency training – she’s a brand new CIA operative but she’s smart and she’s keen. For her first assignment, she is posted to Islamabad, Pakistan, right into the midst of investigations to find terror suspects. She observes the prisoner interrogations with alarm but she slowly develops a steely resolve that the way to infiltrate the enemy and find the truth is to be better, faster, stronger and tougher. She conducts a focused and meticulous investigation over several years, leaving no stone unturned and no detail unclear. Her work overtakes her life and she is obsessed with finding the one man she holds responsible for so much … Al Qaeda’s leader, Osama Bin Laden. Finally, when it seems as though she is the only one who is still on his trail, in 2011 there are signs that her single-handed work might lead to something. Maya must do everything she can to convince the CIA executives that she’s a credible agent, that it’s really him and that he’s “gettable” … a U.S. Navy SEAL team is sent in to find out if Bin Laden’s really there  ….

This is a gripping movie – shot to demonstrate the utter violence, drama, tension and chaos that can feature in any conflict situation. Perhaps a little bit long, but still the story is important and the length of the movie demonstrates the painstaking, risky and high stakes investigation that took ten years and involved many lives before it came to fruition. The story tells itself – but you should stick with it for the first half hour or so, after that you will be enthralled and want to keep watching. I was delighted to see Joel Edgerton with a small but significant role in this, he’s well known in Australian movies but is still making his name elsewhere. James Gandolfini makes another important contribution in his role as the CIA Director (he looks a lot like Dick Cheney to me – but I’m not sure if that’s intentional or not) and generally the cast is strong and performs well. Jennifer Ehle isn’t seen nearly enough in movies – she is good here. In the 2012 Academy (Oscar) Awards, Jessica Chastain was nominated as Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance and the movie won the award for Sound Editing. I think it may only appeal to a segment of the audience though. Kathryn Bigelow has excelled here, her directorship is masterful. Overall, yes it’s very good.

Made in 2012. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

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Posted by on November 5, 2013 in Movies


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The Waiting City

Fiona and Ben Simmons are an unlikely couple. Fiona (played by Radha Mitchell) is a workaholic lawyer who thrives on having lots going on; and Ben (played by Joel Edgerton) is a free spirit, a would-be musician, laid back guy who pretty much goes with the flow – except about this. They want a baby – so they’ve come to Kolkata in India to adopt one from an orphanage here. They’ve completed as much paperwork as they can in Australia and are ready to collect their baby now they are in Kolkata. But on arrival they find their arrangements are not yet finalized. They now face a swathe of bureaucracy that will take a lot of time – so they check into a luxury hotel and start the process … then they wait. The city of Kolkata is chaotic and the frenzy of the streets makes the couple more anxious as they await the outcome – as they wait, they are drawn into the Indian culture. They experience village and family life through the nephew of the hotel manager, who befriends them and the reality of life at the Kolkata orphanage, including the friendship and compassion of Nurse Krishna (by Samrat Chakrabarti). The atmosphere of the Indian city draws them in unexpected ways and the vulnerability of their marriage begins to show …

This is a good movie. It’s fascinating because during the production, the director Claire McCarthy let the street scenes play out in reality – she did not direct or script any of the outdoor scenes in Kolkata, they are totally ad lib, which is great. The two characters, Radha Mitchell and Joel Edgerton are very strong.  I had been familiar with Joel’s work in several other movies, but not Radha’s and she is very good. I’ve visited India and this movie is almost like a documentary or a travelogue in the way it portrays city life.  It loved it for that – it makes Kolkata the heart of the movie. It goes to a place that is unexpected, which makes the story quite thought provoking and very good.

Made in 2009. Directed by Claire McCarthy

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Posted by on September 24, 2013 in Movies


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Wish You Were Here

Dave Flannery (played by Joel Edgerton) and Alice (by Felicity Price) are happily married and living in Sydney. They have two children and another on the way. Alice’s sister, Steph (by Teresa Palmer) has recently met Jeremy (by Antony Starr) and he has suggested they all go on a week’s holiday to a resort in Cambodia, to relax and get to know each other better. Alice is keen to do it before the baby’s born and persuades Dave. The foursome spend a great week in the resort – they swim, sunbake, drink and party for the week and take in all the wonders of the resort. But, towards the end of the week, Jeremy goes missing. Dave and Alice return to Sydney to try to take up their lives again and they leave Steph in Cambodia to try to find Jeremy. She doesn’t have any success, so returns to Sydney to work with the police and her family to try to piece together his last known movements and hope he turns up. Since he returned home, Dave is uneasy and Alice has picked up on this. The last events of their time with Jeremy are replayed in each of the threesome’s memories, along with other things that went on in Cambodia. This leads to a series of events in Sydney that unexpectedly and permanently disrupts their lives.

This is a really good movie. The three key roles are all performed with intensity, each are strong characters who are not necessarily very likeable all the time – just like the rest of us, they make mistakes and have their flaws. The story is marvellous and the pace is well managed, so the plot develops as the suspense and mystery surrounding the events of the disappearance become clear. It is really good.

Made in 2012. Directed by Kieran Darcy-Smith.

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Posted by on April 28, 2012 in Movies


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Animal Kingdom

“Animal Kingdom” is a 2010 Australian crime drama. After his mother dies from an overdose of heroin, 17-year-old ‘J’ moves in with his grandmother, the matriarch of a notorious crime family consisting of her three sons – J’s uncles … (an armed robber in hiding, a drug dealer and a villain in the making who follows the lead of his older brothers).  It is a violent movie – but not in the “blood and gore” sense  – it is the way that the movie violates your senses as it depicts how the family acts and interacts – it is alarming, sudden and shocking. It will show you a slice of crime-family life that is realistic and gritty. 

Jackie Weaver was nominated for an Oscar for her excellent portrayal of the matriarch, she deserves that nomination but I would have liked to have seen more of her character as her true mettle does not reveal itself until relatively late in the movie – and her habit of kissing her sons on the lips is rather unsettling! Fabulous work is contributed by Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Guy Pearce, Luke Ford, Sullivan Stapleton and James Frecheville also. Each of these actors provides a character that is truly striking, unique and totally believable.  The script was inspired by a true crime family of Melbourne, Australia. It is very, very good.

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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Movies


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