How’s your Boston ‘Southie’ accent? Chances are if you’re a moviegoer you’ve developed one by osmosis, since films about nefarious individuals from South Boston have become the cinematic norm. Italian-Americans used to complain that Mafia films prejudiced public opinion about them; Irish-Americans may soon be sympathetic. In recent years there has Ben Affleck’s The Town, Martin Scorsese’s The Departed and a slew of lesser films that used the milieu.
The latest addition to the Southie genre may be Johnny Depp, who is looking at starring in Black Mass, the story of legendary Boston gangster and fugitive James ‘Whitey’ Bulger that is set to be directed by Barry Levinson (Bugsy, Diner). Bulger was a Southie crime kingpin who ran a violent protection racket and also made use of the Mafia’s aforementioned prominence to cut a deal with FBI agents to rat out local organised crime figures while his own crew ran amok.
Bulger effectively turned his handlers, and when one of them tipped him off to his imminent arrest in 1994, Bulger disappeared, spending 12 of the next 16 years on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. In June 2011, Bulger, then aged 81-years-old, was apprehended in Santa Monica, California. His flight earnt him a sentence of 8 years, although that was just the warm-up to a trial that is looking to pin 19 murders on him. It’s worth noting that one of Johnny Depp’s finest performances was in Mike Newell’s 1998 drama Donnie Brasco, where he played a real life FBI agent who virtually went native after he infiltrated the New York mob.
Hardy on the hunt
Swedish filmmaker Daniel Espinosa went from the swift and telling Scandinavian crime story Easy Money to the CIA-in-South Africa action-thriller Safe House with Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. For his next movie he plans to be closer to home, directing the Soviet-era set Russian drama Child 44 (and that’s not a sequel to Movie 43). Tom Rob Smith’s novel is set in the early 1950s, with the monstrous Joseph Stalin still atop the communist hierarchy, and English actor Tom Hardy (Bronson, The Dark Knight Rises) will play a World War II hero and policeman who cannot officially hunt for a serial killer because one cannot exist in the perfect society that state declares it has created. Opposite Hardy will be another Swede, Noomi Rapace (Prometheus).
Seydoux seals new roles
French actress Lea Seydoux made her mark in the commercial cinema when she coolly essayed a European assassin in the clumpy, over-punctuated Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, but her breakthrough performance in 2012 was in Benoit Jacquot’s outstanding French Revolution drama Farewell, My Queen, where Seydoux played a calculating member of the Versailles household staff in the orbit of Diane Kruger’s Marie Antoinette. Next she’ll star in Blue is the Warmest Colour, the new film from Tunisian-born French-based filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche (The Secret of the Grain), French filmmaker Ursula Meier’s family drama Sister, and opposite Vincent Cassel (A Dangerous Method) in a new version of Beauty and the Beast to be directed by Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf). A great collection of roles, and not a Boston accent among them.