Tuesday, December 9, 2014

No Wonder Whitey Didn't Make The Documentary Feature Short List

Whitey: The United Staes of America vs. James J. Bulger is not a bad movie... it just doesn't do enough to warrant memory.
This is a documentary about James "Whitey" Bulger, the infamous organized crime leader from South Boston. It's the story of his arrest and indictment after thirty to forty years of free reign over the populace of his neck of the woods. And it's the true tale of government corruption that allowed this constant string of crime to continue.
A documentary like this should have all of the necessary drama to bring it into Oscar contention... but  Joe Berlinger's latest didn't even make the Academy's short list. It's odd because, given the subject matter and the incredible amount of people he was able to interview and get on tape... the number of records and old pictures he was able to dig up, the eventually movie just feels too long and even when something actually happens, it's documented in a bizarre way... from the perspective of a couple people who are sort of connected to the content.
In some ways, I feel bad for looking at this film the way I do. It really is a story people should know about. But the problem stems from a lack of message... or rather, a message that seems as though it failed to be proved. If Whitey wasn't an informant and managed to turn government agents to his side... that's totally incriminating to those government agents. Corruption should always be exposed, particularly at higher levels like the FBI. But this film feels like too little too late. The people involved are mostly already behind bars or dead. And as for Whitey, he may be living the rest of his life out in prison, but ultimately it still feels like he got to live his full life and even in trial, seemed to prove the one stupid case that mattered to him... if it means so much to him to have his legacy... to not be considered a rat, well it seems he got away with his "integrity" still attached.
What more can I say, all of this movie's points seem moot.

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