Keanu 2016

keanu_redbandtrailer1Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have been such a boon to comedy through their Comedy Central work, it’s easy to see why a feature film would be a no brainer. And while it doesn’t have the punch of some of their sketches, Keanu is one of 2016’s best comedies, pitting two mild-mannered, middle class dorks into a gangster world which they unexpectedly take to. Their mission is to track down the missing moggy of the title, running into Method Man as a gangster and Anna Faris as herself along the way. A few sequences jump out, like the one in which Rell and Clarence attempt to teach a crew of aspiring gangsters how to act on the street, and there’s some commendable verve in the tension generated as the friends get over their depth. Ultimately, the two-guys-who-look-like-tow gangsters motifs is an ancient one which Key and Peele manage to blow some life into, and bodes well for future cinematic escapades.

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Black Mass 2015

johnny-depp-in-black-mass

Johnny Depp managed to briefly put his finger in the dam of recent bad publicity by pulling off a surprisingly sinister performance as gangster Whitey Bulger in this effective police drama set in Boston. Based on a high-profile case, Bulger is essentially the nemesis to Joel Edgerton’s cop, who discovers that Bulger’s connection to his politician brother (Benedict Cumberbatch) has given him a free pass to build and defend a criminal empire. Adam Scott, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard and Dakota Johnson are along for the ride, and director Scott Cooper never lets the violent proceedings fall into Scorsese-by-numbers territory. And although he’s got less screen-time that the trailers and posters might have you expect, Depp is mesmerizing as Bulger, exuding a genuine malevolence that’s hard to shake off.