Sunday, November 23, 2014
Whitey: The United States of America V. James Bulger
The documentaries of Joe Berlinger have always been morally and intellectually engaging. Working with Bruce Sinofsky on Brother's Keeper, the Paradise Lost Trilogy and Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, they were able to create some of the best true crime documentaries as well as a candid portrait of a metal band about to unravel. Now, Berlinger takes on more true crime subject matter with Whitey: The United States of America Vs. James Bulger.
The trial of Bulger is out of the ordinary. It spawned a litany of books about the case as well as being the inspiration for William Monaghan's script for The Departed. The documentary traces the facts to interviews with prosecutors, witnesses, relatives of victims and associates of Bulger. What is so engaging about it is that the crimes of Bulger is just a small piece in a larger puzzle. A puzzle in which the pieces are conveniently tossed to the side by prosecutors to hide a greater injustice.
The FBI's connection to Bulger is something that is dissected. Yet I wanted more. The case is something that could easily have been a series of documentaries. It opens up a pandora's box of questions: Why was Bulger the only one on trial? How is James Connelly the only FBI agent indicted? If the FBI had "nothing to hide", why were witnesses getting killed? How far does it actually go?
In not being allowed to film in federal court as he did in Brother's Keeper and Paradise Lost, Berlinger said that he was pushed even further to get all aspects of the case and embed it in order to get deeper context.
What is so disturbing about this documentary is how those questions echo throughout the minds of all the relatives of the victims involved. It's a case that is far from over in the minds of several of those involved.
You can watch this documentary on NetFlix Instant.