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film review

Scene from the documentary film WHITEY: United States of America v. James J. Bulger Mugshot of James "Whitey" Bulger.

For more than 20 years, starting in the early seventies, Jimmy (Whitey) Bulger brutally ruled much of the organized crime – extortion, rackets, drugs, loan-sharking, murder – in South Boston and did so with seemingly little to no interference from legal authorities. Oscar-nominated director Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory) explores, in dense, thorough detail, this peculiar state of affairs, using Bulger's two-month trial last year as his hook. While some Canadian viewers may find the doc's unrelenting American focus and elusiveness off-putting, most, I suspect, will find themselves sucked into its stifling miasma of corruption, complicity and manipulation. With a large cast of wise guys, reporters, ex-cops, victims and lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, it's like five seasons of The Wire distilled into one epic episode.