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Posts Tagged ‘James Gandolfini’
Synopsis: Tom Hardy plays Bob Saginowski, a mild-mannered bartender at Cousin Marv’s — a Brooklyn neighbourhood pub owned by the Chechnyan mafia. Marv’s bar is sometimes used as a “drop,” a place where gangsters secretly hide money until it is collected by their crime bosses. One night after work, Bob hears a dog whimpering from inside a garbage can. Lifting the lid, he finds a beaten pit bull puppy. He adopts the dog and romances Nadia, (Noomi Rapace), the woman who helps him rescue the animal, but soon a robbery, a scheme by his boss Marv (James Gandolfini) and the dog’s former owner (Matthias Schoenaerts) force Bob to show his true colours. Steve Gow sits in for Mark Breslin this week.
Richard: Steve, this is a boy-and-his-dog story, but it ain’t Old Yeller. Sure there are gun shots and a cute dog, but there is also a slow unveiling of the clues, red herrings and characters with shady pasts. As Bob, Hardy is a cypher; kind to dogs, shy and lovesick, he’s an average neighbourhood guy. Except in this neighbourhood, average guys have pasts, and Hardy does a nice job of playing a guy who is trying to move on while the past tries to stop him in his tracks. What did you think?
Steve: As the deadbeat bartender who may or may not be what he seems, Hardy certainly crafts a compelling character with a unique set of subtleties. Even the gait of Bob’s walk and the curious physicality of Hardy’s character is distinguished and fantastically nuanced. It’s just too bad the story itself feels a bit too played out. There’s nothing quite fresh about the intertwining local gangsters and interlopers here. Plus, a few plot ambiguities don’t help keep the story clear. Or was that the red herrings?
RC: I thought of it as a slice of life, a slickly made look at the underbelly of crime, relationships and dog rearing. Nice performances make up for some plot idiosyncrasies and the cute dog earns some goodwill for a story that doesn’t so much comment on the condition of its characters as it does reveal it. What did you think of Gandolfini in his final role?
SG: It’s a bit of a bittersweet final curtain for Gandolfini — whose character is a bit morose. But the late actor’s presence is as bold as ever and, in scenes with Hardy, the two of them burn up the celluloid — especially in the movie’s softer moments — as when Bob corrects the burly former bar owner about the proper pronunciation of “Chechen.” Surprisingly, the film is actually darkly humorous.
RC: Gandolfini does play to type as the Tony Soprano-Lite bar owner and while it is a part he could play in his sleep, there is something comforting about seeing him, one last time, as a conflicted tough guy. And you’re right, the movie is darkly humorous, until it turns rather dark at the end.
SG: It was also a bit anti-climactic for me. For all the mystery built up around the characters, the not-so-surprising twist at the end tries too conveniently to wrap everything together. The film is entertaining enough but it doesn’t quite add up.
Tom “Man of a Thousand Voices” Hardy plays Bob Saginowski, a mild mannered bartender at Cousin Marv’s a Brooklyn neighborhood pub owned by the Chechnyan mafia. Like many of the borough’s bars, Marv’s is sometimes used as a “drop,” a place where gangsters secretly hide money until it is collected by their crime bosses. One night after work Bob hears a dog whimpering from inside a garbage can. Lifting the lid, he finds a beaten pit bull puppy. He adopts the dog and romances Nadia, (Noomi Rapace), the woman who helped him rescue the animal, but soon a robbery, a scheme by his boss Marv (James Gandolfini) and the dog’s former owner (Matthias Schoenaerts) force Bob to show his true colors.
This is a boy-and-his-dog story, but it ain’t “Old Yeller.” Sure there are gun shots and a cute dog, but there is also a slow unveiling of the clues, red herrings and characters with shady pasts.
As Bob, Hardy is a cypher; kind to dogs, shy and lovesick, he is an average neighborhood guy. Except in this neighborhood average guys have pasts, and Hardy does a nice job of playing a guy who is trying to move on while the past tries to stop him in his tracks.
Gandolfini, in his final role, plays to type as the Tony Soprano-Lite bar owner and while it is a part he could play in his sleep, there is something comforting about seeing him, one last time, as a conflicted tough guy.
Then there is the dog (very cute), the one character that doesn’t seem to have a nefarious past.
“The Drop” is a slice of life, a slickly made look at the underbelly of crime, relationships and dog rearing. Nice performances make up for some plot idiosyncrasies and the cute dog earns some goodwill for a story that doesn’t so much comment on the condition of its characters as it does reveal it.
Top Singles (click on title to watch the official video)
Top Celebrity moments/Gossip
1. Controversial Twerking! In April no one knew what “twerking” was. Unfortunately now we all do.
2. Amanda Bynes threw a bong out the window of her 36th floor apartment. It was “just a vase,” she said.
3. After calling Bruce Willis “greedy and lazy” Sylvester Stallone charged $395 per autograph at NY Comic-Con
4. Tom Cruise said Katie Holmes filed divorced because of Scientology
6. Michael Douglas admitted he didn’t get that he got throat cancer after engaging in oral sex.
7. Kat Von D not so cleverly named her new lipstick “Celebutard.” Sephora pulled the plug amid complaints from Down Syndrome Uprising, Family Member, Inclusion BC and All About Developmental Disabilities.
8. Ke$ha says she drank her urine and, “It tasted kind of like candy.”
9. Banksy stall sells art works worth up to $30,000 for $60 each in New York’s Central Park.
10. Justin Bieber’s pet Capuchin monkey, Mally, was confiscated at a German airport after the singer tried to smuggle it into the country.
Top TV moments
1. Two words: Tentacle porn. – Anthony Bourdain’s Tokyo Parts Unknown episode.
2. Zombies falling through the ceiling of a department store in The Walking Dead
3. “I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really… I was alive.” – Walt (Bryan Cranston) on the Breaking Bad finale
4. Orphan Black Clones!
5. Cooking lessons from Hannibal Lector on Hannibal.
6. The bisected cow on Under the Dome.
7. Nick and Jess’ first kiss on The New Girl. So passionate, Jess says the kiss made her see “through space and time for a minute.”
8. Orange is the New Black’s duct-tape sandals.
9. The “Red Wedding” massacre on Games Of Thrones. “My King has married and I owe my new Queen a wedding gift.” ― Lord Walder (David Bradley)
10. The car crash death of Downton Abbey’s Matthew in the final minute of the period drama’s 3rd season.
Top General Entertainment Stories
1. Lou Reed Dead at 71
2. James Gandolfini Dead at 51
3. Angelina Jolie announced double mastectomy
4. Paula Deen gets fired for using the N word
5. Kanye West declared himself the “number one rock star on the planet” in a BBC interview.
6. The last movie ever rented at a Blockbuster? This is the End.
7. Sinead O’Connor accused Miley Cyrus of “behaving like a prostitute and calling it feminism.”
8. Born! The Royal Baby, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge.
9. Cory Monteith R.I.P.
10. Star Wars: Episode VII release date announced. The Force will return to theatres on December 18, 2015.
Top Online Moments
1. The prank video showing the baffled and terrified reactions of customers in a NYC coffee shop reacting to a woman with telekinesis tearing up the place.
2. Grumpy Cat vs Tommy Lee Jones meme. A side-by-side comparison of Jones at the Golden Globes and Grumpy Cat reveals that they might be long lost relatives.
3. Wisest tweet of the year: Always remember! Many of the people on the Internet telling you what’s what are not old enough to rent a car. – @KenJennings
4. M.I.A.’s Psychedelic Dance Party at the YouTube Music Awards
5. Raven-Symone came out on Twitter after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn The Defense of Marriage Act. “I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you.”
6. Andrew Huang’s video of his rap song without using the letter “E” and it’s about NOT using the letter “E”!
7. Swedish Chef Ramsay meme. “Why did the bork bork? Because you borked the bork!”
8. “I want Drake to murder my vagina.” – Amanda Bynes on Twitter
9. Best web series: The Booth at the End starring Xander Berkelely as a mysterious man who grants wishes… for a price.
10. Homeless Army Veteran Turns Life Around in Amazing Time Lapse Video
The world of Las Vegas magicians is a perfect place to set a comedy. From the glittery costumes, the elaborate poses and over-the-top theatrics, it practically begs to be parodied. But do the jokes magically appear, or do they do a vanishing act?
For years Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) ruled the Las Vegas strip with a magic show that made Siegfried & Roy look understated. But their dominance of Sin City’s showrooms disappears when a David Blaine type, guerrilla street magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) starts a turf was in town. His daring act makes the glitter and glitz of their show look well past its sell-by date. To stay relevant Wonderstone and Marvelton stage their own daring stunt which just may be their grand finale.
I kept waiting for “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” to pull a rabbit out of its hat and take full comedic advantage of it setting, and yet the bunny never appeared. There are gags here and there that feel completely organic to the story—the Wonderstone’s elevator is so opulent people mistake the it for his suite, for instance—but it is the main character that lets us down.
Carrell is too likable an actor to pull off Wonderstone’s egotistical, one-note womanizing act. The fake tan and mullet do some of the work, but it never feels real, and even less so when he falls into Woody Allen territory during his romantic redemption with a love interest 23 years younger. On top of that his gearshift down from narcissist to nice guy doesn’t come off as anything but generic and predictable. Nothing magical about it.
Carrey fares better. No one plays controlled chaos like Carrey and his increasingly self-aggrandizing behavior is the best thing in the movie. Of the supporting cast Buscemi and Wilde weren’t really given enough to do to make any lasting impression. They play decent, nice people and in a movie like this featuring raging egomaniacs and insane illusionists nice guys and gals do finish last.
Arkin isn’t given much to do either, although he does have a nice gag or two, but at least he remembered to pack his trademarked deadpan delivery in his bag of tricks.
“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” has the odd laugh and a likable the cast that brings a lot of goodwill with them but the film’s worst trick is how it will make much of that goodwill disappear by the time the end credits roll.
The storyline of “Killing Them Softly” sounds like something straight out of Martin Scorsese’s playbook but it is the execution (pun intended) that makes it a singular experience. The title may recall the name of Roberta Flack’s most famous song, but instead of being about metaphorical love, the movie is a cynical anti-thriller allegory about America’s economic crisis.
Set in the waning days of George W. Bush’s presidency, just as he passed the baton to Barack Obama in 2008, the movie begins with two small time crooks, Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) hired by crime boss Johnny Amato (Vincent Curatola) to hold up a secret, high-stakes poker game overseen by low level mobster Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta). The criminal corporation responsible for the game suspects Trattman, but brings in no-nonsense enforcer Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) to get to the bottom of the situation.
“Killing Them, Softly” isn’t your godfather’s gangster movie. Talky, deliberate and willfully obtuse, it is less a crime thriller than it is a wordy mediation on recession-era life in the underworld and beyond. The movie’s point-of-view is reinforced by wild sound news broadcasts that pepper the soundtrack and long conversations between Jackie and Driver (Richard Jenkins), a mouthpiece for the criminal organization who seems to be terminally tied up by red tape.
Their scenes and back-and-forth are the film’s most entertaining moments. The humdrum tone belies their conversation’s deadly subject matter and is played to great effect. And that is the beauty of this movie.
Director Andrew “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” Dominik’s visual flair keeps things interesting—a druggy conversation between Frankie and Russell is masterfully represented—but it is the actors who provide the spark.
Liotta brings real pathos to Markie the unfortunate scapegoat and McNairy and Mendelsohn both have a small time reek about them but as strong as they are, its Pitt, Jenkins and James Gandolfini who will linger in your memory.
Jenkins is an anonymous bureaucrat, a cog in the wheel that helps his criminal organization go round, and underplays the role beautifully. The temptation may have been to dirty the character up a bit, but Jenkins plays him straight as a man whose business dirty, but a business nonetheless.
Gandolfini is as wild as Jenkins is buttoned-down. A hitman for hire, he’s more interested in call girls and booze than killing people. It’s hard not to see echoes of Tony Soprano in this troubled killer, but Gandolfini is too skilled to repeat himself. His menace is tempered by self-doubt, and his scenes with Pitt shine.
At the helm, however, is Pitt. Heralded to screen by Johnny Cash’s “When The Man Comes Around,”—”There’s a man going round taking names / And he decides who to free and who to blame.”—he’s a pragmatic psychopath, a ruthless killer who doesn’t like the up-close-and-personal stuff. “I like to kill them softly,” he says. “From a distance; not close enough for feelings.” It’s a complex character, one defined in this movie by his words and not his actions, and Pitt handles it effortlessly.
“Killing Them Softly” won’t be for everyone. More brains than brawn it is about the tension of knowing what’s coming next, and while it does deliver in its violent scenes, it is a film that values ideas more than action. It’s edgy stuff, well handled by Dominik—although using the Velvet Underground song “Heroin” to intro an injection scene seems too standard for a movie like this—but will leave many viewers wondering when Brad Pitt will lose the art house pretentions and get back into the blockbuster business.
There’s an old saying that goes, “If you can remember the 1960s… you weren’t really there.” That may be true. Ask Grace Slick about 1968 and you’re likely to be met with a blank stare. Luckily for us “Not Fade Away,” the feature debut from “The Sopranos” creator David Chase, is a spot on time capsule of the era. Too bad Chase didn’t write a story to go along with it.
The core of the story revolves around rock ‘n’ blues music, Doug (John Magaro) and the repercussions of living in a turbulent decade. Doug is invisible in high school—particularly to his crush Grace (Bella Heathcoat)—until he discovers a fundamental truth, girls like guys in bands. Playing drums in a Stones-influenced band gives him a taste of the life, but when he switches to lead sing he finds his vocation, much to his father’s (James Gandolfini) dismay. As the Summer of Love approaches so does interest from a recording industry big shot just as Doug contemplates a move to the West Coast to pursue his dream of solo success.
“Not Fade Away” is at least partly autobiographical. Chase was a New Jersey drummer with a Stones fixation, which explains the level of care placed on the details, but it is hard to whip up excitement for a movie that tips its hand in the opening narration.
We’re told off the bat that this is the story of a band that never made it. It’s an anticlimactic way to start a film, and doesn’t get any grabbier from there. It is interesting to watch Chase establish the time and place. The film is a cornucopia of 60s pop culture. The song “Satisfaction” blends effortlessly with the old-school Emergency Broadcast System alarm off the top, heralding a greatest hits of 60s cultural icons like “The twilight Zone,” Archie comics, JFK’s assassination, even a sneering Dean Martin rolling his eyes after a Stones’s performance on “The Hollywood Palace,” with the words “They’re leaving right after the show for London—they’re challenging the Beatles to a hair-pulling contest.”
All that nicely sets up the decade and the anti-establishment stance personified by the soundtrack’s music, but is let down by episodic storytelling and the lack of really compelling characters or situations. From the opening moments the story builds to an anti-climax, and on that score it delivers, providing one of the oddest and least satisfying conclusions to a movie in recent memory.
As an exercise in nostalgia “Not fade Away” mostly works, but like many trips down memory lane, the people you meet aren’t always as interesting as you remember them.
This adaptation of the classic Maurice Sendak 1963 children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are” isn’t a movie for kids as much as it is a movie about being a kid. The story of Max, a lonely kid who goes to where the wild things are, is a work of profound vision from director Spike Jonze.
The story, based on a book of only nine sentences, couldn’t be simpler. A high-spirited but lonely boy named Max (Max Records) throws a tantrum when his mother (Catherine Keener), invites her boyfriend (Mark Ruffalo) over. When she tries to send him to his room he bites her, flees the house and sails to an imaginary island populated by Ira (voice of Forest Whitaker), Carol (James Gandolfini), KW (Lauren Ambrose), Judith (Catherine O’Hara), The Bull (Michael Berry Jr.), Douglas (Chris Cooper) and Alexander (Paul Dano), seven make-believe giants who crown him king of the Wild Things. For the most part life is easy on the island but soon Max becomes homesick and sets out for his real home.
This is the kind of movie the Hollywood studios don’t make anymore, a slow moving simple film about deep feelings. It’s not a slick, brightly coloured kid’s film with a connect-the-dots plot and an easily digested moral.
Not much happens. There are some very arresting images. Max and Carol rolling down a sand dune, a “wild rumpus” and a dirt fight, but it’s not about the action, it’s about primal feelings, things that are either not usually touched on or glossed over in most kid’s films—sorrow, loneliness and the difficulty of growing up.
Jonze has made a beautifully emotional and simple movie, both in message and style. The dialogue is basic, almost incidental to the story, as if it was written by a kid; or at least someone who understands how kid’s think and speak. It’s uncomplicated but the cast, both human and monster, brings depth to the plain spoken script.
Max Records, in his first major film role, is understated and instinctive, holding the film together with a compelling performance. The look of the beasts has been accurately adapted from the book. They essentially look like huge Muppets with very expressive eyes. Their furry faces combined with very naturalistic voice work from Gandolfini and company bring their search for acceptance and love to life in some very unexpected ways.
“Where the Wild Things Are” is a magical film that will please the arthouse crowd but likely will leave less adventurous viewers a little perplexed. The dark, melancholy tone isn’t typical of children’s entertainment, but since this isn’t really a kid’s film that shouldn’t matter.
He may not, but audiences do. It’s difficult to see the burly actor in any other role without thinking about the troubled gangster he played on 86 episodes of The Sopranos.
This weekend he plays a foulmouthed hitman in Killing Them Softly, opposite Brad Pitt and Ray Liotta. Despite his powerful presence the role likely won’t do much to erase memories of Soprano.
The New Jersey-born actor first earned notice playing—you guessed it—a hitman in Tony Scott’s True Romance. Similar roles in movies like Get Shorty followed, but Gandolfini says he is nothing like the tough guy characters he so frequently plays.
Even though he once earned a living as a bouncer (he also delivered seltzer for a company called Gimme Seltzer) and has repeatedly unlocked a wellspring of rage on screen, he says, “I’m a neurotic mess. I’m really basically just like a 260-pound Woody Allen.”
Perhaps that’s what he tapped into when he voiced Carol, the impulsive creature in Where the Wild Things Are.
It’s a sensitive performance that shows off Gandolfini’s softer side. He does go on a “wild ruckus” but at least he doesn’t shoot anybody.
In fact we may soon see less and less of his badass side. “I’m getting a little older, you know,” he says. “The running and the jumping and killing, it’s a little past me.”
In the dark indie Welcome to the Rileys (directed by Jake Scott, son of Ridley) he’s unarmed, playing a troubled businessman whose life unravels when he befriends a stripper, played by Kristen Stewart.
In the Loop, a wild satire of British politics, saw Gandolfini take a detour into comedy, but his strangest movie came in 2010. Mint Julep was made in 1995 after Gandolfini had appeared in Terminal Velocity and Crimson Tide but because of money issues it wasn’t released until after The Sopranos was off the air. Noticeably thinner, and with more hair, he plays a perverted landlord opposite David Morse.
Yet another side of the actor can be seen in Alive Day: Home from Iraq, a documentary in which he interviews injured Iraq War veterans about the physical and emotional costs of war.