Tom Hardy Carries The Drop

Posted in Film-Addict Pieces with tags , , , on September 19, 2014 by dbuff82

“There is no devil. I think some people die here and they go see God and he tells them no, you can’t come in. You will be alone…forever.”-Bob Saginowski

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Tom Hardy is amazing and carries the latest Dennis Lehane joint, The Drop. The movie is equal parts gangster thriller, subtle romance and quiet character study. It will be known as James Gandfolfini’s last completed work but let it be known that the film belongs to Hardy, rocking ANOTHER accent here as Bob Saginowski, a quiet calculating man who tends bar for Gandolfini’s Marv, a old lion still trying to play the criminal hustler game.

Michael R. Roskam’s direction, along with Lehane’s adaptation of his short story entitled Animal Shelter, keeps you off balance. The first half of the film is slow building and resembles the increasingly fast shaking of a tree. Little plot points fall to the ground throughout the 105 minute running time, but you don’t really know the characters until about halfway through. That’s good filmmaking and even better acting.

You have no clue what to make of Hardy’s Bob and that is the way it should be in this pot boiling thriller. Is he slow witted or slow? Is he up to something or is he just plain? Why is he so quiet yet observant? Hardy spins a cobweb around his character and keeps the viewer a distance. Like Russell Crowe or Clive Owen at their best, Hardy lets his facial expressions do the heavy lifting. A stare down with Belgium marvel Matthias Schoenaerts contains about four lines of dialogue but the way the two men stare at each other makes it seem like paragraphs are being recited. In this movie, dialogue doesn’t have to spoken for actions to be expressed. The actors don’t need to bore us with words. I felt like I knew these guys in one life and had no clue they existed in another. There is a darkness in Hardy’s Bob that I couldn’t put my finger on until the climax of the film, when a bomb suddenly detonates inside the plot and springs the film towards its final resting place.

John Ortiz plays a perceptive detective. Noomi Rapace plays the woman that acts as the cartilage between Hardy’s lost soul and Schoenaerts rebellious felon. The acting here is seamless but it can’t be said enough how key Lehane’s writing is. This is the same guy who created the worlds of Mystic River, Shutter Island and Gone Baby Gone. Worlds that looked like a rabbit’s nest and bar full of criminals and degenerates but instead full of regretful sad people. His writing evokes classic Boston underground noir and his script places gold at the feet of the actors.

I have a good feeling Hardy could play any role and do it well. There are a handful of actors who create a connection with the audience ANY time they work. A group of performers who give a shit and respect that moviegoers pay with their money and their time. Hardy gets that. He doesn’t waste films. He doesn’t take films off or phone it in. Look at his work in Locke, Inception, Bronson, or Lawless. The different characters that he inhabits and brings to life. I think Hardy could follow me around and after a couple of days, play me in a movie. He is an actor who other actors want to watch work. Gandolfini plays a much sadder version of Tony Soprano here and is dynamite, but even he knows this movie belongs to Hardy. Bob’s relationship and connection with a lost pit bull sets the the groundwork of the plot, but Hardy never plays it like its a device. He treats it like it is real and makes it work.

The Drop is a good dose of September cinema. If you have been waiting for something REAL to land in theaters that makes you think a little, doesn’t show its hand too early and feels authentic, The Drop is your ride. It’s gritty, heartfelt and quite sinister. Towards the end, when the plot comes full circle and Hardy shows his true colors, you will know something special is going on.

The Drop doesn’t beg for your attention like some films. It lays bread crumbs and you come running.

 

 

9/11: A Test of How We React

Posted in Random Fire with tags , , , on September 12, 2014 by dbuff82

9/11 Memorial in NYCI won’t keep you long today. A short quick evening dose.

13 years ago today I was a young man at Mizzou who didn’t have a class until 11am(psychology). I had no care in the world. No wife. No kid. I hadn’t met Rae yet(even though she lurked somewhere on the campus). I woke up on September 11, 2001 to an image on a television that I didn’t understand. I thought someone slipped on a Michael Bay movie. It wasn’t a movie. It was real. It was painful. That whole day didn’t change us as a nation. It pushed us closer to the acknowledgement that some things are out of our control. It reminded us that life isn’t about the blows that we take. It’s about the reaction we give forth next. 13 years later, I still feel for the families that lost loved ones. Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, nephews, cousins, or friends.

The human body is made to feel these things even when it isn’t directly affected. We are built to relate to one another’s condition. I can tell you this. 9/11 didn’t destroy us. It was a test. A test of how much we can depend on each other, without depending on our military or government to speak for us. A test of how we react. How we react to a horrific change in our culture and the world we live in. Never forget people. Never ever forget what happened that day. It’s hard for me to forget because of all the innocent lives that we were lost in a matter of hours. Tell your kids about it. Talk about it with your friends. In a day and age where athletes misbehavior and the latest actions of celebrities crowds the news waves, don’t forget about 9/11 and your feelings on it. 9/11 put everyone on watch and reminded us how powerless this world can be. We were knocked down that day by an evil few could understand. We eventually got up.

At the top of my “bucket list” is visiting the memorial and seeing the Freedom Tower. Walking around the fountains. Touching the names engraved on the border of the fountains, where the World Trade Center Twin Towers once stood tall. Taking Vinny and talking to him about what happened that day. That is the least I can do. Telling my son about the lives lost that day, the reality learned and the way the country reacted. The blue collar people. The high class community. The poor. The rich. A lot of people lost important people in their life that day. The more we remember them, the better off we are.

Thanks for reading and have a good night folks.

Ray Rice Broke A Sacred Rule And Pays For It

Posted in Uncategorized on September 8, 2014 by dbuff82

You get taught at a very young age to not strike a woman under any circumstance. It’s just wrong. Same as stealing, lying and cursing in church. There’s wrong and then there is very wrong. Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice didn’t just punch his wife in an elevator. He knocked her out cold and dragged her off the elevator. Up until today, people couldn’t see the actual punches or the many Ray threw at his wife. All they saw was the aftermath. In new video on TMZ, you can see Rice’s wife walk into the elevator with her husband and get into a small fight. What results is Ray punching his wife out. It’s ugly. It’s wrong. It makes me want to punch a wall. 

My wife and I are part Italian. We fire venom at each other frequently and have so for our 12 years of being a couple. We hold no vocal punches but we have never struck one another. I have gotten seriously and dangerously mad at my wife but I have never hit her. This isn’t the movies. This isn’t Goodfellas. This isn’t the old ages. There is nothing right about striking a woman. Ray Rice will never be able to live this down. Ever. People will say, “Well, Michael Vick tortured dogs, and he was brought back.” That’s apples and oranges. Rice will be back but he lost respect from me forever. 

My son Vincent hit a girl in daycare weeks ago. Vin is going to be three years old on Sunday. Still, I grabbed his hand and smacked it. I yelled at him. He has to know that is wrong. He may be young and not see the difference when it comes to hitting a boy or a girl, but that is what parenting is all about. Informing your kid at an early age that some things are just bad. 

Rice flunked a chance to apologize weeks ago and only did better in his second press conference. He can come to a podium tomorrow but it won’t be for the Ravens or any other team. Baltimore cut Rice and the NFL suspended him indefinitely. I would assume he won’t be back all season. If so, this is a huge win for Roger Goodell and the league. Show the sternness and make an example out of Rice. They put a rule in play last week about this kind of personal conduct, but go ahead and get it right now. This will only be good for the future of this league.

There isn’t much more to say here. Have a good day folks. Men, next time you even think about striking a woman, remember this. Once you hit a woman, you can never take it back. Ever. It is a stain on your soul.

-DLB

Ray Donovan Loses Its Creator For Third Season

Posted in Film-Addict Pieces, TV Show Spotlight with tags on September 5, 2014 by dbuff82

ray-donovan-season-2-premiereAnn Biderman makes tough guy shows. When a show with her name on it starts, one can expect heavy handed testosterone and convincing action. From NYPD Blue writing to creating Southland to bringing hard nosed fixer Ray Donovan to Showtime, she has delivered a product that is expected to piss vinegar and crank up the macho primal side of men bent by their past and pushed hard by their current conditions. She doesn’t create soft characters or plots. That is why I find it troubling and sad that she is leaving Ray Donovan after this second season. The third season, which starts production next year, will have a new showrunner. Biderman will stay on as a creative consultant but depart for her next tough guy series. There was said to be financial overruns that contributed to the decision.

I am not sure I like this news. To me, the show is at a creative peak after last week’s episode, “Walk This Way”. In one hour, every demon inside the South Boston family of the Donovan’s came home to roost. In a birthday party for the young son Conor, you had drinking, fighting, shouting, cheating and tons of bad history being brought to the table. Star Liev Schreiber directed the episode and delivered some of his best acting in the series to date. Schreiber keeps digging into this role like a boxer digging into his opponent’s body with stiff hooks. The work from Jon Voight, Dash Mihok, Paula Malcomson and others was top notch. The second season has been  because the show is more open to intriguing plot details. The first season was strung around Ray’s raging war against his father, Mickey(Voight, Emmy worthy from the start). This season, the history of the family and outside threats(Hank Azaria’s FBI agent) and internal dysfunction(the sale of the gym) has come front and center. With Biderman departing, I am not sure a new showrunner comes in and sets up shop. Continue reading

Sin City Offers Something Different

Posted in Film-Addict Pieces with tags , , on August 28, 2014 by dbuff82

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First off, I don’t care how much money this movie made at the box office. That is something the critic has to block out when reviewing a film. It can referenced in a small area but if I judged films on how much money they made over others, Daddy Day Care might find its way onto a top ten list somewhere. My review of the movie, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For.

I will hand it to Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller. They offer something no other movie can dare come close to with Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. A hard boiled bloody sexy pulpy action blast that has the heart and soul of a comic book. If you can’t find another word for it, original is a plain enough description for their collaboration here.

Look, this isn’t high art, folks. The dialogue is heavy and the blood is graphic and brought to the screen with bright lime green or a dark brutal red. Characters speak in short quick bursts and it’s very dramatic. The good thing is the cast here buys into the madness and plays it the hand of cards hard instead of shortening their stroke. There is no room here for Oscar worthy performances. Only memorable death scenes. And that is completely fine because Sin City, Round 2 is all about expectations. Walk into the theater looking for something wild, crazy and you may get it.

Do you want to see Eva Green play badass and spend half the film naked with a gun in her hand? This movie is for you. She is the Dame to Kill For and doesn’t make you think twice about the notion. Green is a great actress and beautiful. She isn’t why cavemen chiseled on walls but I am sure a fair amount of men(and women) would fight for the French Queen. Continue reading

ALS Challenge: A Lot More Than Ice Buckets and Videos

Posted in Uncategorized on August 26, 2014 by dbuff82

Yesterday, in broiling 100 degree heat in the Lou, I dragged my wife and kid outside to assist me in my Ice Bucket Challenge for the ALS Foundation.  I did this without being nominated to do it. I wanted to contribute in some way and felt a need to spread the word. I donated money and threw an ice bucket on my head. Before I get into it, I want to tell you a little about ALS.

The disease, in case anyone wants to know, is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. The world knows it as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”, because the famous Yankee has his life cut short due to the horrible and debilitating condition. It attacks the nerve cells that run to your brain and spinal chord. Everything that makes your body go and move strongly is attacked by this disease. The body degenerates, muscles weaken and in the end, the body is completely paralyzed by the disease. Motor neurons send signals to your muscles to make them perform a movement and when those motor neurons are damaged and attacked by ALS, other things start to shut down. It was named after the famous baseball player but affects many people today. The disease is a variable one, meaning it moves in different courses with each patient. Someone may have a completely different experience than another person afflicted with the condition. There is a clinically approved drug to attack ALS and others are currently in trials. 

This is important to remember when you buy the ice, get a bucket and are busy putting together videos. Remember the reason you are doing it. It is helping raise money and awareness for a disease that needs all the attention it can possibly get. When movie stars dump ice on their heads and nominate other movie stars and politicians, they are doing it for a reason. They don’t need any extra attention. They are doing it to raise awareness. Sure, they could have cut a check and be done with it. Then there is Vin Diesel in a tank top throwing down a steel barrel of ice water on his head and nominating Vladimir Putin and President Barack Obama. Diesel is using his millions of followers and fans to join him in this fight. When Steven Spielberg, Derek Jeter and other celebs do it, they are using the unbeatable power of their reputation and celebrity to teach people about this disease. Many people have no idea prior to this year what ALS is and only know it as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. They remember the famous speech Gehrig gave and that it was pretty cool. That’s about it. In taking this challenge, the idea is to learn about the disease, donate cash(whatever it is will help) and spread awareness with the video you share. People you know will see it and think that is great. 

What people don’t know about Gehrig is how bad the disease took hold of his once athletic and baseball efficient body. The man was built to hit doubles, fire baseballs across the field and run like mad. In his final days, for a photo that showed him in his study, the disease had gotten so bad that someone had to hold his head up and put the pencil in his hand before the picture could be snapped. That is what The ALS Foundation is dealing with. 

So I donated cash yesterday morning and went outside around 5 pm. It was hot. Real hot. My son Vincent got in on the action and eventually dumped a bucket of water on his head. I wanted to say all of this in the video but I didn’t want to wear anyone out with my face for more than a minute so I come here with the story and the video(posted below). I did this to do a good thing. In life, we get fleeting chances to do something a genuine good deed. You can open doors, help the elderly or flash a smile at someone who needs it, but the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a good deed. It’s a win-win situation. You get a bucket of ice water on your head to cool off, get to nominate a few people to do it and donate cash to a good cause.

Do me a favor. If you decide to do the challenge, go to the ALS Foundation website and find out why you are doing it. The ice thing is cool and fun, but the real deed is knowing why you are doing it. Don’t let it be a hollow activity. Make it mean something. So far, the donations have reached 80 million dollars.

Alright, I’m climbing down off my horse and walking away for a bit. Thanks for reading. 

 

 

Let’s Put A Smile on That Face

Posted in Bullet Rounds, Film-Addict Pieces, Football, Interviews, Random Fire, Sports with tags , , on August 19, 2014 by dbuff82

Hey folks,

Allow me to step in here and shed some light on a bunch of issues that will thankfully have NOTHING to do with Ferguson. What is happening to my northern city limit doesn’t need my fingerprints on it. I will only say this. Protesting is a LOT different than rioting and this isn’t the way to do it. Governor Nixon put on kid gloves when he called in the State Troopers. When The National Guard marches in, the fun will really begin. That’s all I got. Politics and wild maniac activity is for alderman and paid media to deal with. Not this bald South City Lou resident. So let’s begin. The following words may not put a smile on your face but they will brighten your Monday morning with thought, naughty language and a few brazen ideas. This list has no sense of real order so watch out.

  • Baseball season is nearly a month from completing its regular season. Where the hell did this season go? It’s more like where the hell did my fingertips go? Quarterbacks take their offensive lineman out to dinner. I will be treating my keyboard to a vacation when the Cardinals conclude their action this fall. Being a baseball fan is hard enough. Being a writer for the sports adds gray to the face.
  • I watched some preseason football on Saturday with the Rams and will admit it held my interest for exactly 30 minutes. Preseason football is more exciting than spring training because there are more spots available on the starting roster on a football team. Young kids fresh out of college bashing skulls with a few minutes of playing time to impress the coaches and make the team. Sam Bradford looked good. Michael Sam made a few good stops. Overall, the defense looked rough around the edges and the offense mustered 7 points. Isaiah Pead tore his ACL but I don’t think he had much of a chance to begin with so see you in 2015 young man. Bradford escaped without hurting himself. That’s 2 games down and 18 to go to keep Sam on his feet.
  • The Knick on Cinemax is exactly the kind of hospital show I desired. It saves you all the melodrama and relationship bullshit that is dished out on Grey’s Anatomy and other kid glove medical dramas. Director Steven Soderbergh and star Clive Owen are trying to teach us something about the revolution of surgery and the breakthroughs it made right around the start of the 19th century. In 1900, set in New York and with a story centered around Owen’s brilliant surgeon John Thackery. The opening scene places our protagonist in a brothel where the fumes of opium fill the nostrils of its clients. Owen is so good here, carrying the black wavy mane of hair and a mustache that could make Wyatt Earp look in the mirror. Thackery gets in a carriage, asks for the long way and calmly shoots cocaine into the middle of his toes because what is a brilliant surgeon without some drugs flowing through his body. As he tells a young nurse later on, “there are our lives inside the hospital and our lives outside the hospital. Those two should never intercede.” Owen is so damn good at playing this role of the anti-hero. He can act with his eyes alone but his words penetrate with every line of dialogue. The supporting cast is noticeable and good but don’t be fooled, this is Owen’s show. Cinemax started slow with Strikeback(sloppily edited war action drama) and Hunted(decent if forgettable spy flick) and blasted onto the scene with breathtaking ballsack swagger with Banshee. The Knick kicks it up a notch.
  • I have a legit man crush on Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. He looks like a king and swings a bat like Thor. He hits baseballs a long way and looks like he is having fun doing it. He should have been in handcuffs tonight because he murdered a baseball today.
  • I love Twitter and you all know that. Tonight, I got a nice tweet from the director of HOURS, the Paul Walker flick I reviewed on here last week. He said he appreciated my review and may be up for an interview. His name is Eric Heisserer. Surely it isn’t Scorsese but I appreciate any interaction with a filmmaker. Especially one who churned a performance as powerful as the one Eric got out of Walker in his final days. Twitter is a safe haven for people looking to connect. Professionals go there. Writers go there. People live there. I am a Twitter addict. Proud. Facebook is the place I call go to for a booty call once in a while. Twitter is work and play. Facebook is all robotic work.
  • Joe Kelly got roughed up in his Fenway debut. He gave up 7 earned runs and didn’t last 5 innings against Houston. The young man will soon find out that it’s not as sunny to pitch in a hitter’s ballpark. Matthew McConaughey was at the game. He would wise to advise Kelly to simply keep on living.
  • I get people who still don’t like the trade. Once again, I will break it down simply yet finely. John Lackey is a big time veteran pitcher who has closed out two World Series runs. He is cut from the same breed as Chris Carpenter. Lackey broke up with his pregnant wife. He is a bastard. He hates bullshit. He is a Texan strike throwing machine. He fits right in here with all the nice people and A.J. Pierzynski. Kelly may be good in the long run or he may get ripped apart in Boston. Allen Craig is a 30 year hitter who may recover from a foot injury or he may be destined to .260, 12 HR, 65 RBI seasons until he collapses in right field. Lackey is a finisher and the Cards get him(no way out of it for Lackey) in 2015 for the fair wage of 500,000. Lackey, his agent and John Mozeliak shook to that before the deal was signed. Wainwright, Wacha, Lackey, Lynn, Miller/Martinez/Garcia in 2015. DAMNNNN! The only people who truly whine about the Kelly trade are women, kids, and fans of people who wear glasses and play sports. Get over it.
  • Lebron James did the ice bucket challenge. So did Mike Matheny and Kermit the Frog. I like that it raises money for people but it’s ice people. Not hot coals.

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