Month: September 2014

Tom Hardy Carries The Drop

“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


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

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

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.


Ray Donovan Loses Its Creator For Third Season

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. (more…)