James Gandolfini

Tom Hardy and a Dog in The Drop

In 2011, director Michaël R. Roskam made a big splash with his riveting debut film, Bullhead. Like plenty of foreign directors that have made an impression in the States, he’s following up that critical darling with an American picture. Not all have succeeded in that transition, but Roskam has made a smooth passage with The Drop, an emotionally compelling and admirably old-fashioned crime film. Adapted by Denis Lehane and based on his own short story, “Animal Rescue,” The Drop is about people grappling with the past. At the center of it all is Bob Saganowski (Tom Hardy). He’s a quiet man who keeps to himself, only interested in tending bar for his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini), a former gangster who used to own the place but lost it to a local Chechen crime boss (Michael Aronov). For him, Bob and Marv handle “the drop,” which involves the safekeeping of all the mob’s money in the bar. One night before closing, the place is robbed. While Marv and the boss search for who is behind the holdup, Bob begins a close friendship with a stranger (Noomi Rapace) after the two find a beaten pit bull left in a trash can.

read more...

Love Is Strange

Ahh, the wedding movie. It doesn’t matter how old, or how sexually preferenced the to-be-betrothed are — once we take in those familiar sights and sounds, the same feeling comes rushing back. The early morning jitters. The cordial, yet heart-softening classical music. The phrase “We are gathered here today…” There’s no use fighting the cliches, Love Is Strange. Once director Ira Sachs plants both feet in wedding territory, he must follow wedding movie tradition and introduce something horrible to disrupt this picturesque moment. Will it be hordes of big fat Greek family members? A rogue planet headed on a collision course with Earth? Before long, the trailer gives us the answer: Love Is Strange is in a gay recession.

read more...

The Drop

It’s been a little over a year since the world lost James Gandolfini and his many talents, but it’s making the transition a little softer knowing that the late, great actor still had several films in the can when he passed. The final film of that bunch is set to arrive, meaning The Drop is the last new film in which we’ll ever see the former Tony Soprano do what he does best: intimidate the hell out of everyone around him and boss around one or two or a dozen shady individuals. The Drop, directed by Michael R. Roskam (Bullhead) isn’t just a vehicle for showcasing Gandolfini. As all good crime movies begin, the trailer starts us off in a very ornate, probably Catholic church where our protagonists are likely attempting to repent for some unforgivable sins. Might as well have the big guy on your side if you’re going to get tangled up in something that could leave you riddled with bullets. Gandolfini is Marv, the owner (or maybe not?) of a bar where his cousin Bob (Tom Hardy) helps out bartending and watching his back. Now the trouble with Marv, and a little bit with Bob, is that they both have criminal pasts — Bob has opted to leave his there, while Marv is letting his leak more and more into the present, where it’s infecting the business of the bar, and the well-being of his family, including Bob’s love (Noomi Rapace), who has taken on an excellent concerned — […]

read more...

true romance hopper

Tony Scott‘s True Romance is probably one of my top ten all-time favorite movies, which is kind of weird since Badlands is one of my top five all-time favorite films. Or maybe it’s appropriate that this is the case. I’m sure that one of the reasons I fell in love with this movie is because of how directly it’s inspired by and references the earlier Terrence Malick film. Notice I make the distinction between movies and films. Scott made movies, Malick makes films. Scott also made a movie I like that directly references another of my all-time favorite films (Enemy of the State –> The Conversation). I was sad when Scott died particularly because I was hoping he’d eventually cover all my top shelf titles (just imagine what he could have done with Duck Soup!). Then again, maybe he’d have just redone himself, the way he did with Domino, which is like a bad remake of True Romance. Anyway, True Romance turns 20 years old this week. Warner Bros. released the movie on September 10, 1993, and it came in at #3 for its opening weekend, behind reigning champ The Fugitive and fellow newcomer Undercover Blues (uh?). In honor of the anniversary, let’s take a look at some scenes we love. It was hard to narrow down, of course, so we went with major character moments.

read more...

The Sopranos

Two nights before I completed my somewhat accidental binge watch of The Sopranos, I overheard a stranger at a party bitching about how overrated the show was – he seemed to think that the dream sequences were “unrealistic” and he also seemed unable to identify with Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) in even the slightest of ways (the great trick of The Sopranos is, of course, that it gets us to relate to a violent, mentally ill criminal). His favorite part of the entire show? One that never actually happened – he seemed to think that Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) was the one who told Carmela (Edie Falco) she had to leave Tony immediately during one of their short-lived therapy sessions. He seemed to take great interest in that moment, and even a bit of pride – that’s what I’ve been saying! Yeah! You gotta leave him, Carm! – which is why it’s sort of sad that he remembered it all wrong, and that it was another therapist (Dr. Krakower, as recommended by Dr. Melfi, a psychologist Carm saw just once) that gave Carmela the advice. Sure, he got the basics down – he knew it was a shrink that told Carm the news, but thinking that Dr. Melfi would say such a thing to Carmela was a big misunderstanding of both their characters. He didn’t get it. After eighty-six episodes of The Sopranos, watched over approximately six weeks, I think I get it, at least as someone who wasn’t […]

read more...

_EST3045.NEF

Chances are there are quite a few things that James Gandolfini is going to be remembered for as an actor. But if there’s one big thing that really defines the bulk of his performances, it’s how he was always able to let little bits of vulnerability and sensitivity shine through, even as he was mostly being defined as a hulking, physically intimidating presence. Well, one of the last films Gandolfini made before he passed away, Enough Said, seems to take those smaller aspects of his personality and bring them completely to the forefront in order to make him a romantic lead. Gone completely is that element of danger that often comes from a Gandolfini performance, and in its place is a guy who comes off as a huggable sad sack. I mean, really, just try to get through the scenes here where Julia Louis-Dreyfus is picking on him for his eating habits without wanting to pat his head and give him a balloon. It’s impossible.

read more...

enough_said_header

It’s barely been a month since James Gandolfini died very suddenly of a heart attack, and though the world continues to mourn, the star had shot two films before he passed away, both of which await release. Today, Fox Searchlight Pictures has provided both a poster and a release date for Gandolfini’s second to last film, Enough Said. The film will hit theaters on September 20, 2013, and the poster is here.

read more...

Tony Soprano

Long before (at least in entertainment years) we were gifted with all sorts of television shows that focus squarely on the rise and fall of lovable, fallible, and infuriating anti-heroes, there was Tony Soprano. Following James Gandolfini’s untimely and heartbreaking death last month, television’s reigning king of the twisted anti-hero, Bryan Cranston, tweeted “I’m saddened by James Gandolfini’s passing. He was a great talent & I owe him. Quite simply, without Tony Soprano there is no Walter White.” And there would also be no Don Draper and thus two of my favorite current and all-time television shows would not exist. Which makes it all the more egregious that, as of a week ago, I had never watched The Sopranos. You can start throwing tomatoes or trash or mean comments now. Not watching The Sopranos was unquestionably a gap in my Gandolfini-watching experience, and particularly bizarre when you consider that my favorite Gandolfini performance was from Not Fade Away, the first movie directed by Sopranos creator David Chase. Clearly, there was something about these two together that worked for me, but the prospect of working through six seasons of television seemed daunting. Well, daunting until I started.

read more...

killing them softly 06

If there’s anything to remember about this week, it’s sadly that we lost one of the great actors of our era — a man who really deserved as much recognition during his career as he’s received since the announcement of his death. We’re going to really miss James Gandolfini. Now that I’ve dried my eyes, let me note some other big stories this week. Movie star Robert Downey, Jr., was officially confirmed to be returning for more Avengers movies just as we were looking at the latest on the death of the movie star following the failure of the Will Smith tentpole After Earth. Speaking of things that can’t stay down, zombies were a big topic thanks to the release of World War Z and apparently Superman thought human beings were as invincible as him in the world of Man of Steel. We also posted a lot of original content that didn’t make it to the Recap, like a pieces on one of the worst films of all time (From Justin to Kelly) and on one of the best (Rashomon), plus our ongoing coverage of the Los Angeles Film Festival. Maybe you should just read FSR every day and catch everything we publish so you don’t have to settle on these best of catch-up posts. Or you can enjoy both — the week as it happens and then the week in review. Start your weekend right after the jump.

read more...

James Gandolfini Sopranos

The world lost a robust acting presence on Wednesday. It was obvious looking at James Gandolfini that the big guy was powerful, but his work was often so fragile and nuanced that he had no trouble crawling into our veins. No one did vulnerable tough guys quite as well as he did, leaving his footprint on television and film screens alike. With that in mind, we put the entirety of his career to our panel of writers, asking simply: what is James Gandolfini’s best performance? Their answers (and a place for your own) can be found below.

read more...

violet-and-daisy

What if little girls were hired assassins? That’s not an uncommon film scenario today, but usually the answer is that they’d be well-trained, bred to be killers from early on and void of most stereotypes you associate with normal young women. Hit-Girl from Kick-Ass and the title teenager from Hanna come to mind. But Violet & Daisy takes a different approach. The girls here are really “girly.” They take on hit jobs in order to buy pretty dresses. They blow bubble gum bubbles while shooting up mob hideouts. They talk all cutesy and have flowery code names and play patty-cake with their boss (Danny Trejo) and ride a tricycle and love milk and cookies and say “ewwwwww” in response to things they find gross as if they’re referring to cooties.

read more...

Screen Shot 2012-12-21 at 12.33.05 PM

A fair amount of critics are touting Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty as her masterpiece. While Bigelow has definitely directed films in her decades of filmmaking that are comparable to the overall quality of Zero Dark Thirty, it is great that between this and her Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker, she is getting the acclaim that she deserves. What does set Zero Dark Thirty apart from the rest of the Kathryn Bigelow oeuvre is that is a far more deliberate and slower paced film that her others. At about two-and-a-half hours, it includes only perhaps two or three major “action/suspense” scenes, which are all impeccably executed in her usual fashion. Mostly, however, the film follows the mental unraveling and rise to power of CIA agent Maya (Jessica Chastain) as she follows a seemingly-circumstantial hunch, which results in her looking over Osama bin Laden’s body bag. The film certainly is successful in what it sets out to do. Through Chastain’s Maya, it is a more nuanced study of the disappointments of losing the war on terror against Al Qaeda and then fighting back, resulting in less of a fist pump of exultation, but more of a quiet recognition of accomplishment.

read more...

Not Fade Away

Editor’s note: David Chase’s feature debut hits theaters this week, so please feel free to rock out with this New York Film Festival review, originally published on October 7, 2012. Into a quiet moment between lovers, toward the end of his new film David Chase injects Plato. Introspective college student Grace Dietz (Bella Heathcote) turns to her aspiring musician boyfriend and quotes: “When the mode of the music changes, the walls of the city shake.” The line could read as an epigraph, the inspiration and core theme of the work. Yet, paradoxically, Not Fade Away rocks the boat significantly less than the 1960’s themselves, or even other movies that look back on this tumultuous period in the life of the nation. Rather, it plays like a form of American “heritage cinema,” to borrow a term from the Brits, fantasizing about a time gone by while carefully avoiding any of its real tensions. At core, Not Fade Away is a simple coming-of-age story. Douglas (John Magaro) is a skinny white kid in suburban New Jersey who, more than anything else, wants to play music. He’s a drummer with an excellent singing voice, and soon he finds himself in a band. They play covers of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones at local parties and dances but dream bigger. As he gets older, the band goes through the typical trials and tribulations: fights over love, fights over integrity, the loss of members, and on and on. And, of course, he is simultaneously […]

read more...

Andrew Dominik

Killing Them Softly is both a surprising and unexpected return for director Andrew Dominik, whose name has been missing from the big screen for five long years. What’s most surprising about the film is that it’s not much more commercial than his previous film, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, a movie which didn’t nearly get its due back in 2007. His latest film is, however, unsurprising in terms of theme: the power of the dollar. After Jesse James didn’t light the world on fire financially, Dominik found it difficult to get other projects off the ground, so money must have been on his mind. And, according to Dominik, it was, and that’s a part of how we got his new political crime picture, Killing Them Softly. Here is what writer and director Andrew Dominik had to say about the film’s slightly cartoonish approach, why the crime genre is so appealing, and the trials and tribulations caused by Jesse James:

read more...

Brad Pitt in Killing Them Softly

After only about five people paid to see Andrew Dominik‘s beautifully poetic The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, the popular belief was that any director in that position would follow up his ambitious financial failure with something more commercial. While Killing Them Softly has far more public appeal than Jesse James, Dominik has fortunately made another film unafraid to polarize. Set in 2008, following the economic collapse, mobsters have been seeking easier ways to make a quick buck or two, there is no clear order left, and, in this America, as the smooth contract killer Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) puts it, you’re on your own. Cogan — who’s sort of the protagonist — is brought down to New Orleans after a series of robberies hit Markie Trattman’s (Ray Liotta) poker games. With criminals afraid to play and spend their money, it’s Cogan’s job to get them back to playing, by finding the two men responsible for the latest theft, two big time losers named Frankie (Scoot McNairy, now holding the record for the most number of irritating characters in a single year) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn). This reads as all fairly simple, but there’s more to this story than the trailers have been leading us to believe. Killing Them Softly is, in fact, almost more of an angry, loud voicemail left for the politicians who aren’t all that different from the lost, scrambling criminals we see in the film.

read more...

Not Fade Away Trailer

The Sopranos creator David Chase has been working on his Not Fade Away ever since the gangster show’s finale. That’s a bit ironic, considering The Sopranos’ ending wasn’t afraid to piss off a few million viewers, while his directorial feature debut, Not Fade Away, appears to be about as safe as coming-of-age tales come. Chase may not try to reinvent the wheel this time around, but based on this trailer, maybe he doesn’t need to. Check out the first trailer for Not Fade Away after the jump.

read more...

The moviegoing world was saddened earlier this week when it was learned director Tony Scott had died. Despite the manner of his death, it’s no less sad when a filmmaker such as Scott, who continued making films well into his 60, had many more films to helm. We felt it was time to hear some filmmaking insight from the man himself, which leads us to True Romance. The movie itself is a modern classic, an energetic tale of love, drugs, and a whole bunch of bullets courtesy of fledgling – at the time – screenwriter Quentin Tarantino. He also provides a commentary for the film, a rarity for the Pulp Fiction writer/director, but we’ll cover that another time. This is Tony Scott’s time, and here, without further ado, are all the things we learned listening to him speak about his film, True Romance.

read more...

Andrew Dominik is not a prolific director. After bursting onto the scene in 2000 with the violent biographical tale Chopper he waited seven years before releasing the critically acclaimed The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford with Brad Pitt. The film was universally praised by critics, but theater-goers have notoriously short attention spans meaning most of them moved on to something else before they even finished reading the title. (The ‘something else’ in this case was a one-two punch of Resident Evil: Extinction and Good Luck Chuck, so shame on you America.) Five years later and Dominik is finally returning to the screen, and he’s bringing Pitt along with him. Killing Them Softly is a blackly humorous crime thriller about a pair of low-rent amateurs who rob the wrong poker game. Pitt plays a mob man brought in to find and handle the pair, and the film follows his efforts arrange for their demise while interacting with the local criminal element. The film is an adaptation of George V Higgins’ 1974 novel Cogan’s Trade, and while it updates the story to the modern day it keeps the Boston setting that has served the genre so well over the years. Pitt’s joined by Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Sam Shepard, Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy. Our own Simon Gallagher was a big fan when he saw it at Cannes, and now the rest of us can get a taste as well with the debut of the highly […]

read more...

Last year, I kicked off the FSR Cannes Awards by taking the opportunity to give three awards to The Artist (three of the Oscars it won actually, if you’re interested in just how much of a boss I am), and though there isn’t quite the same standout type of film at this year’s festival, there were some notable highlights. The rain was not one of them. This year, I saw 21 of the hundreds of films available to see, so these awards obviously only take in those that I deemed worthy of my attention (or which were possible to see given the intense mathematical equations required to see everything and write reviews of them all in timely enough fashion that all of the key information doesn’t bugger off out of your head). Here are my own highlights of the 65th annual Cannes Film Festival:

read more...

The Paperboy John Cusack

Last year’s Cannes Film Festival featured this year’s Oscar winning Best Actor performance thanks to the inclusion of the wonderful The Artist in competition, and though the films seem to have been chosen for their artistry and provocative subtexts more than any really commercial pointers (as always happens the year after the festival is deemed “too commercial”), there have been some seriously fine performances this year as well. There wasn’t an Uggy this year, but there was a murdered pooch in Moonrise Kingdom, a bitey Killer Whale in Rust & Bone, and a striking performance from an armadillo in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Me and You, so we’ll have to wait and see who emerges with the best animal performance. Probably won’t come from Madagascar 3 though…so for the time being, let’s stick to the humans.

read more...
NEXT PAGE  
Twitter button
Facebook button
Google+ button
RSS feed

published: 11.26.2014
B
published: 11.26.2014
B
published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+


Some movie websites serve the consumer. Some serve the industry. At Film School Rejects, we serve at the pleasure of the connoisseur. We provide the best reviews, interviews and features to millions of dedicated movie fans who know what they love and love what they know. Because we, like you, simply love the art of the moving picture.
Fantastic Fest 2014
6 Filmmaking Tips: James Gunn
Got a Tip? Send it here:
editors@filmschoolrejects.com
Publisher:
Neil Miller
Managing Editor:
Scott Beggs
Associate Editors:
Rob Hunter
Kate Erbland
Christopher Campbell
All Rights Reserved © 2006-2014 Reject Media, LLC | Privacy Policy | Design & Development by Face3