Archive for the ‘James Gandolfini’ Category

New Boyfriend is Up! (I’m Not Kidding!)

June 20, 2013

There is a new Boyfriend of the Week write-up!  A few of you are going to barf.  My apologies in advance. Go check it out at  http://megwood.com and then come back here to comment!

Also, I didn’t want to go without saying something about James Gandolfini, former Boyfriend of the Week (2001!) and an actor I greatly admired, who died yesterday at the insanely too-young age of 51, so here’s what I’m going to say:  You will be missed, sir.  (It’s not a very interesting or original thing to say, but it’s the truth, so there you have it.)  You can comment about him here too, if you want.

MOVIE: Killing Them Softly (2012)

April 1, 2013

killinghtmeThis movie is about a hit man, played by Brad Pitt, hired to take out two idiots who rob a poker. . .

. . . zzzzzzzz . . .

And then there’s something about Obama calling us a “community” but how we’re not really a community because everybody’s all alone in this miserable world of constant fakin’ it. The end.

(I don’t know — you watch it and tell me.)

[Netflix | Buy/Rent from Amazon]

Genre: Obfuscation
Cast:  Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, Vincent Curatola, Max Casella, Sam Shepard

MOVIE: The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)

November 18, 2009

pelhamIt’s probably been five years or more since I saw the original Taking of Pelham 123, which I rented back when I was going through a massive Walter Matthau phase.  And now that I’ve seen this film, the recent remake starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta, I’m eager to see the original again because I can’t remember what the original bad guy’s motives were, and I have a feeling they weren’t the same as they were in this version (this version’s motives being somewhat timely).

I figured this would be an entertaining, but not brilliant, movie, and I was right.  It’s not flawless, but it’s definitely a lot of fun to watch, especially if you’re a Denzel or/and Travolta fan, which I obviously am (hubba hubba x 2).  The story opens on a regular day in New York City’s MTA offices, with Washington playing Walter Garber, a former bigwig in the MTA who has recently been demoted to dispatcher following a scandal involving a bribe.  Unfortunately for Walter, he’s on duty the day a group of recent parolees, led by a man named Ryder (Travolta), hijack the Pelham 123 train.

It quickly becomes clear to Walter that the group knows a lot about the MTA subway system.  They stop the train in exactly the most advantageous spot in one of the tunnels, and quickly release most of the cars and passengers to make it easier for them to handle the set of hostages, which they then announce they are holding for $10 million in ransom.  But as the day goes on, it also becomes increasingly clear that Ryder has ulterior motives — that the ransom may not be his end game.  Can Walter, the mayor (played by James Gandolfini), or the lieutenant in charge of the hostage negotiation team (played by John Turturro) figure out what’s really going on before Ryder kills the hostages and/or absconds with the $10 million?

You can probably guess the answer to that question.  Go ahead, guess.  Yep, you’re right!

As I said, this movie isn’t perfect.  For one thing, I had the “ulterior motive” thing figured out way earlier than I should have and it was because of some heavy-handed hint dropping that could have been a lot more subtle.  Despite that, though, I found the whole ulterior motive thing pretty clever, all things considered, and it was fun waiting to find out if my theory about it was going to be proven right.

I also thought Denzel was great in this — I completely believed his character and, what’s more, I was really rooting for him as well.  Less convincing was Travolta, but only because I still think of him as more snuggly than bad-ass, even if the make-up department does kick down with a sinister goatee and neck tatt.

Overall, though, this is a pretty entertaining flick with some good acting, authentic suspense, and a fairly satisfying, if unbelievable, ending.  Definitely recommended to anybody looking for a good thriller.  And hey, gentlemen in the audience, they even somehow managed to throw in a couple of spectacular car wrecks for you, even though 95% of this movie takes place in an office and a tunnel.  Now THAT’S movie-making magic, my friends.

Recommended!

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre:  Thriller
Cast:  Denzel Washington, John Travolta, John Turturro, Luis Guzman, Michael Rispoli, James Gandolfini

MOVIE: In the Loop (2009)

August 17, 2009

Several years ago, a British reader of the Boyfriend of the Week sent me a couple of CDs that contained six episodes of a sit-com she was mad-crazy about called The Thick of It.  Not only did she want me to watch the series and tell her if I liked it, but she was especially keen on one of its stars, an actor and stand-up comedian named Chris Addison.

I watched the first episode with some hesitation, I’ll confess,  because I’d just finished watching the first season of the British version of The Office and didn’t end up loving it as much as everybody seemed to think I ought to.  That is, I didn’t hate it — but. . . meh.  I figured if I ended up not loving The Thick of It either, the entire United Kingdom might write me off at long last.  That would be horrible!  I like the British!  They talk so cute!

Five minutes into episode one of The Thick of It, though, and I was absolutely in love.  The series, about the bumbling spin machines at work behind the British government, was not only one of the most riotously funny things I’d ever seen, but it was absolutely goddamn brilliant to boot.

The problem with the request of my reader, though, was that when I was done with the six episodes she sent, I wasn’t in love with Chris Addison.  I mean, his character Ollie (“Toby” in the movie, but essentially the same guy) is absolutely my type in real life:  a super-enormous, highly intelligent dork.   But the BotW isn’t about real life, it’s about fantasy.  And in my fantasy world, the character for me was definitely going to be Malcolm Tucker, played by Peter Capaldi.   Despite the fact Tucker’s an absolutely vicious bastard, his brutal directness holds the same appeal to me as Hugh Laurie’s Gregory House. I probably think to myself, “SPIT IT OUT, ALREADY” 19 times a day when I’m talking to people, and if there’s one thing I absolutely lack patience for, it’s people who tiptoe around topics.  Drop someone in front of me who not only spits it out, but launches it across the room like a SCUD missile, and I will immediately fall prostrate at their feet like the the penitent Magdalene.

This movie, in case you hadn’t already made the connection, is based on that British series (which, as far as I know, only had the one season, though I heard a rumor from someone today that director Armando Iannucci is planning a second season for 2010).  It features a lot of the same cast, including Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison, but also has a few notable additions, like Gina McKee (better known to some of us as Irene from The Forsyte Saga with Damian Lewis and Ioan Gruffud) and James Gandolfini. The backbone of this movie is about the escalation of the British and American governments towards war in Iraq.  But in reality, this film is a cutting satire about media strategy and political spin, and the dunderheads on both sides who flail around in a sea of absolute nonsense day in and day out.  Oh, yeah, and it’s also about us poor schlubs — the politicians’ constituents — and how very, very unimportant we truly are.

The disaster starts when government minister Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) says in a radio interview the sentence, “War is unforeseeable.”  Though that line is absolutely meaningless in every way, it immediately sets off a gargantuan mess of frenzy, beginning with Malcolm Tucker blackmailing a reporter into pretending it was never said, and ending with Foster’s flying off to Washington DC to meet with the American government.  There, we get a shot of the spin at work behind the scenes of our own political process, complete with an absolutely spot-on-hilarious subplot involving a secret “war” committee that may or may not have actually existed before the news of its existence was leaked to CNN, and a never-ending stream of jokes about how young most of our political go-to people are compared to their counterparts in the UK (“your f*ucking master race of highly-gifted toddlers. . .”)

I took my husband to see this with me because I knew that as a political news reporter, he was either going to laugh the entire time or get really cranky — kind of a win-win for me in terms of entertainment.   As it turns out, he loved it too, and even laughed out loud when someone in the film referred to “the media forces of darkness.”  I suspect, though he would neither confirm nor deny, that his job resembles this movie a lot of the time.  And you know what else?  He’s totally a Malcolm Tucker.  Which is why we get along so well.

If you’ve seen the film and you’re curious about the TV series, you can find a bunch of it on YouTube.  The first part of episode one is here (for the rest, you’re on your own):   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIzx_Z-TGe4.  But you don’t have to see the show to appreciate the movie.  If you like sharp political satire, or the hyperarticulate wit of cranky British people, you could not do better than In the Loop.   Except maybe with Yes, Minister, which I hope they movie-ize next for those of us living ‘cross the pond.  Can’t wait for it to come out on DVD so I can turn the English subtitles on — I’m pretty sure I missed at least two dozen snipy insults in “surround bollocksing” due to fast-moving British accents, a fact that will haunt me from now until the day I manage to catch and make note of them all.  F*ckity bye!

[Prequeue me at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre: Comedy
Cast: Peter Capaldi, Tom Hollander, Chris Addison, Paul Higgins, Gina McKee, James Gandolfini, Anna Chlumsky