Tag Archives: James Gandolfini

Crimson Tide

DANGER RUNS DEEP. Just as the U.S. and Russia are facing the threat of nuclear war, the submarine USS Alabama heads out on a mission with a seasoned commander (Gene Hackman) and a fresh executive officer (Denzel Washington). The most macho submarine thriller you can imagine naturally comes from the director and producer of Top … Continue reading Crimson Tide

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

ABRACATASTIC! After ten years as the headline act at a Las Vegas hotel, magicians Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton (Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi) are challenged by changing tastes and a wild street magician (Jim Carrey). Audiences and critics made sure that this comedy turned into a vanishing act, which initially feels unfair. The jokes and … Continue reading The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Zero Dark Thirty: The End of the Sheik

THE GREATEST MANHUNT IN HISTORY. The portrayal of torture in Zero Dark Thirty has sparked a fierce debate, but those Academy members who are boycotting the film tread on thin ice. Perhaps they should reserve their ire for a movie that is clearly guilty of the accusation? Kathryn Bigelow has definitely come out against torture, … Continue reading Zero Dark Thirty: The End of the Sheik

Killing Them Softly

After a robbery takes place at a mob-related poker game, professional enforcer Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) is hired to look into it. Director Andrew Dominik reunited with Pitt from The Assassination of Jesse James… (2007) for a gangster movie with ambitions. Exactly what those are remains unclear; frequent attempts to tie the story to the … Continue reading Killing Them Softly

Cinema Verite

WHEN REALITY BECAME ENTERTAINMENT, EVERYTHING CHANGED. In 1971, filmmaker Craig Gilbert (James Gandolfini) manages to talk the Loud family into letting his camera into their lives, but one of the world’s first reality series turns into a phenomenon they can’t handle… The story of An American Family, the sensational PBS 12-episode series that documented a … Continue reading Cinema Verite

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Some time after the death of his father (Tom Hanks) at 9/11, young Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) finds a key inside an envelope marked with the word “Black”, and embarks on a quest to find the right “Black”. Considering the talent involved here, this is a huge disappointment, especially from a director who made The Hours (2002) work … Continue reading Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

When Ryder (John Travolta) and his gang hijack a New York subway train and demand a ransom for their hostage, they don’t realize that the dispatcher on duty (Denzel Washington) will prove to be a challenge. Another Tony Scott/Washington collaboration that is also a remake of a 1974 thriller. As always a solid performance from Washington … Continue reading The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

Romance & Cigarettes

A SAVAGE MUSICAL. When Kitty (Susan Sarandon) finds out that her ironworker husband (James Gandolfini) had an affair with a seductive saleswoman (Kate Winslet), she throws him out. As a filmmaker, John Turturro usually sets his stories in working-class neighborhoods and puts a twist on what goes on there. This one turns a highly ordinary … Continue reading Romance & Cigarettes

In the Loop: My Way Or the Fucking Highway

THE FATE OF THE WORLD IS ON THE LINE. Every mild-mannered leader needs a brutal enforcer, a man prepared to walk over corpses to achieve purposes. President Barack Obama has Rahm Emanuel. Prime Minister Tony Blair had Alastair Campbell. Ever since the British comedy series The Thick of It premiered in 2005, the foul-mouthed character of Malcolm … Continue reading In the Loop: My Way Or the Fucking Highway

Where the Wild Things Are

THERE’S ONE IN ALL OF US.  Lonely 9-year-old Max (Max Records) runs away from home and ends up in a place far away where the wild things are… and they declare Max their king. An adaptation of the beloved children’s story that takes itself seriously and comes very close to capturing (and reminding older audiences … Continue reading Where the Wild Things Are

The Sopranos: It Runs In the Family

Writer David Chase once said in an interview that Martin Scorsese’s GoodFellas (1990) was his source of inspiration for The Sopranos, one of the three outstanding TV series that marked the turn of the century. However, The West Wing and Six Feet Under never had to put up with complaints about turning mobsters into heroes and creating the impression that every Italian-American … Continue reading The Sopranos: It Runs In the Family

Surviving Christmas

SHARE THE WARMTH. Successful but lonely ad executive Drew Latham (Ben Affleck) suffers a crisis and pays the family that currently lives in his childhood home to spend Christmas with him. A bizarre plot to be sure, although it does highlight the desperation lonely people might feel at Christmas. Affleck’s part cries out for a … Continue reading Surviving Christmas