James Gandolfini

Holsten’s Ice Cream Shop, Location of Last Soprano’s Scene, Pays Tribute to james Gandolfini

Posted by Matthew on June 21, 2013
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You may have already seen this, but just in case you haven’t the owner of Holsten’s Ice Cream Shop, location of the much ballyhooed last scene of the Sopranos, paid tribute to James Gandolfini yesterday by reserving his table.

Thanks to John Keklamp for the tweet and Slashfilm for the heads up.

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Review: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is more just The Pretty OK Burt Wonderstone

Posted by Matthew on March 22, 2013
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The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

I’d like to preface this by saying that I went into this movie with incredibly low expectations. I think that might be why I had an OK time watching it. But that’s the problem really, is that it’s never more than just an OK time.

The structural problem here is that when it comes to the plot there’s nothing here you haven’t seen before, and when it comes to the magic it’s nowhere near as inventive as I imagine it could have been.

What do I mean? Well have you seen that movie where the main character as a kid was bullied and then found a way (in this case magic) to overcome his awkwardness and then grows up into a total douchebag, then loses everything and has to learn how to be a nice guy again to regain everything and be better off than before? Also, the only girl who has ever rejected him and endures YEARS of his being a total ass and then starts to forgive him at the first sign of him not being such a dick? Also also, he has a falling out with his best friend and partner over his inability to change but eventually reconciles once he’s learned to be a good person again while they’ve spent time apart?

I could go on, but I don’t have to, literally every character arc in this movie is something you’ve seen before and none of it is particularly well executed, which is a shame when you consider the list of amazing actors they’ve assembled.

Steve Carell is as good as he’s ever been at selling his deadpan reactions to the ridiculous but his character is all over the map, both a scheming evil genius asshole and an idiot AND just a normal nice guy, and the film can’t seem to decide which it wants him to start out as or grow into.

Steve BUscemi is the best friend and the film just wastes him. He’s basically Donny from The Big Lebowski again, the character everyone just abuses without thinking.

Olivia Wilde is the girl, and she’s great. By far the most engaging and relatable but her story arc is also by far the most predictable and in the end she’s really just around to let us know that Steve Carell’s character arc is over. Which she does by sleeping with him. I would have warned you thats a spoiler but you’ve seen this movie before so it isn’t.

Alan Arkin also shines, as per usual, as the aging magician who originally inspired the main character and then also coincidentally shows up to help reignite his passion. Again, he’s great, but it’s just so damn predictable.

Jim Carry is the bad guy, a Criss Angel type douchebag with hints of David Blaine’s endurance tests and self harm thrown in. I suppose it’s something that I really did hate his character, that’s the point of an antagonist after all, but I also can’t remember laughing at much of what he did. One gag in the middle and his big final trick and that’s really it.

And then there’s the magic itself which you’d think they’d use to great comic effect but they just…. don’t. They try a few times but it always seems so forced and obvious that it falls flat and the one time they really go behind the scenes of a trick it’s the intricacies of the big comeback trick and it’s during the credits and while it was genuinely funny it also completely undercuts the ending.

I feel like this is a movie that might have been hampered by it’s rating. If it had been R rated they might have been able to actually explain the dichotomy of smart and stupid that Burt Wonderstone is with something like alcoholism and had it make sense, they might also have been able to go behind the scenes and show some of the nitty gritty of the business, but none of that happens.

Instead we’re left with a kinda funny movie instead of the hilarious romp that it could have been.

Rating: 3/10

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Review: Zero Dark Thirty

Posted by Matthew on January 16, 2013
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Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty might seems like it’s come and gone already but since it finally came out in wide release this past weekend I finally had a chance to see it. It seems like the best place to start is the beginning, so lets start there.

A few years ago Kathryn Bigelow was developing a movie about the search for Osama bin Laden. To that point he had eluded all efforts to find him and the film was meant to end at the Battle of Tora Bora where they had thought he was hiding but ultimately they failed to find him.

The film was meant to end on an ambiguous note, sort of a “what do we do now?” type feel but then one day the world found out that US Special Forces killed Osama bin Laden. Interestingly, the film wasn’t reworked that much, wasn’t turned into a propaganda “America, FUCK YEAH!” movie.

And the result is pretty spectacular.

Zero Dark Thirty is a spy film but not what you’d normally expect from a spy film because the main character, Maya, isn’t jumping from rooftop to rooftop or saving the world from a mad man or ferreting out a mole, she’s diligently and tirelessly searching for a single man, using all the resources available to her.

As if we needed reminding of the situation, the film starts with a black screen with radio communications playing from 11th September 2001, something I found particularly effective. I’m not American but I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when it all went down, as I expect all of you do as well.

The film then plays out the entire ten year search in all its gritty, gruelling and bureaucratic detail, spearheaded by Maya.

To say it’s an effective movie would be the understatement if the year. Simultaneously showing what they had to do, including torture, ground work, and long sleepless nights shows the toll on us all through Maya, and Jessica Chastain weathers it like a champ. She’s already won a Golden Globe for the role and she deserves her Oscar nod more than anyone else I’ve seen so far for the upcoming ceremony. Make no mistake, the Oscar is hers to lose.

Everything in this film is utterly compelling, and when we finally get to the final act where the raid on bin Laden’s compound by Navy Seals the idea that realistic military tactics and execution thereof isn’t filmable in a meaningful way is shown to be false. In fact any time anyone says this to you from now on just tell them to watch Zero Dark Thirty.

This film deserves to win all the awards it’s nominated for. It probably won’t win them all, but it should, and in addition to everything above this is because it tells us what happened but doesn’t tell us how we should feel about it. The torture and humiliation is on screen, but there’s no heavy handed speech about how it’s terrible but necessary or how it is destroying the country’s soul or any of that. Just, here it is, feel how you feel.

That, in and of itself with such talked about yet delicate subject matter, is a pretty major achievement.

Rating = 9/10

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