Movie Review: The Drop (2014)

9 10 2014

Well, I had to wait until September to see the best movie of the summer… because there were no films on my radar that came close to the gripping storytelling or depth of character performance of Michael R. Roskam’s THE DROP.


“I just tend bar. And wait.”

THE DROP is an amazing contribution to the crime-drama genre, expertly crafted by Dennis Lehane (who you may know from his other adapted works: MYSTIC RIVER, GONE BABY GONE, and SHUTTER ISLAND) and Michael R. Roskam.

Based off Lehane’s 2009 short story “Animal Rescue,” THE DROP stars Tom Hardy as Brooklynite bartender Bob Saginowski. The reserved bachelor and one-time thug immediately seems the guy to root for in this Chechen-dominated underworld. On a walk home, he discovers a brutalized puppy in a trash can and strikes up a relationship with the woman, Nadia, whose property the can is on. It turns out, there is a common shady figure, Eric Deeds, in their pasts that lurks back into focus. Trouble on top of trouble, he is.

“Are you doin’ somethin’ desperate? Again?”

The bar, Cousin Marv’s, gets held up by a couple of dumb brothers trying to prove themselves in the game. They’re aware that Cousin Marv’s is a longstanding local haunt, but it hasn’t quite been “locally owned” for more than a decade. Some shot callers from the Eastern Bloc muscled Marv and Bob’s crew out of power, letting Marv retain his establishment but requiring Bob to handle the collection of money to-be-laundered.

Seemingly anxious, self-isolating, and seeking redemption, pragmatic Bob hardly appears the kind of man to get on board with such activity. He lives alone in his parent’s house, prayer cards and plastic-wrapped furniture all around him. He hems and haws over the decision to care for the dog he found, eventually coming to treat the animal like his own child.

“I got news for ya, Fitzy. We’re all dead, we’re just still walkin’ around.”

Cousin Marv, who is in fact Bob’s relative, isn’t sitting by so quietly anymore. He may or may not have had a hand in the stick-up, and he may or may not be planning another hit on the biggest tip night of the year: Superbowl Sunday. He also may or may not end up dead in his car because the “Chechnyans” are on to him.

The robbery plotline kind of dissolves by the end, because Bob gets all riled up at the prospect of protecting his woman and his new canine companion, Rocco, from the psychotic Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts). Love and respect taking priority over the ego of an aging wannabe, family or no.

Tom Hardy is sexy as hell, even while he’s crazy-eyed and shooting people in the neck. By film’s end, I couldn’t decide if Nadia (Noomi Rapace) was hanging around him because she was afraid to leave or because she was enamored of his extreme efforts to be the alpha-male on the block. Hardy disappears into the role of Bob Saginowski, without a hint of his natural accent or impish charm peeking through. Bob is supposed to come off as straight-laced and pretty vanilla, that is until he expertly disposes of a bloody limb left outside the bar. Hardy masters the script, revealing little bits of Bob’s true (mildly terrifying) self with a quip here and a covert move there. From Bane to Bondurant, I love his diversity!

The late James Gandolfini plays Cousin Marv, a neighborhood guy who sees himself as considerably ‘harder’ than he is able to live up to. Facing pressure from his sister (Ann Dowd) to finally act his age; the financial burden of caring for an ill, elderly parent; and the emasculation of knowingly being pushed out of your own business create the perfect storm for Marv to lash out and get himself in a situation he cannot handle, and Bob is not willing to clean up (like last time). Cousin Marv is kind of the antithesis of Tony Soprano, the groundbreaking HBO gangster whom Gandolfini portrayed for six seasons (and earned 3 Emmys). Tony had vision, Marv has half-assed ideas. It was at once odd and reassuring to see Gandolfini as Marv, his last major film appearance before his June 2013 death. To see this burly, brutish-looking actor take on roles of pronounced vulnerability (ENOUGH SAID, THE DROP) at what turned out to be the end of his career, speaks volumes about the varied body of work the actor was trying to accomplish for his professional legacy. He was much more than Tony Soprano, and we’d do well to acknowledge that for him even post-posthumously.
THE DROP presents as one story and flips you onto a new path a few times to keep your interest. Let’s just say I was alert and engaged from the first frame, while my fellow audience members were actively . THE DROP took in nearly $5 million last weekend, a respectable feat considering it opened in less than 1,000 theaters. Check Fandango and get yourself to see THE DROP as soon as possible- this is one movie that is sure to be a sleeper during the upcoming awards season, and you’ll be sorry to have missed it. #MarkMyWords

 

THE DROP
2014
Fox Searchlight Pictures





OWN Takes A Major Gamble On LiLo Series

14 03 2014

Legendary talk show host, entrepreneur and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey shocked audiences across America when she retired from her beloved afternoon syndicate, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in favor of heading her own network. Harpo Productions teamed with Discovery Communications to present “a mix of original programs, strips, specials, documentaries and acquired movies,” to replace the fledgling Discovery Health Channel.

OWN-OprahWinfreyNetworkOWN has established itself as a network with the sort of dynamic and dramatic content viewers ate up on Oprah’s original show; offering in-depth conversations on “Oprah’s Next Chapter” (now “Oprah Prime”), investigative documentaries on “Our America with Lisa Ling,” and scripted drama on “Tyler Perry’s ‘The Haves and the Have Nots.’
As of Sunday night, the reality program “Lindsay” joined the 2014 line-up, with a production order of eight episodes.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, you know who the titular Lindsay refers to. The circus that is Lindsay Lohan’s personal life raised its tents over Los Angeles over two years, notably between when she was filming Herbie: Fully Loaded (erratic behavior and vague hospital stays for a “kidney infection” held up production) and Georgia Rule (unpredictable attendance and attitude, along with a myriad of doctor’s visits for “dehydration and exhaustion” left co-stars and crew in the lurch).
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A once-promising young star, Lohan has been sidelined from big-name and big-budget projects of late for being an ‘insurance risk—’ the industry’s way of highlighting that the actor/actress lacks credibility and poses a threat to the budget and schedule of a project (Film Insurance covers any unforeseen cost overruns related to the legal hiccups (like an arrest or lawsuit), illness, injury or death of cast and crew members of a given production.) Additionally, a string of poor reviews and financial returns have taken the light out of her star.
In the last decade, Lindsay Lohan has been to rehab six times; been charged with two DUIs, theft, assault, and possession of cocaine; violated her probation twice; and served a combined six weeks in the Century Regional Detention Facility, also known as Lynwood Jail.
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The series began filming in the summer of 2013, during the week after Lohan’s release from her sixth facility, Cliffside Malibu. In an effort to maintain the sobriety that has evaded her in the past, Lohan travels to New York City with a sober companion who is employed by the rehabilitation/counseling center. She states the move is to give her a (deserved?) clean slate, and keep her away from the temptations of L.A. nightlife.

While Lohan says all the right things about her struggles and the uphill battle she continues to face without alcohol or recreational drugs to dull/twist her reality, she continues to lack a certain accountability — despite telling filmmaker Amy Rice, “I know this is my last shot.” There is a fine line between acknowledging and blaming one’s dysfunctional family and upbringing as a source of stress that exacerbated their addictions. Lohan is still full of excuses, at one point foregoing a planned AA meeting because there are paparazzi outside her hotel. Understandably, she didn’t want to bring that sort of prying chaos into the lives of other attendees, but being seen at a meeting could only help her at this point; a fact she remains blind to. Finding a “sanctuary” she can call home is priority number one, when finding a regular therapist in the Big Apple and productive hobbies to fill her time should be.
Regardless of what mantras she spews or plans she alleges, it is difficult to picture Lindsay Lohan riding the subway (like Jay-Z) or walking her kids to school (like SJP). Ever. Jail and rehab have not provided a sufficient bottom, indicated by the “This Season on ‘Lindsay’” clips that followed the show.

Following her stint in rehab, Lohan was given an opportunity to appear on the cult-hit HBO series “Eastbound & Down,” which stars funnyman Danny McBride. Reportedly, the episode filmed without incident, and Lohan was a gracious guest. Recently, dual appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” and a cameo scheduled on CBS’ “Two Broke Girls” are about all the work Lohan can hope for. She has a long road back to blockbusters— given that her most recent ‘feature’ The Canyons co-starred an adult figure (James Deen) and grossed a measly fifty grand.

The reality show, or ‘docu-series’ as Oprah is calling it, has elements of established guilty-pleasure programming many of you readers will be familiar with. In the roughly 48 hours since it premiered, I have watched the inaugural episode three times. I can assure bits of murky substance dependence, ála “Intervention;” a kooky cast of oblivious family members, ála “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo;” a misplaced desire for all things luxurious, ála “The Real Housewives of…;” and a borderline delusional self-assurance, ála auditions week of “American Idol.”  It’s damn near riveting, and at times not for great reasons. At one point, Lohan will declare: “Until I fuck up, you can’t assume I am going to.” History repeats itself, particularly in her life, so excuse us while we brace for implosion.

0202123As a former Lindsay (the actress) fan, I will undoubtedly continue to watch the mayhem that is in-store on “Lindsay” (the show).  I admit, I loved Mean Girls and even occasionally rock out to “Rumors” when it comes across shuffle on my iPod.
There’s a fine line between celebrities who genuinely struggle with addiction or mental illness and those who squander their chances and egregiously self-sabotage. Historically, I have given up (interest and/or creative admiration) on people whose personal lives eclipse their professional achievements.
[For example: In my mind, Katherine Heigl is an ungrateful twat who deserves to never work again; LeAnn Rimes is an attention-starved former childstar who knows she peaked at 13; and Justin Bieber is going to end up with a shell of his career and eternally on probation, just like Chris Brown, because nobody tells him ‘no’ or points out that saying ‘Jesus is my homeboy!’ doesn’t negate your moral misdeeds.] I digress.

I want to look at Lindsay in a decade and not even recall the criminal and pharmaceutical issues that plagued her for the last decade. There is no denying her talent, from her mature and intuitive turn as Ali Fowler on “Another World,” to her comic chops in Freaky Friday and emotional range shown in Prairie Home Companion and Chapter 27. Unfortunately, ratings for the series did not start off on a high, with a reported 693,000 viewers tuning in. It would appear that people are so over the hype and the shortcomings of this woman. Even in our 24/7-media cycle, stalkerazzi, fame-obsessed society watching this kind of epic failure loses its salacious glow and becomes just plain sad. 

I hope that LiLo gets herself together, for real, this time and pulls a Drew Barrymore-level or Robert Downey Jr.-level comeback. Those are the ideals for this situation. Seven more episodes to go; we’ll have to wait and see if the woman known for millions of water-cooler moments can work her magic once more, and reform this squandered celebrity into a stable, sober, consistent adult actress.