The Drop (2014); directed by Michaël R. Roskam

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The Drop, which opens this week, is James Gandolfini’s last film. He plays “cousin Marv,” a big Brooklyn guy who owned a bar called Cousin Marv’s Bar. The bar was Marv’s life’s work. Yes, it was a dive bar populated by sorry-ass drunks, people running up tabs they couldn’t pay, but it was his. It would be his retirement. He was a big-shot. Maybe a little crooked, maybe he paid people off to keep his bar open, but it was his. He was somebody. That all changed when he started getting pressed by the Chechen mafia guys who started taking over the neighborhood. He fought back, but then couldn’t fight back anymore. He “blinked.” And now “they” own his bar, and he is just an employee. His worst nightmare has come true. He works for “the Man,” in this case “the Man” being some terrifying Chechens who milk him for payment, harass his employees, and worse. Marv is in a tight spot. I suppose you can’t blame him for doing some sketchy shit.

But there’s sketchy … and then there’s Sketchy(™).

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In Gandolfini’s hands, Marv is a ruined man. He has lost his confidence, his standing in the world. He is ashamed of himself. He is afraid of the Chechens and becomes submissive when they stop by to tell him what to do. He is over-ingratiating. He hates himself afterwards. The Drop, an extremely effective thriller (with an unexpected mood of melancholy and loneliness), is yet another example of Gandolfini’s great range as an actor, and a reminder of what we lost when we lost him. Gandolfini has (of course) played gangsters and criminal bosses before. Marv is in that wheelhouse. But Marv is different from the others. Gandolfini understood the needs of Story, and was not afraid or hesitant to bring out what was necessary. His Marv is a case study in emasculation. You cringe watching him kow-tow to the gangsters, you cringe watching him submissively run around trying to do what they ask. You want him to show some spine. But Marv can’t. Once his confidence was lost, it was lost for good.

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Based on a short story by Dennis Lehane, about a silent shy Brooklyn guy named Bob (cousin to cousin Marv), who works in Marv’s bar and who one night finds a baby pit bull, bloody and abandoned in a trash can, The Drop takes place in a 3-block radius. It’s a neighborhood in Brooklyn. The corruption goes to the center of the earth. The inhabitants of the neighborhood are busy trying to go about their lives. They watch the Super Bowl. They go to mass and nod hello to each other when they come back from getting communion. They all know each other. Their memories go way back. As E.B. White noted in his essay “Here Is New York,” the thing that tourists don’t get about New York is how small-town-provincial it really is. The boroughs are made up of hundreds of small neighborhoods, indistinguishable from Small Town U.S.A. Many people go their whole lives without leaving their small neighborhood. The gleaming towers of Manhattan across the river are akin to the Emerald City. The neighborhood is all.

Bob (Tom Hardy) works as a bartender in Marv’s bar. His parents are dead. He lives in the house where he grew up, cluttered with knick-knacks, little shelves in the corner with china angel figurines crowding up all available space. He walks to work. He walks home. He appears to be a good bartender. He is shy, almost recessive. The film opens with a tired voiceover from Bob, explaining how the “drop” system works in Brooklyn. It doesn’t sound like a script. The way Hardy does it, it sounds like he’s alone in his house at 3 a.m., maybe a little drunk, but still coherent, describing to somehow how it all goes down. Money moves around Brooklyn every night, from bookies and poker games and betting. Bars are chosen as “the drop bar,” and it’s rotating, and random, so that the money is always on the move, and nobody knows where it will all end up. You never know when your bar will be chosen to be “the drop bar.”

But Bob doesn’t seem to worry about all of that. He goes to 8 a.m. mass every morning. He pours drinks all night. He is kind to those who line belly-up to the bar, even the old drunk lady who can’t pay her tab. He lets her sit there anyway.

Bob is a case study, too. although it is not clear of what, and half of the fun of The Drop is watching the character emerge, reveal himself. It would be impossible to say too much without giving the game away. There is a “Gotcha” element here, although that’s not the point. It’s not a puzzle to be pieced together and all is then understood. There are things to learn about Bob, and we don’t learn them until the movie is almost completely over. What we learn, though, is not half as illuminating as what we get from his behavior. What a character he has created. He reminds me a lot of Rocky Balboa (and there is even a courtship scene in a pet shop), although Rocky was almost completely benign, and you get the sense that Bob, recessive though he may seem, has a wealth of strength underneath that gentleness, strength that could turn into something dangerous. But for the majority of the film, you just don’t know.

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All you see is a guy of few words who finds a dog in a trash can, and decides to take it home and take care of it. He doesn’t know anything about dogs. He is not sure if he is ready for the responsibility. The dog is a puppy. It will need to be trained. Bob works all night every night. The dog has been brutalized by its former owner, whoever that was. It has a bloody cut on its head. It has been thrown in the trash. That just isn’t right.

Nadia (Noomi Rapace) catches Bob in the act of digging around in her trash can for the dog, and wonders what the hell he is doing and who the hell he is. She is wary and suspicious. Bob seems completely benign, bovine even … but still, a girl can’t be too careful. She doesn’t know anything about the dog. It is not hers. After taking photographs of Bob’s license and texting it to 4 friends (just in case he kills her later), she lets Bob and the dog come into her house so they can clean up the dog’s injuries. She volunteered for a summer in an animal shelter when she was in high school. Bob is quietly amazed by that. And by her.

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Now. There’s a ton of plot in The Drop. There are gangsters and old scores to settle and violence and a couple of missing persons. There is a suspicious detective, snooping around cousin Marv’s bar. There are bossy Chechens, dark alleys, scary confrontations. All of this is filmed with moody sensitivity by Roskam (the cinematographer was Nicolas Karakatsanis, who also shot Roskam’s film Bullhead, incidentally starring Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts, who plays a terrifying character here as Rapace’s scary ex-boyfriend). The streets gleam wetly. They are deserted, ominous. Bodies can disappear easily here. The little strings of Christmas lights people twine around their chain link fences in front of their homes appear to be talismanic symbols to ward off evil.

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But the plot isn’t “the thing” with The Drop. If it were only its plot, it would have been like any other crime thriller. But Tom Hardy, from the moment he starts speaking in that exhausted voiceover that opens the film, creates a compelling and mysterious character. He is quiet. His quiet nature draws you to him. What is he thinking? What do we see in his eyes? What does he want? I wasn’t sure about him. We see everything through his eyes but we are not sure his perspective. That’s very important. It’s why the performance works so well and seems to expand in the mind when the film ends.

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Nadia tells him what to get at the pet store, and what pit bulls like, what to feed it, she suggests he read a certain book about pit bulls. “This book has everything in it,” she says. Bob does what she says. Well, he doesn’t read the book. He’s not really a reading man.

Elia Kazan said that good acting was psychology revealed through behavior, and the scenes between Hardy and Rapace are revelatory in terms of Behavior. A lot of scripts miss this, and think that good acting probably means good actors saying a lot of words explaining the psychology of the character. The script here is pared down to its barest minimum. The people in this world do not divulge, they do not open up, they have not read self-help books, they do not explain themselves. They don’t have the words. But the feelings are strong. Often this type of material can be condescending, and actors sometimes inadvertently take condescending attitudes about such characters. Nobody does that here. Bob and Nadia have somehow found themselves connected, because of the pit bull, and she watches the dog while Bob works at the bar, and they meet up and go for walks with the dog, and it all seems to happen via creep.

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Suddenly … they are friends. Somehow.

She has a scar on her neck. He has noticed it. You get the sense that bovine Bob notices everything. She tells him she got it when she was a junkie. She did it to herself. She was a different person then. She’s clean now. She’s doing better. He takes this all in. He doesn’t judge. She admits to him she had a boyfriend who was a pain in the ass and dangerous and she’s still scared of him. She admits this, almost afraid that Bob will get jealous, or that he won’t like that she was once with someone else, or any other long list of misogynistic reasons that men punish women for having lives before they came around. We’ve all been there. But Bob doesn’t live life like that. It doesn’t seem to occur to him at all to judge Nadia for having a past. He’s glad she’s not with that guy anymore: that guy sounds like a jerk.

These scenes are very romantic, although the two never touch. They don’t kiss. They sit and talk. They stand outside her house after walking the dog, and say goodbye. He walks home alone. She goes into her house. 3/4s of the way through the film, with everything else that was going on, I found myself aching to see them get together. To at least embrace. What would that be like? How would they handle it? How would they be together? How would they get over the shyness and wordlessness to connect on that primal level? And I took note of my reaction, and realized that the film was working on a profound level if I was aching to see two fictional characters kiss. This was not just a matter of chemistry or anything like that. I couldn’t even tell if they had chemistry. Both characters are too buried in their game-faces to have much chemistry at all. But there was something there. Something tender and small, and I wondered what it would be like if it were allowed some room to breathe.

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The “romance” is not even the point of the film, although it became the focal point for me. I could not get enough of their scenes together. I wanted to crawl up into the screen to get a closer look at each glance, each thought, each hesitation. It was so rich. There’s a scene where he invites her in to his place. They sit in his kitchen and have a couple of beers. Bob is not a humorous character, and there are times when I wondered if he had no sense of humor at all. If, somehow, this was a quality he lacked. Nadia is asking him about himself: how do you know Marv, how long you been at the bar, etc. Bob is open with her. He doesn’t play things cool at all. He says, “Marv and my mother … they were sisters.” Nadia starts laughing and he doesn’t know why she is laughing. You can see him wonder if maybe he’s being made fun of. She knows it was just a slip of the tongue, but it’s funny anyway. She says, “You said Marv and your mom were sisters …” Bob gets the joke then. Smiles faintly, but a hundred other things are going on with him at that tiny moment that lasts a millisecond. He is completely out of practice being intimate. Maybe he’s never been intimate. He is also not accustomed to hanging out and laughing about things. It’s a muscle that has not been developed. He likes this woman. He likes her so much. So maybe it’s okay that she’s laughing. But he’s not sure. He laughs, though, because he likes her, and says, gently, “Why you raggin’ on me right now …” He’s almost hurt. She says, “No, I’m not … it was just funny.” And you can almost see him relax. It’s tiny, but it’s there.

I just spent 75 words describing a moment that lasts 2 seconds. But that’s how rich it was. I almost wanted to look away. Oh God, these people are having a courtship, and they’re very shy and I honestly should not be watching. Vulnerability. That’s what was there.

The swoop-y romantic music that filled the screen at its final moment did not ring true. The Drop is not a heartwarming story. It is a brutal story about a brutal world. In The Drop, there are things you must do in order to keep your world safe. Marv wasn’t strong enough for that; he caved at the first sign of pressure. Will Bob? There is evil in this world. You must crush it, because the nature of evil means it will seep in through the floorboards if you are not vigilant about it. You can feel the material’s short story roots (pit bulls: misunderstood/beaten/turned into monsters by dick owners, Bob: maybe a misunderstood pit bull himself, maybe if he saves the pit bull he can save himself, maybe Nadia needs to be saved too, and etc., there’s a lot of that symbolic dovetailing going on), but I didn’t mind it. It didn’t feel shallow or manipulative.

The “drop system” in Brooklyn, the process by which money is laundered, secretly, and on a vast scale throughout the borough, is interesting. Marv is caught in the pincers of a system where he once was King. Bob sees everything, and sees how Marv is not up to the task. Marv, though, has some tricks up his sleeve. Nobody is clean. Nobody is innocent.

We’ve seen it all before.

And we’ve seen courtship between two shy people before, too. Rocky and Adrian again.

But Roskam and Lehane (who also wrote the screenplay) keep it simple. Keep it quiet and steady. The characters remain the focus, as the events pile up. Gandolfini manages to be both despicable and tragic. Hardy manages to be both shy and forbidding. Rapace manages to be sweet as well as hard-shelled, for very good reasons. Openness is not really a possibility here. Yet openness comes anyway.

What happens between Hardy and Rapace happens between the lines, up and around and below the words. It takes them a long time to get to the point. They are pretty much dating long before they kiss. People at the bar tease Bob about “havin’ a girl” and all they are doing is taking walks with the dog. It’s old-fashioned. Put into the context of the surrounding neighborhood, and its violence and long memories, the romance starts to seem even more fragile and precious. Nothing innocent can survive in that world. This is an innocent romance. And it barely exists. It’s not “on the page.” It exists in the pauses, the thoughts in their eyes, the hesitations. Their scenes together are amazing. I didn’t “root for” Bob. I didn’t “root for” Nadia. It’s not really that kind of movie. But I did find myself rooting – HARD – for them together.

The Drop opens end of this week. I highly recommend it.

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30 Responses to The Drop (2014); directed by Michaël R. Roskam

  1. Jessie says:

    I’m resisting reading this whole thing for now because I want to come to it fresh, but I’m glad to see you gave it a good review! Hopefully it will trigger a wave of attractive-tough-people-holding-baby-animals films. I find Tom Hardy so interesting as an actor — partly because of the qualities he has that remind me in some ways of Jensen Ackles (yes that is the direction the recognition runs, Jensen got there first). Is it the size of his lips and the softness of his face? Is it how in many films, even hypermasculine ones like Bronson he has a strange, feminine, passive quality — and yet in others (his gay character who says ‘darling’ and is the only good thing about Inception comes immediately to mind) he is not feminine or open in the least? Is it that leading man/character man thing? And why am I phrasing it like a question?

    • sheila says:

      He was the only good thing in Inception. I hadn’t seen him before when I saw Inception and my first thought was: “Who is that??”

      I’m a huge fan!

      He was born to play tough-guys and boxers, but also born to bring out that soft sensitive thing – which is classic Rocky Balboa stuff. That’s why Rocky lasts in the imagination so long. He was this fighter guy who was a MUSHBALL inside. Tom Hardy has a face like Léa Seydoux’s. Or Angelina Jolie. The mouth is overwhelming. Here, he’s all scruffy – and completely unaware that he is handsome. Bob is not that kind of guy. He’s such a meticulous actor! The way he walks, the posture, the energy … he’s different in every movie!

      But this is an extremely romantic performance and there’s nary a sex scene, nary ANYthing in it … but watch how he listens, how he considers her, how he tries to “lighten up” with her … and how much he likes her. It’s very simple – he just likes her so much.

      And yes: Tough Guys With Baby Animals. Bring it on.

      I won’t say anymore because it really needs to be revealed in the watching of it.

    • sheila says:

      Oh, and I agree about the hyper masculinity mixed with femininity/passivity. He’s extremely comfortable in that realm – it makes him fascinating to watch. He’s not trying too hard with it.

      Warrior was pretty straight-up Butch stuff – and he was great in that. But elsewhere, he prioritizes his mushball-ness. Mixed with the blowup doll lips, and you’ve got yourself a star.

      I like him a lot.

      Also, he’s one of those rare English actors who can actually do a good American accent. (I don’t agree with the common opinion that English actors are better than Americans at accents.)

      But if I didn’t know Tom Hardy was English – and I saw The Drop – I would totally think he hailed from Brooklyn originally.

  2. Helena says:

    Hmm. Tom Hardy plus cute puppy=adorable?

  3. sheila says:

    and RIP Jim Gandolfini. It’s just AWFUL. DAMMIT.

    • sheila says:

      Most of Gandolfini’s scenes are with Hardy – it’s wonderful to watch them together.

      “I hate those Chechnyans.”
      “Chechens.”
      “What?”
      “Chechens.”
      “That’s what I said.”
      “You said Chechnyans. You don’t call people from Ireland Ireland-ians.”
      “Shut the fuck up.”

      and etc.

      It’s not really a funny movie, but it has its moments.

  4. Jessie says:

    lol Helena I don’t know which one I’d rather be!

    Inception, lawd. There is a fundamental disconnect there for me with its devotees, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. But yes Hardy was so WATCHABLE. “Who was that? Who appears to actually be alive?”

    Funny the way you describe his romantic thing in this film, it sounds a bit like his work in Tinker Tailor — although, to reverse it, he was the least interesting thing about TTSS for me (which is not to say he was bad). But it sounds like he has a lot more to do in The Drop.

    Such a shame about Gandolfini! Without having seen much of the Sopranos I remember him most for stuff like In the Loop — the way he moves through and looks at that fancy house and the kid’s room kills me.

    • sheila says:

      I get mean when I start talking about Inception, so I have decided not to talk about it. :) It’s kind of like Forrest Gump – – it’s just one of those movies for me – and people get so HURT if you say you don’t like it (and I don’t just “not like” FG – my feelings go way way deeper than that) … Inception was deep for people who aren’t used to depth. There. See how mean?? I’ll stop now.

      I did write a big piece about Tom Hardy after I saw it – I’ll see if I can track it down. He strolled into that stupid movie and OWNED it. Was humorous and light – I actually believed he hung out in that bar in Tangier or wherever it was.

      He’s so versatile. Since then, he’s done a lot of grim wordless pained guys – brawny guys – Warriors – so different from that flashy plaid-pants guy in Inception – which makes me think he can do pretty much anything.

      I haven’t seen him in much romantic material. The Drop isn’t strictly romantic but this relationship between these two characters – and how they warily circle each other – as they walk the dog – trying to open up, or be soft, or whatever … It was compulsively watchable!!

      I don’t know In the Loop!

      have you seen Enough Said, another one of Gandolfini’s posthumous roles? It makes me even sadder because he was moving into some VERY interesting areas. Gandolfini as a romantic lead? Yes!! And it was perfect. He has a line in that: “You broke my heart.” That’s it. That’s what he says. and I have goosebumps all over thinking about how simply he said it, how true.

  5. Helena says:

    //Inception, lawd. There is a fundamental disconnect there for me with its devotees, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. But yes Hardy was so WATCHABLE. “Who was that? Who appears to actually be alive?”//

    I also had a heated discussion with a devotee after watching Inception. I don’t want to go in the ways that film annoyed the pants off me, it would take too long and this isn’t the place. But I get so annoyed when directors jam on unearned emotional beats like they are Lego. Which that film did all the time.. Luckily, there’s also Tom Hardy, who stole the show from under everyone else’s nose.

    • sheila says:

      He really did steal the whole thing. He was alive. And funny, too. Everyone else had zero sense of humor – which is ridiculous: you cast Leo, Joseph G-L, and Ellen Page – all of whom are very funny in real-life and in other roles – and you … deny them any sense of humor? None whatsoever?

      It’s weird watching a movie with NO humor.

      The whole thing was idiotic. I’m getting annoyed all over again. hahaha

  6. sheila says:

    Here’s the piece I wrote about Hardy after seeing Inception. It was the first thing I saw him in.

    http://www.sheilaomalley.com/?p=25089

    So many issues with Inception. All of those dreams – and no sexuality? None whatsoever? No sex in Nolan’s dreams? No humor? What kind of dreamworld do YOU have Nolan?

    I found the whole thing a humorless bore and not deep at ALL. Clever …. maybe. But not even really that clever.

    Inception brings out the snob in me so I really will try to stop now.

  7. Jessie says:

    I and a bunch of friends watched Inception on its opening night — theatre was packed — and two seconds after the credits started to roll, when the “mystery” of that final shot was still percolating around the audience like a silent fart my friend Ben said very loudly, “That was shit” which is why I love him.

    Sheila In The Loop is a must! I haven’t seen Enough Said but I love JLD so much and I am v intrigued by the romance!

  8. sheila says:

    Ooh, In the Loop is streaming on Netflix right now!!

  9. sheila says:

    Also, side note, in re The Drop: I love that they cast Rapace as the lead female. She’s like a little alert bird, with a sharp nose, and sharp cheekbones – and she’s pretty – but not overwhelmingly so. It’s no Jessica Alba (no disrespect, I love her) being a damsel in distress. Rapace looks regular, like a regular person.

    And the way he looks at her, and considers her, makes us see what he sees. She is the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen.

    Very good casting.

  10. Jessie says:

    Yes, Rapace has a great face! Like Sally Hawkins pushed too far.

    I love that you and your friend found Hardy so electric so immediately! Me too. In that grey snoozefest even his COSTUMING had colour nothing else did!

    • sheila says:

      I mean, he was like Willy Wonka stranded in Algiers (wherever). Head to toe plaid? Bouncing around, holding court. Total star quality, you just know it when you see it, right??

      // Like Sally Hawkins pushed too far. //

      hahaha Jessie, you have a way with words. That’s it exactly.

  11. Helena says:

    //I mean, he was like Willy Wonka stranded in Algiers (wherever)/

    I thought of Freddy Mercury let loose in a firm of accountants. Or a panther let loose among guinea pigs.

    Actually I went to see Inception in an IMAX cinema with my teenage niece, who loved it. I loved going to the cinema with her, so I didn’t criticise the film and we went home happy. But pretty much straight afterwards I got into a ding dong discussion with my flatmate’s boyfriend about it. I didn’t happen to agree with his argument that complication=complexity, and ‘But was it all a dream?’ makes for a good film, or is a conclusion that would de facto make me want to revisit what happened before. Not if I just don’t care in the first place.

    What’s that quote from in ‘In a lonely place’ where early on a woman is describing the book she’s reading to Bogart? She says something like ‘It’s an epic, it’s really long and lots of things happen.’ Inception, you’re busted.

    I think our argument strayed on to ‘Rashomon’ which usually gets discussed in terms of its structure, but it’s all about roiling sex and emotion – something which, together with the demands of its performance, can get weirdly overlooked. (And I love Mifune in it, the calibrations of humour, the level of physical comedy of his performance is brilliant. But he’s another actor who apparently just ‘played himself.’) If Inception had had the same level of emotion and humour I would have been at the edge of my seat rather than thinking, ‘Di Caprio, would you stop doing that weird constipated thing with your face?’

    DAMMIT, here I am talking about Inception again! Aargh!!

    • sheila says:

      // ‘It’s an epic, it’s really long and lots of things happen.’ //

      hahaha Oh, I love that character so much! I am so sorry what happened to her – she was wonderful.

      Nolan has been instrumental in making “look at how all the puzzle pieces fit together” seem like “depth” to a large group of people – there’s been this big brouhaha recently about the ending of The Sopranos – so many years later!!- Matt Seitz wrote a great piece in NY Mag about it. basically: we actually CAN’T know what happened to Tony Soprano. There IS no right answer. It doesn’t matter what the creator says. What he created was an ending where the series went to black abruptly. Everything else is just speculation. There are those who HATE ambiguity – we’ve seen some of that in the SPN conversations – people who get “confused” when things aren’t laid out in a perfect line – and so people “build a case” that Tony HAD to die because of this, this and this detail. And they go nuts if you say, “But … that’s just your opinion.”

      The fact that there might not BE an actual answer (in re: Sopranos) has driven some fans to distraction. I don’t blame Nolan only – I blame a multitude of factors, mainly having to do with education and a watered-down literature curriculum and how people are now completely baffled by anything involving “inference.” (See what I mean? It brings out my Inner Snob.) They want it all laid out AND they want it to be like a puzzle so they can “complete” the puzzle and feel totally smart.

      The Sopranos was never ever a show about easy answers, or “ooh, look how all the puzzle pieces fit together”. From the existential psychological pilot, it was clear what the show was interested in – and still, so many of its fans did not pick up on that visual/thematic information and treated it as THOUGH it were Nolan type material. It was very strange. A failure in analysis. (I loved the ending, by the way – of course it would end with a sudden whoosh of black. I love the ambiguity and I love that we just can’t ever know. The one thing we DO know is that we all die in the end. Aaaand scene.)

      I love the one moment in Inception when Ellen Page says, “Wait a sec – whose subconscious are we going into now?”

      Even the characters didn’t know what the hell is going on.

      It was complexity without depth. Ugh.

    • sheila says:

      // Freddy Mercury let loose in a firm of accountants. //

      Ha! That is much better.

      And gosh, imagine Tom Hardy in a Freddie Mercury biopic? Uhm. That needs to happen.

      A biopic is supposedly already happening, but the project feels a bit doomed at this point:

      http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/freddie-mercury-biopic-director-drops-out-of-film-20140315

  12. Helena says:

    //but the project feels a bit doomed at this point.//

    I think Wishaw would be really interesting. I’d like to see that. And Dexter Fletcher is kind of turning into Ken Russell.

    Hardy has already played a version of Mercury, except it was called Bronson ;-).

  13. sheila says:

    I know – but it started with such a fanfare with Sacha Baron Cohen and then “creative differences” and then major personnel changes – it’s starting to have that weird “odor” around it of something nobody really believes in. Just a sense.

    • sheila says:

      Helena – love the images you linked to. Hahaha.

      Anyone nowadays who is possibly turning into Ken Russell has my vote. And we shall see, in re: Freddie! He’s one of my favorite artists ever, so I have a mixture of hope and pre-despair about any biopic – same as when I heard about Baz Luhrmann’s possible Elvis biopic. But if anyone could do him justice – who seems to be interested in the right things (fame, celebrity, what that feels like, what that means) – it’s Luhrmann. My fear has always been that they’d turn it into some addiction narrative and blah de blah – miss the REASON why anyone gives a shit about Elvis in the first place.

      I haven’t seen Get On Up yet (and I LOVE Chad Bosewick – he was amazing as jackie Robinson) and apparently he is very very good – my pal Odie reviewed it over at Ebert and he was not happy with it because it didn’t address the artistry of james Brown and why he was (is) such a huge mo-f**in deal. It focused on his poor treatment of women and the drugs. Yawn. You know?

      Anyway: Ken Russell would have been perfect to handle Mercury’s decadent/expressive artistry – its sheer power – so I won’t give up hope yet!!

  14. sheila says:

    And speaking of the awesome Bronson, it too is streaming on Netflix right now.

  15. Helena says:

    //Anyone nowadays who is possibly turning into Ken Russell has my vote. //

    Wouldn’t he have done an excellent job with Mercury.

    I was thinking about the physical resemblance, but yeah, Ken Russell was the master of the biopic, as well as the literary adaptation. Funny, I think of biopics as a bit of a secondary genre, kind of bread and butter stuff, always at risk of being too bland or a hagiography (or worse, like The Identical!), but Russell made his biopics full-throttle wonky psycho-masterpieces. And Lawrence of Arabia is a biopic too. And so is Bronson, so I am clearly wrong wrong wrong about biopics.

    I need to watch some Ken Russell films.

  16. Heather says:

    //I thought of Freddy Mercury let loose in a firm of accountants.//
    That is perfect. I am going to keep that for further use later.

    I often find with Nolan films that all the actors seem somehow tamped down. Like glass has been placed on everyone so they are beautiful as a picture, but flat. Except for some performers that have an internal combustion that absolutely cannot be dampened: Tom Hardy, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger. Freddy Mercury types.

  17. mutecypher says:

    Helena –

    Toshiro Mifune, you say?

    And what’s cooler than Freddie Mercury? This.

    And we live on a planet of wonder when there’s a third person who rivals their coolness.

    Apropos of nothing except that it’s in the same pinterest folder as the others, the single best photograph ever taken.

    Plus, Ken Russell. God bless, pal. I hope flights of Bouguereau’s angels sang and caressed him into heaven.

    Sounds like I should put The Drop into the Netflix queue.

    • sheila says:

      Oh my God – that Freddie Mercury pic!!!! I love him and I’ve never seen that!!

      Oh and The Drop is in theaters now. It opened yesterday – so check your local listings!

  18. Chrissie says:

    I was looking for reviews on The Drop, and came upon this page. Can I just say that everything you said about Bob and Nadia were exactly my thoughts/feelings; only I could not have put them into words as you so eloquently have. So thanks for that! ;) It’s just so nice to see someone else be as moved by their scenes together like I was.

    I really enjoyed this movie, needless to say. And I’m a huge fan of literally everyone in the main cast, and of the director. So I really had high hopes and expectations for this one. I am so relieved it turned out great, and that Tom and Noomi’s real-life chemistry translated well on screen.

    • sheila says:

      Chrissie – Thanks!!

      I truly enjoyed it as well. Those romance scenes (with nary a kiss – amazing!!) were just wonderful. All that silence and awkwardness, but so full with emotions.

      I look forward to seeing it again when it comes out on DVD.

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