Movie related stuff.

James Gandolfini

The first time I saw James Gandolfini on the big screen was in the classic 1993 movie ‘True Romance’ where it has been said he defined the metamorphosis of cold blooded killer. It was easy to see that this guy had something special, especially considering this film was littered with unforgettable performances from Christopher Walken, Dennis Hopper and Gary Oldman that is rich with trademark dialogue written by Quentin Tarantino.

Gandolfini portrayed the mob hitman Virgil, and later claimed on “Inside the Actor’s Studio” that he based his portrayal of Virgil on an old friend who worked as a mob hitman, which makes the performance all the more chilling.


Before the days of Netflix and binge viewing of your TV series,  TV shows were seen as an inferior medium of entertainment compared to movies but something was about to change all that when The Sopranos hit our screens with 86 episodes from 1999 to 2007.

Suddenly the bar was raised and this ground-breaking show paved the way for the high quality TV shows that followed, which we take for granted today. DVD Box sets quickly became the norm as viewers turned away from traditional forms of TV viewing and enjoyed The Sopranos like one long movie.

With an incredible high calibre of  writing, acting, directing and a killer soundtrack to boot, HBO had produced TV that was better than most movies, quality entertainment had arrived and the way we watched TV was about to change.

The secret to the show’s success was the outstanding bear like Tony Soprano played by Gandolfini who adopted a series of method acting techniques and always remained in character. “The heavy bathrobe that became Tony’s signature, transforming him into a kind of domestic bear, was murder under the lights in midsummer, but Gandolfini insisted on wearing it between takes.

A modest Gandolfini said “The character is a good fit, Obviously, I’m not a mobster. But in most of the ways that count, I have to say, yeah — the guy is me.”



More recently he had been seen in Zero Dark Thirty,” Kathryn Bigelow’s dramatization of the hunt for Osama bin Laden; and a hit man in the 2012 crime thriller “Killing Them Softly.” but one thing is for sure we have lost one of the greatest character actors of our time  but his performances will last forever.

Maybe the time is right to revisit The Sopranos but I have a sad feeling that the series will now offer a whole new perspective on both Tony Soprano and James Gandolfini.


Al Pacino: Full Roar

In an interview with Forbes, actor Robin Williams talked about working with Al Pacino in 2002’s Insomnia, and said “[His] character was crazy. Before every take, he would roar like a lion.”

Roar like a lion. “Roaring,” of course, might be a bit of an extreme characterization — but Pacino certainly isn’t known for his whispering roles.

Chicago-based filmmaker Nelson Carvajal threw together a memorable compilation that is appropriately called “Pacino: Full Roar”  that contained  some of the actor’s most memorable movie meltdowns.


The Indianapolis Speech By Robert Shaw In Jaws (1975)

Robert Shaw is probably the main reason for Jaws being one of my favourite films of all time, mainly of course for a scene that is three and half minutes of near-perfection. Shaw steals the scene effortlessly, aided by a few whiskeys of course, but here in 2013 most films have ten minutes without any dialogue at all, so the famous Indianapolis scene of rich dialogue without a cut is quite special and yet tragic to think that Robert Shaw died of a heart attack only 3 years after this magnificent performance as Quint.

There has been so much mythology surrounding this scene; about authorship, what was improvised, what was scripted but an interview with Spielberg on Ain’t It Cool News is quite enlightening.

Steven Spielberg advised that Howard Sackler, who was an uncredited writer, didn’t want a credit and didn’t arbitrate for one, but he’s the guy that broke the back of the script before we ever got to Martha’s Vineyard to shoot the movie.

Howard one day said, “Quint needs some motivation to show all of us what made him the way he is and I think it’s this Indianapolis incident.” I said, “Howard, what’s that?” And he explained the whole incident of the Indianapolis and the Atomic Bomb being delivered and on its way back it was sunk by a submarine and sharks surrounded the helpless sailors who had been cast adrift and it was just a horrendous piece of World War II history. Howard didn’t write a long speech, he probably wrote about three-quarters of a page.

But then, when I showed the script to my friend John Milius, John said “Can I take a crack at this speech?” and John wrote a 10 page monologue, that was absolutely brilliant, but out-sized for the Jaws I was making! (laughs) But it was brilliant and then Robert Shaw took the speech and Robert did the cut down. Robert himself was a fine writer, who had written the play The Man in the Glass Booth. Robert took a crack at the speech and he brought it down to five pages. So, that was sort of the evolution just of that speech.


BAFTAS, Brits, Grammys, Oscars – All Award Ceremonies Are Stupid

Here we are in awards season, where there seems to be an award for anything and everything, as we watch an endless red carpet of desperate people wanting to be loved, accepted and respected in their chosen field. We all know that the real reason why there are so many of these award shows on our TV’s, is to simply boost the sales of entertainment media in a one big import/export global operation.

In a world where our lives are dominated by screens that will beam the latest must see acts everywhere you look, its quite interesting to see how we are all conditioned to buy what we are told and a quick look at post award sales shows that it works a treat.

However Jerry Seinfeld has a much better way of explaining exactly why all award ceremonies are stupid.

At least with the Oscars we have a respectable selection of the best critically acclaimed movies, but I struggle to understand the meaning behind our very own Brit Music Awards which just seems to be a celebration of everything that is bland to boost worldwide sales of music. Maybe I’m taking it all a little too seriously because we all know that all awards are stupid.

Top 50 Tarantino Characters Video “The Whole Bloody Affair”

This video was created by Jonathan Keogh, and who published this video on You Tube where he stated, “This was originally going to be two separate videos (yes…Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), but whenever I watch Kill Bill Vol. 1, no matter what the day has planned, Kill Bill Vol. 2 comes right after. So here I present “The Whole Bloody Affair”. I wanted the first volume to have the hyper-kinetic dominance that Bill Vol. 1 had, and I wanted the second part to be much more of a meditation on the characters, like Bill Vol. 2. The list (created by also contains characters from films that were only penned by QT. The first tune is from theo “DJANGO UNCHAINED” soundtrack. The second track was produced by Tarantino enthusiast, Flying Lotus, who gave me a few tracks to play with, but nailed it with this one”

Probably most touching is that this video was dedicated to Sally Menke who edited every film directed by Quentin Tarantino, from Reservoir Dogs (1992) to Inglourious Basterds (2009).

Fims I enjoyed most in 2010…

New Years eve already? If the TV schedules are anything to go by, it must be that special time that you reflect on your favourite things of 2010. My gaming joys and disappointments have been covered over at This Is My Joystick so we will start with the films that I enjoyed most from the last 12 months.

I’m hoping to be catching up with Winters Bone, Rabbit Hole, The Town, Black Swan, Exit Through the Gift shop and the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo over the next few weeks but as I have been a little lazy they won’t make my 2010 list I’m afraid, although I suspect a few of them should actually be on there. (more…)