James Gandolfini's friends, family members and former co-stars turned out to remember the actor at a ceremony in his hometown on Sunday (01Dec13) to rename a street in his honour. The Sopranos star, who died in June (13) at the age of 51, was honoured by officials and residents of Park Ridge, New Jersey who dedicated a section of road to the actor in the area where he grew up.
The actor's wife, Deborah Lin, and his 14-year-old son, Michael Gandolfini, were on hand for the ceremony, along with The Sopranos castmembers including Steve Schirripa, Vincent Curatola, Tony Sirico, Dominic Chianese, Vincent Pastore and John Ventimiglia.
Michael Gandolfini addressed the crowd and told them he will never forget spending time with his father in the town, saying, "He just told me every story about every place here... (he) definitely made a point of coming here... (and) would be more honoured than anything to be known as a true Jersey guy."
Chianese was also among those who spoke at the ceremony, while the local council declared Sunday to be James Gandolfini Day, according to Northjersey.com.
The Sopranos creator David Chase paid a heartwarming tribute to late star James Gandolfini by writing his eulogy in the form of a letter to the tragic actor at his funeral in New York on Thursday (27Jun13). The executive producer remembered his friend as a man who never lost touch with his inner child as he addressed mourners at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, but admitted it was the sadness behind his eyes which helped him to bring his most famous character, mob boss Tony Soprano, to life on the small screen.
He said, "You were a good boy... A sad boy, amazed and confused. You could see it in your eyes. That's why I think you were such a great actor, because of that boy inside.
"I think your talent is that you can take the immensity of humankind and the universe and shine it right back at us."
Gandolfini's widow, Deborah Lin, the mother of his nine-month-old daughter Lily, also spoke at the service, telling the congregation, "My husband was an honest, kind and loving man. He cared more about others than himself... Thank you for the memories of the beautiful life we spent together. I love you Jim, and I always will. Rest in peace."
A host of stars from the actor's TV family turned out for the memorial, such as his onscreen wife Edie Falco and daughter Jamie-Lynn Sigler, as well as Steve Buscemi, Steve Schirripa, Lorraine Bracco, Vincent Curatola, Joe Pantoliano, Tony Sirico, Dominic Chianese, Aida Turturro, Michael Imperioli and Vincent Pastore, while other guests included Alec Baldwin and his heavily pregnant wife Hilaria, and Chris Christie, governor of Gandolfini's native New Jersey.
Gandolfini's sisters, Leta and Johanna, his son Michael, 13, and his ex-wife Marcy Wudarski were also in attendance for the 90-minute ceremony, which was led by Reverend James A. Kowalski.
Speaking before the funeral, Sirico expressed his sympathies for Gandolfini's baby girl having to grow up without her father, saying, "He's a great actor and he was a great guy... He's got a new baby. She'll grow up and have to be told who he was by her mum. It's sad."
And actor David Rasche, who appeared alongside Gandolfini in 2009 film In the Loop, added: "He was such a terrific guy and a terrific actor... He was a huge presence, huge... He was kind and loving and generous, but he was a really big presence; he really filled a role."
Gandolfini died of a heart attack in Rome, Italy last Wednesday (19Jun13) at the age of 51.
Sometimes a director has a favorite actor that they jibe with whom they cast in a whole whack of movies in a row. Think Scorsese and DiCaprio Wes Anderson and Bill Murray or Sofia Coppola and Kirsten Dunst. It's a sort of professional infatuation that can serve a project well but it can also lull them into self-indulgence. Although this is only the second time that Killing Them Softly's writer/director Andrew Dominik has worked with Brad Pitt it feels like they have a certain camaraderie. The symbiosis previously worked in their favor in 2007's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. This time around they never quite find the same rhythm.
Of course Killing Them Softly has an entirely difference cadence than that golden-hued meditative Western; it's stylishly violent and blackly hilarious. After all the catalyst for this whole affair is a half-cocked scheme cooked up by a wanna-be gangster nicknamed Squirrel (Vincent Curatola) and carried out by a desperate ex-con (Scoot McNairy) and a scummy Australian junkie (Ben Mendelsohn) who steals and sells purebred dogs for cash. Their plan to knock over a mobbed-up card game is air tight (or so it seems): the game runner Markie (Ray Liotta) has confessed to setting up a heist of his own game in the past. The knuckleheads think the card-players will blame him again.
Unfortunately for them Jackie Cogan (Pitt) is called in to investigate the matter. His record is impeccable his glasses mirror-slick and his hands steady. His technique is of course to kill his victims "softly " from a distance. "It's so embarrassing " he comments to a middleman played by Richard Jenkins to watch his targets plead and cry and lose control of their bodily functions. It's just as embarrassing to see his colleagues lose their mettle like Mickey (James Gandolfini) a gangster he called in to help out. Mickey is a dogged drunk and a womanizer who's given to rapturous platitudes about a prostitute he knew in Florida. "There's no ass in the whole world like a young Jewish girl who's hooking " he tells an increasingly frustrated Jackie. Grossly funny scenes like this the scatological problems one encounters while driving dog-napped pups across country and an explosion gone awry are outweighed by a weirdly bloated narrative that makes pits stops so characters can loll in junkie nods to the tunes of the Velvet Underground.
The changing political climate of the era is used as a clumsy foil for this underground economy. At first it's interesting and makes you feel a bit clever to notice the TV in the background playing an old clip of George W. Bush droning on about the economy or a huge political ad on a billboard looming over a desolate area. As time goes on Bush is replaced by Obama (first as senator later as president) on TV but nothing really changes for these people or their situations. Midway through it's obvious and by the end overbearing especially as Jackie lectures Jenkins's lawyer (and us) about why the system is as screwed as the characters. "America's not a country it's a business. Now f**king pay me " he tells Jenkins's Driver in an echo of the classic Goodfellas line uttered by Liotta.
Dominik has only made three films but he's a formidable writer and director with a keen eye for assembling ensemble casts. It's possible that time and multiple viewings will treat Killing Them Softly as well as it has The Assassination of Jesse James or Chopper but for now it works better as a character study or perhaps a showpiece for its talented performers than an overall experience.
February 14, 2012 10:39am EST
It's been a while since we've seen a true gangster flick. After Denzel's stint as a drug overlord in Ridley Scott's mediocre American Gangster, Hollywood hoodlums seemed to have thrown in the towel. However, in 2012 we'll be treated to two particularly intriguing crime epics. One is Warner Bros. Gangster Squad, directed by Ruben Fleischer and starring Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn and Josh Brolin. The other, almost certainly smaller and grittier picture, is The Weinstein Company's Cogan's Trade, a film directed by The Assassination of Jesse James' Andrew Dominik. It reunites him with his own personal James, Brad Pitt (also a producer on the project) and co-stars veteran big screen criminals Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins and Vincent Curatola.
We haven't seen much from the movie, save for a sole picture of Pitt with shotgun in hand, until today. Now you can view a handful of images from Cogan's Trade below well in advance of its undetermined release at some point this year. I'm particularly digging Pitt's rugged look, which ensures that his character is going to be of the ass-kicking variety. Check them out below and stay tuned for more info on the film as it becomes available.
Source: The Film Stage
February 15, 2011 10:13am EST
UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter also confirms that Goodfellas star Ray Liotta has also signed up for the ensemble picture, making Cogan's Trade a virtual who's who of gangster shit.
EARLIER: Johnny Sack's life didn't turn out too grand by the time The Sopranos ended its legendary run, but for Vincent Curatola, who played the New York crime boss on the multiple-award-winning drama, the fun is just starting. The actor just signed on to co-star in Andrew Dominik's new film Cogan's Trade, opposite Brad Pitt and a great ensemble cast, as a middle-aged man recently released from jail who seeks revenge on those who sent him to prison.
The project, which is based on George V. Higgins' 1974 novel, follows a mob enforcer (Pitt) investigating a heist that went down during a mob-protected poker game in the seedy side of Boston. Javier Bardem, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell, Mark Ruffalo, Richard Jenkins and Bella Heathcoate are all locked into parts, but the most exciting prospect about Curatola's addition is an on-screen reunion with his Sopranos co-star James Gandolfini, who will also occupy a (rather large) space in the film.
Production is set to begin by the end of the month while the film may see an early 2012 release from The Weinstein Company.
The cast of The Sopranos reunited on a quiet street in Brooklyn, New York,
yesterday, to film a wedding scene for the hit show's new season.
James Gandolfini, his screen wife, played by Edie Falco, and their screen
children, played by Jamie Lynn DiScala and Robert Iler, were among the mob
drama's main cast members present at a neighborhood church in Brooklyn Heights
for the wedding of character Johnny 'Sack' Sacramoni's daughter.
But since Sack, played by Vincent Curatola, was arrested in the climactic
episode of last season, there were extras on set dressed as U.S. Marshals,
forcing each character to go through a metal detector and be searched for
weapons as they entered the church.
And the regulations didn't sit well with Gandolfini's character, Tony Soprano,
who suffered a panic attack when he was ordered to go through the metal
detectors several times and remove his shoes.
The next season of the show will debut in the fall.
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Loosely based on the (rather lame) 1960 Rat Pack film dashing understated-but-cool thief Danny Ocean (George Clooney) orchestrates the most sophisticated elaborate casino heist in history less than 24 hours after being released from jail. In one night Danny's handpicked 11-man crew of specialists--including an ace card sharp (Brad Pitt) a young-but-masterful pickpocket (Matt Damon) and a demolition genius (Don Cheadle)--will attempt to steal over $150 million from three Las Vegas casinos owned by Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) the elegant ruthless entrepreneur who just happens to be dating Danny's ex-wife Tess (Julia Roberts). To score the cash Danny will have to risk his life and risk his chance of ever reconciling with Tess. But if all goes according to his intricate nearly impossible plan Danny won't have to choose between his stake in the heist and his high-stakes reunion with Tess. Or will he?
The star wattage in this movie could solve all of California's electricity problems in one fell swoop. George Clooney easily passes himself off as suave mastermind Danny Ocean playing the role with understated class and elegance. Brad Pitt takes a similar arc as Rusty though he's slightly more dispassionate and professional than Clooney's visionary Ocean. Matt Damon is convincing as the inexperienced-but-talented pickpocket who's essential to getting in the vault. And Julia is simply Julia--glamorous and charming a smart cookie who is being wooed by the evil ruthless (and anal-retentive) casino mogul so elegantly portrayed by Andy Garcia. Affecting a Cockney accent and attitude Don Cheadle's portrayal of the demolition expert is a tour de force. Carl Reiner is absolutely hilarious as Saul Bloom an aging old-timer who comes out of retirement to infiltrate the casino as a debonair arms dealer. Elliott Gould Bernie Mac Scott Caan and Casey Affleck round out the cast nicely with inspired performances especially Gould's and Mac's.
Soderbergh cemented his reputation last year as a director of serious weight when both Traffic and Erin Brockovich were nominated for the Best Film Academy Award and garnered him two Best Director nominations---an unprecedented feat. Ocean's Eleven marks Soderbergh's departure from the serious to the seriously fun. This is one of the most stylish most elegantly filmed movies I have ever seen. Not only are all the actors beautiful but so are the locations clothes and shot selections. The speed and pacing of the flick belie the movie's length; Soderbergh clearly had fun making this movie. He shot this film very intimately often allowing the camera to stay close on the actors a tad longer than expected which lets their personas shine through--thus their personalities draw you into the movie as much as the caper itself. It's not often you see a movie where the direction has as much wit and cleverness as the plot itself. Ocean's Eleven makes no pretense to be something other than a jaunty cheeky exhilarating heist movie. So while the plot's not too deep all is forgiven considering the level of acting and direction.