Tag Archives: james gandolfini

10 Years Since We Said Goodbye To TV’s Ultimate “Family”

June 10th marks the ten year anniversary of the final episode of The Sopranos. The hit show from HBO broke every kind of mold and barrier ever laid out by television shows before it. The pilot was taped exactly 20 years ago despite the fact that the series didn’t air until two years later. The Sopranos changed things for everyone on the show and changed the way everyone watched television shows afterward.

The world that everyone was sucked into on that day in 1999 left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. Mafia and gangster stories have been a hot topic since the invention of moving pictures. In one episode of the show, there is a discussion about the representation of Italian Americans and their relation to organized crime. One of the characters mentions that mafia and gangster pictures are considered American classics with the likes of films like The Godfather leading the way. This is a very true statement and what The Sopranos did was drive home the reality of that world with full force.

The Sopranos could easily make an argument for the most perfectly set up television drama in history. There are a small group of shows as perfectly cast as The Sopranos; I would include shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men where every actor was paired perfectly with their character. With those shows mentioned, it was The Sopranos that blazed a trail for shows to approach the line of what had been considered acceptable for audiences and take a giant leap over that line.

Leading the way was the shows “Boss” Tony Soprano and the engine behind that character was the brilliant James Gandolfini. Gandolfini IS and always will be Tony Soprano and this in no way should take away from his acting abilities or be looked down upon as a typecast. The fact is there is no one else who could portray that character and show his layers better than he did. It is a testament to his acting abilities and is the kind of legacy every actor wishes they could leave.

Every leading man needs his leading lady, and no one represents NY/NJ women from that life better than Edie Falco. The teaming of these two brought dynamic to the show that gave it yet another level to its depth. Their troubles and quarrels were so real that they could leave you chilled, but their deep love through all of it was unmistakable.

One other aspect of the show that leaked its way into everyday society was the aspect of therapy and dealing with depression. Even though the show debuted in 1999, the act of taking anti-depressants was still seen as taboo in many circles then. The show created a type of open dialogue about this topic and showed how someone who is seen as mentally and physically untouchable could even need help. Prozac went from the drug everyone knew but didn’t take to the drug Tony Soprano was on and not that big of a deal. That’s not to say that dealing with depression and its medication wouldn’t have become as acceptable as it is now WITHOUT the show, but it did begin a discussion in a way people were more comfortable with.

So it’s been ten years since the world said goodbye to Tony Soprano and his family and in a few days, it will have been four years since we said goodbye to James Gandolfini and all the moments and memories he gave us in his magnificent and all too short career. In this age of binge watching shows and new shows being dropped in full seasons, maybe next time you aren’t sure what to binge on next you go back and spend time with the family that changed it all.

Trailer Trash: The Drop

The Drop Movie (2)The next few installments of Trailer Trash will be rather bitter- sweet. We will start with James Gandolfini’s final movie, The Drop. It is based on a Dennis Lehane short story entitled, “Animal Rescue”. Lehane also penned the screenplay.
The film stars Tom Hardy caught in the middle of a botched robbery that threatens to tear apart his small, tighknit neighborhood. Cousin Marv is a former tough guy fallen on hard times whose former bar is the scene of the robbery. Longing for a taste of his former life, Marv finds himself embroiled in the mess and aftermath of the robbery.
If the film is anything like the previous Lehane based films, look for a real and gut-wrenching story that will leave you captivated from the very beginning to the very end.

Gandolfini Leaves Behind A Gem In Next To Last Film

enough-said-movie-poster-1The passing of James Gandolfini was one of the biggest tragedies of 2013 in the world of Hollywood. His loss is still affecting people today and the sting is still being felt. The very bleak upside to this, is the fact that he left us 2 final projects.

The first of the final 2, Enough Said, written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, is the great story of two divorced professionals who find each other and yet have a friend in common. Eva and Albert’s newly formed relationship seems to be headed in just the right direction until Eva discovers her newest massage client and friend is Albert’s ex-wife. As she tends to complain and vent about Albert, Eva starts to see him in a different and negative light. This begins to put a strain on Eva and Albert’s relationship.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ performance is particularly honest and real. The movie is one grounded in reality in it’s story and it’s look. Gandolfini looks and acts like your neighbor who is like many divorced men. Eva is very much a single hard working mother. Her job as a traveling massage therapist is not glamorous and at times takes its toll on her. She, while a very pretty woman, is not an unrealistically mid 40’s woman.

While it is a so-called romantic comedy, it is very much made for adults and people who have lived life, had hard times and had awkward times. Gandolfini and Ms. Dreyfus have a great chemistry that really comes through on the screen in deep in their performances. Gandolfini has his trademark eyes and perfect facial expressions to perfection throughout the film. His SAG award nomination may have been partially sentimental is no doubt worthy of the nomination.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Golden Globe nomination is more than worthy. She sheds all previous ideas of what kind of actress she was. She is not Elaine enough-said-movie-poster-10from Seinfeld and certainly is not the inept Vice President in her new show VEEP. She stretches her acting legs and does so with grace and beauty.

It’s a well written film that is made just as well. An outstanding supporting cast and a movie that warms you to the characters and has you loving them from start to finish. It is finally a date movie that treats you like an adult.

One thing is for sure, its a proud piece to have for many to see Gandolfini in one of the last roles he had, doing what he loved. At the end of the film, before the credits, it simply reads, “For Jim” and thats when it hits you that he’s gone and then you are happy that he made such a fine film in the end.

James Gandolfini’s Film Career Remembered

48987-james-gandolfini-637x0-1Wednesday June 19, 2013 the entertainment and acting world lost a true giant when James Gandolfini succumbed to a massive heart attack and fell asleep in death. Gandolfini will forever be remembered as Tony Soprano on one of the greatest television shows of all time and his character may be one of the best as well. Tony was superbly written and thought out. The depth that went into the character could only be written so deep, Gandolfini brought it to a different level all together.

While being remembered as Tony Soprano is a phenomenal legacy to have, it is also a little bit sad that some people will never know what a terrific actor Gandolfini was. Tony Soprano is a key example of how great he really was but only looking at his other work shows how good he really was as Tony. I’ve decided to take a look at some of my favorite Gandolfini roles and some of his most diverse.

5. The Mexican (Winston Baldry)th-4

Winston is a hitman, true, and that is close to the Soprano character but Winston has a twist, he’s gay. He not only is gay, he has a conscience and doubts his way of life. He brought a humanity to the character that was desperately needed. It was the character that stood out and made the movie better than it was.

welcome_to_the_rileys01 4. Welcome To The Riley’s (Doug Riley)

Doug Riley is stuck in a 30 year marriage with a wife who has never gotten over the loss of their 15 year old daughter and while Doug has become numb to his life as well he begins to show signs of breaking out. On a business trip to New Orleans he unexpectedly get’s hooked up with a 16 year old prostitute and begins to help change her life. This character is so complex on the inside while being bland on the outside and near emotionless. He does a beautiful job letting his inner self come through a little bit at a time.

3. Zero Dark Thirty (C.I.A. Director)james-gandolfini-zero-dark-thirty

There isn’t much more opposite of the head of a mafia crime family than the head of the C.I.A. Therefore when he played the Director in the award winning film about the 10 year hunt for Osama Bin Laden his brief time on film had to make an impact. The few words he spoke resinated and gave credibility to different characters and where they stood and what empowered them. Usually when a bigger name actor is cast in a smaller role it is because the expertise is needed despite the size of the role. His expertise was just what that character and film needed and got.

allthekingsmen3 2. All The Kings Men (Tiny Duffy)

When I said that being C.I.A. Director was as opposite as you could get I meant it but playing a crooked southern politician in 1950’s Louisiana is just about as opposite as well. Tiny Duffy is a crooked man working with major politicians to help swing an election but when it doesn’t go their way he is forced to join the man trying to bring them down and he has all but become his lap dog. With a pretty decent southern accent he had the ability to play the character with the confidence of Tony Soprano until it was needed for him to be brought down to the low level and he filled those shoes just as well.

1. Cinema Verite (Craig Gilbert)cinema-verite-poster

Gandolfini returned to HBO for this film which did well at the Golden Globes and various festivals. Craig Gilbert was a true life person who was a television producer who is credited with creating what is now known as reality TV. He had the idea to follow a seemingly normal family and when the cameras come the normal goes away. He struggles with the morality of what he is doing and trying to keep his feelings for the wife and mother of the family, in check.

Gandolfini will be greatly missed and it is safe to assume now that a Sopranos movie is not going to happen. So as we reflect on his career and the things he did, remember these words from The Sopranos theme song: “ She said, you’re one in a million. You got to learn to shine.” Shine he did.