THE DROP with Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini
With a gentle lug countenance of Marlon Brando in ON THE WATERFRONT, a voice crossed between Mike Tyson and John Leguizamo, the meticulous patience of Harvey Keitel’s crime cleaner in PULP FICTION, and the cutest pit bull puppy in town, Tom Hardy’s Bob, as well as his cousin Marv – whose character, played by the late James Gandolfini, is actually named Cousin Marv – both run a dive bar that’s a drop for funneling mobster cash.
The partners have obviously been through the mill but now, in a sort of deadpan retirement mode, they're merely used as pawns, especially Bob… Yet he’s got something to live for: After finding the puppy bloodied up in a trashcan, he raises it like a child along with ingénue Nadia (Noomi Rapace).
Promoted as a gangster style thriller, THE DROP is actually a slowburn character-study where Bob is either mildly pestered by a cop after a pivotal robbery, or is verbally bullied by a local thug who claims to have owned the dog, and wants it back... with a price.
Gandolfini’s intentions are a bit muddled further into the slowburn Neo Noir storyline, making Hardy the one to center on. He’s the kind of guy who must be hiding something, or holding back – or holding back something he’s trying to hide. And that’s what makes this cinematic sheep in wolf's clothing, centering on a wolf in sheep's clothing, eventually pay off in silver dollars.
SOMETHING WICKED featuring Brittany Murphy
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES was a Ray Bradbury novel turned into a dark 1980'S Disney movie. Yet the original quote came from Shakespeare. So instead of remaking Bradbury's tale, a semi horror film was derived from Shakespeare's quote – and has little to do with anything except the word WICKED…
We’re not talking witches here, and to disclose exactly who fits that description would be a spoiler in itself. Sadly, this is a weekend with posthumous releases – James Gandolfini in THE DROP playing opposite SOMETHING WICKED, co-starring the late Brittany Murphy, who passed away in 2009... And after a five year limbo, the movie has finally been released...
Although seeming patched together, the mystery and suspense are intriguing once you figure out who everyone's related to... and the bloody body count aspect is prominent following the prologue: A young couple, Christine and Ryan, played by Shantel VanSanten and John Robinson, are talked out of marriage by her rich parents during dinner and right afterwards, a horrible car accident leaves only the youngsters alive.
After suspending disbelief that anyone could survive a head on collision with a fast moving train, the busy storyline takes some getting used to: Christine, stalked by a masked marauder, is overly protected by her creepy cop brother while his wife, Brittany Murphy’s psychologist, Susan, has strong doubts about her sister-in-law while treating a young man who fantasizes about Christine… Confusing enough?!?
For fans of the late starlet, Brittany Murphy has less than a supporting role. It’s terribly sad seeing her so gaunt and ironic as her character abuses prescription meds. The bulk of the film belongs to Shantel VanSanten, who does a semi decent job as a horror film victim but starts improving once things cruise into a murky Film Noir atmosphere – scuffs added to a clean slate. At this point the story, the characters, and the title all become more clear.
By James M. Tate