Tag Archives: James Gandolfini

“Enough Said” a wonderful romantic comedy. A wildly exciting Sunday in the NFL. And Miley, funny on SNL

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I hate that in the midst of so many Hollywood blockbusters bombarding us at the theater, with things blowing up out of the sky and a million chase scenes and $200 million budgets, that a sweet little movie that’s about such real-life characters gets lost in the shuffle.

My wife and I saw “Enough Said” over the weekend, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I wish it were doing better at the box office, but it’s spectacular and I highly suggest seeing it.

If you don’t know the movie’s premise, it’s this: Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, stellar as always) is a divorcee and a masseuse who’s feeling lost because her only child is getting ready to go away to college.

At a cocktail party she meets Albert (James Gandolfini, in one of his last roles before he died), also divorced, kind of a lovable schlub who’s also dealing with his daughter’s impending trip to college.

And for 90 minutes, we get to see these two getting to know each other, fall in love, have a falling out (I won’t spoil it, but I was pretty surprised at the plot twist), and deal with the aftermath.

The movie is funny, sweet, melancholy and perfectly acted, with Toni Collette (who’s good in everything, and in this flick gets to use her natural Australian accent!) and Catherine Keener rounding out a great cast.

This is the rare movie that I wish was longer; the writer, Nicole Holofcener, actually wrote a film’s dialogue that was achingly real.

Gandolfini was such a gifted actor, and it’s a shame we will remember him only as Tony Soprano, scary mobster, and not for roles like this one.

“Enough Said” was wonderful; if you don’t believe me, check out its 95 percent “fresh” rating on rottentomatoes.com.

If it’s playing near you, don’t miss it.

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**Sunday in the NFL was a rare relaxing one for me, as the Jets don’t play until Monday night (my cousin Rob and I were lamenting how much we hate it when the Jets play night games; we get so worked up that it’s hard to sleep and get up for work the next day; doesn’t the NFL care?). It was a great slate of games, though, and I watched at least a part of almost all of ’em.
Some quick thoughts:

— Denver 51, Dallas 48. Nuts. Both defenses ought to be embarrassed, but maybe it was just a day of great offenses. Tony Romo, bless his heart, matched the incomparable Peyton Manning shot for shot, until the final two minutes when Tony Romo did what Tony Romo does, throw a killer interception. Still, what a fun game to watch.

— Indy-Seattle was also terrific; I am beyond jealous that Colts fans have gotten so spoiled with two great QBs the last 15 years; Andrew Luck is sensational.

— Never saw a touchdown like the first one in the Chiefs-Titans game; how the heck could you have seen that one coming?

— Always nice to see Tom Brady get humbled. Never thought the Bengals could hold Gisele’s husband to only six points, but in a driving rainstorm, they did it. Great stuff.
— Finally, the Philadelphia Eagles win their first game, lose the next three, then beat the winless Giants Sunday and at 2-3, are tied for first place. Crazy.

**Finally today, a little Miley Cyrus humor for you, from Miley herself. She hosted “Saturday Night Live” last weekend, and while I only watched a few clips, she did a pretty solid job.

Remember, the kid is 20 years old. She has no idea what she’s doing most of the time, she’s been famous for 15 years, and of course she’s going to make some screw-ups along the way.

This was the opening sketch from the show, with 2045 Miley talking to 2013 Miley about some of her recent choices.

The Emmy Awards: a “meh” telecast with some great surprise winners. And another nutty day in the NFL, as my Jets win an ugly one

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Pretty darn good Sunday, I’d say: The Emmy awards, and a New York Jets win (more on that in a bit).
I always love the Emmys, because there’s so much good TV out there these days, and with Neil Patrick Harris hosting, well, it was sure to be great.
Except…

When the hell did the Emmys become the Tonys? In the vocal tone of Chandler Bing, could there have BEEN more musical numbers in that show? I mean, I know you have Neil Patrick Harris who’s awesome at musical numbers, but good heavens, people, even Harvey Fierstein was probably watching going “OK, that’s enough.”
It’s the Emmys people, we don’t need so much damn music! You’re telling me we needed seven minutes of Elton John instead of a few good Edith Bunker and Tony Soprano clips?
Ugh. I thought it was a so-so telecast and the musical numbers were so unnecessary. Lots of other things I liked and didn’t like, including…

— Loved the surprise winners. Quite a few of them. The awesome Merritt Wever (above) from “Nurse Jackie” was a terrific shocker, as was “The Colbert Report” beating “The Daily Show” twice, and Tony Hale from “Veep” was a well-deserved winner, too (and his bit with Julia Louis-Dreyfus was great when she won, too.) And so happy for Bobby Cannavale, who won for his terrifying season on “Boardwalk Empire.”
But Jeff Daniels winning over Jon Hamm, Bryan Cranston and Damien Lewis was a crime.

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— From the wife, when Melissa Leo walked out: “What the F is she wearing? Gold hot pants?” Followed by “she looks like the ringmaster at the circus.”
— Jon Hamm’s beard scared me.
— I’m a huge fan of the death montages, and I loved that they broke out five notable passings for small tributes. The Rob Reiner/Jean Stapleton and Edie Falco/James Gandolfini ones were particularly beautiful and well-done. Bravo.
— Michael Douglas looked like death warmed over.
— Claire Danes: Terrible dress, beautiful speech.
— Finally, the “How I Met Your Mother” cast skit about Excessive Hosting Disease was spot-on and hilarious. If only that show were still funny.

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**OK, now on to the football. The New York Jets, who I said before the season might win four games this season, have now, improbably, won two of their first three.
Sunday’s game was an affront to football in some ways, as both the Jets and the Bills tried their damnedest to give the other team the game.
But Gang Green, despite committing 20 penalties (20!), got a great game from the defensive front seven, and had a better rookie QB than the Bills did.
Geno Smith threw his usual two interceptions per game (definitely not a good habit), but threw a couple of beautiful deep TD passes, including one to Santonio (Big Mouth) Holmes for the game-winner in the fourth.
It was, typically, a tear-your-hair-out kind of Jets win, but this year especially, I ain’t looking for style points. The Jets got a win against a division rival and stunningly, look like they might be good enough for mediocrity this year, maybe 7-9 or even 8-8.
Dare to dream boys, dare to dream.

Couple other quick-hit NFL thoughts:
— Good for the Cleveland Browns and their fans, who saw their team idiotically trade away their best player this week, then finally go out and get a win Sunday, beating Minnesota in the final minute. Brian Hoyer, your time is now!
— The Giants. Oh my Lord, the Giants. This is Ray Handley-level putridity, Giants fans. Thirty-eight to zip to Carolina? Wow.
— Anyone who had the 49ers 1-2 after three games, raise your hand. Didn’t think so.
— Finally, I love Marv Albert, we all love Marv Albert. But listening to his call on Jets-Bills was like getting a root canal. He was awful, misidentifying players, five seconds behind the action, and just plain bad. Is this what it was like for you older folks watching Willie Mays stumble around the outfield for the Mets?

James Gandolfini, gone too soon. CNN, sinking lower and lower. And Donnie Baseball, back in the Bronx

What an incredible hockey game Wednesday night. 6-5, Blackhawks over Bruins in OT, in a game with more twists and turns than Space Mountain. The last 2 nights of sports is why we watch. So good…

“The Sopranos” was a television show that was like an epic movie in a lot of ways; every week there was so much drama and plot twists and brilliant acting that you were sometimes exhausted on Sunday nights, from all the concentration required and subtext searching.

At the center of it all was a heavyset character actor who was pretty unknown to most of the world before 2000. But James Gandolfini quickly became a huge star, and man, could he act.
Tony Soprano commanded every single scene he was in. You couldn’t take your eyes off him, particularly when he sat smoldering at some perceived (or real) slight.

Gandolfini was good in other roles, too; he was a brilliant villian in a small role in “True Romance,” and I really liked him in an HBO movie a few years ago.

But just like Carroll O’Connor will always be Archie Bunker and Sherman Helmsley will always be George Jefferson, Gandolfini will always be Tony, philandering husband of Carmela, and father to screwed-up kids Meadow and A.J. You rooted for him against your will, because you knew he wasn’t someone worth emulating. But still, you ended up rooting for him/.

The news Wednesday that Gandolfini had died at 51 just seemed so wrong. From all accounts his death came out of nowhere; he wasn’t sick or anything.
Rest in peace, James.

For a terrific piece about Gandolfini, check out TV critic Alan Sepinwall’s wonderful tribute here.

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**I really don’t like making fun of CNN so often, since I used to really love the channel.
But when they do stuff like this (above), how can I NOT make fun of them?
Somewhere, Bernard Shaw is violently shaking in anger.

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**Had a very fun Wednesday afternoon; went to Yankee Stadium with my father-in-law to see, for the first time in 32 years, Yankees-Dodgers in the Bronx.
And oh yeah, my childhood hero was managing the visiting team in the other dugout.
It was beyond strange for me seeing Donald Arthur Mattingly of Evansville, Ind. wearing the iconic blue and white of the Dodgers. I know he’s been manager there for three years and hasn’t played for the Yankees since 1995, but to be in Yankee Stadium and see my idol on the other side… just really surreal.

Happily, everything worked out well. Donnie Baseball got a big ovation from  the crowd when he came out with the lineup card before the game, and the Yanks did the right thing by showing a video tribute to Mattingly’s career during the game.

After both, Mattingly tipped his cap and waved to the fans.
It’s hard for Yankees fans under 25 to appreciate this, but for Bombers fans like me who grew up in the 1980s and early 1990s, Mattingly was all we had. The team was horrendous, and there was little hope for the future.

But we had sweet-swinging No. 23, and he was a reason to watch.
So glad to see him back at the Stadium. I’d rather see him managing the Yankeees, but hey, I’ll take what I can get.

“Carnage” totally worth your time at the movies. Who’s a bigger fraud, the Jets or the Giants? And a 4-year-old’s reaction to “Empire Strikes Back.”

I have a general rule in life that I never see the movie adaptation of a book I’ve read and liked.

Because nine times out of 10 when I’ve done that in the past, the movie has stunk, and I end up getting mad because it’s not as good as the book, and the movie’s terribleness almost ruins the memory of how good the book was. Happened to me with “The Firm,” happened with “Presumed Innocent,” and many others before I passed my self-rule.

But until Friday I don’t think I’d ever seen the movie of a play I’d loved. But then I saw the new flick “Carnage,” starring Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly, and Christoph Waltz. And it was superb. Brilliant. Phenomenal. Almost the equal of the Broadway play it’s based on “God of Carnage,” that I saw a few years ago with James Gandolfini and Jeff Daniels.

The very simple plot is this: Two 11-year-old schoolboys get into a fight on the playground, with one knocking two of the other boy’s teeth out with a stick. The parents of both boys then get together to discuss what should be done about it.
That’s it. That’s the whole movie. Four people in an apartment, talking. But it’s so much more than that. The writing is cracklingly good, with Foster and Waltz both giving amazing performances as well. The emotions that each of the quartet goes through, and as well drawn as each character is, is truly something special to behold.

It’s funny, it’s dark, and it’s pretty entertaining for a movie that’s set all in one place. Reilly has the best one-liners, and Winslet is her usual fabulous self, but all four are terrific. Go see it when it’s playing near you (supposed to get nationwide release in early January).

**Since I moved back to NY I always enjoy listening to WFAN on Mondays to see which team’s fans, the Jets or the Giants, are the most bitter and miserable. It’s rare that they both play equally awful on the same week, but yep, the Jets and Giants tried to outdo each other in the “pathetic” category Sunday.

My Jets were horrendous. Down 21-0 before you could even say “Mark Gastineau,” they self-destructed on defense, offense, everywhere. Santonio Holmes cost ’em at least seven points, then acted like a 4-year-old moron with his idiotic TD celebration when he finally did catch the ball.

Mark Sanchez wasn’t good, the defense was non-existent, and it’s remarkable how many blowout losses my boys have had this year; the coaching preparation has been highly lacking. I don’t think this team deserves to make the playoffs, but I have a funny feeling the green and white will get in, again.

Fortunately for NY football fans, the Jets and Giants play each other this Saturday, so somebody’s fans will have a Merry Christmas.

I sure as hell hope it’s me.

Couple other quick-hit NFL thoughts today:
 0-13 Indy finally wins. 13-0 Green Bay loses to a Kansas City team that stinks. Two more reasons I never gamble on the NFL.
— I gotta start watching Detroit Lions games every week. They always play thrilling, down-to-the wire finishes. Man that Calvin Johnson is phenomenal.
— It’s gotta suck to be a Buffalo Bills fan. Seven straight losses, after a 5-2 start.
— Finally, here’s hoping Tebow-mania dies down a little this week. Funny what happens when he plays a really good team.

**Finally, this is just superb. A father filmed his 4-year-old son watching “The Empire Strikes Back” for the first time, right at the part where Vader gives his “Luke, I am your father” speech. Kid’s face is priceless:

My little blog gets some love. My little brother’s prom. And remembering the first-ever reality TV family

**Housekeeping note: I am very excited to announce that World Wide of Stuff has its first advertiser! The nice people at Comcast Cable have given me a few bucks to put a link to their site on my blogroll. Now I’m not going to start shilling or anything, but if you happen to need a new cable company, there’s the link on the right. Thanks.

I’ve written before about my little brother Matt, who I met eight years ago through the New York Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. He’s a great kid who I love, and he’s now a high school senior so of course last week, he went to his first prom.
That’s him and his girlfriend in the photo above. He said he had a great time, and ate “the best roast beef I ever had,” end quote. I’m really proud of the man he’s become, though it still freaks me out that the little boy I used to know is now 18.

**Finally, long before the Osbournes or MTV’s Real World, there was a true reality-TV family. Back in 1973 PBS aired a documentary called “An American Family,” culled from six months of footage gained from inside the house of the Loud family, of California.
It was the first time anyone had ever done something like this, and of course it had to be awkward and weird for the family.  As the producers hoped, there was lots of action; the Loud’s gay son was entertaining, and the Loud parents got divorced during the filming.
HBO just premiered a movie about the experiment, called “Cinema Verite,” and it was really, really good. Diane Lane, Tim Robbins and James Gandolfini are in it, so you knew it wouldn’t stink.  The kid from “Almost Famous,” Patrick Fugit, was also really good in it.
Obviously HBO dramatized some stuff, and it’s weird seeing Gandolfini with a beard. But it’s really, really good, and I recommend you check it out.
Of course, knowing what we know now, considering how awful most reality TV is, maybe we shouldn’t be celebrating the Louds.
Yep, there’s a straight line from the Louds to Jersey Shore.
God help us all.