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Posts Tagged ‘Ray Romano’

Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa; Robert DeNiro as Frank Sheeran

“THE IRISHMAN” My rating: B (Now at the Alamo Drafthouse, Screenland Armour and Standees)

209 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Martin Scorsese’s much-anticipated “The Irishman” is a good movie.

Not a great one.

It’s been described as the filmmaker’s ultimate gangster epic, yet it feels less like a conventional celebration of tough-guy ethos than a slow (3 1/2 hour’s worth), mournful meditation on sins unacknowledged and unforgiven.

In fact, Scorsese seems to have gone out of his way to avoid the sort of eye-catching set pieces (like the long nightclub tracking shot from “GoodFellas”) that marked many of his earlier efforts. “The Irishman” is almost ploddingly straightforward.

Steve Zaillian’s screenplay follows the title character, real-life contract killer Frank Sheehan (Robert DeNiro), from his early days as a truck driver with a taste for theft  to his residency in an old folk’s home.

(Now seems a good time to comment on the much-ballyhooed CG “youthening” of the actors…it’s so good you don’t even think about it. No waxy skin tones or blurry edges — damn near flawless.)

The bulk of the movie, set in the ’50s and ’60s, chronicles Frank’s association with the Teamsters  and his friendship with union president Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), who in a phone call introduces himself to Frank with the statement: “I heard you paint houses.”  That’s code for acting as a hired assassin, a role Frank will perform for Hoffa and others for a quarter century.

The film centers on a long 1975 car trip in which Sheehan and his mentor, crime family boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci), and their wives drive from Philadelphia to Detroit, ostensibly to attend the wedding of a colleague’s daughter.  At various stages in the journey Frank’s memory is jogged to recall past exploits. He doesn’t realize until late in the trip that Russell has another agenda — the assassination of Jimmy Hoffa who, after serving a four-year sentence in federal prison, is now upsetting the apple cart by attempting to reclaim the presidency of the Teamsters Union.

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“EXPORTING RAYMOND” (Available Aug. 2 )

When “Everybody Loves Raymond” ended its run after nine years and 210 episodes, creator Phil Rosenthal began thinking about whether his TV show about a bickering but basically loving middle-class family might translate to other cultures.

After all, “The Nanny” became a hit in Europe with casts of various nationalities. Why not “Raymond”?

With that in mind Rosenthal agreed to help a Russian TV network develop its own version of “Raymond.” Rosenthal brought along a video crew to document the progress, and the result is “Exporting Raymond,” a fish-out-of-water real-life comedy in which the Hollywood mover and shaker gets a sobering lesson in how the rest of the world operates.

"Everybody Loves Kostya"...the Russian "Raymond"

OK, I don’t want to make Rosenthal seem like some sort of boorish Tinsel Town heavy hitter. (more…)

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"Men of a Certain Age": R.I.P.

The TV networks spend millions each year on market testing to determine which shows are likely to survive and which to flounder.

I could save them a whole lot of money.

If the Missus and I get hooked on a series, then it’s doomed. Pretty simple.

The latest casualty of the Butler Curse is “Men of a Certain Age,” the superb series about three boyhood friends (Ray Romano, Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher) uncomfortably working their way toward 50.

The show was everything you could want– terrifically acted, screamingly funny, unexpectedly touching and always realistic.

Of course it didn’t have a chance. (more…)

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