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Posts Tagged ‘Ray Romano’

Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney

“BAD EDUCATON” My rating: B 

108 minutes | TV-MA

In the world of public education Frank Tassone (Hugh Jackman) is a rock star.

The superintendent of the Roslyn School District in a posh corner of Long Island, Frank has over a decade ratcheted up his district’s reputation. Currently the high school he oversees is rated as the fourth best in the country; Frank promises his cheering fans that he won’t stop until Roslyn is Number One.

Moreover, Frank melds educational excellence with personal charisma. His wardrobe is right out of GQ. As are his daily ablutions. Like a veteran pol, he knows the names of innumerable students, their parents and civic supporters. He’s charming and selfless and handsome…small wonder this widower periodically must gently turn aside the romantic ministrations of newly divorced soccer moms.

His teachers and staff adore him and the city fathers are no less enthusiastic.  Like school board member Big Bob Spicer (Ray Romano), a real estate broker who knows that a top school district is a magnet for rich, upwardly mobile families looking to buy in the ‘burbs.

And behind closed doors with his confidants — especially business administrator Pamela Gluckin (Allison Janney) — he enjoys a good cussing session.

In short, Frank Tassone is too good to be true.  And you know where that can lead.

Scripted by Mike Makowsky (who was a Roslyn student during Tassone’s celebrated tenure) and directed by Cory Finley, “Bad Education” emerges as a black comedy so seductive that, like most of the folks in his orbit, we don’t want to believe that Frank Tassone could be anything but the white knight he appears to be.

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Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa; Robert DeNiro as Frank Sheeran

“THE IRISHMAN” My rating: B 

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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