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Posts Tagged ‘Tom Hardy’

Tom Hardy as Reggie and Ronnie Kray

Tom Hardy as Reggie and Ronnie Kray

“LEGEND” My rating: B

132 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Brit thesp Tom Hardy was up for an Oscar this year for his supporting work as a  murderous fur trapper in “The Revenant.”  But the Academy folk overlooked his greatest performance(s) of 2015 when they failed to recognize Hardy’s work in “Legend.”

In this crime drama from writer/director Brian Helgeland (“A Knight’s Tale,” “42,” and the screenplays for “L.A. Confidential” and “Mystic River”) Hardy plays two characters drawn from real life.

In the 1960s identical twins Reggie and Ronnie Kray were the kings of crime in London’s East End. But although they shared identical genes, the siblings could hardly have been more different.

Reggie was a spiffy-dressing, silver-tongued charmer and lady’s man. With his breezy glad-handing style he could have been a politician. And if Reggie  couldn’t get what he wanted with charm, there was always the option of a mind-changing beat-down.

(For all the fear they generated, the Krays weren’t terribly bloodthirsty — at least by American gangster standards. Their stock in trade was intimidation…the mere threat of bodily harm usually was sufficient.)

Ronnie, on the other hand, was a hulking, brooding psychopath who radiated brutal potential. Plus he was openly bisexual at a time when homosexual acts were still illegal (not that any sane individual would exhibit even a trace of homophobia in his presence). One shudders at the physical abuse his sexual partners must have undergone.

 

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Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio

“THE REVENANT” My rating: B

156 minutes | MPAA rating: R

At its most basic level, “The Revenant” is a revenge melodrama with Leonardo DiCaprio playing a man who endures unimaginable hardships to get even.

But the latest from writer/director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (“Birdman,” “Babel”) is much more than that.

This inspired-by-fact epic is one of the most richly sensory films ever made, an evocation of the American wilderness that is both beautiful and terrifying. In this world of heightened awareness every rock and limb seems etched by the hand of a master and the forests are alive with the creaking of timber. (Who knew aspens were so damn noisy?)

The primitive world evoked here is so sumptuous and scary that it threatens to overwhelm “The Revenant’s” dramatic elements.

The screenplay (by Inarritu and Mark L. Smith) is inspired by the true story of Hugh Glass (DiCaprio), a member of a fur trapping expedition who in 1823 was mauled by a bear. Expected to die of his injuries, Glass was left in the care of two companions instructed to give him a decent burial.

Except Glass wouldn’t die. His watchers, terrified of an Indian attack, abandoned him and rejoined their companions. But Glass clawed his way out of a shallow grave and with superhuman determination traveled 200 miles — first on his stomach, then on foot — to exact revenge.

(This story was filmed in 1971 as “Man in the Wilderness” with Richard Harris in the lead.)

On its most successful narrative level “The Revenant” is a survival story. Lacking food and weapons, DiCaprio’s Glass  must scavenge for sustenance, sucking the marrow from the bones of a long-dead elk and scarfing raw fish and buffalo innards. He cauterizes his wounds by sprinkling gunpowder over the savaged flesh and igniting it with a burning stick.

It isn’t so much that Glass wants to live as he is determined to punish Fitzgerald (a grunting Tom Hardy), the venal fellow trapper who left him for dead.

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Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini

Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini

“THE DROP”  My rating: C+  (Opens Sept. 12 at the Glenwood Arts, Eastglen 16 and Cinetopia theaters)   

106 minutes | MPAA rating: R

One of these days Tom Hardy is going to star in a film equal to his talents and then, hoo boy, watch out.

Until then we’re going to have to be satisfied with the Brit actor being the best thing in flawed efforts like “Lawless,” “Locke” and “Warrior” or as a first-rate supporting player in films like “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and “Inception.”

In “The Drop”  the native Londoner plays Bob Saginowsky, a mumbling Brooklyn bartender who is so quiet, gentle and inoffensive that he reminds of the inarticulate Brooklyn butcher at the center of 1955’s “Marty” (for which Ernest Borgnine won the Oscar).

The solitary Bob has a soft spot for aged neighborhood lushes who can’t pay their tabs, much to the chagrin of his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini), who runs the tavern. He goes to mass several times a week (but never takes communion…what’s up with that?)  He lives alone in the house where he grew up…it’s like a time capsule of the 1960s.

And early in the film he adopts an abused pit bull puppy he discovers whimpering in a trash barrel on a frigid New York night.

For such a low-keyed guy, Bob is in a pretty hairy business. Cousin Marv’s Bar (a few years back Marv was forced to sell it to Chechen gangsters), is one of several “drop bars” where the local bookies deposit their daily take according to a top-secret schedule.

If you know when Marv’s is that day’s drop bar, you might be able to get away with a big haul.

The overly complicated screenplay by Dennis (Mystic River) Lehane — based on one of his short stories — balances Bob’s “domestic” life (including a tentative romance with the dog-loving waitress Nadia, played by Noomi Rapace) against the ever-more-dangerous machinations at the bar.

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Gary Oldman as George Smiley

“TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY” My rating: B+ (Opening January 6 at the Glenwood Arts)

127 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Gary Oldman is often described as an actor’s actor…which in his case apparently means an incurable ham.

Oldman’s career is heavily weighted toward over-the-top, push-too-far performances. Sometimes this is forgivable, particularly when he’s in a bad movie and his fierce scenery gnawing is the only remotely entertaining thing in sight.

Too often over the years, though, I’ve found him to be a jarring pothole in a movie’s narrative highway.

Now I can happily report that in “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” Oldman gives a marvelously restrained, subtle and carefully modulated performance.

He plays British spymaster George Smiley, the owlish Cold War protagonis of several John LeCarre novels — a role essayed by Alec Guinness in the 1979  PBS adaptation of “TTSS.” And he is quietly wonderful.

The movie’s not too shabby, either. (more…)

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“WARRIOR” My rating: B (Opening wide on Sept. 11)

139 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

In outline there’s nothing terribly original about “Warrior,” which follows the well-tested dictates of your typical “fight” movie.

You’ve got your training montage. You’ve got your chatty TV sportscasters giving us the blow-by-blow even as we’re watching the bout unfold before our eyes. You’ve got your dramas outside the ring spilling over into the brawl inside the ring.

Happily this melodrama from writer/director Gavin O’Connor tosses in a few welcome changeups. And it’s been so well acted that even the familiar somehow seems fresh.

At heart “Warrior” is the story of a fractured family somehow coming together in the fury of a mixed martial arts tournament.

Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) returns to his blue-collar home town after an absence of nearly 15 years. He’s an angry young man (more…)

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