Thursday, June 30, 2011

Movie News

No, You're Gonna Tell Me Something Today, Tough Guy. 

      It's no secret. I'm a gluttonous sucker for gangsters. "Hans, *booby,* I'm your white knight." Kobayashi scoffs down Nathan's hot dogs. I scoff down bouts between criminal hotshots. It may be a subconscious byproduct of my Sicilian roots (the birthplace of "the Five Families"). Or, it may reflect my cinematic upbringing, by which, I mean, an adolescence regularly accompanied with countless trips to the theatre (the elitist spelling, I know), where my prepubescent eyes dovetailed into the real sensible kids stuff; you know, The Untouchables, Goodfellas, True Romance, Reservoir Dogs, Carlito's Way, Casino, Pulp Fiction, Heat, Donnie Brasco, Snatch. Perhaps, this tumultuous mobster childhood (criminality is in the eye of the beholder) explains my most recent dissertation: the one where I shamelessly professed my love for all that is De Niro and Pacino. Man, I love them gangsters. All the chummy talk aside, I just got word through the Internets that an awesomely titled project, Gangster Squad, just received an HGH injection: a dosage of Breaking Bad. 
       Variety is reporting that Bryan Cranston is in negotiations to join the formidable cast of Gangster Squad. Why formidable? Do names like Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Michael Pena, and Anthony Mackie (an actor I'd love to see break through to the mainstream) strike you as "inspiring awe?" Cranston has been tapped for the role of Max Kennard, "a laconic LAPD officer from Texas who enforces the law ambitiously." Let's not forget that Mr. Zombieland, Ruben Fleischer (also, director of the upcoming 30 minutes or less) is directing the project. Yeah, I'm so pumped, pre-adulterous Arnold Schwarzenegger images are flooding my cerebellum: "The greatest feeling you can get in a gym, or the most satisfying feeling you can get in the gym is... The Pump."
      With summer comes heat. No actor is heating up more than Bryan Cranston. From the days of playing an "anti-dentite" on Seinfeld to the obnoxious Tim Sacksky in The King of Queens, the lovable actor from Malcolm in the Middle has been imbued with a Midas Touch of late. Of course, you can catch him as the methamphetamine-selling high school chemistry teacher in the fourth season of Breaking Bad (premieres July 17), but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Cranston has been cast in Ben Affleck's film Argo (which sounds very promising), he has a part in Larry Crowne (just opened to awful reviews, sorry Tom), he played a role in Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive (a darling of this year's Cannes Film Festival) and in Steven Soderbergh's Contagion, and he has parts in Total Recall and Rock of Ages. Man, I feel like I just described an entire actor's filmography, not their past few months of work. The lesson I just learned: just put Bryan Cranston in everything that is ever made. I'll call the recent phenomenon: "pullin' a Cranston." Anytime you're toiling over a momentous decision, just imagine what Bryan Cranston would do. Because a). He would be cast as the guy that gets to relive your experience, b). He'll win an Emmy for it (he's won it the last three years for his portrayal of Walter White in Breaking Bad), and c). He's probably already done it. Just look at all the TV characters he's played over the past 25 years. And now, in 2011, he's becoming a fixture in cinema or, as I disavow political correctness, the white version of Samuel L. Jackson. I don't know about you, but personally, I couldn't be happier for the father of Frankie Muniz. 

      Other than the murderers' row cast, what is so tantalizing about Gangster Squad? The words 'gangster' and 'squad,' the idea of 40's LA re-imagined on screen (I'm thinking LA Confidential) and, from all accounts, the superlative script. Will Beall (former LAPD officer & writer of Castle TV series) penned the story based on Paul Lieberman's series of LA Times articles that chronicled the efforts of a special LAPD unit tasked with impeding the progression of organized crime in 1940's LA. 
      Why is it such a promising project? Before Warner Bros. leveraged the film, Gangster Squad was pitched as an "actor's piece" rather than a "setpiece-based tentpole." The formation of the stellar cast is indicative of this vital fact: esse est percipi. More importantly, Gangster Squad is somewhat of a rebel with a cause. It is precisely, the kind of movie that detractors, who are frequently proven right, claim that studios don't make anymore. And, for the most part, they don't. Ensemble thrillers with an aggressive period bent don't get made within the studio system, especially from their inception. They often go the independent route: i.e., festivals where hopeful filmmakers vie for flush distribution rights. The fact that Warner Bros. has been backing this film from day one is encouraging. Hopefully, fingers crossed, the big budget muscle of WB will translate into an outstanding recreation of "40's LA," an idea that is, to quote myself, "tantalizing." (I know. That was an audacious breach of writer's code, but this is a blog, so to hell with literary norms). 
       The nec plus ultra of Gangster Squad: seeing Gosling, Mackie, Brolin, and Cranston as cops taking up arms against Sean Penn (or more specifically, Penn's version of classic LA mob figure, Mickey Cohen). If this movie was represented by a basketball, the movie theater (back to the traditional spelling) would represent the court and the hoop would represent the audience. The sound I just heard: swisssssssshhhhhhhh. 
      2012 is either shaping up to be an incredible year for movies (Argo, Wettest Country, The Hobbit, The Master, Lincoln, Django) or The Happening, an M. Night Shyamalan flick otherwise known as the forbear of the 12/21/12 Apocalypse. Obviously, I'm hoping for the former, which, who knows, may also mean the day the aforementioned Shyamalan (his latest film was called Devil) decides to get a new day job, in a land far, far away from Hollywood. "Now, go home and get your f---en shine box."


  1. How come you haven't become a gangster yourself yet, Matty :PP Or maybe you're hiding something from us /staresatagunhandleinyourpocket/ :)

    And I've been slowly developing love for Anthony Mackie, I wouldn't mind seeing him in big roles, he has his charms.

  2. Haha, you're supposed to keep that shroud of knowledge under wraps. For reasons I won't elucidate on, I can't offer any details as to the nature of my "alter ego," hehe. Gangsters never disclose evidence.

    I'm an admirer of Mackie as well. He's definitely got bundles of charm. And I can really envision him having a long, fruitful career playing interesting characters. He's got the chops for engaging character-acting with a hint of potential stardom.

  3. OBSESSED WITH GANGSTER MOVIES! (and gangsters in general) We have that in common. I'm super excited to hear about the potential for this new project. I'll be looking out for it, keep us updated.

  4. You know, I saw the "Cranston joins Gangster Squad" headline on about four movie sites I peek at now and again. I didn't bite. Good actor - but don't know the movie or what it will be - moving on. Then guess what post I just read? NICE. Now, I'm very excited for an upcoming movie called Gangster Squad. Thanks very much Matty! And 2012 WILL be a bangup year for movies - after all, Bond 23 will make it to theaters about three weeks before The End... *So Excited!* Cheers!

  5. I am very excited about Bryan Cranston joining Gangster Squad. I really like him and the assembled cast has loads of talent. Especially Anthony Mackie, whom I adore and want to see more of.

    It'll be good to see a period piece in mainstream H-Wood, though it always seems that the bulk of the period pieces they do produce on a huge scale all deal with the 40's. I'd like to see something on WWI (and War Horse won't cut it) as it is my favorite period of time. I have a huge novel in the works set during that time. Hopefully, I can get it sold and published in time for the 100th anniversary of the Great War. That is if we haven't all died in the 2012 apocalypse.

  6. @ LexiConErrick

    Thanks for joining and commenting! Welcome aboard :)

    Glad to hear I'm not the only one obsessed with gangster movies. I guess that makes this our Step Brothers moment. Now we our best friends, lol.

    And no worries. I'll keep you all updated on this particular project as well others that I deem worthy.

  7. @ Craig

    I'm honored to be one of your go-to movie sites! I'm even more honored that you elected to read my piece rather than the redundant offerings of other, shall we say, less descriptive, colorful write-ups. I don't like to anoint favorites, but you are definitely one of my favorite readers!

    In my haste, I forget to mention Bond 23. I'm very much looking forward to it. I love the fact that the great Sam Mendes is directing it. Bond + Mendes = my ass on a theater seat, preferably 2/3 of the way up aisle.

  8. @ Melissa

    OMG! I'm so happy to hear that you are writing a novel set during the early 20th century. I bid you good luck, knowing full well that you are going to craft one imaginative, compelling, witty piece of literature! I can't wait for that day :)

    Also, glad to see that you are also a budding fan of Mackie's. It seems between you, Dezz, and myself, we represent quite the triumvirate of fandom. We should start our own Anthony Mackie Fan Club!

    The cast of Gangster Squad is superb. I think, without hyperbole, it's going to be a home run.

  9. Good to see you, Matt. When we were watching Malcolm in the Middle, WHO KNEW? I still see Cranston getting his body shave, and it isn't pretty. Amazing actor.

  10. Great post for the gangsters, buddy!
    Wow, what a superb casting for "The Gangster Squad". I really hope Fleischer can live up to the cast and the very promising script.

  11. Awesome post, thanks guy!
    I like your blog.

  12. @ Susan

    You too! Thanks for stopping by. It's funny to think how far he's come since the days of Malcolm in the Middle. Hollywood couldn't hold down his talent forever. Glad to see him getting more substantive roles.

    @ Jaccstev

    Thanks Jaccs! The cast is really that impressive. All the right pieces are in place for Fleischer to deliver a badass gangster, period flick.

  13. @ iNEWS

    Thanks for joining and commenting! It's my pleasure to welcome you aboard.


    Good to hear. I wouldn't want to be the one to tell a real life gangster, to his face, that I don't like his kind.

    Thanks for commenting!

  14. @ Tame Lion

    Thanks for stopping by!

  15. I LOVE Bryan Cranston, so any movie that features him is a win in my books. So underrated. It's amazing how many people haven't even heard of him!

    P.S. I love to hate gangsters. Does that count? ;)

  16. @ Laura

    Bryan Cranston is terrific! I'm glad to see he's captured the enthusiasm of fans like yourself. And he is totally underrated. At least, at this point in his career, Hollywood is starting to take notice of his exceptional talent. About. Damn. Time.

    Haha, that does count. You're not the first to broadcast your displeasure with gangsters. It's fun to hate characters and gangsters are easy targets. A lot of the time, they have no moral basis and just operate within a kill-or-be-killed mentality. That can be difficult to root for, but for whatever reason (some outlined above), I'm cool with it, lol.