08th Aug2014

God’s Pocket – Film

by timbaros

images-216Phillip Seymour Hoffman, in one of his last screen roles, plays a man with lots of problems, one of them includes a dead body, in God’s Pocket.

Hoffman plays Mickey Scarpato. He’s married to the sexy Jeannie (Christina Hendricks), and they live in a dreary and depressed part of Camden, New Jersey called God’s Pocket – appropriately named because it’s a pocket that God overlooked, inhabited by crooks, drunks and no one special. Jeannie has a grown-up son from a previous marriage who lives with them, Leon (Caleb Landry Jones). He is mysteriously killed at work, but Jeannie doesn’t believe that Caleb’s death was an accident, she think there’s something more to it. She begs Mickey to look into it, while he goes about making the funeral arrangements and paying for the funeral. Unfortunately he’s got no money, so the local mortician, Smilin’ Jack Moran (Eddie Marsan) who never smiles, dumps Caleb’s body outside and it is up to Mickey to deal with the body until he is able to raise money for the funeral. Mickey has to sell the ice truck he’s been given for quick cash, a truck where he’s got Caleb’s body in. Unfortunately, a potential buyer takes it for a test drive, Mickey chases him to try to get him to stop, but it crashes, with Caleb’s body thrown out of the truck and onto the street. Caleb has been killed, twice.
A second story takes place in the movie about a local newspaper columnist Richard Shelburn (Richard Jenkins). He’s getting bored of writing his column and would like to focus more on seducing women, even though he can’t get it up. He takes an interest in the death of Caleb, but he takes an ever bigger interest in Jeannie, taking her out to a picnic and forcing himself on her, two days after the death of her son.
But by the time the film is over, with both Mickey and Richard getting what’s coming to them, it’s confusing to understand what you’ve just seen – a dark comedy or a drama that is a bit silly. All the characters are such losers that it’s hard to care for any one of them, even for the deceased Caleb, who took drugs and was a racist. And most of all, with no offense to the late Seymour Hoffman, it’s hard to believe that such a beautiful and big bossomed Hendricks would fall for him. It is even harder to believe that Hendricks character has an adult son – she looks like she can’t be more than 35. Blame first-time director John Slattery (Mad Men), who also co-wrote and co-produced and perhaps took too much on, with not knowing what to do with such a good cast. John Turturro is wasted as Mickey’s friend Arthur ‘Bird’ Capezio, his character has mafia connections used to rough up the boss at the place where Caleb died. Based on the novel by Pete Dexter (Paperboy), God’s Pocket incorporates some of Dexter’s life experiences into the film. Dexter was a newspaper columnist (just like the Shelburn character), who wrote about local people, including a story about a drug deal murder. Locals didn’t like what Dexter wrote, so they savagely beat him up, causing life changing injuries. Something like that happens in God’s Pocket. Sometimes reality is better than fiction.
28th May2014

Fading Gigolo – Film

by timbaros

images-171Fading Gigolo is not, I repeat, not a Woody Allen film. It may have the look and feel of being a Woody Allen film, with similar dialogue and the New York City locations, but it’s not made by the famous writer and director who brought us such classics as Annie Hall, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Hannah and Her Sisters.

Written, directed and co-starring John Turturro, in Fading Gigolo Allen plays a pimp to Turturro’s character Fioravante. It’s a strange role for Allen to play, but it actually works thanks to his characters’ witty dialogue and his upfront and honest and sarcastic personality. It’s a shame that the rest of the film is not on the same level.
Having previously worked together in Allen’s bookshop, Fioravante, now a part-time florist, needs to make some extra cash to pay the bills. He has a nice apartment and nice clothes, so it’s a bit hard to believe Fioravante¬†needs money that bad. But Allen’s character, Murray, has a shrink – Dr. Parker (Sharon Stone) who has mentioned to him that she would like to have extra-marital sex and that if knew anyone who was available for such a task. Turturro, whose real age is 57, is hardly gigolo material. Sure, he’s a bit handsome in a sort of older man past his 40’s and-still -can-barely-pull-off-sexy kind of way, but it’s simply not believable that the hot and stunning Stone would want a guy like him – heck, she can have anyone she wants. Meanwhile, Dr. Parker’s friend Selima (the sexy vivacious Sofia Vergara) also wants a piece of Fioravante. And at one point in the film they want to share him. Throw in quiet, lonely, not very attractive grieving Hasidic widow Avigal (a blank and barely there Vanessa Paradis), who starts to fall in love with Fioravante, and Turturro the writer and director makes it appears that almost every woman in New York wants him.
There are lots of funny scenes in the film, and they all involve Woody Allen. At one point they chat to a very young woman in a restaurant, and it’s Allen’s character who charms the woman, and not Turturro’s – he just sits at the table with his hands crossed. In Fading Gigolo, it appears that Turturro is trying to copy Allen’s directorial and writing style but comes up short. While Turturro’s adept at directing scenes that are not too complicated and writing sharp dialogue for a man who is the king of sharp dialogue, it might’ve been a vain move to cast himself in the lead of a gigolo. He’s no gigolo, and he’s a bit faded.