Tag Archives: Dennis Farina

The Set of 400: #28 – My Favorite Counterfeit $20s

Today! Because you didn’t know I was lying to you when you lied to me down by the river. So as far as you knew, you lied to me first –

Midnight Run (1988)

Directed by Martin Brest

Starring Robert De Niro (x7), Charles Grodin (x3), Dennis Farina (x3), Joe Pantoliano (x5), Yaphet Kotto, John Ashton (x2), Jack Kehoe (x3), Philip Baker Hall (x6), Lois Smith (x2), Tracey Walter (x2), Richard Foronjy, Wendy Phillips, Tom McCleister, Danielle DuClos

On some level, I didn’t know this movie had any awareness at all until that Rick and Morty episode where they drop Jerry off at the interplanetary day care for Jerrys, and they all watch Midnight Run with the DVD commentary (which I’ve never done, but sounds amazing). Like, you never hear anyone mention this movie, it wasn’t a particularly big hit in its day, sure it had a few minor award nominations (Best Comedy/Musical and Actor at the Globes, Top Ten film from the National Board of Review), but that’s about it. I secretly believed that maybe this was a minor wonder of a film that me and a handful of people watching daytime syndicated channels in the early ’90s knew about at all.

I also vaguely remember a story where John Ashton (tremendous here as rival bounty hunter Marvin Dorfler) got cast in…something because the filmmakers were big Midnight Run fans, but for the life of me I can’t remember the movie, or find this story on the internet. Gone Baby Gone, maybe? He’s got a ton of credits, but not much that I’ve seen, and would’ve likely brushed up against this tidbit. Anyone hear this story?

Dorfler!

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The Set of 400: #35 – My Favorite Rio Bravo Confusion

Today! Because what’s the point of living in L.A. if you’re not in the movie business?

Get Shorty (1995)

Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld (x2)

Starring John Travolta (x2), Rene Russo (x2), Gene Hackman (x3), Danny DeVito (x6), Delroy Lindo, James Gandolfini (x3), Dennis Farina (x2), Bette Midler, Jon Gries (x3), David Paymer (x4), Renee Props, Martin Ferrero (x3), Miguel Sandoval (x3), Jacob Vargas, Linda Hart, Bobby Slayton, Harvey Keitel (x4), Penny Marshall, Alex Rocco

Ah, movies about movies! Plus, Elmore Leonard! Plus, everyone’s favorite Travolta – the mid-’90s, gigantic star variant! Get out of here with your Vinnie Barbarino! Plus, mobsters! This is a movie I have a huge blindspot on – I’ve had this on the high end of my favorite movies lists for years, and I honestly don’t know if anyone watches or thinks about it anymore.

Figure, the post Pulp Fiction Travolta oeuvre included a bunch of hits, but seriously, when was the last time you watched Phenomenon? Or Michael? Or Broken Arrow? Thankfully he made Battlefield Earth and put an end to this stretch of illogical success, or we might be getting huge Travolta vehicles to this day!

Instead, we now get things like this

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The Set of 400: #172 – My Favorite Tussle

Today! Because this is the dumbest fucking shakedown in the history of shakedowns –

Out of Sight (1998)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh (x2)

Starring George Clooney (x3), Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames (x3), Don Cheadle (x3), Albert Brooks (x4), Dennis Farina, Nancy Allen (x2), Michael Keaton (x5), Steve Zahn, Catherine Keener (x3), Luis Guzman (x4), Connie Sawyer, James Black, Viola Davis, Paul Calderon, Samuel L. Jackson (x4), Isaiah Washington, Keith Loneker

All of the sleek cool on display in #249 Ocean’s Eleven is directly attributable to Soderbergh’s work on Out of Sight – one of the great unacknowledged sequels of all time. There is again a heist at the center of the film, but it unfolds in a completely different way. Where Ocean’s is pretty straightforward, with only some narrative somersaults at the end to heighten the impact of the caper itself, Out of Sight flips in and out of the linear tale, explaining the characters prior interactions in prison (virtually all the guys were in prison at some point), and how and why this grand Detroit house robbery came about.

The cast is first rate across the board, but none more so than Jennifer Lopez as Marshal Karen Sisco, kidnapped while Clooney’s Jack breaks out of jail, plunging them both in the trunk of the getaway car, where the hot, sweaty romance begins to blossom. Ridiculous, right? But it totally works, in that marvelous Elmore Leonard way. I want to emphasize how good Lopez is here, because I don’t think she will ever really get the credit she deserves as an actress. As time went by, she did more and more romantic comedies and middling TV shows, but her career’s start – with Selena and Out of Sight and…Anaconda – signaled her as a major talent, capable of a lot more than she’s done. Sure, her music career always came first, and those Affleck films sure didn’t help things, but I always hoped she’d get back to some great character work. Not too late, JLo!

No reason to get blue about it!

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