Tag Archives: James Gandolfini

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: #106 – My Favorite Pakistani Travelogue

Today! Because if bin Laden isn’t there, you can sneak away and no one will be the wiser. But bin Laden is there. And you’re going to kill him for me –

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

Starring Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, James Gandolfini (x2), Kyle Chandler (x4), Mark Strong (x2), Jennifer Ehle, Mark Duplass, Edgar Ramirez (x2), John Barrowman, Taylor Kinney, Frank Grillo, Mike Colter, Stephen Dillane, Harold Perrineau, Reda Kateb, Mark Valley

The movie most often credited with giving us the biggest movie star in the world – for a brief period, anyway – Jurassic World/Guardians of the Galaxy/The Lego Movie’s Chris Pratt, Zero Dark Thirty also introduced to a wide audience the absolutely tremendous Jason Clarke, who has gone on to have a very solid Hollywood career, even if he hasn’t played a ton of heroes in hugely successful franchises. He took a swing at it, playing John Conner in Terminator Genisys, proving all his choices weren’t going to be first rate.

But if you had been even casually watching television in the late ’00s/early ’10s, you’d have run across the still decidedly un-buff Pratt as Andy Dwyer on Parks & Recreation, while Clarke toiled away on the very solid police procedural The Chicago Code, which was the first time I saw him in anything. And then – the epic Osama bin Laden manhunt adventure Zero Dark Thirty! Unfortunately, it came along in the thunderdome of film excellence that was 2012, and so had a tough time standing out come award shows. It’s still kinda bullshit Clarke wasn’t nominated almost anywhere for his work as the interrogator/torturer here.

It’s been a while, but I remember this being really good!

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The Set of 400: #202 – My Favorite Imminent Wall Collapse

Today! Because we burned this tight-arsed city to the ground in 1814, and I’m all for doing it again, starting with you, you frat fuck –

In the Loop (2009)

Directed by Armando Iannucci

Starring Peter Capaldi, Tom Hollander, Mimi Kennedy, James Gandolfini, Gina McKee, Anna Chlumsky, David Rasche (x2), Steve Coogan, Zach Woods, Olivia Poulet, Chris Addison, James Smith, Paul Higgins

A brilliant comedy that functions oddly as both a TV show sequel and a different show’s pseudo-prequel, In the Loop comes from the genius of Armando Iannucci, whose place on future lists is assured – his 2018 comedy The Death of Stalin is the funniest movie of the last five years. And going back a ways, Iannucci is also the driving creative force (along with star Steve Coogan, obviously) behind two of my favorite British television shows – Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge and its spin-off/sequel I’m Alan Partridge (plus the later film – Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa). I can’t speak to a lot of his other TV credits, as those shows never got themselves available in the states.


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