Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Traveller is one of those movies you like to keep handy so you can pull it out as a gift. Bill Paxton wanted this one made, and he (along with Mark Wahlberg, among others) does a fine job of evoking Irish "gypsy" culture in the U.S. While over the past decade or so we've caught up with the Travellers—Brad Pitt is hilarious in Snatch as a Traveller with an accent so impenetrable that not even his fellow Britishers understand him; and I believe there's a reality show about them; but this one has all the heart and rough honesty you need.  It reminds me of Trucker—which I have written about on this blog (HERE)—in its intimacy, but the con-game plot(s) adds more than domestic issues (which it also covers).

Most online commenters note how under-appreciated Traveller is; well, now's your chance to join the appreciators. At the least, afterwards you'll think twice when someone pulls up and offers to tar your roof at a bargain price.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Mad Dog and Glory is one that I've returned to more than a few times.  It's a movie where everything—and everyone—comes together so well that each new viewing just makes me appreciate it more.  John McNaughton—and how I wish he could have the career he deserves—finds just the right rhythm to sustain Richard (The Color of Money/Clockers/The Wire) Price's funny, hard-boiled screenplay.  And man, the performances: Uma Thurman does more with her proud, scared Glory than Tarantino ever allowed in the endless hours and hours of Kill Bills; Bill Murray lets everybody know just how charismatic he can be, his Frank Milo a sad and lonely bar of lead to the back of the head; Richard Caruso makes me yearn for that early-'90s moment when he was allowed to escape TV; and dependable Mike Starr gives one of his greatest quirky-mug performances—he still makes me laugh when, after slugging it out with Caruso, he notes in passing to his boss, "That guy bites."

But this time around, I watched De Niro and saw one of his most nuanced performances, as good as his quiet work in A Bronx Tale (released in the same year!).  As Mad Dog, though, he gives himself more than a quiet man but, with the help of Price's remarkable script, a complicated one, part artist, part almost-loser, someone who wants to be somewhere else, as he puts it—and most of all a man waiting to grow up, and in the process getting more than a little help from Uma.

Again, I guess I've seen this one a half-dozen times or so over the years, in bits and pieces on TV; but this time around I seemed to re-discover it, and reminded myself how deeply satisfying an entertainment a well-made movie can be.