Toronto Buzz: 'The Drop' and 'St. Vincent' -- A Tale of Two Brooklyn Movies

Toronto Buzz: 'The Drop' and 'St. Vincent' -- A Tale of Two Brooklyn Movies

Sep 06, 2014

 

 

THE SCENE

Pictured above: James Gandolfini's son Michael Gandolfini poses with his mother (and James' ex-wife), Marcy Gandolfini, at the after-party for The Drop.

Pictured below: Bill Murray gets drenched in a Toronto downpour, but of course he still has time to say hey to his fans before the premiere of his new film St. Vincent.

 

WHAT CRITICS ARE TWEETING ABOUT...

NIGHTCRAWLER (in theaters October 31)

One-liner: Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a guy who gets all caught up in the underground world of freelance crime journalism.

 





 

 

WELCOME TO ME (in theaters TBD)

One-liner: Kristen Wiig plays a woman suffering from mental illness who wins the lottery and decides to buy her own talk show. 





 

 

OUR THOUGHTS ON...

A TALE OF THE TWO BROOKLYN MOVIES

THE DROP (in theaters September 12)

Brooklyn neighborhood: Bay Ridge and the surrounding areas

Maybe you know it as the movie that features James Gandolfini's final performance, but The Drop has other things going for it, too. It's based on a Dennis Lehane novel (Mystic River, Shutter Island, Gone Baby Gone) and it boasts a solid cast with the likes of Tom Hardy, Matthias Schoenaerts and Noomi Rapace delivering authentic neighborhood grit. 

If you asked a kid from Brooklyn to describe this movie in a nutshell, he'd probably say something like...

"You know, these two neighborhood guys used to own this bar called Cousin Marv's, except these mobsters came, shook 'em down and now they kinda work for them. So of course these guys aren't happy about it, especially Cousin Marv -- that's who Tony Soprano plays. So when these other guys hold the joint up and get away with like five grand, Marv and his bartender cousin Bobby, who played Bane in that Batman movie, gotta find a way to get the money back before the mobsters cause trouble. But this is Brooklyn, you know, so nothing is what it appears to be, and sometimes trouble comes at ya from where you least expect it."

With The Drop it's more about atmosphere than story -- more crime and character than mystery and suspense --  and what particularly stood out to me was a truly understated performance from Tom Hardy, who delivers a great, authentic take on a Brooklyn kid who's loyal, but not that bright. He's a good guy who's done bad things, and his quiet softness felt unique and refreshing in a world that's normally populated by loudmouth, tough-guy New Yorkers. 

And sure, you have James Gandolfini in a final role that in some ways feels a lot like Tony Soprano, 10 years past his prime. He's big, bullish and always scheming, but he's lost his edge to a younger, foreign gang who just take what they want because they can. Gandolfini's Cousin Marv is too old school, and that just doesn't cut it anymore. Without spoiling it, Gandolfini's final scene gave me chills because of how freakishly fitting it was for an actor who was best known for playing a certain type of guy. The kind you root for even when you shouldn't. The kind of actor you never saw coming. 

I'm gonna miss that guy.

 

Yes Ryland, they do!

 

ST. VINCENT (in theaters October 24)

Brooklyn neighborhood: Sheepshead Bay

From one blue-collar Brooklyn neighborhood to another, St. Vincent finds Bill Murray in top form as a curmudgeonly old man who drinks, smokes, gambles and sleeps with a pregnant Russian stripper (Naomi Watts) every Tuesday. He's dirty, broke and some local movers just wrecked his car and fence, but when he strikes up an unlikely friendship with the little kid next door, things begin to look a bit brighter. His life may once again have purpose. 

What starts out as a dirty, foul-mouthed dark comedy with a bit of Uncle Buck-ishness to it slowly softens into a really sweet story about finding your second wind in life. Of course St. Vincent is the Bill Murray show (and folks are already talking about possible awards consideration for the ex-Ghosbuster), but what truly lifts the film up are its surprising supporting performances from a hilariously trashy Naomi Watts, a much more serious and grounded Melissa McCarthy, as well as charming newcomer Jaeden Lieberher, who most definitely holds his own alongside the veteran Murray. 

This is quite possibly Murray's best work since Lost in Translation; a role that requires him to shift gears multiple times, especially when his character suffers an accident after he's shaken down by some guys he owes money to. It's amusing to watch this grumpy guy mentor a kid who has no business going to racetracks or sitting in seedy bars, and while I would've liked it to veer more towards Uncle Buck's loud, boisterous hilarity, it's hard not to appreciate its heart, its sweetness and what it has to say about discovering family where you least expect it. 

 

#TIFF14, ACCORDING TO ME

Just some personal snapshots from out and around the festival....


 

The cast and creators of The Drop introduce it at the film's world premiere.

From left to right: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Matthias Schoenaerts, Dennis Lehane, two of the film's producers and director Michaël R. Roskam

Fittingly for a movie set in Brooklyn, The Drop after-party was held at an Italian restaurant that served up some real tasty food. Like these meatballs...

 

And this risotto, prepared in a way I had never seen before. First it was stirred in a pan, then transferred to this large hallowed-out wheel lined with parmesan cheese. Thanks to the commenter for the correction.

 

Keep following us here -- and me over on Twitter @erikdavis --  for more coverage from the 2014 Toronto Film Festival

 

 

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