Category Archives: gretchen mol

Boardwalk Empire

HBO does it again. Do they ever make programming that is not the best out there? No, and how can someone not like a television series that film god Martin Scorsese has his hands in? He actually directed the pilot episode, the one that got this series renewed after only one airing, if that tells you anything about its quality. It was fabulous. For me, Scorsese working on the small screen is the equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci doing a comic book – lower rent yes, but the hand of a genius on a format smaller than their mind – a spectacular effect.

“Boardwalk Empire” takes place in 1920 Atlantic City and follows the exploits of Nucky Thompson as played by Steve Buscemi. Again, Buscemi is someone suited for the big screen and therefore rules the small one. It is good to see him finally in a role that matches his abilities. His character is based loosely (or closely, depending on your perspective) of Nucky Johnson who was treasurer of Atlantic City of the time, a famously generous and equally infamously corrupt personage whose work behind the scenes has become legend.

While Nucky’s name is altered to protect both the innocent and the guilty, there are other real life folks floating around “Boardwalk Empire.” Stephen Graham’s Al Capone and certainly Vincent Piazza as Lucky Luciano are notable for their appearances here, but the real real life tour de force is Michael K. Williams as African-American gangster Chalky White. You might remember him from his role as Omar in “The Wire.”

And speaking of fantastic performances, serious props go to Kelly MacDonald, Gretchen Mol and especially to Michael Pitt as Jimmy. The latter is the real star here in my opinion, and will walk from here to much bigger and better things, if that’s possible. And Michael Shannon is particularly scary as the IRS agent pursuing Thompson.

Final word, this is damn good television, right up there with other HBO alum like “The Sopranos” and the aforementioned “The Wire” as well as stuff like “Mad Men” and “Dexter.” “Boardwalk Empire” is do-not-miss television.

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Quickies 2-9-2007


Firewall – I have to wonder if Harrison Ford got the memo that no one cares anymore? When was the last time he had a hit movie? It might be time to make a new Indiana Jones or Star Wars flick before it’s too late because he’s not aging gracefully. Sean Connery is hotter than Ford at this point. Dude is looking old and not able to do the action hero anymore. Not that Firewall, a cutting edge bank heist thriller, has cast him in that role, but he’s not even cut out for the passive role he has here. The flick does have its share of suspense and tense moments but Ford doesn’t supply many of them. It might also be nice if all the loose ends were tied up at the end.

The Notorious Bettie Page – I’ve never been a hardcore fan of cheesecake or Bettie Page, but I know my share of the phenomenon from Dave Stevens art and working in a video store with a healthy old school burlesque collection. Gretchen Mol is beautiful and stunning, and her acting is top notch as well. Props to writer/director Mary Harron. Beautiful women and wondrous cinematography.

Oldboy and The Boondock Saints – Both of these flicks came highly recommended by friends. There are elements to them that I really liked but overall I was bored and disappointed. The latter was many levels more engaging than the former until its anticlimactic ending.