An Offer You Can’t Refuse #9: Rob the Mob (dir by Raymond De Felitta)


The 2014 film, Rob the Mob, tells the true story of a young couple in love who became minor celebrities when they robbed the mob.  Of course, they also ended up with a huge target on their back, which tends to happen when you repeatedly humiliate a bunch of angry men who have weapons at their disposal.

The year is 1992 and Tommy Uva (Michael Pitt) and his wife, Rosemarie (Nina Arianda) are professional criminals who, after getting busted for trying to rob a florist on Valentine’s Day, end up working at a debt collection agency.  Their boss (played by Griffin Dunne) spent time in prison for insider trading and he believes in giving convicts a second chance.  The problem is that Tommy doesn’t really want a second chance.  He’s actually pretty happy being a criminal.

Tommy has some issues with the Mafia, largely due to the fact that his father borrowed money from the mob to open up a shop and spent the rest of his short life being beaten and humiliated by loan sharks.  Tommy believes that the pressure is what led his father to an early grave.  Tommy’s mother (Cathy Moriarty), on the other hand, claims that it was the stress caused by Tommy being a criminal.  Regardless, seeing his father repeatedly mistreated has definitely left Tommy with some anger issues.

Even though Tommy claims that he hates the Mafia, he still seems to be rather obsessed with them.  At times, it’s hard to tell if Tommy is angry with the Mafia or if he’s just jealous about the fact that he’ll never be as rich or as powerful as the local neighborhood mobster.  Tommy starts to skip work so that he can observe the trial of John Gotti.  It’s while doing this that Tommy hears that guns are not allowed in Mafia social clubs.

Soon, Tommy is robbing those same clubs, taking all of the money that he can and humiliating the mobsters at the same time.  (He forces one group of paunchy gangsters to march outside in their underwear.)  With Rosemarie serving as his getaway driver, Tommy soon becomes something of a legend.  The mobsters even nickname the pair “Bonnie and Clyde.”  Because the Mafia doesn’t want to attract any unnecessary attention during the Gotti trial, Tommy and Rosemarie are able to get away with their activities for a while.  But then they make the mistake of stealing a list that could bring down the entire New York Mafia….

Rob the Mob is a bit of an uneven film.  The film starts with Tommy and Rosemarie getting high and then attempting to rob a florist and, in that scene, they both seemed like such idiots that I really wasn’t sure that I wanted to spend 104 minutes of my life watching a film about them.  Even after Tommy got out of a prison and got a legitimate job, he still seemed like such an unsympathetic loser that I found myself wondering why I should care.

However, once Tommy and Rosemarie start actually robbing the mob, the film picks up.  We meet Big Al, the temporary head of the New York mafia, and he’s played by Andy Garcia, who gives an intelligent and understated performance.  Big Al may be a mobster but he’s not an unsympathetic character.  The film presents him as being someone who has been unexpectedly thrust into a position of power and who is doing his best to keep everything from falling apart.  Then, as the robberies continue, Ray Romano shows up as Jerry Cardozo, a reporter who makes “Bonnie and Clyde” famous but who realizes too late that he’s also put their lives in even greater danger than they were before.  Over the past few years, Romano has gone from being a former sitcom star to being a surprisingly effective character actor and his performance here gives Rob the Mob its conscience.

Perhaps even more importantly, during the second half of the film, the chemistry of Michael Pitt and Nina Arianda finally won me over and I actually started to care about what would happen to Tommy and Rosemarie.  Tommy and Rosemarie find a reason for living in their criminal activities.  They go from being losers to being minor New York celebrities, even if they can’t reveal their actual identities.  They may be idiots but their love is real and there’s something very touching about how much they actually do care about each other.  It’s hard not to be happy for them, even if it’s obvious from the start that their story is not going to have a happy ending.

Rob the Mob is uneven but, in the end, it’s more than worth watching.  This is an offer you should not refuse.

Previous Offers You Can’t (or Can) Refuse:

  1. The Public Enemy
  2. Scarface
  3. The Purple Gang
  4. The Gang That Could’t Shoot Straight
  5. The Happening
  6. King of the Roaring Twenties: The Story of Arnold Rothstein 
  7. The Roaring Twenties
  8. Force of Evil

The San Diego Film Critics Name Leave No Trace The Best of 2018!


On Monday, the San Diego Film Critics picked their best of 2018!  Check out their nominees here and the winners below!

Best Picture
LEAVE NO TRACE
Runner-up: GREEN BOOK

Best Director
Debra Granik, LEAVE NO TRACE
Runner-up: Peter Farrelly, GREEN BOOK

Best Actor, Male
Ethan Hawke, FIRST REFORMED
Runner-up: Viggo Mortensen, GREEN BOOK

Best Actor, Female
Glenn Close, THE WIFE
Runner-up: Melissa McCarthy, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

Best Supporting Actor, Male (tie)
Richard E. Grant, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?
Timothée Chalamet, BEAUTIFUL BOY

Best Supporting Actor, Female
Nicole Kidman, BOY ERASED
Runner-up: Nina Arianda, STAN & OLLIE

Body of Work: John C. Reilly, THE SISTERS BROTHERS, RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET, STAN & OLLIE

Best Comedic Performance
Hugh Grant, PADDINGTON 2
Runner-up: Jesse Plemons, GAME NIGHT

Best Original Screenplay
Bo Burnham, EIGHTH GRADE
Runner-up: Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly, GREEN BOOK

Best Adapted Screenplay
Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin, Peter Fellows, Fabien Nury, THE DEATH OF STALIN
Runner-up: Joel Edgerton, BOY ERASED

Best Documentary
THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS
Runner-up: FREE SOLO

Best Animated Film
ISLE OF DOGS
Runner-up: SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

Best Foreign-Language Film
SHOPLIFTERS
Runner-up: CAPERNAUM

Best Costume Design (tie)
Sandy Powell, THE FAVOURITE
Lindy Hemming, PADDINGTON 2

Best Editing
Jamie Gross, David Egan, GAME NIGHT
Runner-up: Christopher Tellefsen, A QUIET PLACE

Best Cinematography (tie)
Bruno Delbonnel, THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS
Joshua James Richards, THE RIDER

Best Production Design
Fiona Crombie, THE FAVOURITE
Runner-up: John Paul Kelly, STAN & OLLIE

Best Visual Effects
READY PLAYER ONE
Runner-up: CHRISTOPHER ROBIN

Best Use Of Music In A Film
BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE
Runner-up: BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

Best Ensemble
GAME NIGHT
Runner-up: THE FAVOURITE

Best Breakout Artist
Thomasin McKenzie, LEAVE NO TRACE
Runner-up: Charlie Plummer, LEAN ON PETE

The San Diego Film Critics Society Gives Some Love To Buster Scruggs!


On Firday, the San Diego Film Critics Society announced their nominations for the best of 2018 and, to their credit, they showed a lot of love to the Coen Brother’s fascinatingly strange western anthology film, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs!

(That’s Buster up at the top of the post.  He’s only in the movie for about 20 minutes but you’ll never forget him.)

Here are the nominations from San Diego!

Best Picture
THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS
THE FAVOURITE
GREEN BOOK
LEAVE NO TRACE
A QUIET PLACE

Best Director
Bo Burnham, EIGHTH GRADE
Debra Granik, LEAVE NO TRACE
John Krasinski, A QUIET PLACE
Peter Farrelly, GREEN BOOK
Yorgos Lanthimos, THE FAVOURITE

Best Actor, Male
Christian Bale, VICE
Ethan Hawke, FIRST REFORMED
Viggo Mortensen, GREEN BOOK
John C. Reilly, THE SISTERS BROTHERS
Lucas Hedges, BOY ERASED

Best Actor, Female
Carey Mulligan, WILDLIFE
Glenn Close, THE WIFE
Lady Gaga, A STAR IS BORN
Melissa McCarthy, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?
Elsie Fisher, EIGHTH GRADE

Best Supporting Actor, Male
Joel Edgerton, BOY ERASED
Mahershala Ali, GREEN BOOK
Richard E. Grant, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?
Sam Elliott, A STAR IS BORN
Timothée Chalamet, BEAUTIFUL BOY

Best Supporting Actor, Female
Alia Shawkat, BLAZE
Nicole Kidman, BOY ERASED
Nina Arianda, STAN & OLLIE
Thomasin McKenzie, LEAVE NO TRACE
Zoe Kazan, THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS

Best Comedic Performance
Awkwafina, CRAZY RICH ASIANS
Hugh Grant, PADDINGTON 2
Jason Bateman, GAME NIGHT
Jesse Plemons, GAME NIGHT
Ryan Reynolds, DEADPOOL 2

Best Original Screenplay
Bo Burnham, EIGHTH GRADE
Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, John Krasinski, A QUIET PLACE
Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS
Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly, GREEN BOOK
Wes Anderson, ISLE OF DOGS

Best Adapted Screenplay
Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin, Peter Fellows, Fabien Nury, THE DEATH OF STALIN
David Lowery, THE OLD MAN & THE GUN
Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini, LEAVE NO TRACE
Joel Edgerton, BOY ERASED
Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

Best Documentary
FREE SOLO
LOVE, GILDA
RBG
THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS
WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?

Best Animated Film
HAVE A NICE DAY
INCREDIBLES 2
ISLE OF DOGS
RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET
SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

Best Foreign-language Film
CAPERNAUM
COLD WAR
THE GUILTY
ROMA
SHOPLIFTERS

Best Costume Design
Sandy Powell, THE FAVOURITE
Guy Speranza, STAN & OLLIE
Lindy Hemming, PADDINGTON 2
Mary E. Vogt, CRAZY RICH ASIANS
Mary Zophres, THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS

Best Editing
Christopher Tellefsen, A QUIET PLACE
Jamie Gross, David Egan, GAME NIGHT
Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS
Patrick J. Don Vito, GREEN BOOK
Yorgos Mavropsaridis, THE FAVOURITE

Best Cinematography
Alexander Dynan, FIRST REFORMED
Alfonso Cuarón, ROMA
Bruno Delbonnel, THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS
Joshua James Richards, THE RIDER
Magnus Nordenhof Jønck, LEAN ON PETE

Best Production Design
Adam Stockhausen, READY PLAYER ONE
Fiona Crombie, THE FAVOURITE
Hannah Beachler, BLACK PANTHER
John Paul Kelly, STAN & OLLIE
Tim Galvin, GREEN BOOK

Best Visual Effects
BLACK PANTHER
CHRISTOPHER ROBIN
ISLE OF DOGS
PADDINGTON 2
READY PLAYER ONE

Best Use Of Music In A Film
BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE
BLAZE
BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
GREEN BOOK
A STAR IS BORN

Best Ensemble
THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS
BOY ERASED
THE FAVOURITE
GAME NIGHT
GREEN BOOK

Best Breakout Artist
Thomasin McKenzie, LEAVE NO TRACE
Elsie Fisher, EIGHTH GRADE
Rami Malek, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
Charlie Plummer, LEAN ON PETE
Bo Burnham, EIGHTH GRADE

Trailer: Zero Dark Thirty


After the success Kathryn Bigelow had with her award-winning film The Hurt Locker it was just part of the norm that people began to wonder what she would do to follow-up the film which gave her the Oscar for Best Director. There was talk of her making an action thriller about the Tri-Border Region in South America that many intelligence agencies consider a major haven for global organized crime and terrorist groups of all kinds. This particular idea bounced around for months then nothing came of it. Then news came about around late-Spring to early Summer 2011 that Bigelow and The Hurt Locker writer and collaborator Mark Boal came upon the idea that would be Bigelow’s follow-up.

The film that the two decided upon would be an action thriller detailing the global manhunt for Osama Bin Laden. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but this decision became even more important once news broke out on May 2, 2011 that the hunt for America’s Most Wanted criminal was finally over and that Operation Neptune Spear was a success with the death of Bin Laden.

Zero Dark Thirtyis the title of Bigelow’s film about the details and backstory which led up to this special operations mission on May 2, 2011. The first trailer for the film has been released by Sony and it’s short on details other than some voice overs over satellite imagery. I’m sure there’ll be more trailers that will open up what this film will truly be about leading up to it’s December release date (just in time for awards season).

It’s going to be interesting how Bigelow will do with this follow-up to The Hurt Locker. If her history is anything to go by then it shouldn’t disappoint even if some of her detractors will be chomping at the bit to see it fail and further see her Best Director Oscar win as a fluke done to keep the award from her ex-husband James Cameron.

Zero Dark Thirty is scheduled for a December 19, 2012 release date…just two days from the end of the world.