My Daddy's Bar
Dr. James Gardner | California | 08/02/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a slice of life as the film examines the lives of a dozen blue collar working people in Philadelphia who, in one manner or another, are tied to The Florentine Bar, a local hangout run by Whitey (Michael Madsen appearing, uncharacteristically, in white hair) who inherited the bar from his father. The cast is exceptional, and there are two breath-taking scenes in this film that should be taught in every acting school - one is a soliloquy by Hal Holbrook on the "one who got away" and the other is a quiet study of Mary Stuart Masterson as she listen to her busband (Chris Penn) tell her of his plans to reform himself. Brief but effective appearances from Virginia Madsen (always beautiful and effective), James Belushi (as a bad guy!) and Burt Young help to round out the ensemble cast.
Co-produced by Francis Ford Coppola and Nick Stagliano in 1999, the film is directed by Nick Stagliano. This is only Stagliano's second film (as producer or director) and the pace is slightly off center, and perhaps lit a little too darkly. But with a cast such as this, it's hard to make many mistakes, and the little vignettes with Holbrook and Madsen, Penn and Masterson, Tom Sizemore and James Belushi, and Jeremy Davies and Maeve Quinlan are priceless."
Splendid cast elevates hopeful romance.
Hal Owen | Burbank, California USA | 05/29/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not that this film needs any help from me but allow me to say, "The Florentine" is a superb example of a movie containing at least eight character studies - all executed by splendid actors - that boggles the imagination. Take Tom Sizmore and James Belushi for example. I can't recall a film in which either actor displays more humanity, more core, more inner feelings. Sizemore's touching church scene with Michael Madsen, in which both characters must sort out some painful memories while agreeing to remain friends, is almost heartbreakingly poignant while Belushi's big swaggering sell of a character is nothing short of a tour de force. But then the whole cast simply nails scene after scene as if we are privy to a perfectly performed, (if dated,) stage play, which I understand is the origin of this film. And here is my major reservation, the all's well that ends well story line seasoned with so much salt of the earth brined away contemporary sensibilities leaving much of "The Florentine" playing as if from the 1930's complete with a Hal Holbrook stage manager-like character from Thorton Wilder's "Our Town." But neat and a bit too tidy story or otherwise, this is, (to me,) an actor's film from first to last and with that in mind, I say "The Florentine" remains a joy to watch."
Blue Collar Bonanza
Nick Shoup | Winnipeg, MB, Canada | 12/31/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I spent the better part of a decade working in a bar that services a strong working-class neighborhood up here in Winnipeg, Canada. This little flick hits the nail right on the head. The tree-lined streets, the old houses becoming new homes to new people, the brownstone churches and schools, the characters, the stories. All fell into place rather nicely but the stereotypes and cliches were a bit much. I say now and for the record that not all working people are poor, dumb and desperate; and it's the "desperate" element getting played up-from movies like this to Springsteen songs-that bothers me. We seem to have a fascination in North America with the glorification of "working-man plight". I know guys who look like ten miles of bad road and have more money than God, yet dress and talk like a vagrant. And the worse off you are, the more "respect" you seem to demand. Balls. That plumber who was getting married will make a fortune with his trade if he plays his cards right. Madsen's bar could be profitable if he showed a little imagination. A certain romance is present in bar culture, but not in getting hammered all the time. There's usually a way out and diving into a bottle, extorting money or having a kid you neither want or need isn't it. I grow weary of this calibre of self-inflicted misery. I've seen enough of it.
Social commentary aside, yes, this is a fine little piece. Good acting, sharp dialogue and direction keep it going. I've always liked Sizemore's work and it's a shame he's screwed-up his personal life so much. And Hal Holbrook's gritty barfly/philosopher is a kind of "Twain-esque" sage himself, very much like the one Hal made his own years ago with his countless one-man shows of "Mark Twain Tonight!". Also, when I see a movie with good writing I check if it was based on a novel or play; and so this was (play). I used to do some acting at our local summer theatre festival and have a soft spot for the stage.
Take this movie on it's own merits; but that's all you should take away with you when the credits fade.