CHICAGO – The awesomeness of history loses any of its stuffiness with the incredibly fun, indeed educational show “Drunk History” from Comedy Central, its two seasons now released on DVD. Hosted by its creator Derek Waters, the show is a celebration of various historic figures and their under-appreciated true tales, as expressed by funny people narrating in the universal language of inebriation; their recounts are then reenacted by famous actors working with their given dialogue, dressed with the comic cheapness of a bloated biopic.
Film Review: Dennis Farina is Absolved in ‘The Last Rites of Joe May’
CHICAGO – The Chicago born-and-bred actor Dennis Farina has had many opportunities in his career to distinguish himself in a variety of roles, but never has he carried a film as well as his turn in the recent “The Last Rites of Joe May.” Farina imbues the title character with raw emotion, feral toughness and a touch of fear.
What is distinctive about Joe May is that he is cut off from the world temporarily, and when he returns nobody misses him. To have lived with no connections of family, friends or colleagues is an intriguing notion to begin a story, and writer/director Joe Maggio puts the title protangonist through a road-to-Mount-Calvary situation that has the nobility of the King of Kings. This film is an exceptional character study, with the supporting cast providing a treasure trove of their own quirks, that Farina plays off on like a fine musical instrument.
Joe May (Dennis Farina) is a small-time Chicago hustler who is discharged from the County Hospital after a seven week struggle with pneumonia. When he emerges into the brutal Chicago winter, he finds that most of his contacts thought he had died. Even his landlord had shut him out, canceling the lease on his apartment and selling all his furniture. Joe discovers this when he finds the new tenant, Jenny Rapp (Jamie Anne Allman), taking a shower. She has a daughter Angela (Meredith Droeger) and no intention of leaving the apartment. Joe May is now homeless.
Trying to figure out what to do, Joe walks the neighborhood streets of Chicago in a thin coat against the cold winter. Jenny and her daughter see him on those streets, and take him back to the apartment, and they agree on an arrangement so he can stay there. This angers Jenny’s boyfriend, a police officer named Stanley (Ian Barford). and the physically abusive relationship becomes more apparent. Joe had ingratiated himself with the child Angela, and becomes somewhat of a protector in his new situation. But with no money, prospects or friends, this last rite of Joe May will be his greatest life challenge.
Photo credit: Tribeca Films