I used the pic above in a blog I wrote yesterday and it made me wistful for the late Dennis Farina. I was shocked that he's already been gone for seven years. The former Chicago cop-turned-legendary character actor was equally awesome playing roles on both sides of the law. Gangster Jimmy Serrano, a brilliant combo of menace and humor, in the 1988 comedy classic MIDNIGHT RUN is probably his most well-known movie role because he was so goddamn great in it. He was also outstanding in GET SHORTY, OUT OF SIGHT, SNATCH, the TV series "Crime Story", and many other roles.
I recently discovered a performance of his that I had no clue about. While scrolling for something on Prime last week, I came across a little Chicago movie I somehow never heard of.
Now as great as Farina was, there was for some reason never a "Dennis Farina vehicle" when it came to his films. Until this. Once I saw Farina prominently featured on the artwork, I hit play. For the next 105 minutes, I watched him turn in what was probably the best performance of his career. Had the movie gotten a wider release or was seen by more voters, Farina would've been a lay-up for a Best Actor Oscar. He's that outstanding here. And watching it after he already passed certainly adds a level of poignancy.
Farina plays the title character Joe May, a guy in his twilight who views himself as an aging hustler but is probably better described as a loser. After an extended hospital stay, he finds himself without a place to live. He appears to have one friend. What's left of his family wants nothing to do with him. But he's still motoring on, looking for the next quick score. After begrudgingly befriending the woman and daughter who now live in his old apartment, his life takes on more purpose than it has in years and also sets the story in motion.
While the movie is good, Farina's lived-in performance is sublime and is more than worth sharing here. It's just a shame he wasn't given other chances to strut his stuff like this before his untimely passing.