Today’s movie: Monument Ave.

From 1998, Monument Ave. is one of those small films that I’m really glad get made. No big explosions or special effects, no rash personal transformations. Just some really good acting driven by good characters in an interesting situation.

Denis Leary plays the lead, a smalltime Boston gangster named Bobby O’Grady, edging well into his 30s with no prospects for the future and nothing more anchoring him to the present than a few friends (busy Brit Ian Hart and Ed Diehl of Miami Vice and The Shield) stuck in the same rut; all three work for a jerk boss, played by Colm Meaney. Mixing it up a bit is O’Grady’s cousin Seamus, over from Dublin, looking to make something happen in the States he couldn’t find at home. Martin Sheen as a local cop and Famke Janssen as a women in the middle round it out.

There isn’t much plot, basically just a few eventful days in the life of Leary’s O’Grady, but the man really shines. You can see a lot of what he later used as the cop in The Job and the fireman in Rescue Me, just from a different angle. Director Ted Demme (Blow and a bunch of other Leary films) stitches the scenes together by nearly always alternating day and night, transitioning through photos of what one can only assume are the main characters as kids. Very sharp and just enough of Leary’s trademark nasty humor.