The small screen brings some very memorable characters into our homes, but relatively few of them make a lasting impression in our consciousness. Those that do tend to be larger-than-life figures such as James Gandolfini's Tony Soprano. As a scholar of all things Homicide: Life on the Street, I would point you to Melissa Leo's stunning turn as Detective Kay Howard on the critically lauded show as having cultural relevance on par with Mr. Gandolfini's. Leo upstaged every actor who was within two scenes of her, and with nary a drop of makeup or an ounce of Frizz-Ease. She really looked like a cop working as an exasperated, hardened detective in a boy's club of other officers. Leo is a female Sean Penn; a transcendent actor whose life and character often become messily entwined. She brings her bravado and scene-stealing style to Frozen River, where she plays a no-muss, no-fuss single mom desperate to keep her home. A chance encounter with another woman leads them both into the world of smuggling illegal immigrants across a frozen river in this Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner. Leo's performance is guaranteed to lead you to looking up her filmography when you get home from one of the Magnolia at the Modern showings of Frozen River Friday through Sunday at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St. Admission is $8.50 and showtimes can be found at themodern.org/magnolia.
Aug. 29-31, 2008