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Entries in Robert De Niro (17)


Beige & Slate Blue: Nancy Myer's "The Intern"

Kyle Stevens, author of 
Mike Nichols: Sex, Language and the Reinvention of Psychological Realism is here to review Anne Hathaway's latest.

 The Intern follows 70-year-old and retired Ben, played by Robert de Niro (who has never seemed more like a Bobby). Having enjoyed a happy and prosperous life, Ben now finds himself so uninspired by endless leisure activities that he decides he deserves another go on the merry-go-round. He lands the film’s titular position at a women’s clothing startup created and run by Anne Hathaway’s Jules, who, we are told, is a difficult woman to work for despite all evidence to the contrary. Ben and Jules become friends, as Jules realizes that even an old be-suited, briefcased, handkerchief carrying man—the icon of conservative, 1950s patriarchy—may have worth. Disturbing as this is, especially at first, The Intern gives us a real man-woman friendship—that rarest of on-screen sights, even if it is here rendered “safe” by Ben’s age.

De Niro and Hathaway shine, particularly in a hotel scene that gives them time to plumb the depth of writer and director Nancy Meyers’ characters. Meyers is one of our best character writers, but The Intern’s frenzied workplace setting doesn’t afford us time to fall in love with her creations as we did in, say, Something’s Gotta Give (2003), where Meyers simply put the camera in front of Diane Keaton and let her go. [more...]

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What Is It With Ruth Madoff and Actresses?

You've already heard that Michelle Pfeiffer is finally planning to work again for an HBO movie called Wizard of Lies. So let's give the story its proper due.

Pfeiffer in The Family / Ruth Madoff

(I included the Pfeiff News in the last link roundup but the Pfans among you didn't deem that sufficient. (I heard from a pflummoxed pfew by e-mail). Look, stop demanding my bonafides! I have been devoted to La Pfeiff since 1985 in. real. time. I've followed her long enough to take each new probject with a full brick of salt until I see footage. She is so skittish about working.)

For the moment at least she is planning to play Ruth Madoff in Wizard of Lies with Robert De Niro in the leading role of fraudulent financier Bernie Madoff. Aside from cameos and voice work this will be her first TV role since just before superstardom hit in 87/88. In her last film The Family, DeNiro (who is 72) and she had teenage children but they're aging up this time around and delicious/undervalued Alessandro Nivola (who is 43) will play their son. Frankly I'd rather see Alessandro romantically paired with Pfeiffer than playing her biological! She's closer to his age than De Niros (by one year - hee - as she's 14 years older than Nivola and 15 years younger than De Niro - but it counts! Especially since she's so foxy. And especially because Nivola is even hotter (it sounds impossible but it's totally true) when paired with actresses that are older than he is - think Frances McDormand in Laurel Canyon, Embeth Davidtz in Junebug and Emily Mortimer in real life (his wife is just one year older - but for this argument it counts ;) 

But back to the Madoffs.

It's worth noting here that Ruth Madoff has already been played by Cate Blanchett (kinda) in Blue Jasmine, and BEFORE Pfeiffer she'll be played by Blythe Danner in the ABC miniseries Madoff (currently filming) so the disgraced rich lady is really getting around among the actresses. It is kind of an instant classic dream role in the Women Who Lie To Themselves™ subgenre.

Blythe Danner and Richard Dreyfuss in Madoff, coming to ABC in 2016.

If Pfeiffer actually goes through with it, we can hope for an Emmy but won't hold our breath. Despite her fame and acclaim, she has never been an awards magnet only picking up an odd trophy here and there (the BAFTA for Dangerous Liaisons, the Silver Bear for Love Field, and several coveted prizes for Fabulous Baker Boys including the Globe, the NBR, and the holy trinity of critics prizes -- NYFCC, LAFCA, NSFC -- before losing the Oscar for that role. ARGH x ∞).

But after both Blue Jasmine (2013) and ABC's Madoff (2016) will audiences and showbiz voters still be into this story for a third round in late 2016 or 2017? 


This Week in WTF: "King of Comedy", the Musical

Dancin' Dan popping in for a weekend dose of WTF.

There's no sense in burying the lede: Composer Stephen Trask (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and writer Chris D'Arienzo (Rock of Agesare on board to make a musical out of Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy.

My head is spinning. This has to be the weirdest screen-to-stage transfer ever. Even American Psycho made slightly more sense, since music was so important to that film. While it's true that King of Comedy has only proven more and more timely as the years have gone on, it still doesn't scream "MAKE ME A MUSICAL!!!" the way some films do. And the team of Trask and D'Arienzo could not be more mismatched on paper: The man behind the music of Hedwig, one of the most unique musicals ever written, and the man behind the words of one of the weaker jukebox musicals in recent memory (at least book-wise) working on one of the darkest satires of modern culture? Weird. Weirder. Weirdest.

Knowing not what to make of this news, we drift to a future pressing question: WHO WOULD THEY EVEN CAST? I can personally see the great Alan Cumming in either the DeNiro or Lewis roles, but there isn't a single person I can think of who I'd want to see in the Sandra Bernhard role. What other triple threat (you know she's gonna have at least one big dance number) has that acidic, caustic sense of humor? Who would even want to step into those shoes? 

Are you amply confused by this announcement, too? Who would you cast as the leads? 


Best Shot: "Taxi Driver" Visual Index

For this week's edition of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" our series in which we invite everyone to watch the same movie and pick their best image -- "best" being in the eye of the beholder -- we flag down Martin Scorsese and he drives us right into the squalor of 70s era New York and further still into the head space of one Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro). Though Scorsese had already broken through as an important auteur, this controversial classic was the first of his eventual eight "Best Picture" nominees. It was only the third Director of Photography job ever for Michael Chapman and though Chapman didn't become Scorsese regular cinematographer, he did reunite with the director for another classic (Raging Bull)

Best Shots from Taxi Driver (1976)
14 shots chosen by 15 participating blogs
Click on the image for the corresponding article 

New York as the very embodiment of hell on earth...
- The Spy in the Sandwich

The protagonist as silent predator...
-Antagony & Ecstasy 

The movie is basically made up of perfect frames, over 150,000 of them...
-Nebel Without a Cause 

It’s voyeurism, and he’s the audience...
-Coco Hits NY

Is Taxi Driver suggesting that evil is contagious... as it transfers it directly from the auteur to his muse?
- The Film Experience 

Simple gestures can function as shorthand for multiple meanings...
-Manuel Muñoz 

As if his fate is already predetermined...
-A Fistful of Films

One of the things that I've always admired about this film is the omnipresence of the political campaign in the background..."
-The Entertainment Junkie 

'You do a thing... that's who you are..."
-Sorta That Guy 

 I saw it within him because I recognized it within myself..."
-The Film's The Thing 

Never more unsettling than when he stands in a crowd clapping and smiling...

Robert De Niro, I will always love you."
-Paul Outlaw

Above all, it's a fascinating character study of its titular vigilante
-Film Actually 

 'like an angel' by Travis Bickle's own account."
-Queerer Things 


The looking and the longing..."
-Dusty Hixenbaugh 


THE END. And can we talk about the end? I have... feelings.

Next Week on Best Shot:
The classic comedy Nine to Five (1980). Have you ever considered how it looks? We're watching it because we're too excited for Lily Tomlin & Jane Fonda's new series Grace & Frankie to hit Netflix next month.


Taxi Driver is *about* the movies

Taxi Driver is about the movies. That's my thesis at least. Oh sure it's about a few other things, too. But consider this: as early as the very first shot of Travis Bickle's yellow cab on duty, it drives right across a movie theater marquee (showing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) via our low angle view. 

Cinematography by Michael Chapman

Massacre? An overstatement of foreshadowing perhaps but we will get to the killings in two hours. On the other hand, since we're in Travis Bickle's headspace even more than we're in the cab, you could argue that the massacres start much much earlier. In one of Taxi Driver's most famous images, Travis, alone in a theater trains his finger pistol on porn actors on the screen and begins to fire away. It's a frighteningly short jump from finger guns to actual guns and we watch him training them on random civilians in the street from a window as well as on actors on the television set.

But what prompts the descent into violent fantasy/reality?

I'd argue that the key to understanding Taxi Driver, this reading at least, is Martin Scorsese's racist, misogynist, and altogether terrifying presence in the backseat. About halfway through the movie Scorsese's unnamed fare directs Travis to sit with the meter running outside a building and the camera drifts up, on Scorsese's orders, to frame, quite literally, the target of the director's violence in a window, his supposed wife in silhouette. The director is directing and storytelling within his own directed story.

"I got some bad ideas in my head"The fare shares his violent fantasy of murdering the woman and her lover. From that moment on, Travis himself is caught up in his own violent fantasies. Is Taxi Driver suggesting that violence or evil is contagious and transferring it directly from the auteur to his muse? Or is Scorsese's fare the driver's own fantasy, a convenient projection in the rearview mirror. Many movie fans take the events of Taxi Driver literally, but I'm not so sure it's happening as we see it. Just as Travis sees it. Consider the epilogue in which he is regarded as a hero and even the girl who rejected him reevaluates. The last thing we see in the movie appears to be Travis looking at himself in the rear view mirror in a collision of quick cuts, jittery camera, and reflected street lights.

At one point in that disturbing director/muse fare/driver scene, the camera drifts from Scorsese's shadowed face to Travis's. As it lingers on Travis's face we're hearing Scorsese's voice "You think I'm sick don't you." In the very next scene Travis expresses concern to a fellow driver that he has bad thoughts in his head. Was this one of them -- Travis in conversation with himself?

best shot

Like Patrick Bateman decades later, maybe Travis 'doesn't exist' or doesn't want to. His co-worker tells him, "You become the thing you do." And the movie seems to agree.

Travis reduces his humanity throughout Taxi Driver, even physically, as he slims down to better hide how many weapons he's now carrying. Soon he is only violent fantasy. And then violent reality. This, my choice, for best shot tells us as much. Travis, whatever he was, is less and less that. Travis is a weapon. In a viewfinder. Scorsese is framing him for us but Travis Bickle is always staring right back in one of the most unsettling films of the 70s. 




Team Top Ten: Oscar's Greatest Losers (Actor Edition)

Al Pacino won his Oscar on his eighth nomination. He deserved it more the other seven times!Amir here, back with another monthly team poll. Back in May, we had a look at the Best Actress Oscars and picked what we thought were the greatest losers in history. Since we all love symmetry, it’s only fair to give the losing gentlemen their chance to shine. And it's also quite topical in December 2013. This year's Best Actor race has so many worthy choices that the losers are inevitably worth celebrating in advance. 

This was an incredibly arduous task. Though we may all have our regular disagreements with AMPAS, there’s no denying the wealth of talent on display in their record of movie history. These are some of the most iconic performances in film history and to narrow them down to just ten is a fool’s errand. List-making always is! How does one judge Mickey Rourke’s brooding anti-hero Wrestler against Chaplin’s satirical Great Dictator?  Is tortured Joaquin Phoenix in The Master too fresh in the memory to compare to tortured James Mason? Jack Lemmon in The Apartment or Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot? It’s heartbreaking to leave anyone out, but now it’s done. Have a look for yourself and let us know who would have made your list. 

after the jump

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Where My Girls At? Blonde Edition

Let's check in with some of our favorite ladies to see what they're up to, shall we? When I daydream I sometimes imagine Actresses sitting near piles of scripts in eeny-meeny-miney-mo fashion though some of them have larger stacks then others.

Amanda is on my brain because she had the good taste and self awareness to agree with the world very recently that Mean Girls is still her best performance. She'll next be seen in the porn drama Lovelace, which might have some legal trouble brewing. After that she has a lot of movies lined up but the one I'm curious about at the moment is the western comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West.

Seth MacFarlane managed to nab two of the most beautiful and busiest actresses in Hollywood for the film. While he was super annoying as an Oscar host it's important to remember that his last effort Ted was more hilarious than we were expecting and in more varied ways than its high-concept synopsis suggested. "Western Comedy" doesn't generally scream "great roles for the ladies" and the plot synopsis doesn't help in determining whether Charlize Theron and Amanda Seyfried will have anything of note to do:

A cowardly farmer seeks the help of a gunslinger's wife to help him win back the woman who left him.

That could mean that they're both "the girl" aka...just there to be pretty and maybe sassy/badass but basically just facilitate the man's journey and his heterosexuality. But let's hope the roles are fun even if they're non-dimensional since both Charlize & Amanda have wicked comic timing.

First Truth: I not-so secretly wish Meryl Streep, The Undisputed Queen of American Cinema, would step down from her throne for a two-year hiatus aso I could be REALLY excited about seeing her again the way I was in 2002-2003 when she surged back to artistic dominance with not one not two but three of the best performances of her career back to back to back. Second Truth: Even though I feel this way I rarely miss a Streep movie, so I'll be there for Into the Osage County Woods but I must admit that I am considerably less excited to hear about the two films she'll follow those up with.

She'll be reteaming with Robert DeNiro for the fourth time for the adaptation of the novel The Good House. The stars were romantically paired in The Deer Hunter (1978, beloved and best-picture winning) and Falling in Love (1984, modest but worth it for, well, the modesty of Streep just playing a normal woman) but I honestly can't remember their roles in Marvin's Room (1996) which is the last time they shared the screen. The last time I remember thinking about Marvin's Room was in 1997 when I was puzzled on nomination morning that Diane Keaton snagged a nod for it.

Meryl is also in talks to join Jeff Bridges in the adaptation of the dystopian novel The Giver as "the society’s Chief Elder, an authoritative and antagonistic woman who assigns the young their tasks".  [Temper Tantrum] Sounds like a perfect role for Michelle Pfeiffer. I realize it's useless to hold on to the now 24 year old dream that that Fabulous Baker Boy and his Susie Diamond would one day reunite onscreen. If they never do they're dumb and I hate them. [/Temper Tantrum]

Meanwhile La Pfeiffer has nothing in the immediate future after this year's The Family but here's her new character poster.

"___ is One Bad Mother" sounds like a tagline for a Julianne Moore flick.  

Michelle might co-star with Tim Robbins in Man Under about a couple thrust into the art world. I would be VERY excited about this one since Robbins is a good director and all three of his previous films have the smartness going for them which is, frankly, something Michelle's filmography could use. But Robbins hasn't actually directed a feature in over 12 years so who knows if financing will come together before the famously skittish Pfeiffer bolts. 

how did i miss Kate being honored at Buckingham Palace last year?We end with...

Things went silent for Kate Winslet on the big screen post-Oscar win (The Reader, 2008) but she's back at Christmas with Labor Day and after that, something infinitely more exciting on paper: The Dressmaker with the one and only Judy Davis (who really ought to get a few of the roles that Streep/Mirren/Dench get if you ask me). The pairing of two world class actresses piques interest but this description from director Jocelyn Moorhouse is everything:

the tale of love, revenge and 1950s haute couture... “Unforgiven with a sewing machine.”

I'll just be over here mopping up gray matter because my mind is blown.