Posts Tagged ‘robert de niro’

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Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

March 3, 2013

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver
Director: David O. Russell (The Fighter, Three Kings)

Quick Thoughts: David O. Russell follows up The Fighter with another powerful film in Silver Linings Playbook. This film tackles mental disorders and broken relationships, but is still a love story at its core. Russell seems to have a knack for coaxing great performances out of his casts. After earning three acting nominations for The Fighter, the Silver Linings Playbook cast managed four. De Niro gives his best effort in at least ten years, Lawrence cements her status as the best young actress in the business, and Cooper is shockingly awesome. Truly, in most years without a Daniel Day Lewis movie, Cooper deserves an Oscar. The material handled here could easily be presented in an annoying fashion, but the cast makes it work…wonderfully. The end result is a sweet and troubled love story, the kind of which a man shouldn’t have to be dragged to the theater to see.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Worthy of owning.
Sequel Potential: None…however, Lawrence and Cooper have signed on to Russel’s next project, along with Christian Bale, Jeremy Renner, and Amy Adams. Holy crap.
Oscar Potential: A Best Actress win for Lawrence (the first of many?), nominations for Cooper, De Niro, Weaver, Russell, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Nudity: I don’t recall, but Seth MacFarlane noted at The Oscars: “and Jennifer Lawrence’s boobs we haven’t seen at all.”
Grade: 8/10 (Excellent)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 92% Audience: 88%
IMDB Rating: 8/10
Recommendation: A fantastic movie featuring great performances. A love story both sides of a couple should appreciate.

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Little Fockers (2010)

May 30, 2011

Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert De Nero, Teri Polo, Owen Wilson, Dustin Hoffman, Barbara Streissand, Blythe Danner, Jessica Alba
Director: Paul Weitz (About A Boy, American Pie)

Quick Thoughts: The first sequel was not only unnecessary, it was also forgettable. Little Fockers doesn’t suffer the same fate, but unfortunately that’s not for good reason as it will be remembered for being one of the worst comedies of the past decade. I’m not going to spend time talking about the absurd plot to this film–and why should I? It’s not like the filmmakers put any serious thought into the script themselves. Screenwriter John Hamburg is a frequent collaborator with star Ben Stiller, but it’s obvious that Hamburg is much more talented at coming up with original stories (Meet The Parents, I Love You, Man) than continuing previous ones. Little Fockers is star studded with several A-Listers, but the film is terrible and offers very few genuine laughs. I’d recommend for the cast to quit while they’re ahead, but it’s already too late for that and at this point all we can hope for is that Hollywood will put this franchise out of its misery before the sequels put such a powerful taint on the series that we forget how truly fantastic the original was.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Zero.
Sequel Potential: Meet The Fockers grossed $280 million in the U.S. and even though business fell off dramatically for Little Fockers, at $148 million, it’s still a box office hit. It was universally destroyed by critics though, so it’s quite possible that the stars of the series will realize it’s time to give it up.
Oscar Potential: None
Nudity: None
Grade: 3/10 (Skip It)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 9% Audience: 41%
IMDB Rating: 5.3/10
Recommendation: Little Fockers is borderline unwatchable. It’s a comedy that’s not particularly funny and a great barometer for judging someone’s taste in movies. Ask someone enthusiastically: “Have you seen Little Fockers yet?” If they respond with: “Yeah! It was really funny.” then you know never to take their opinion on films seriously again. One of the worst movies of the year, for sure.

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Limitless (2011)

March 26, 2011


Starring: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Abbie Cornish
Director: Neil Burger (The Illusionist)

Quick Thoughts: Limitless asks the question: what if we could use the full power of our brains? Unfortunately, the film’s answer isn’t all that exciting: kill the stock market, get a haircut, and win your ex back. Yes, because if I had superhuman intelligence, I’d use it to keep banging the same ordinary chick I’ve been with for years. OK, Bradley Cooper’s character does write a supposedly fantastic novel in an absurdly short amount of time, but who knows what’s so special about the book, because we’re never told anything about it, nor does its success have any bearing on the film’s story whatsoever. I like the concept in Limitless, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. As expected, our hero becomes addicted to the success his new drug of choice continually brings into his life… but his bottom is quick and the consequences are not very severe. If this was a cautionary tale about the dangers of drug abuse, the lesson seems to be: snort everything and life will work out just fine. This movie sort of reminded me of The Butterfly Effect, but way less cool. Limitless was mildly entertaining, but I can assure you, you won’t need NZT to grasp the full scope of this film.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Two viewings tops.
Sequel Potential: Doubtful.
Oscar Potential: None.
Nudity: None? WTF.
Grade: 5/10 (Worth Watching)
Recommendation: Limitless is fun, but it’s kind of stupid and hardly lives up to its name… the experimental drug, NZT, appears to give you access to 30% of your brain, at best.

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Revisiting 1990: Goodfellas

August 20, 2010

Considered For: Top 5

“What are you, a fuckin’ sick maniac?”

Interesting. I’ve long thought of Goodfellas as the top film of 1990, but after watching it last night, I realize that I may have never even seen it. I was positive that I had, but nothing about this movie seemed familiar and I know damn well I haven’t seen Lorraine Bracco in a movie since I’ve started watching The Sopranos. I really felt that I’ve seen this movie before, but last night I felt like I was watching it for the first time.

Goodfellas is an epic story, based on a true story, about the Italian mob in New York City from the 1950s through the 1970s. Ray Liotta plays Henry Hill, our “hero,” a kid that grows up wanting nothing more than to be a gangster. He starts off as a delivery boy for respected mob figures Paul Cicero (Paul Sorvino) and Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) and works his way up the ranks with friend Tommy DeVito (later played by Joe Pesci) and they both wind up integral parts of the organization by their early 20s (although Pesci was nearly 50 when this movie filmed… LOL). Henry eventually meets Karen (Bracco), they marry, and together they become enraptured and victimized by the ways of the organized crime business and the financial freedom and social dominance it offers.

I hate to say it, but I think Goodfellas might be a tad overrated. For one, I didn’t like it as much as Miller’s Crossing, another 1990 film focused on organized crime. I’ll take Gabriel Byrne’s Tom Reagan over Liotta’s Henry Hill any day, in terms of both character and acting. For two, a #17 of all-time ranking on IMDB’s greatest movies ever list seems overboard. With that said, Goodfellas is still a very good movie and probably deserved more acclaim than 1990’s most highly lauded film Dances With Wolves, a movie noticeably absent from IMDB’s same list.

Goodfellas does feature a stellar cast. I knew before watching that Lorraine Bracco was Oscar-nominated, but watching the film, I kept thinking of what a great job Joe Pesci was doing as the outlandishly violent and explosive Tommy DeVito. When I researched the Oscars after the movie, I was pleased to find out that not only was Pesci nominated, but he took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Very deserved. Bracco was also outstanding as Henry’s wife, Karen, dealing with the loose morals of a wiseguy husband, a man that thinks it’s okay to have multiple girlfriends in addition to a wife. She does a great job walking the line between jealous, vengeful wife and drug-addled woman addicted to the life of crime, quick money and supposedly easy living. I find it astonish that in the 9 years between Goodfellas and her role as Dr. Melfi on The Sopranos, the biggest movie she was in was Hackers. Robert De Niro offers a good performance, but it wasn’t much of a stretch for him and I wouldn’t rank it amongst the top five of his career or even his best of the year (check out Awakenings). I’m not sure Ray Liotta was the best choice for Henry Hill. Apparently, Liotta turned down the role of Harvey Dent in Tim Burton’s Batman in order to star in Goodfellas, a good move considering no one remembers Harvey Dent in the original Batman and Goodfellas is by far the best film Liotta’s ever worked in. Liotta does a decent enough job, but some of his scenes, mostly when he is laughing hysterically, made me cringe a little bit. Liotta has never really gone on to do anything worthwhile for his career and I wonder if Goodfellas could have been even better with a more capable actor in the lead role.

It would be a fair argument to say that Martin Scorsese should have won his first Best Director Oscar in 1991 for Goodfellas. While Dances With Wolves might have been an easier film for the Academy to swallow, I can’t imagine someone saying with a straight face that it’s a better film, particularly in the directing department. There’s a great scene in Goodfellas where the camera follows Henry and Karen through the back entrance of a restaurant, through the kitchen, and into the dining room where a table is immediately set for them, not once breaking for a separate take. Simply put, Goodfellas was better than Dances With Wolves and Scorsese, long overlooked by the Academy, was robbed.

I don’t want you to come away from this review with the impression that I didn’t like Goodfellas that much. I loved it. Yes, maybe Ray Liotta wasn’t the best choice for Henry Hill; yes, I liked Miller’s Crossing more; but Goodfellas was still a GREAT film, just maybe not as great as some people have made it out to be. If you haven’t ever seen Goodfellas, I’d bump it to the top of your Must Rent list and if it’s been a while since you’ve seen it, it’s worth revisiting.

Grade: A
Viewings: maybe 2?
Replay Value: A must for the DVD collection.
Oscars: A Best Supporting Actor win for Pesci. Nominations for Bracco, Scorsese, Best Picture, Film Editing, and Adapted Screenplay.
Sequel Potential: None. Based on a true story.
Nudity? Amazingly, no. Lots of sexual references, but no nudity that I can remember.