Tag Archives: Robert De Niro

The Set of 400: #82 – My Favorite Fishing Strategy

Today! Because when he turned up dead, I let it go. And I said to myself, this is the business we’ve chosen –

The Godfather: Part II (1974) Directed by Francis Ford Coppola (x2) Starring Al Pacino (x4), Robert De Niro (x5), John Cazale (x2), Robert Duvall (x2), Diane Keaton (x4), Michael V. Gazzo (x2), Talia Shire (x4), Lee Strasberg, G.D. Spradlin, Bruno Kirby (x3), Gastone Moschin, Richard Bright, Morgana King, Troy Donahue, Dominic Chianese (x2), Joe Spinell (x2), Abe Vigoda (x2), Gianni Russo, James Caan (x3), Harry Dean Stanton (x4), Danny Aiello (x3), John Aprea (x2)

The Godfather was my dad’s favorite movie. To be more specific, what he really loved was the collection he referred to as The Complete Novel for Television – which came to be known in a variety of different ways on home video and re-airings over the years. This compilation, first aired on network TV in 1977, pulls apart The Godfather: Part II and rearranges the whole thing chronologically, while removing some of the violence and nudity. And this was the most frequent way Rosco (not his real name, or the customary spelling) would watch it. You know how I’ve mentioned before about series of films in my early life blending together into one mass? I think it can all be attributed to seeing The Godfather movies meshed together like this almost exclusively for years. He preferred this huge, six-hour version of the story to the separate films, so that’s what he’d watch. I’m not sure I actually saw The Godfather: Part II the way it was originally intended until I was in my twenties. And, yeah, it probably works better in the original format – with young Vito’s rise set opposite Michael’s epic struggles. As iconic and basically perfect as the first film is, my favorite part of the whole series is early 1900’s Vito arriving at Ellis Island and clawing his way up through New York organized crime.

It’s everyone’s favorite, isn’t it?

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The Set of 400: #127 – My Favorite Facelift

Today! Because if you hold out too long you could jeopardize your credit rating –

Brazil (1985)

Directed by Terry Gilliam (x3)

Starring Jonathan Pryce (x2), Kim Greist, Ian Holm (x3), Michael Palin (x3), Robert De Niro (x4), Katherine Helmond (x3), Bob Hoskins (x2), Peter Vaughan, Ian Richardson, Jim Broadbent (x4), Barbara Hicks, Gorden Kaye, Simon Jones, Charles McKeown

Terry Gilliam’s dystopian, bureaucratic hellscape has very little obviously to do with the country of Brazil. Allegedly, in some deleted scene or old script treatment or something, the bug that falls in the printer at the beginning of the film that kicks off the whole misidentification caper is seen traveling across the globe from Brazil, thus the title and the modified usage of the great old tune “Aquarela do Brasil” as the theme song.

I also think of Brazil as the ultimate Gilliam movie, coming as it does after Python and his more fantastic adventures Jabberwocky and Time Bandits, but before the somewhat more realistic goings on in The Fisher King and Fear and Loathing (somewhat is the key there). It merges the two eras neatly – not unlike Twelve Monkeys would later – bridging pure fantasy/sci-fi with relatable human issues in a bizarro satirical context. It’s funny while being frustrating and horrifying in the world they’ve created, while also not being all that far afield from the mundane drudgery of working and living in an even remotely regimented society. Jonathan Pryce’s Sam Lowry being shifted between interchangeable government jobs under paranoid, crazed bosses and sharing a desk with a co-worker in another room all sort of makes sense once you’re out in the workplace for a bit. This is a movie I’ve long loved, for the weirdness and futurism, but have only really appreciated the underlying struggles as the years since college have piled higher and deeper. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #131 – My Favorite Coughing Endorsement

Today! Because to her dumb country ass, Compton is Hollywood. Closest she’s ever been anyway –

Jackie Brown (1997)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino (x2)

Starring Pam Grier (x2), Samuel L. Jackson (x5), Robert Forster (x2), Robert De Niro (x3), Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton (x7), Chris Tucker (x2), Michael Bowen (x2), Tiny Lister (x2), LisaGay Hamilton, Hattie Winston, Sid Haig

To say I had been looking forward to Jackie Brown is woefully understating the situation in late 1997. It had been three years – three long formative years – since Pulp Fiction came out, and my whole cinematic outlook had gone through aggressive changes. I mean, going from 15 to 18 years old is going to have its own inherent alterations in lifestyle and tastes, but as I’ve said before, most of my film watching preferences were psychically embedded during this period of time. And PF was as close as anything to the heart of this transformation, so Tarantino finally bringing us his third film was a cause for celebration. Hell, it was a landmark event. It was the goddamn moon landing.

Never mind it was the return of national treasure Pam Grier

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The Set of 400: #354 – My Favorite Matchbook Clue

Today! Because a man becomes preeminent, he’s expected to have enthusiasms. What are mine? Baseball!

The Untouchables (1987)

Directed by Brian De Palma (x2)

Starring Kevin Costner (x2), Sean Connery (x2), Robert De Niro (x2), Andy Garcia, Charles Martin Smith, Jack Kehoe, Billy Drago, Patricia Clarkson, Richard Bradford, Brad Sullivan, Chelcie Ross, Clifton James, Del Close, Don Harvey

Brian De Palma’s second TV show adaptation to make the list, The Untouchables is in many ways the quintessential Chicago film. I mean, for all the basic improvement made here over the last hundred years, the two things you still hear most when the town comes up are the Great Fire and Al Capone. And while In Old Chicago is an okay bit of old Hollywood hokum about Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, it’s not in common cinematic parlance. Al Capone, however, has a new biopic or pops up in some TV show every year or two, right? When we were in London last year, and some waiter asked where we were from, the first thing he mentioned in response? Al Capone. Who has been dead for 70 years.

Chicago icon!

And not to continue too far down this path, but Chicago doesn’t even actively try to embrace the gangster past here. Sure, there’s a cheesy Untouchables Gangster Bus Tour, but no museums, no Al Capone key chains at any of the more official city gift shops. And yet, it hangs on. People like gangster movies, that’s the only explanation. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #360 – My Favorite Movie Theater Cigar

Today! Because granddaddy used to handle snakes in church, Granny drank strychnine –

Cape Fear (1991)

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Starring Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Juliette Lewis, Joe Don Baker, Fred Thompson, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Illeana Douglas, Martin Balsam (x2)

A terrifically tense, harrowing suspense thriller, for about an hour and a half, before collapsing into ludicrously violent madness. Sure, there were certain things Scorsese was locked into doing with Cape Fear, considering it’s a remake and all, but man, some of the choices made are…well, extreme. I think it comes at an interesting point in his career, and De Niro’s too. Figure, both were coming off of Goodfellas, which should’ve finally been the movie Marty won all the Oscars for, but instead it got screwed royally (I’m never forgiving anyone for Dances With Wolves), and through some manner of lashing out, we got Cape Fear. The directing is so intense it borders on intrusive, especially in the first half hour, but it does make for some pretty artsy handling of an otherwise straightforward crime thriller.

De Niro’s tattoos alone are so over-the-top as to question the sanity of everyone involved

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