Tag Archives: Robert De Niro

Last Vegas Review

Eventually, everyone in the living world will have forgotten Last Vegas. A 2013 comedy flick led by four ageing stars needing to bank a quick check to pay off whatever hip replacement, alimony settlement or elephant’s foot walking cane holder is needed that week. All that will remain are whispers of such a film existing, one that can feature incredible, Oscar-winning talents shuffling around the gambling capital of the world. Wrinkled faces throw a bachelor party and at their tender age, “party” is closer to a round of scrabble and some Benadryl before walking around the small gardens of Vegas. What cannot be expected from this ensemble under the watchful eyes of director Jon Turteltaub, is quality.

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Shark Tale Review

It is rare to consider nostalgia as a tool to deploy on films that may have fallen out of favour with generations older than ours. Rarer still it may be to actively fight against it, hence why there is currently a cult of Robots fans defending that Ewan McGregor masterclass to their dying breath. With that, though, the Blue Sky Studios feature is deserving of its acclaim. Sharp writing, an ensemble like no other and sleek animation, it is everything Dreamworks could not provide with Shark Tale, a feature that relies on the popstar variety that plagued early-2000s comedies. From David Bowie appearing in Zoolander to Britney Spears in Austin Powers: Goldmember, the cameo construct was inescapable. To place rap artist and actor Will Smith at the heart of this made sense, but there are hopes buried deep that it did not.

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The Godfather II Review

Origin stories have drowned out the originality of the big-budget feature. Nowadays, everything, whether it is a supporting riff from an old legend or a leading role of an established franchise, needs an origin story. Before it was hip and resourceful to do so, though, The Godfather II took a portion of the Mario Puzo book, The Godfather, and siphoned it off into a sequel. While it may open with a mother’s love for her young boy and the lengths she will go to in defending him, the real core of The Godfather II is that the gut instinct of those threatened by the young boy is correct. It is a common occurrence in The Godfather. Instinct is the unmovable object, and it is that which The Godfather II bases itself on.

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Great Expectations Review

Ethan Hawke opens with some insipid, uninspired notes of narration. “I am not going to tell the story the way it happened,” his soulless ideas spring from the screen as a camera pans around a boy in a shallow sea. Where Great Expectations and Alfonso Cuarón fail is in the modernisation of the Charles Dickens classic. But modernity is not something to cower away from. Where Great Expectations offers a new era and generation of interest for the text, it fails to capture what few notes made it settle so well. It is nowhere close to the David Lean feature before it, and Cuarón must, surely, know that.  

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Jackie Brown Review

The drumbeat replicates the heart. As the record scratch bursts through, the pairing of Elmore Leonard’s eponymous character and the bondsman looking out for her is captured with excitement and keenness from the pulpy, blaxploitation style Quentin Tarantino wishes to replicate here. Jackie Brown (or Rum Punch to give it its real title) was never a text that exuded the notes and key roles of the blaxploitation feature, but Tarantino adapts it as such by twisting the arm of these characters and deploying a fine ensemble to take on the challenge. His critique of the typical machoism of the genre is on point, and surprisingly so. It is something not even Leonard could capture in his text. 

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Analyze This Review

A mere coincidence that Analyze This and The Sopranos came out at the same time, Harold Ramis’ final feature of the 20th century sees a mobster meet a psychiatrist after a bout of anxiety and self-doubt about his role in the family business. The Sopranos may feature something similar (without Ramis’ involvement), but the tones and stylings of either piece could not be any different. Worked-up hostilities in the private lives of these two leading men, Analyze This hopes comedy will blossom from the sessions audiences sit in on, but it never comes clearer than when Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal are separated from one another. 

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New York, New York Review

Somewhere deep within, director Martin Scorsese had surely hit a form of rock bottom. Burnout, perhaps. He had hit the high of Taxi Driver, and while cooler heads have prevailed in recent years, initial readings and reception of the film were less than stellar. What better way to get into the good books of the Hollywood system than to make a musical? New York, New York, the Robert De Niro and Liza Minnelli-led feature, is by no means bad. It is simply not the classics we know Scorsese is capable of crafting time and time again. Considering Taxi Driver was the project before it, and Raging Bull the fictional work to follow a brief interlude with documentary filmmaking for the great Scorsese, this romantic drama blurring musical connotations feels like a low ebb in a career full of highs.

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Ronin Review

Off the back of both Heat and Leon: The Professional, Robert De Niro and Jean Reno were both hot commodities for the action genre. Ronin, then, is the inevitable collaboration between the two, referring to both as titular Ronin, samurai warriors who had turned their back on those they needed to protect. They were rogues, and to some degree “ronin” sounds better than “hired gun”. Irish and Russian mobsters go head-to-head in Paris, fighting over a MacGuffin briefcase of contents unknown. Unlike the briefcase, the content within director John Frankenheimer’s antepenultimate action flick has all the consistencies and usual suspects of the genre.

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Taxi Driver Review

A sucker for jazz I may be, the sultry tones of saxophone overlaying the montage shots of taxicabs within the Big Apple is gorgeous, even if it does look seedy, bleak and grim. It is, as the protagonist says, as if a sewage pipe had been let off in the city. Director Martin Scorsese tackles the underbelly of city living rather well throughout Taxi Driver, but it is more the strange individuals encountered in the back of taxi cabs and what they proclaim of their own future that is more concerning and erratic. Such is the brilliance of this piece, and the devolution of the schizotypal inflicted lead is not just cause for concern, but an unveiling of how criminals operate on the fringes of society. 

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Silver Linings Playbook Review

Mental illness in film is considerably difficult to manage correctly. Think back to other alumni of The Hangover, and how they’ve tried to present the ricochet of depression, anxiety and a cavalcade of cycles needing to be broken. It’s A Kind of Funny Story was a sour-tasting mess helmed by Zach Galifianakis, its broad strokes comparatively dangerous when compared to the Bradley Cooper-led Silver Linings Playbook. A solid film as flawed as its leading character, director David O. Russel’s career peak is a mixed bag of respect, remorse and the importance of family, seasoned with just a hint of breeziness to its story.

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