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Friday, August 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Robert DeNiro!

There seems to be yet another birthday in the midst, that of a fine Hollywood Great. Reading the title should clue you in on who that Great is. Yes, Robert DeNiro turns sixty-nine today, and I find this rather of a coincidence because just yesterday I was browsing through an array of facts about him. Something I learned, for instance, is that he has many well-known friends, most of whom he had worked with in the past. Now, I just find this slice of information so comforting because I've always admired Robert DeNiro, obviously, and to know that he is well-liked by so many other actors is just splendid. Also, I've discovered that he has been married, for fifteen years, to one Grace Hightower, an African-American woman. Not that there is anything wrong with that, nor is it discriminatory to even suggest that there could be something wrong with it by my having to say "not that there's anything wrong with that". I was just stunned, as all. I figured Robert DeNiro to be one of those men who never got married, like Al Pacino. Because, as everyone is probably aware, the two are always compared against the other. Anyway, I'd like to take the time and analyze some of his many many fine achievements. (Did you pick up on that "analyze" pun?)

Bobby and Marty - This refers to Robert DeNiro's everlasting affiliation to the magnificent Martin Scorsese. I thought shortening their names would emphasize on how close their friendship is in reality. These two are synonymous with Jack Lemmon and Billy Wilder, which, in my opinion, is as high and impressive as it gets for actor-director companionships. Martin Scorsese, really, established Robert DeNiro in the film industry in unforgettable roles that truly express the actor's brilliant ability in transforming himself on the screen. This timeless duo began in the early 1970s with a film called Mean Streets, where the actor became recognized for his aggressive portrayal as a criminal mobster. They continued their journey with iconic films such as Taxi Driver, which includes Robert DeNiro's famous "you talkin' to me" monologue; New York, New YorkRaging Bull, where Robert DeNiro received his second Oscar for Best Actor; and The King of Comedy. All of these films have the one similarity, which is that I haven't seen them. Merely stating that fact is painful, for the most apparent of reasons. (That they are additional creations by the marvelous actor and director, if you were truly confused as to what the reason was.) Perhaps I am skeptical in these films' worth because of the time they were released, as you all know I don't care too much for supposed classics of the 1970s and even 1980s. Since I am unknown to their quality, I won't make any judgements.
In 1990, Robert DeNiro paired up with Marty yet again in a magnificent film called Goodfellas. This amazing film truly defines Martin Scorsese as a director, and even proves to be a Mafia-classic that is worthy to stand beside The Godfather, which is something to be revere. While Robert DeNiro is an intricate part of the film, he isn't much of the main character, from what I gathered from watching it. When he did make appearances, unquestionably, he was exceptional. (That reminds me. Maybe it's time to revisit it. That's how phenomenal the film is.) I'd like to mention how Goodfellas did not receive the award for Best Picture because it lost to Dances with Wolves. Yet another aggravating snub on the Academy, one they should be ashamed of. More than ashamed, actually, but let's not get too into that.
A year later, they made Cape Fear, which I saw a few nights ago for the first time. I must say, this was a rather powerful film, not in the meaning of "makes you think", but in that it was very suspenseful and truly frightening at times. Robert DeNiro plays Max Cady, a demented rapist who was wrongfully convicted based on a lack of evidence, proof that was buried by his public defender. Naturally, like any man scorned, Max begins to torment the lawyer and his family, which is such a masterful work of deception and trickery. As a character, Max Cady is positively revolting and, as I said, terrifying. Like any girl, whom Max Cady could easily have targeted, I found myself angry with Juliette Lewis when she had a conversation with the man she knows has been stalking her family. As I was mesmerized by the screen and by Robert DeNiro's overwhelmingly convincing performance, I realized that I, too, would have engaged into conversation, albeit a nervous, tense one. Because, what can you do in a situation like that, when you know who the person is and what they're capable of? It's all the more horrifying to watch when realizing that, which heightens the enjoyment of the film, in actuality. Yet another excellent film by the pair.
After that, they made their last film together to date, which returned to Martin Scorsese's preferred mobster setting, in Casino. The first time I watched this, I was amazed, and even considered it higher in caliber than Goodfellas (an opinion which altered when I watched the latter film again). Of course, upon a second viewing of Casino, I was nonetheless enthralled by the film, for I enjoyed the atmosphere of a casino, and was thoroughly intrigued by the inner-workings and how the Mafia controlled them. And may I say that their methods were far more effective than present-day procedures, in the casino's case anyway. (Then again, how would I know?) Robert DeNiro portrays a "gambling handicapper" named Sam "Ace" Rothstein, who oversees the day-to-day events of a casino. Basically, I think, he's the boss. All that is needed to know about this film is that Robert DeNiro is, once again, fantastic in his intimidating portrayal of someone high in the ranks of crime. Another impressive highlight of the film, perhaps the most impressive part of all, was Sharon Stone's amazing performance as Ginger, Ace's wife who soon becomes troublesome when she begins drinking and using drugs. This was probably her only good performance, based on her sloppy track record of duds. Overall, another fine film.
Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese are infinitely skilled both together and apart, and their collaboration in film has formed a golden standard in how movies should be. Robert DeNiro has grown into a truly remarkable actor and contributes this to Martin Scorsese nearly every time he receives an award, in the same way that Martin Scorsese's films have evolved into masterpieces in cinema. The two are, indeed, a timeless duo in the world of cinema. And that's all I have to say about that.

Life of Comedy - Later in his career, Robert DeNiro decided to venture the path of comedic roles, beginning with Analyze This. Here, he was still close to home by playing a mob boss named Paul Vitti, though he demonstrated his incredible talent when he proved that he was absolutely hilarious. On screen with a comedic relic as Billy Crystal was a difficult feat upon hearing such a scenario, but Robert DeNiro faced this challenge and even rose up Billy Crystal's level of humor, if not surpassed him. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what I call impressive. The sequel, on the other hand, was not equally great. In fact, I consider it one of those many "bad" sequels, unfortunately. His next comical project would be as the formidable ex-CIA agent Jack Byrnes in Meet the Parents. I doubt that I have to say how recognizably funny Robert DeNiro was here, for I'm sure many of you are aware. He delivers such sarcastic, hilarious comments with a stern face of impenetrable stone that you tense up as he's on the screen, as if he were talking to you. Succinctly put, he was simply wonderful. In the sequels, he was, also, just as funny, though no comedy could ever really recreate the magic made in the first one. With all this said, I sincerely hope Robert DeNiro will continue to explore all regions of cinema, particularly more comedy, because--well, you read everything I said.

In these many extraordinary transformations, Robert DeNiro has given himself an identity, one that recognizes him as a certain character that the public is fond of. That, furthermore, makes Robert DeNiro all the more admirable and fun to enjoy on the screen. Hence my absolute affection for him. I feel that I will never be disappointed by Robert DeNiro, nor should I be because he is a Hollywood Great, and such a declaration defines his undeniable talent that shall never diminish. As I'm writing this, I realize that all I am doing is using adjectives of "great" to describe each and all of his performances, as well as the incredible films themselves. And why shouldn't I? He is one of the finest actors of this generations and rightly deserves such exaggerated affection and honor. And that's really all I can say. For the moment, I must rush outside and sink into my bubbling hot tub that awaits my entrance. Enjoy the atmosphere.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Yet Another Award

I don't mean to make it sound as if I am growing bored of receiving these Liebster nominations, nor is my intention to act pompous by saying that. It's just a title, nothing to dissect. Anyway, you all know the rules for this Liebster thing, if you've read my previous award-tag post (An Unexpected Delight). That being said, I'll just get right into it. But wait! I've already shared eleven things about myself, and within the past week I might add. I've also nominated seven people for this award, as well as asked eleven dastardly questions. Therefore, this post will merely answer the eleven questions asked by AmateurReviews, who nominated me for the Liebster. Here we go.

Amateur Reviews' Questions:

1. Favourite James Bond and film?
Sean Connery, unquestionably, is the ideal James Bond. As for the film, I'm not especially fond of those spy-flicks. If I had to choose, I would have to say the one with Halle Berry and Pierce Brosnan on account of its amusingly cheesy quality.

2. What film has the best sound track ever?
This one is difficult. I could go traditional, and say John Williams' score for Star Wars. Or I could go modern, and say the soundtrack for Kick-Ass was exceptional. For this, however, I must say that the best sound track has to be Finding Nemo. I just beam when I hear it.

3. If you could cast one leading lady and one leading man who would they be?
Since this isn't very specific, I'll go ahead and cast the two for an adorable romantic-comedy. For some reason, I'm leaning towards Michelle Pfeiffer and Jack Nicholson. I love them both, and think they would be great together all the same.

4. Which is the film you secretly love, but feel you should hate?
There are plenty of those, starting with Sex and the City. But I want to surprise you and say...Old Dogs. It is so painfully corny, in addition to the appearance of Robin Williams and waxy, twenty-first century John Travolta, yet I enjoy it very much. Disney magic.

5. If you had the casting vote at the last Academy Awards, which film would you have win best picture?
The Artist. Thankfully, my vote wasn't needed.

6. Who would you choose to play you in a biopic of your life?
Kate Winslet.

7. What is your favorite movie scene of all time?
The first that comes to mind is the iconic dance sequence in Pulp Fiction.

8. In your opinion, who is the most overrated director ever?
Robert Altman, considering all of his films are excruciatingly dull. Though, since he is not all that recognizable, I would say Steven Spielberg because everyone uses him as the ideal example. "Well, that movie was good, but it was no Spielberg picture."

9. Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?
Lord of the Rings.

10. If you could only ever watch comedies or action films for the rest of your life which would it be?
Comedies, no question.

11. What was the last movie that made you cry?
Toy Story 3, when the toys were about to be burned with garbage. It gets me every time.

I must say, those were a challenging set of questions. The first few took more than a moment to answer, and even now I'm uncertain. Bravo, AmateurReviews. I love my mind to be stimulated. See? Very short post, as promised.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Happy Birthday Dustin Hoffman!

This was originally going to be another "gadget-post", but I felt it was getting too long for that, which just shows my genuine admiration for the actor in question. Today commemorates the seventy-fifth birthday of yet another Hollywood Great. Three-quarters of a century is quite a milestone for any person, especially one worthy of such a revered declaration. I've never really had an opinion of this fine actor, until I watched several of his films of course. Here is just a mere sampling of some of his brilliant achievements:

Rain Man - As a film, this wasn't all that impressive, let alone deserving of a Best Picture Academy Award (though, other than the amusingly cheesy Working Girl, there wasn't much competition). Directed by Barry Levinson (whom I admire in honor of Bugsy), the film follows two brothers traveling cross-country while increasing the inheritance their father gave them. In the meantime, the two form a special, very sweet bond, made all the more sweeter because of Dustin Hoffman's innocent, reserved character. He plays Raymond Babbitt, an autistic genius, whom his selfish brother Charlie (played by Tom Cruise) takes advantage of, at first. It's been a while since I watched this, so my judgement may be muddled. Nevertheless, I recall Dustin Hoffman to be more-than-deserving of his Best Actor statuette for his uncanny performance of an autistic person. He "nailed" the quiet and odd nature of such an individual flawlessly, which earned him a spot on Hollywood's acclaimed legends.

Wag the Dog - This is a rare gem in cinema, as it covers the hush-hush inner-workings of government and how exactly they create the fabrications that fool simple Americans. It's a bit complicated, overall, because they use certain political/business vernacular that uninformed critics, such as myself, aren't adapted to. But I got the big picture anyway, using my damned wit. In order to cover up a presidential scandal, a "spin doctor" recruits the talent of a Hollywood producer to fabricate an entire war. That's right, they fool Americans by making up a whole war. (While this is completely fictional, it is realistic.) Dustin Hoffman is fantastic as the fast-talking, cynical Stanley Motts, and that's all there is to say about that. This may be the film that brought me to admire him as much as I do. Robert DeNiro, another Hollywood Great, co-stars in this brilliant political farce as the alleged "spin doctor", who is just as manipulative and quick-on-his-feet as the Hollywood producer. All in all, a marvelous picture.

Tootsie - How shocking that someone as foreboding as Dustin Hoffman could portray a Susie-female. (The term "Susie-female" is one I made up to describe a rosy-cheeked, strict-standard woman, like--let's just move on.) I had some difficulty in actually watching this movie, for my dad doesn't particularly care for cross-dressing roles. While I don't blame him (it's better than preferring such films), I was relentless in making him sit with me to watch it. And, wouldn't you know, we both loved it. Well, I did anyway. He liked it just fine, too, though he wouldn't admit to it. Now, I've been browsing through feedback about the movie, and many call Dustin Hoffman's character a transvestite, which is just ridiculous. It's not that he wanted to dress like a woman, he needed to in order to get the part on a television show. In other words, he did for the money. Also, transvestites are more often than not, homosexual. It's the cold truth, and for those who are idealists about it being untrue, you can just get the hell out of here. Moving on. Dustin Hoffman was, once again, wonderful as Michael Dorsey, portraying the role of desperate-aspiring actor superbly. What was more impressive was his performance as his female alter-ego Dorothy Michaels (clever pseudonym), from his "feministic" demeanor to his perfected womanly voice. He was just dandy, as always. Unfortunately, Gandhi received the Best Actor statuette that year. I'll allow you to remember who portrayed him.

Meet the Fockers - Obviously, this isn't his finest moment in movies, though it was a surprising change of scenery for the actor. This was probably the first film I saw him in, and I didn't know who he was, and I just found him to be hilarious. Maybe that term exaggerates it a bit, but he did humor me immensely. This statement extends itself after I became acquainted with Dustin Hoffman's serious career. His easy-going, exuberant nature is so amusing, and made even more amusing when you know just the kind of person Dustin Hoffman is. Compared to the stern, grumpy Jack Byrnes (played by Robert DeNiro, as you all should know), the two both shine as the film's brightest cast members. Barbara Streisand, as well as her husband in the film, were excellent additions to this quirky sequel, which I thought was great, despite what the lousy critics out there say. Once again, I say bravo to Dustin Hoffman.

Well, there you have it. A mere sample of the impressive career of Dustin Hoffman. I apologize this is not as long as the usual birthday-posts are, but it is too long for a "gadget-post", wouldn't you agree? I'd like to make an additional note about Dustin Hoffman, and it concerns the actor himself. On the set of Tootsie, the director, Sydney Pollack, was quoted that he would never work with Dustin Hoffman again because he is complicated to work with. And that just made me a little sad inside because it's heartbreaking to discover that an actor you admire is not an altogether nice person. It makes you sigh in desolation when you see them on the screen and you think to yourself, "Did he give the crew a hard time during this scene?", which makes the entire movie-watching experience a tad sour. Despite all that, I am firm on my declaration that Dustin Hoffman is, indeed, a Hollywood Great, and I do, indeed, admire him a whole lot. Happy Birthday, once again, good sir.

P.S. The punctuation rule is deemed void when it's a birthday-post. See the explanation point in the title? That is what I am referring to, and I am telling you that it is an exception.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

An Unexpected Treat

Though this was completely out of the blue, I have received this award before, from the same person too, so I'm not that dazzled. Of course, I am aware of my extraordinary talent for writing. I think we can all agree that I am gifted with such a skill, right? All right, enough of this humorous conceit: let's get down to business. (I apologize, in advance, if this post is not as beautifully written as usual. I wasn't expecting to write anything, let alone be honored with a blog award, so be patient.) Along with being nominated for this award, I am granted with a series of tasks I must carry out, which I will do in the following post. Here is my list of instructions, which may or may not be required to win the award:

1. Write eleven things about myself.
2. Answer the eleven questions the person who nominated me asked.
3. Create eleven questions of my own to ask the individuals I will be nominating.
4. Choose those lucky eleven individuals, and inform them of my nominating them.
5. And the one rule is that I cannot nominate the person who nominated me. Apparently, that would be cheating.

Here we go. Eleven things about me:

1. I despise flying creatures, particularly insects. Whenever I hear the buzzing of a fly, trapped in my room, I am immediately alert and on a mission to murder that creature.
2. I am accused of having an eating disorder because I burn more calories than I consume. This is called a weight-loss plan, and it is perfectly healthy and even encouraged.
3. I may possibly have a minor over-compulsive disorder. For example, I cannot just sit and eat a meal, for I must carry out a uniform routine of "habits", such as evening my couch cushions and adjusting my necklace seven times. Whatever I do, it must always repeat for an odd number of times, mostly three or seven cycles. Strange, indeed. At times, it can be increasingly frustrating. Now, this may be a tad unhealthy, as it increases stress levels.
4. I am ashamed to admit that I do not especially enjoy playing with my little three-year-old brother. Even when I am doing absolutely nothing of interest, I simply cringe at the sound of him calling for me. Honestly, I wish I wouldn't be this way. Yet another flaw triggered by stress, perhaps.
5. There are times when I am annoyed by my friends. I hear that's common, and it is just awful.
6. Remember that episode of Friends where each character made a list of five celebrities they would sleep with? Well, my list is as followed, in no order: Michael Fassbender, Jason Sudeikis, Jean Dujardin, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Ian Harding. (I would have included Andrew Garfield, but he and Emma Stone are far too adorable to interfere with.)

He would be the name you didn't recognize.
Ian Harding from Pretty Little Liars

7. I find myself intolerable of a wide variety of actors and actresses, in addition to my real-life fare of disliked folk out there. (They know who they are, I'm sure. I can be quite bitter when provoked.) Some of those better-known people are: Andie McDowell, Robin Williams, Daryl Hannah, Russell Brand, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jeff Bridges, Michelle Williams.... I've decided to stop there, since I've included two actors with the last name Williams. Some of these may be a shock to you because they are so worldly beloved, but nevertheless, I cannot stand them. However, that statement oftentimes makes watching their films enjoyable based on the irresistible Sex and the City-factor.
8. I am very indecisive in certain situations, and therefore very easy to manipulate. This is probably my worst quality, as it causes me to have an abundance of regrets. Especially terrible in romance dilemmas.
9. Out of all the characters within the entertainment sector, my mother has compared me to Carrie Bradshaw, the one character I abhor more than anyone on television. Would you agree with such a baffling statement? I am curious, would you agree?
10. I love watching movies on cable. In fact, I prefer it to watching a DVD of that movie. It's just the thrill of catching a great film on the dot of its beginning, it's such a delight.
11. When I'm alone, I find myself living life as a movie. In this movie, I am nominated for Best Actress, and, when I'm standing in front of a mirror, I make an Oscar acceptance speech. How foolish.

Next, the questions I shall answer, asked by Ruth of "....let's be splendid about this...":

What is the first film you remember watching?
To be honest, I have no idea. According to my mom, it was The Piglet Movie, but I can't recall a bit of that. I suppose the earliest I can remember would have to be...Rat Race.

If you could pick one film composer to score your life, who would it be?
Danny Elfman. He's so cheery and quirky, especially for Desperate Housewives.

On that note, how much of your music library contains film scores/soundtracks?
About one-sixth, none of which is scored by Danny Elfman.

Do you have a prized film poster on your wall?
Yes. Pulp Fiction.

Film (as in 35 mm etc.) or digital?
Film because it alludes to the Golden Age of cinema, with Billy Wilder and true classics.

Favourite foreign language film?
La Grande Vadrouille, starring Louis de Funes.


Not including 'director' if you could have any type of role in creating a film, what would you like to do?
If I'm passionate about the film, a producer. They're so respected and really do nothing. I would write, but I fear criticism, especially from prestigious figures. (Unless this is an indie of some sort? Then nothing at all.)

Desert Island Flicks - pick 5. Go!
There aren't many to choose from. I guess Six Days Seven Nights and Pirates of the Caribbean.

If you could only choose to watch either dramas, or comedy films for the rest of your life (and this includes black comedies), which would you choose?
Comedies because I enjoy laughter. Plus, a bad comedy is better than a bad drama.

Favourite animated feature (or short, if you like)?
Very challenging choice to make here. I would have to say...Shrek. As much as I adore Pixar films, this first-ever Oscar winning 'toon really shines from the rest.

First film festival you ever attended (or wish to attend. I've only gone to my first this year).
I wish to attend the Golden Globes because it's so much more laid-back than the Oscars, and seemingly more fun. Of course, it depends on who's hosting.

Now, my questions:

1. Who is your favorite under-appreciated actor (in your opinion of who is under-appreciated)?
2. Which do you prefer: classics (before 1970) or modern (twenty-first century)?
3. Least favorite actor and why?
4. Have you ever taken notes during a film, for your blog or personal purposes?
5. Are you one of those people who like to discuss the film as you are watching it?
6. In your opinion, what is the worst Best Picture winner, and who do you think should have gotten the award that year? (For example, Dances with Wolves is the worst, Goodfellas should have won.)
7. Most overrated film of all-time?
8. Do you prefer watching movies with someone or alone?
9. Do you go to the movies when you're on vacation?
10. Most talented actress who is also beautiful (in your opinion)?
11. Would you begin to dislike an actor you once loved because of a movie they were in?

Well, now we reach the end of this odd, unusual post. I must choose eleven people to nominate for this very award. Here they are:

Larry at themoviesnob
George at CineMarvellous!

I've decided to nominate only seven individuals. Have a wonderful day.