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.

1 comment:

  1. A week without a new post from you is far too long.
    Come back soon!