BY: GURU JAY
How do you decide which movies to watch, when there are countless choices? Maybe, you’re like me, and you check if your favorite actors are in the film. For instance, if Robert De Niro is in the production, I’ll watch the movie without hesitation.
There’s only one De Niro film I had trouble with, and it is Raging Bull. In the spirit of full disclosure, I only saw approximately 20 minutes before switching to something else. At that time, I was passionately against black and white movies. I couldn’t imagine why they would shoot a modern movie this way.
It’s interesting because Robert De Niro won an Academy Award for Raging Bull. So I may have been wrong. In retrospect, I should have finished watching the movie. But in my defense, I was young and naïve.
My tribute recognizes the best Robert De Niro movies of all time. If I don’t mention your favorites, chime in your comments at the bottom of this story. I would love to read your thoughts.
First, let’s start discussing one of Robert De Niro’s unique exploits. De Niro demonstrates exceptional abilities in an unprecedented film entitled Brazil. Critics rightly consider this one of his best, because of an extremely difficult script. Moreover, the actor won’t runaway from a challenge.
I chose this piece to write about because it doesn’t receive credit for creating and developing a different kind of experience. Although I hated A Scanner Darkly, many swear by it. I defend Brazil from haters and detractors for exactly that reason.
Obviously, the liberal writers experimented with the plot, theme, and settings. But, it’s unproductive to discredit Robert De Niro’s fruitful portion. I recognize Robert’s risky role choice, and applaud his valiant efforts.
When I watched Brazil the first time, the feeling was surreal. Have you ever felt like you’re entering into another dimension? If you’ve seen the Twilight Zone, Brazil feels the same way.
It might behoove movie executives to remake the cult classic. With today’s technology, a second go-around could be profitable. Asking Robert De Niro for advice would be favorable.
Second, this next Martin Scorsese movie showcases both flattering and embarrassing stereotypes. Italian-Americans either love or hate the polarizing film called Goodfellas. In Goodfellas, Robert De Niro plays a mobster, who establishes his territory, and takes control of a frightening situation. The actor does such an awesome job you forget that he’s acting. Almost every scene contains memorable lines and exciting events.
Moviegoers respect Robert De Niro because his characters are believable. Goodfellas should have been called Great Fellows. Seriously, De Niro doesn’t overdramatize, which dramatically affects the movie’s direction and perception. Although costar Joe Pesci goes overboard, it’s perfectly fine because De Niro never breaks character, and always remains coolheaded.
What is more, Robert De Niro cemented his legacy and engrained Goodfellas into American vernacular. Does the movie glorify illegal activities too much? Is it any worst than popular criminal TV thrillers nowadays?
Goodfellas leaves the audience with a nugget of truth about life, love, and lost. Artistically, a film of this caliber can’t be reproduced because Robert De Niro is so central to its theme. The world should realize he is the last of a dying breed.
Next, this movie displays 2 elite movie stars headtohead in a horserace. Crime genre fans justifiably tout the excellence of Heat. As a writer, I treasure the amazing dialogue between Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.
In order to create a cinematic masterpiece, one needs masterful theatrics. I give 2 Thumps up to the casting department for choosing superb actors. While watching the movie I find myself in total disbelief because I can’t determine who is the hero and villain.
Furthermore, I have to ask an unfair question. Is Robert De Niro a better actor than Al Pacino? Whoever has the answer is lying through their teeth, because that’s rhetorical.
Sometimes, I believe Robert De Niro goes so deep into character that he doesn’t come out of it. So, if I ever met him in person, I wouldn’t know how to address him. I would probably call him Godfather, because I absolutely don’t want to talk to the taxi driver.
The 4th movie I want to discuss is Taxi Driver. In an interview, Robert De Niro stated he acquired a chauffeur’s license in order to prepare for this part. How many other movie stars literally transpose into their roles?
While the movie confronts dark subjects, it tells the painful reality of a nightmarish American story. The 1976 motion picture costars a 14 year-old Jodie Foster. Taxi Driver conveys a powerful message about facing societal problems with solutions instead of blame. Who knows why the Martin Scorsese film didn’t receive multiple Academy Awards?
Perhaps, Taxi Driver was ahead of its time, in the sense that the country couldn’t confront the Vietnam War issue at that time. Clearly, Taxi Driver served Hollywood’s agenda just by being nominated for 4 awards. Hence, if De Niro and Scorsese were to receive Oscars, then the Academy would have taken an official stance against the Vietnam War.
The Oscars shouldn’t be a political animal that’s bigger than a donkey on top of an elephant. It’s totally inexcusable that Robert De Niro has only 1 Academy Award in his collection. Undoubtedly, Taxi Driver should have earned this thespian his first Oscar.
Casino comes with a built-in twist in that Robert De Niro, who typically portrays Italians, plays a “Golden Jew.” In the beginning, Robert’s character “Ace” Rothstein seemingly dies in a car explosion. After sealing his fate, Ace begins narrating his Las Vegas tale from the supposed grave.
Sharon Stone serves as a sidekick and lover to the Jewish casino gangbanger that is Robert De Niro. Joe Pesci delivers a critical component to the story. This movie would be mediocre without Pesci and Stone’s spectacular showings. How does Scorsese get everything and everybody right?
The Casino plot mainly concentrates on Rothstein’s character, and is seen through his vantage point. If there were perfect movies, Casino is more perfect. After watching the convincing movie once, many people will schedule a flight to Vegas.
On the other hand, whether or not one takes this trip into the desert, depends largely how one perceives the director’s phenomenal piece, which delivers a cautionary message against gambling. Robert de Niro helps turn Casino into classic theatre and prominent popular culture. Now, imagine the tables turning and instead of the gangsters going to jail or dying: they pass go on the Monopoly Board that is Vegas, land on Boardwalk, and save up enough cash to buy a beachfront mansion in Beverly Hills and a exquisite Manhattan condominium.
In mobster movies, there’s hardly ever a happy ending. The only winners tend to be lawyers and courts that charge excessive fees for simple services. While Robert De Niro has starred in the greatest Mafia films, I don’t believe Hollywood type casted him.
Men of Honor
On the contrary, this next movie deviates from stereotypical De Niro scripts. Based on a true story, in Men of Honor, Robert plays Master Chief Petty Officer Leslie Sunday. Supporting actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. portrays Master Diver Carl Brashear who became the first amputee to return to full active duty in the U.S. Navy.
Both movie stars put on incredible performances. Furthermore, Gooding, Jr. slowly changes into a better performer, while filming with one of the greatest actors of all time. In a sense, Cuba made Robert more special.
Both Sunday and Brashear overcame significant odds, broke records, and made history. They honored their country and wore their uniforms with bravery and courage. In an ideal world, more family friendly films like this would get made.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding, Jr. produce another picture together? After revisiting Men of Honor, I see why the blockbuster generated $82 million on a $32 million budget. There’s nothing better than a gripping story that’s true to the cause.
Men of Honor would have received Oscars, if Hollywood didn't have an unhealthy fascination with violence. Like a Daniel Day-Lewis movie, usually there will be bloody depictions celebrated at award ceremonies. Robert De Niro understands how to differentiate himself and reach a new audience. That’s why he’s an amazing actor, who can’t be duplicated, only imitated.
Can critics agree that The Score starring Robert De Niro and Marlon Brando contains the absolute best acting known to mankind? De Niro, who stars as a master safecracker, sits in the background, and compliments the legendary Brando. How great is it to see Robert De Niro on screen with another great star from an older generation?
Directors and actors love working with Robert De Niro because he prepares harder for projects than a Harvard scholar on Finals day. He could probably write a dissertation on each movie’s subject matter. The best like Robert, work smarter to reap incremental benefits.
The Score captures Robert’s underrated range and underused capabilities. Brando, Edward Norton, and Angela Bassett brought out the absoluteness of De Niro. I can watch this movie 10 consecutive times and never get bored, because it is a tour de force.
The Godfather Part II
If 100 movie buffs were asked to name the top 10 movies in history, at least 86 would cite The Godfather Part II. Robert De Niro received Best Supporting Actor for his labor of love. Robert’s charisma compels the audience to the gangster lifestyle. Additionally, The Godfather Part II inspired future filmmakers to engage in the fine arts.
Robert De Niro’s successful portrayal of Mafia figures cannot be overhyped. De Niro is the leader of the pack in his niche. No one can touch De Niro, except maybe Al Pacino, in the crime genre.
I consider The Godfather Part II just as great as part I. Rarely does a sequel outperform the original. Then again, Robert resembles a diamond in the rough.
The government should mandate that everyone watch this movie at least twice. The Raging Bull actor executes like Rocky Marciano in the ring. Lastly, the Rocky and Bullwinkle Fearless Leader is adaptable.
The Good Shepherd
Finally, The Good Shepherd completes the discussion. In addition to directing, nonetheless De Niro plays a General. Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie star in Director De Niro’s masterpiece.
I believe this movie involving the Central Intelligence Agency prepared Jolie for the Salt role. Furthermore, The Good Shepherd influenced Matt Damon’s The Adjustment Bureau. Whether in front of or behind cameras, Robert De Niro doesn’t stop delivering.
Once again, replace good with great. The iconic celebrity directed The Great Shepherd. Everything Robert does, as a performer, is very good because this superstar outdoes.
I’m impressed by his endurance, and Silver Linings Playbook is a testament. Also, I want to mention the Sleepers, Cop Land, Jackie Brown, and Meet the Parents. Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown pairs Pamela Grier with Samuel L. Jackson and features Robert De Niro.
The fine actor could complain, but he doesn’t. Movie executives and studio bosses don’t pay De Niro enough money. Why don’t more performance artists participate in profit sharing?
Everyday, greedy corporations cheat hardworking actors out their fair compensation. That’s why there are too many famous actors, but too little rich actors. I respect Robert De Niro because he’s not out of touch. He knows these gangsters, disguised as Sony executives, are out there giving talented starving artists a pittance. In all fairness, how can I recognize the honorable without mentioning the dishonorable?
If you’re reading this, and you’re a Hollywood aspirant or a paid entertainer, be considerate of your colleague. If you can, band together with them. If you want accountability, support the Tribeca Film Festival cofounded by De Niro, because you know the actor/director has the artist’s needs in mind.
Photos By: Wikimedia Commons
As a point of reference, it’s insulting to call De Niro “good.” Does it sound good saying Robert De Niro is my favorite movie star, and one of the best actors ever? Or does it sound great?
I am Guru Jay launching off into orbit in 5-4-3-2-1!