Tag Archives: Robert DeNiro

Jennifer Lawrence has her game face on in David O. Russell's Joy.

David O. Russell’s ‘Joy’ is the underrated ugly duckling of 2015

When I assess films, I often look for a degree of perfection, a sense that everything is in its right place and has a purpose within a film. Joy is very, very far from achieving this kind of precision. Rumors circulated prior to its release that there post-production struggles and that they were having difficulty completing the film in time for its Christmas day release. When the credits roll, you will see four editors listed, which I consider ample evidence to confirm the accuracy of those rumors. The film confirms them too, as it is a choppy, sloppy, and somewhat scatterbrained string of sequences. There is a lot to criticize about David O. Russell’s Joy. But at the end of the day, I just didn’t care because its just so much damn fun to hang out with these characters. What Joy may lack in precision, it more than makes up for in ambition and sheer entertainment. Continue reading David O. Russell’s ‘Joy’ is the underrated ugly duckling of 2015

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Scorsese gives DeNiro direction on the set of Raging Bull.

Watching Mayweather and Pacquiao got me thinking about ‘Raging Bull’

I, like half the world it seems, spent part of Saturday evening in front of a television screen waiting impatiently for a couple hours to eventually watch two men try to knock each other out for about thirty six minutes. I am not a huge boxing fan. But I do enjoy watching two guys hit each other. And I find the set up of fights intriguingly different than a traditional sports season. It becomes an entirely different pop culture beast that at peak moments such as the Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight can draw more attention than even the Superbowl. It’s a fascinating aspect of the gambling world that has always found roles in film, as far back as the medium goes. My favorite is an admittedly cliche choice. Still, after the fight I couldn’t help but let my mind wander back to 1980 and Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece about Jake LaMotta, Raging Bull. Continue reading Watching Mayweather and Pacquiao got me thinking about ‘Raging Bull’

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Rober Deniro, Joe Pesci, and Ray Liotta in Goodfellas.

Goodfellas: “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.”

I’ve lately come to appreciate Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather as the masterpiece that it is. But growing up it didn’t really click; I pretty much saw it as big New Hollywood movie. I could see all the ways it took the 30s gangster flicks like Scarface or Little Caesar and updated them with the gritty realism of heroin, sex, and tragic violence. I understood how it took on the moral complexity of something like Bonnie and Clyde or Easy Rider and brought it to a different genre. But I did not track with its very central notion of cultural integration within America. And I certainly did not understand the fine nuances of the character arc of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino). I could go on about this. But frankly, that is for another day. Today is about Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas; the gangster film that really clicked when I was a teen. Continue reading Goodfellas: “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.”

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