My Top Ten Robert De Niro Movies

Happy Birthday to Robert De Niro, who turns 74 today.

I was thinking I may not be able to do this list as I may struggle to find ten De Niro movies that I’ve seen. Ha! I’ve seen 29! How did that happen?! Sheesh – he’s been in loads of films. Took me ages just to type out the biggest ones I’ve seen & not seen.

I like De Niro but I’m not gonna pretend he’d make a top ten list of my favorite actors. Of the two, though, I’ve always preferred him to Al Pacino (I’ve only seen 14 of his movies).

As always, I’ll include a list at the end of some of the biggest De Niro movies I’ve not seen. And there are truly some biggies! As for Taxi Driver, it’s a bit like Rocky was for me until I finally watched it all the way through this year for my Blind Spot thingy: I’ve probably seen most of Taxi Driver from seeing bits & pieces over the years but can’t really include it on this list until I fully watch it properly.

I do want to see Once Upon A Time In America & The Untouchables (Maybe I’ll make them Blind Spot 2018 choices!). I have no desire to see Casino as it sounds too violent for my wussy self. And I have a feeling I may get yelled at for Raging Bull not making my Top Ten… 😉

So, of what I’ve managed to see so far, here are My Top Ten Robert De Niro Movies (ranked by movie, not performance):

**List Updated 22/08/17 to add The Untouchables 

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

27. The Fan
26. Cape Fear
25. Great Expectations
24. Red Lights
23. Shark Tale
22. Arthur And The Invisibles
21. Angel Heart
20. Hide And Seek
19. Limitless
18. Cop Land
17. Sleepers
16. American Hustle
15. Backdraft
14. Silver Linings Playbook
13. Meet The Parents & Meet The Fockers
12. Analyze This & Analyze That
11. Raging Bull

Top Ten:

TIE: 10. Ronin & The King Of Comedy

9. Stardust

8. Brazil

7. Awakenings

6. Heat

5. The Deer Hunter

4. The Untouchables

3. Jackie Brown

2. Goodfellas

1. The Godfather: Part II

Need To Re-Watch/Fully Watch:
Taxi Driver, Midnight Run

Not Seen:
Mean Streets, New York, New York, Once Upon A Time In America, Falling In Love, The Mission, We’re No Angels, Stanley & Iris, Mad Dog & Glory, This Boy’s Life, A Bronx Tale, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Casino, Marvin’s Room, Wag The Dog, Flawless, The Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Men Of Honor, 15 Minutes, The Score, The Good Shepherd, Machete, Little Fockers, The Family, Last Vegas, The Intern, Joy, Dirty Grandpa

Jackie Brown (1997) Blind Spot Review 

Happy Birthday to Quentin Tarantino, who is 54 today. I figured this would be a good time to finally review my 2017 Blind Spot choice of Jackie Brown. And tomorrow I’ll be reviewing The Hateful Eight, which I’ve finally just watched as well. At least I liked one of these two movies! Here’s my review for Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown (1997)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Based on Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard

Starring: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A middle-aged woman finds herself in the middle of a huge conflict that will either make her a profit or cost her life.

My Opinion:

I can’t believe it took me so long to get around to finally watching Jackie Brown, the only Tarantino-directed film I’d never watched (okay – not counting that Four Rooms movie or his guest director credit on Sin City, which isn’t a movie that I liked anyway).

Jackie Brown is an odd one in that I’m of course used to Tarantino’s style now & this one has a very different feel to it. I suppose the main reason for this is that the film is an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s 1992 novel Rum Punch instead of a Tarantino original story like his other films. I think this works in the film’s favor but I’d also hazard a guess that it isn’t the number one favorite film for most diehard Tarantino fans.

I’ll be honest – I think someone needs to rein Tarantino in a bit. Not long after watching Jackie Brown I watched the overblown The Hateful Eight and it definitely made me appreciate Brown much more. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think of Jackie Brown. It’s a good but uneven film and, although I confess that I know nothing about the book and have never read anything by Elmore Leonard in my life, it feels pretty obvious which bits were probably embellished by Tarantino. There’s a welcome subtlety to parts of Jackie Brown that’s especially missing in Tarantino’s most current films. Don’t get me wrong – I like his movies and know they’re going to be over the top (Kill Bill being my favorite, which is OTT to the extreme, but in a good way). But…. What am I trying to say? I don’t know. I think Tarantino is just another director who has come to believe his own hype a bit too much & he needs to take a step back and focus on the great writing that made his older films like Reservoir Dogs such a success. Okay – I’m focusing too much on not liking The Hateful Eight. More about that one tomorrow but I can’t help but compare since I watched these two almost back to back & they’re so very different.

I loved the overall mood of Jackie Brown, which was of course helped once again by the use of a truly fantastic soundtrack. If there’s one thing that Tarantino always does right, it’s picking the music for his films. I loved this soundtrack so much. Best music (as in, songs as opposed to score) that I’ve heard in a film in a long time! Remember when movie soundtracks used to be good like this?? Sorry to go on about this so much but it’s not something that is done as well in films nowadays. When I think back to my teen years, I bought loads of movie (song) soundtracks. There were so many good ones then. What the hell happened? The music in a movie is very important to me as I think it plays such an integral part in creating a film’s mood. I keep saying “song” to differentiate as I’m actually more of a lover of original film scores than of “song” soundtracks usually but, when a movie puts together a lot of previously recorded music as perfectly as Jackie Brown does, it makes me happy. Hey – at least I have to give credit to Tarantino for getting Ennio Morricone to score The Hateful Eight. I worship people like Morricone & John Williams the way that most people worship the pretty celebrities who are in front of the cameras. Maybe I’m weird?! And, shit – I’m talking about The Hateful Eight again. Sorry.

As I said, there’s a subtlety to parts of Jackie Brown unlike in Tarantino’s more recent works and it’s these understated scenes that were easily my favorite bits of this movie. Pam Grier & Robert Forster were brilliant and I was happiest when the movie went back to the scenes involving their characters. Loved their chemistry! I totally wanted a love story there (if you’ve not seen it, I won’t say if this happens or not).

There are bigger name stars in this one (Robert De Niro and, of course, Samuel L. Jackson) but the scenes involving them were the ones that I felt had a little too much of that “Tarantino vibe” going on. Who the hell doesn’t love Samuel L. Jackson, right? He’s awesome. But he’s his usual “Tarantino-self” in this and, for once, I enjoyed having those Grier & Forster scenes involving more than just Tarantino/Jackson sweary banter and extreme violence.

Speaking of extreme violence, this is the least violent Tarantino movie (well, maybe that Four Rooms thing isn’t violent?). I think it’s the first of his films that I was able to watch with my eyes fully open the entire time! I mean, it’s of course plenty violent but it’s not explicitly shown. I’m a wuss. I prefer to not see full-on gore. Yet Kill Bill is my favorite so I suppose that makes no sense… Eh, I just love a good revenge story (and women who kick ass). And I have yet to watch all of Kill Bill with my eyes fully open. I guess, looking at it that way, Jackie Brown is the first & only Tarantino movie that I’ve actually seen. 😉 And I appreciated that.


Perhaps Tarantino should try adapting someone else’s work again sometime. I do like his style and I didn’t mind Jackie Brown having that Tarantino stamp on it but I also liked the way in which adapting someone else’s work meant he kind of managed to keep the story more on track & to not go so medieval on our asses. Again, I think Jackie Brown is also unfortunately somewhat uneven because of this and it’s certainly not a perfect film but I do think it’s better than several of Tarantino’s other films (yet I don’t think it’s widely accepted as so?). I did a post a very long time ago ranking the Tarantino films I’ve seen, which I’ve finally updated HERE. Have a look if you really want to see where I’ve placed Jackie Brown (although you can probably guess where The Hateful Eight ranks!).

Jackie Brown is a good film. It probably deserves more credit than it gets and I’m glad to have added it to my Blind Spot list as it was well worth finally watching. Grier & Forster are the true stars who make this film and it’s unfortunate that they’re somewhat overshadowed by “more famous” names being in the movie as well. I have a confession: I seriously don’t know Robert Forster. I know his face but never could have told you his name and had to look him up after watching this. He’s been in 177 things!!! And I watch loads of movies & know my actors. Is he one of these actors who flies under the radar & won’t get any proper recognition until he’s gone? Or have I just seriously overlooked him for years? He’s so damn good in this & I’m happy to see that he got an Oscar nomination for this role. But… Where the f*^k is Pam Grier’s nomination?!? What the f*^k, you m*^herf*^king Academy?!? I’m going to go Samuel L. Jackson on your asses! She’s great. She’s super sexy at fortysomething. I want her & Forster’s characters to live happily ever after (maybe they do? I’m not saying). I’m going to go listen to that Delfonics song now…

My Rating: 8/10

Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time – The Delfonics:

And here’s the opening of Jackie Brown, with Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street. God I love this soundtrack. Can I just post YouTube videos of the whole soundtrack??:

Who Is He (And What Is He To You?) – Bill Withers:

And this one is bizarre. I like it! Good job, Tarantino. I’ll stop posting videos now. I need to buy this soundtrack… The Lions And The Cucumber – The Vampire Sound Incorporation:

Wait. Gotta end with Pam Grier! Long Time Woman – Pam Grier:

Shit. I didn’t post Strawberry Letter 23. Or Street Life… (This is a good soundtrack. Watch the movie. Listen to the songs). 🙂

Limitless (2011) Review

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Limitless (2011)

Directed by Neil Burger

Based on The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn

Starring:
Bradley Cooper
Abbie Cornish
Robert De Niro
Anna Friel

Running time: 105 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
With the help of a mysterious pill that enables the user to access 100 percent of his brain abilities, a struggling writer becomes a financial wizard, but it also puts him in a new world with lots of dangers.

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My Opinion:

This movie sounds really exciting from that plot synopsis! Well, I was bored. I fell asleep a few times, I think I missed some stuff & couldn’t be bothered to rewind, and I had to force myself to finish it just to say that I had so I could write this fabulous, in-depth review months after watching the movie. 😉

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Let’s see… What’s good about it? Well, the concept. A pill “that enables the user to access 100 percent of his brain abilities”? Sounds intriguing! So, although this sort of “thriller” genre isn’t usually my type of thing, I’d still been wanting to check it out at some point. This movie reminds me a lot of Man On A Ledge. I sort of felt the same way about that one before seeing it. I was like “Hmm. Not usually my type of movie but it’s a great idea & the trailer looks pretty exciting & I’d like to see where they go with the story”. Then the movie totally sucked. Limitless was probably the better film of the two but Man On A Ledge almost became so ridiculous it was fun whereas Limitless stayed serious (and boring). Also, Bradley Cooper kind of annoys me & Robert De Niro’s character felt pointless & he totally phoned in the performance so I’d have to say I preferred that silly Man On A Ledge movie. Plus, I like Elizabeth Banks.

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I’m not going to win my argument here but, honestly, if you want to watch a movie where someone uses “100% of their brain abilities”, watch Luc Besson’s Lucy instead. Yeah, a lot of people hated that movie. It’s an odd one. But at least I can say it was not boring. God I hate boring movies! I want to be entertained. Why would I want to waste two hours of my time on a dull movie I won’t remember in a year’s time? (Like how I remember so little about Limitless that I’m successfully avoiding talking about it at all in this “review”! Ha! I need one of Bradley Cooper’s magic pills). 😉

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Summary:

I watched Limitless a few months ago. I barely remember it. It clearly didn’t make much of an impression. I reviewed it anyway. This was my review. Go watch Lucy – it’s weird but more fun & you’ll at least remember it a few months later. I squeezed this brilliant “review” out during my 30 minute lunch break. Time management!

My Rating: 5/10

*I dunno – I gave Into The Woods a 4.5/10 and I HATED that so I figure Limitless deserves a higher score than that one even if I don’t remember it. 😉

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Goodfellas (1990) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from John of Written In Blood. Thanks for the review, John! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about Goodfellas, IMDB rank 15 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

DISCLAIMER: I have to say that this is the first time “horse cock” has been mentioned in this way on CPD (or, at all). I’m going to get some weird Google search terms now. 😉 Now on to the review of fuckin’ Goodfellas…

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When I first volunteered to write a review of Goodfellas for the IMDb Top 250 challenge I began to wonder if I had bitten off more than I can chew. How do I approach a review of what is arguably the greatest Mob movie ever put to celluloid? Do I summon my inner Ebert and wax poetic in my praise? No. Why? Because it’s fuckin’ Goodfellas, that’s why.

Do I compare the movie to that other great Mob (read also as Mafia) movie, The Godfather? No. Why? Because it’s fuckin’ Goodfellas, that’s why. There’s no Don Corleone stroking a cat and handing out jobs and favors; there’s Paulie (a portly Paul Sorvino) holding court at a backyard cookout with a fat chunk of food in his hands giving the nod to his people as a sign of approval for whatever deal is going down at that particular moment.

There’s no big wedding with Italian songs and Sonny’s horse cock plowing Lucy upstairs in the closet. Granted, there’s a wedding and there are Italians and Sicilians and dancing and food; there’s just no horse cock-or horse’s head, for that matter-anywhere in sight. Why? Because it’s fuckin’ Goodfellas, that’s why. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Comparing Goodfellas to The Godfather is like comparing Elvis to the Beatles; they are the twin sons of different mothers. The Godfather is subtlety and the life of a Mafia family and the rise of its new Don, Michael Corleone.Goodfellas is Henry Hill and his life in the Mob (or as close as he can get to it as he is not “one hundred per cent Sicilian on his mother’s side and his heritage can’t be traced back to the old country”) and there is no guarantee that the particular moment that he is living and breathing will not be his last. If Goodfellas is even remotely about life in a Mafia family then that family is nothing but sharks. Why? Because it’s fuckin’ Goodfellas, that’s why.

With what is quite possibly the greatest opening line in cinematic history (“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.”) Goodfellas begins to unravel the true story of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) and his slow rise and hard fall in the life of a wiseguy. His journey is a violent one filled with angry fathers, towels wasted on gut-shot and bloody men, icepicks and bullets to the heads of unfortunate fools getting too close and fucking it all up; there’s Karen (Lorraine Bracco) his Jewish wife who enters into their marriage wide-eyed and innocent and transforms into a woman just as dirty as himself.

Along the way we meet Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) who loves to steal but is not above killing to protect his investments. Fuck with Jimmy and his haul and you may just find yourself frozen stiff in the back of a meat truck or right beside your wife in the front seat of your new Cadillac with bullets in both of your heads. Why? Because it’s fuckin’ Goodfellas, that’s why.

Then there is Tommy and let me begin by saying this: It is my opinion that for as long as he has a career in movies that Joe Pesci will never be given a role that is as great and-dare I say it-iconic as that of Tommy DeVito. Perhaps Pesci knew this; perhaps that is why he shines (not a good word to use in his presence, may I remind you) in every scene. If it’s not already then the, “How the fuck am I funny, what the fuck is so funny about me?” scene should be taught in film schools as a mandatory course in great acting and direction. Pesci earns his Best Supporting Actor Oscar in every scene that he is in.

Okay, so I’ve just looked over this and I don’t think that what I have written has been so much of a review as it has been a gushing letter to a movie that I have loved since I first saw it on VHS in 1991 and have watched more times than I can count in the past twenty-plus years. I also notice that I have failed to mention one name and I deserve to be whacked for not doing it sooner. Without Martin Scorsese there would be no Goodfellas. The man who makes the world’s greatest movies has shown his mastery of the Mob movie with films as diverse as Mean Streets and The Departed but it is here that his mastery is at the highest zenith of his career. It burns my balls knowing that Goodfellas lost out to Dances with Wolves for Best Picture and that Scorsese lost out to Kevin Costner as Best Director at the 1990 Academy Awards. To paraphrase a quote from Jay Leno: What the hell were they thinking?

So, this is my review cum love letter to Goodfellas and to Martin Scorsese for making it. I have put my entire heart into writing it as I knew that I would. Why? Do I even have to say it again?

The Godfather: Part II (1974) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. She reviewed The Godfather: Part I for us last week (see her review HERE). Now she’s tackling The Godfather: Part II. She’s also reviewed The Departed (HERE) and The Green Mile (HERE) and Big Fish (HERE). Thanks once again, Zoe – you’re truly awesome! 🙂 Now let’s see what she has to say about The Godfather: Part II, IMDB rank 3 out of 250.

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

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***WARNING: SPOILERS***

“There are many things my father taught me here in this room. He taught me: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” – Michael Corleone

So as the trilogy progresses, Michael Corleone has become a force to be reckoned with. Al Pacino reprises the mantle of Michael, and it is rapidly evident that he has completely taken up and embodied the role of being the head of the Corleone crime family. This movie was presented interestingly, different from the first in that it plays out the current state of affairs that Michael is dealing with as well as taking you back to Vito Andolini’s youth, and seeing how he ultimately lost his Andolini name, took on the Corleone name and rose to his prominent position.

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“If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone.” – Michael Corleone

This movie worked incredibly well. It is a long movie, clocking in at 200 minutes, but not once do you get too familiar with that, you are instead caught up in another time and whisked away. This speaks volumes about Coppola’s ability to rivet the audience, still. The time shift that worked its way in throughout the movie was truly brilliantly executed. In the present you see Michael (Al Pacino), and his antics, as well as the issues he is dealing with, ranging from his wife Kay (Diane Keaton) to his drama in court. Michael is progressively becoming more and more ruthless, which still resonates with the watcher seeing as we know how reluctant he was to become involved with the family business in the first place, and to watch him embrace it now in its entirety never fails to surprise and amaze. Al Pacino’s performance was again subtle, carrying with it a power that is palpable, a demand for allegiance and focus, respect and fear. I love the way Pacino captured Michael’s brooding, his shift, his stress, the way he worked to keep everything functioning, the way he dealt with betrayal from everyone, truly highlighting how ruthless he had become. His portrayal as Michael Corleone is definitely one of my favourite portrayals in movie history.

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“Don’t you know that I would use all of my power to prevent something like that from happening?” – Michael Corleone

Diane Keaton was really good in conveying her role as the wife of a mobster – not just any mobster, but the head of an extremely strong mob family. The splinters of the relationship are introduced at the end of The Godfather, where we see how unhappy Kay is about the fact that Michael is running things, as well as how he has changed towards her, too. Now, however, two kids along and all that, we see how she is starting to pull away from him, his violence, his dominance. She is seemingly alone, Michael has all the love and respect from everyone, and she is considered his wife, and is respected as such. Later we learn what extremely hard and rough decisions she made due to her growing hatred and resentment for Michael, which leaves you stunned that she would take such steps against him as well as admit it. Her desperation is palpable. Michael is cold and cruel, and he does not hide that from her. Kay is eventually on her own, from permanently fighting with Michael, egging him on and pushing him for legitimacy to being cast out, even being taken away from her children, completely cut off.

Robert Duvall steps up as Tom Hagen once again, delivering another fine performance as the family consigliere. Something that is extremely evident from the off is that Tom has become more involved with the family business as well as how things get done. A lot of responsibility and trust has been placed on him, and he has become colder. Still extremely calculated, and still doing some of the more horrendous jobs (remember the horse head?). He visits Frank Pentangeli (Michael V. Gazzo) in prison and informs Frank that he should recant, also promising that the Corleones will care for his family. Frank commits suicide later that night in the fashion discussed with the consigliere, and Tom seems to have no emotion for it as it was merely business. His performance was great, but it is becoming obvious that he is no longer just an incredibly educated outsider, but Michael’s right hand man, and that he loves the position.

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“When a plot against the Emperor failed… the plotters were always given a chance… to let their families keep their fortunes. Right?” – Tom Hagen

Vito Andolini’s (Robert De Niro) youth is addressed, and it is quite the enthralling tale. His father was murdered, his brother attempted to avenge him and was killed, and his mother was gunned down by Don Francesco Ciccio (Giuseppe Sillato) and Vito, who did not talk much and was considered to be a bit slow, ran for it, and was helped out by family friends to make passage to the United States of America. A struggling young man with a wife and a child, Vito sees how things are going in life, how the crime families are treated, and in a scheming way eradicates any competition he could have had, instantly making him the new man on the block, a man who definitely does things differently than the previous guy. He listens to the people, and is respected by the people. We get to explore the rise of Vito’s empire, as well as how he exacted his revenge that eradicated his family and swept him from his homelands. We see who he was and how he became what he did. He was smart and methodical, and in stages got everything just as he wanted it. The Corleone children serve as markers to see Vito’s progress, as well as indicating how the family did not always have everything, but that Vito built them up from scratch.

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“Do me this favour. I won’t forget it. Ask your friends in the neighbourhood about me. They’ll tell you I know how to return a favour.” – Vito Corleone

Fredo’s (John Cazale) bitterness at Michael is thinly veiled, something he struggles with constantly. Michael may have humoured it for the first while, but eventually that, too, becomes a serious problem, causing strife between the two brothers. I liked how the discord in the family was shown, that even though Michael is the one that stepped up, there was resentment and bitterness about it. Fredo took it as a personal failure that Michael ran the Corleone family, and that Michael was the one supporting Fredo and looking after him, even though Fredo is the older brother. His ultimately betraying Michael could be seen coming, but the reaction of Michael was intense, and it caused some tension within the family, too. Michael has many friends, but at the same time he is losing family and loyalty he thought he didn’t have to question faster than he suspected. As if Fredo is not enough for Michael to deal with, Connie (Talia Shire) is still bouncing off the walls, crazy and doing really stupid things, expecting Michael to pick up after her, to see how much she can push him. Initially she is not looked into much, and while she does not command a lot of screen time, it is eventually explained why she did what she did. This does not make it better, but the questions are no longer floating around and not making sense anymore. As fast as she broke herself away from the family, it seems that she is doing what she can to work her way back into Michael’s good graces at the very least.

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“Taken care of me? You’re my kid brother and you take care of me? Did you ever think about that?” – Fredo Corleone

So many aspects of this story come together at intervals, and it is a stunning work of art to get to the end result. The journey, the characters, the events are all just exactly what they need to be, and it is exceptionally impressive overall. The score used suited everything just right, and Coppola truly took this film in a direction to match its predecessor equally. The camera work was fantastic, and all the actors worked wonderfully in their roles. Movies are just not the same as they used to be, and The Godfather Part II is just further evidence of this. I don’t really have words to justify this movie, there is just so much to talk about (the scheming, the partnerships, the travels, the alliances struck up, etc), and I know many more people have discussed it in more detail than I have, but I am going to stop here now, The Godfather Part II is just one of those films that has to be experienced to be understood. My Spock Chop, I know you are not a fan and all, but really, this is something glorious!

Heat (1995) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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For today’s IMDB Top 250 guest review, we have the Scottish (Scottish accents are the BEST!) Mark of the brilliant Marked Movies site. Mark has awesome hair (although he apparently no longer has that hairdo in his pic here) and has boat drinks (I still have no idea what that means) and writes wonderful movie reviews. He also has GREAT taste in movies (as in, we seem to like a lot of the same types of films and I have really cool taste). Well, he likes Raging Bull a hell of a lot more than I did… Anyway – he’s a popular blogger that everyone wants to have a drink with so check out his site if, for some odd reason, you haven’t already.

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list HERE.

Now onto Mark for his thoughts on the movie Heat, IMDB rank 119 out of 250…

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Director: Michael Mann.
Screenplay: Michael Mann.
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Tom Sizemore, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Kevin Gage, Diane Venora, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Mykelti Williamson, Wes Studi, Ted Levine, Danny Trejo, Dennis Haysbert, William Fichtner, Natalie Portman, Tom Noonan, Hank Azaria, Henry Rollins, Tone Loc, Jeremy Piven, Xander Berkeley, Martin Ferrero, Bud Cort.

When this was released in 1995, most people believed it to be an original idea. It wasn’t. It was actually a more fleshed out and elborate version of Michael Mann’s 80′s TV movie “L.A. Takedown“. He obviously didn’t have the budget or the actors, to realise his vision at this time, so with a second chance, Mann grabs it with both hands and both of the best actors in the business.

Professional and precise thief Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro) lives by a strict code and doesn’t take chances. He has a tight-knit crew that takedown big jobs for big money but he ends up drawing the attention of determined and obsessive robbery/homicide cop Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino). The two of them have more in common than one might think and as their worlds draw closer, they are led to an inevitable confrontation.

At it’s core, “Heat” can be viewed as an old fashioned cops-and-robbers tale but it’s done with such vastness and great attention to detail that it rises above most, if not all, of the genre. It not only focuses on the the lives of the two main characters – at opposite ends of the moral scale – but it pays attention to the city and environment in which they operate. What almost overshadowed the storyline, was the anticipation of seeing DeNiro and Pacino share the screen for the first time (They were both in “The Godfather part II” but never had any scenes together). Comparisons between their acting styles will obviously be made and without focusing too much on their different approaches, I found DeNiro’s more subtle, calculating delivery far more convincing than Pacino’s tendency to overact with random, explosive outbursts, bellowing at everyone he meets. There, I said it. However, the film is far more than just these two great actors. It’s a multi-layered character study and the supporting roles, particularly Sizemore and Kilmer (in a role originally intended for Keanu Reeves) are given a substantial amount of work and the female parts of Venora, Brenneman and Judd play a massive part in shaping the leads also. We are given a glimpse into their home lives and the struggle they all face in maintaining a ‘normal’ life – when it goes against their nature. The actors are all given roles to work with, allowing us to identify and care about them. It’s because of this, that when the action is delivered, it’s edge of your seat stuff. There are three great ‘Getaway’ scenes from movies that I found particularly powerful; Kathryn Bigelow’s “Point Break” had Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze (on foot) running through suburban houses and backyards; The opening of Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive” had Ryan Gosling (in a car) careening and speeding through a darkened urban jungle and this… the major characters (with weapons) shooting it out through a busy congested Los Angeles street. As much as this isn’t just about the two leads, it’s not just about the action either. It’s more about the city itself and it’s inhabitants. The refined dialogue allows these inhabitants to come alive and Mann’s meticulous, hypnotic direction and ethereal choice of music breathes life into the city as well.

An exciting and methodical piece of work from a highly accomplished cast and director. A near masterpiece of modern cinema.

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Mark Walker

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Silver Linings Playbook (2012) Review

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Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Directed by David O Russell

Starring:
Bradley Cooper
Jennifer Lawrence
Robert De Niro
Jacki Weaver
Anupam Kher
Chris Tucker

Music by Danny Elfman

Running time: 122 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Cooper plays Patrizio “Pat” Solitano, a man with bipolar disorder who is released from a psychiatric hospital and moves back in with his parents (De Niro and Weaver). Determined to win back his estranged wife, Pat meets recently widowed Tiffany Maxwell (Lawrence). She tells Pat that she will help him get his wife back if he enters a dance competition with her. The two become closer as they train and Pat, his father, and Tiffany examine their relationships with each other as they cope with their issues.

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My Quickie Opinion:

I’m determined to finish reviewing every single movie that I watched this year before the 1st of January. After this one, I have only 11 left to do. More about that later… But that means I’m going to make these reviews “quickies”.

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I was a tiny bit disappointed with Silver Linings Playbook. It’s one of those where it got a lot of hype when it was out & I was eager to see it but just didn’t manage to while it was in the cinema. I finally saw it a few months ago and… Unfortunately, I just didn’t think it quite lived up to the hype & the Oscar nominations/win.

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I think Jennifer Lawrence is a great young actress & I can’t wait to see her in more & more movies. But an Oscar WIN for this? I don’t know… She’s great in it & I liked her character & her character’s relationship with Bradley Cooper but I think this was a case of rewarding someone that Hollywood wants to see become a bigger & bigger star. Of course, I still haven’t seen any of the other nominees that were up against her (other than Naomi Watts in The Impossible) so I suppose I have no right to an opinion – Lawrence’s performance really may have been the very best one. Don’t freak out, people! Jennifer Lawrence is currently one of my favorite actresses – I’m only saying that I doubt this will be her best role in her whole career. I mean, she was even better in Winter’s Bone. Chill, people! Lawrence IS great in Silver Linings Playbook.

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The best performance, however, was Bradley Cooper’s so it’s unfortunate that he wasn’t the Oscar winner in this film. I know he was up against very stiff competition, though, so he didn’t really have a chance. I’m not a Bradley Cooper fan. I don’t hate him – I just hadn’t really noticed him in anything he’d been in before this. I’m not a fan of movies like The Hangover so it was good seeing him in a very different sort of “actor-y” role. Yes, I said actor-y. God this review sucks. I’m tired. I really liked Cooper in this. Let’s move on.

20131221-120543 pm.jpgThe story itself was decent. Who doesn’t love a movie full of dysfunctional people? Although I just praised Cooper & Lawrence, a lot of the credit also goes to the script (or book, I guess) for creating these memorable characters. Robert De Niro was also very good as Cooper’s equally messed-up father. I prefer De Niro in these sort of roles.

Lawrence, Cooper & De Niro and their relationships with each other were definitely the highlights of the film.The rest of the film, sadly, has already started to fade from my mind three months later. So, yeah – Sorry this isn’t a very in depth review! The main other thing I remember, other than the dance competition which was indeed fun, was lots of football talk. Football football football. Ugh – I hate football! And I didn’t really connect much with any other characters in this beyond the three I’ve mentioned.

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Summary:

Silver Linings Playbook is a decent film with some memorable characters, a good mix of drama & laughs, and very good performances from the lead actors. However, I don’t exactly think it’s an all-time classic that’s up there with some of the other Best Picture nominees in Oscar’s history.

My Rating: 7/10

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A Note From Me:

I hope you enjoyed that sucky quickie review. 🙂 These are the 11 movies I have left to write about – Feel free to put in the comments which movie you’d like to see a sucky quickie review for next. I’ll try to get to all of them!

Shame
Pitch Perfect
Nowhere Boy
Vanishing Point
The Pink Panther (1964)
Fun Size
All Good Things
Sound Of My Voice
Man On A Ledge
The Iron Giant
Big

I’d also like to say I’m sorry for not visiting many blogs in the past month or so. Things have been very hectic & I’m just not finding the time to keep up with reading everyone’s blogs. I’m curious – How do the rest of you keep up? I don’t find the Reader all that easy plus, when you’re a good week or two behind, it’s too much to go through that way. I also don’t want e-mails – they would pile up and it would take me weeks to read them all. I feel like I need to quit my job so I can blog full-time! 😉

Raging Bull (1980) Review for De Niro Blogathon

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Thanks to Tyson & Mark for letting me participate in their Analyzing De Niro Blogathon over at You Talkin’ To Me?. This has been a fun blogathon, where everyone has chosen to watch and review a De Niro film they’d not yet seen. Be sure to check out their great site, especially if you love De Niro! 🙂

Because I’m doing my IMDB Top 250 Challenge anyway where I’m trying to watch everything in the Top 250 that I’ve not yet seen, I got the completely insane idea to do Raging Bull. Yeah, that’s right – I couldn’t just choose something simple! So here’s the review that I did for them if you’d like to check it out: Raging Bull Review.

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