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Legendary Actor Apathy

I’m watching Goodfellas and Heat tonight and a friend of mine brought up the fact that Robert De Niro has seemingly not given a shit for many years now. I have to agree. I’m not necessarily judging– personally, I’d cash those monstrous checks he’s getting for crap like Righteous Kill or Little Fockers without a second thought if I were in his position. Nevertheless, I had to pause and think about the last film De Niro made that I really enjoyed. I landed on 15 Minutes, a film from 2001 that I feel is quite underrated (Leonard Maltin apparently agrees in his book). Ten years ago. TEN! He took a crack at giving an interesting performance last year in Stone, but the movie was underwhelming at best.

Hey, 15 Minutes is no Taxi Driver, but he’s fantastic in it and the movie should get more attention than it does. And it’s unfair to expect another Taxi Driver or Raging Bull or The Deer Hunter, but great material exists out there for actors of advancing years. Robert Duvall blew me away in Get Low last year. Jack Nicholson, the greatest actor/movie star of all time (don’t try and tell me otherwise– I’ll bury you with evidence and a shovel), chooses his roles carefully and has managed to earn Oscar nominations for films that were released in five straight decades: ’69, ’70, ’73, ’74, ’75, ’81, ’83, ’85, ’87, ’92, ’97, and ’02. In case you’re wondering, that’s Easy Rider to About Schmidt. These weren’t fluffy-Meryl Streep-Devil Wears Prada horseshit films. The man is adventurous with his choices while also being selective, whereas Nicolas Cage is adventurous with absolutely no filter for the terrible. Nicholson has made maybe seven films in the past ten years, not all classics of course, but you get the likes of The Pledge, About Schmidt, and The Departed (I also think Something’s Gotta Give is hilarious and endlessly watchable, but I’ll try and stay somewhat objective). De Niro, on the other hand, has pumped out over twenty performances in the last decade and very few of them are even watchable. Even Pacino has done… well… HBO movies have been pretty good to him over the last ten years.

I don’t know. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Like I said from the get go, I don’t judge De Niro as a hack or a sell-out. It’s just rough as someone who could watch Goodfellas or Mean Streets or Midnight Run everyday and not get bored, but then has to see a trailer with him opposite Drew Barrymore or Jason Statham. He’s supposedly working on something with Pacino and directed by Martin Scorsese. If done right, it will be miraculous. However, if they lean back on just being De Niro and Pacino the personalities, we’re in for a disappointing borefest that will make us yearn for the mid-’70s.  –Jordan

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