Tag Archives: Robert DeNiro

Last Vegas

I wish movies about seniors weren’t so goddamn awful and condescending. I know people over 65 who are robust, interesting, engaged. I know seniors with rich social lives and sharp minds, who may suffer from bladder issues but manage to keep from talking about for hours, even days at a time. Apparently screenwriter Dan Fogelman does not. Hollywood seems to think that the only thing worth noting about seniors is their doddering foolishness, and that’s too bad, because I think they’re finding that there’s a bigger and bigger senior audience, and someone’s got to start writing for them – perhaps even a senior citizen him or herself. Wouldn’t that be novel?

Last Vegas assembles a foursome of our favourite old guys – Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Robert DeNiro, and Kevin Kline. Michael Douglas faces down his own mortalityMV5BMjIzODA5ODA4OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzQxMzE1MDE@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_ at a friend’s funeral by proposing to his very young girlfriend in the middle of the eulogy. His friends congregate in Las Vegas in order to throw him a bachelor party wild enough to pay tribute to a man who’d managed to stay one for over 70 years. Morgan Freeman has to escape from his strict and overly concerned son, DeNiro has to be coaxed out of apartment where he wallows in widowerhood, and Kevin Kline is all too eager to escape Florida, basically death’s waiting room.

But you know what? These old guys still have some life left in them. Director Jon Turtletaub waters the whole thing down though, like it’s the 38th sequel to The Hangover, and nobody thinks old people deserve or are capable of their own wild and crazy antics. Instead we’re treated to a litany of bad hip jokes. This quartet is quite charming, and even the cringe-worthy cliches they’re forced to deal in don’t completely negate that. But I know a 90 year old who danced with Elvis and did shots at my wedding. That’s not a script, that’s real life. Now well into her 90s, she still travels the world and paddles her own canoe. Not everyone is lucky to be in such good health but there’s a whole spectrum when it comes to aging, one that Hollywood seems loathe to explore. I think these venerated actors deserve better, and so do the people buying the tickets, whether or not they’re claiming a senior’s discount at the box office.

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The Vegas Chronicles: Casino

The Assholes are in sunny Las Vegas this week, probably bleeding money across several casino floors right this very moment, unless you’re reading in the dead of night, in which case we’re slapping strippers’ asses. We’re also taking the opportunity to talk about some of our favourite movies set in Las Vegas, so of course we’d end up talking about Casino.

The Bellagio welcomed the cast and crew of Ocean’s 11 with open arms. Caesars Palace was just as accommodating with The Hangover. The Riviera, however, gave no such love to casino1Marty Scorsese. Those ungrateful buggers forced the crew to film only between the witching hours of 1 and 4 am, so as not to disturb the gamblers. They allowed not disruption to the business side of things but weren’t self-conscious about advertising with a large banner declaring “Robert DeNiro, Sharon Stone & Joe Pesci Filming the New Movie ‘Casino’ Inside!” I would call it shameless, except this is Vegas we’re talking about. I’m pretty sure you leave your shame at home.

The movie is said to be based on a true story, but it’s set inside a fictional casino called Tangiers. The nut’s not hard to crack, though. This is the history of the Stardust casino. It’s a story fairly well-documented, but Scorsese also drops some hints in the soundtrack. The exterior of the casino was filmed in front of the Landmark hotel, which was scheduled for implosion shortly thereafter, which further added to the mystique. Scorsese went out of his way to film exclusively in the Las Vegas valley, and even managed to shoot driving down historic Freemont Street, which is no longer open to automobile traffic.

The film was informed by tonnes of insiders, but also featured real Vegas characters in the cast. Vegas comedian Don Rickles played the Tangiers casino manager in a largely non-comedic role. The guy who played a jewelry store owner who just got robbed is a real Vegas jeweler. Oscar Goodman, the attorney, is a real-life lawyer who defended many Vegas mobsters. Goodman of course went on to be elected mayor of Las Vegas in 1999. And careful viewers will note that the blackjack dealer is the very same blackjack dealer from article-2611806-1D4E026400000578-395_634x794Rain Man, and can also be seen dealing cards to Chevy Chase in Vegas Vacation.

Matt’s a decent blackjack player, and Sean’s pretty good at keeping Matt’s head out of a vise, but when I’ve got money to blow, I’m not at a craps table, I’m at Hermes. Check in with us on Twitter (@assholemovies) so you can see what we’re up to, and if I’ve yet to find a 45-pound gold and white beaded gown a la Sharon Stone.

And that’s that.

 

 

Tribeca Film Festival

The Tribeca Film Festival was founded in 2002 by Jane Rosenthal, Craig Hatkoff, and Robert De Niro, apparently in response to 9/11 and the resulting loss of business and tdy_hoda_deniro_160328__660211.nbcnews-ux-1080-600vitality in their neighbourhood of lower Manhattan (Tribeca stands for the Triangle Below Canal St).

After just 120 days of planning (thank you 1300 volunteers!), the festival was launched in 2002 and featured premieres such as Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones, About a Boy, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. New York City was anxious to remind people what a boon to the film business it was, and Hollywood was more than happy to pay their respects. 150, 000 people turned up to that first year but today it’s more like 3 million, and it generates something like $600 million dollars for the city, so, hello! Even press-shy celebrities turntumblr_o446mlCvS11uoq4k6o1_400 up to these events, and lots are eager to lend a hand. Martin Scorsese has curated a Best of New York series in the past, and this year Whoopi Goldberg is helming the animation lineup.

But Tribeca doesn’t just show great movies, it has also premiered video games, virtual reality exhibits, lots of amazing talks, and a spotlight on TV. Tribeca had a huge outdoor screening for the finale of Friends in 2004, and it’s also premiered Inside Amy Schumer and Mr. Robot. This year Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda will be on hand to introduce the premiere of the second season of Grace and Frankie (which is awesome, by the way – look for it on Netflix), Oprah will be showcasing her new OWN show Greenleaf, Tom Hiddleston’s in town to show off his new AMC series, The Night Manager, Forest cq5dam.web.620.398Whitaker, Laurence Fishburne, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, and Anna Paquin are all pushing the History miniseries Roots, and TNT is launching a new drama based off the movie Animal Kingdom, starring Ellen Barkin. Tribeca will also be screening the finale of the show Six Feet Under, with Alan Ball there to provide commentary (this is THE MOST GUTTING television I’ve ever seen) and Julianna Margulies will be toasting The Good Wife’s finale. When the television’s that good, you know the movies are going to be incredible. And we’ll get to those.

But first: Tribeca Talks. They’re absolutely KILLING ME with how wonderful their DS-Abrams-Rockstorytellers series is. First night: Patti Smith being interviewed by Ethan Hawke. Next: JJ Abrams interviewed by Chris Rock. There are talks with Idina Menzel, Catherine Hardwicke, Tina Fey, Samantha Bee, Francis Ford Coppola, Jodie Foster & Julie Taymor, Alfonso Cuaron, Bahz Luhrmann, and more. It drives me crazy how good these are.

And then there are the movies: the zillions of super awesome movies. Premieres up the large_23-Taxi-Driver-1976-Martin-Scorsese-Robert-De-Nirowazoo, but also some throwbacks worth seeing again and again (this year they’re recognizing the 40th (!) anniversary of Taxi Driver, and Scorsese, De Niro, and Foster will all be in attendance). Tribeca Film Festival runs April 14-24th, and Sean and I will only be there for the second half of it, which means we’re seeing only a tiny sliver of all the goodness available. I’m a sad panda about missing Abrams & Rock, but we arrive in time to see John Oliver take on Tom Hanks, and I think I can live with that!

Stay tuned because we’re seeing some blindingly good stuff and are bound to rub elbows and\or knees with tonnes of celebrities, and you can read all about it right here – or, if you’re impatient, get up to the minute updates and some questionably appropriate pictures on our Twitter feed @AssholeMovies .

 

 

Dirty Grandpa

Robert De Niro clearly relishes his role in Dirty Grandpa as, you guessed it, the dirty grandpa. He cusses lots and spikes drinks with Zanex and flirts with Aubrey Plaza and takes his shirt off a lot and clearly is having a ton of fun all the way through.  Zac Efron also takes his shirt off a lot but throughout this movie Zac Efron & Robert De Niro Go Shirtless For Flex Off On Set Of "Dirty Grandpa"he looks as uncomfortable as the middle aged, flip-phone owning couple sitting directly in front of us at last night’s screening. Maybe, as Jay observed, Efron is coming to the sobering realization that being shirtless is his thing and the best he can hope for is to be brought back as the shirtless grandpa if this movie is the start of a Rocky-like franchise.

My money’s on there being no sequel. Dirty Grandpa has a lot of laughs and an abundance of dick jokes, but it also seemed unnecessarily long and unnecessarily concerned with plot. I didn’t need to see everyone learn a lesson. I certainly did not need three generations of lessons being taught to De Niro, Efron, and Dermot Mulroney. And we see stereotypes of hippies, lacrosse jocks, and gang members learn something too. The only ones exempt from this rule seem to be the very funny Jason Mantzoukas (a.k.a. Rafi from the League!) as a Daytona dirty_grandpa_jc_151029_16x9_992Beach drug dealer, and Adam Pally as Efron’s cousin.  At least the writers had the good sense to allow those two to do their crazy guy routines the whole way through Dirty Grandpa.  I wish they had given everyone such free reign.  I was just there to laugh and didn’t need everything to be wrapped up perfectly, or at all.

I thought all the lessons really took away from Dirty Grandpa’s momentum, mainly by taking the focus off dirty De Niro.  That hurt this movie a lot because De Niro as the dirty old guy is by far the best part.  He’s really, really funny, but all too often he’s jolted out of that role when sad Efron calls him the worst grandpa ever (which happens every ten minutes or so).  Take out all the grandpa-grandson make-up sessions and Dirty Grandpa would have been far more enjoyable.

Dirty Grandpa is a decent comedy, much better than I expected, but since the story seriously impedes these characters’ escapades, it seems like an opportunity missed.  I give it a score of seven horny octogenarians out of ten.

The Intern

Ugly truth time: this is the type of movie that I hate, easily. Hate right out of the gate. Hate just at the poster stage, really.

Forgive me. I’m at work on Christmas Eve and it’s slow. I finally finished watching Youth and didn’t feel up to subtitles (Samba), so The Intern it is. And I don’t know if it’s the magic of the season finally melting my cold, dark heart, but: I didn’t hate it.

the intern heroI didn’t exactly love it, but I did almost love Robert De Niro’s performance. He doesn’t need to flex a lot of muscle in this role, but he’s charming and humble and I think he plays the part of retired but still vigorous perfectly. The bigger surprise is Anne Hathaway, who I am on record as disliking a great deal. In this I found her almost likeable. Again, clearly not her most demanding role, but she toed the line between strength and vulnerability in an interesting way.

Nancy Meyer’s direction is straight-forward but effective. The story misses the point a bit: it starts off as The Intern (a 70-year-old man applies to be an intern at a “hip” e-commerce business, whatever that theinternmeans) but then veers off toward something safer and more predictable. The world didn’t need another joke about how old people don’t know Facebook. Have you even been on Facebook lately? It’s been taken over by grandmas!  At any rate, it doesn’t fulfill its promise. But it’s a not bad way to spend an afternoon, grandmas and all.

andrewrannellsCasting high: Andrew Rannells. I first encountered him as part of the original Broadway cast of The Book of Mormon, which I can’t recommend enough. He played opposite Josh Gad who has also become a Big Deal, and the pair were clearly destined to be stars.

Casting low: Rene Russo. Nothing against Rene, it’s more that she’s the requisite “old lady” partnered up with De Niro and is forced to say the renerussotheinternline “at our age,” insinuating that they are the same age. I really struggled with that, considering this movie has a bit of a feminist bent to it, but upon Googling I see that Rene is actually 61 years old and only 11 years younger than De Niro. “Only” 11 years younger, mind you. As you know, age differences can be much more egregious in Hollywood (and she’s actually a year older than De Niro’s real life wife). So instead of a casting low, I’ll just say: Rene – damn, girl.

Yes, Virginia, It IS Possible to Have A Drag Queen Revue Without Lady Marmalade

Another double header – one that’s pretty good, one that’s pretty much not.

The good: Any Day Now, starring the ever fabulous Alan Cumming as Rudy, a down-on-his-luck anydaynowdrag queen whose whole life gets rewritten when his junkie neighbour abandons her son one night on a binge (and then gets picked up and put away by the vice squad). Rudy doesn’t quite know what do with Marco (Isaac Leyva), the quiet teenager with down syndrome, but he knows social services isn’t the answer. Together with his new partner Paul (Garret Dillahunt), they decide to adopt the kid and give Marco the kind of stable, loving home he needs. Except: it’s the 1970s. The would-be custody case turns into a witchhunt against the gay “deviant” lifestyle and the court system is quick to condemn them despite loads of evidence of them actually being really good parents. If you’re an Alan Cumming fan, as I am, then stop 119248_bbreading and just watch it already. It’s worth it just to hear him sing. It’s kind of melodramatic and manages to be both overblown and oversimplified, and yet Leyva’s smile lights up a screen and his two dads, and the fact that it’s taken the script 30 years to be made, remind us why movies like this exist. It has been a hard road for gay rights, but this film transcends that to point not just at the men who are being discriminated against, but the poor kid whose needs are being ignored because of a reprehensible justice system that fails to reflect any humanity. Warning: total tear jerker.

The not so good: Flawless, where Robert DeNiro plays a retired cop who strokes out during a crisis in his building. He’s too proud to leave his apartment after the resulting partial paralysis flawless3and is forced to hire a drag queen called Busty Rusty (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to help him in his recovery. Neither is very happy about the arrangement, and lots of gay slurs and hate speech is bandied about, but as you know from all oddball couple movies, they’ll soon grow to like each other, and then grow to need each other: aww. The script is…oh you know, some clever synonym for absolute failure (real sample: “You shot me? Why’d you shoot me?…You shot her! Why’d you shoot her?”…Normally I’d say you can’t make this shit up, except Joel Schumacher did). The drag queen character is…offensive. At best. It’s complete stereotype and would have been outdated even in 1999. I feel embarrassed for having watched this.

A treat:

San Francisco Treats

If you haven’t caught on yet, the Assholes are on vacation! Matt, Jay & Sean are in California for the week, and today we’re in sunny San Francisco, possibly on the ferry right this very minute on our way to visit Alcatraz.

Because movies are the only homework we know, we prepped for this vacation for watching anything that gave us a glimpse of the monuments we planned to visit, and today’s theme was a no-brainer.

Alcatraz island, also known as the rock, was home to a federal prison from 1933-1963. At the time the movie The Rock was made, the island was already a tourist hotspot, allowing tourists to explore the prison and sitalcatraz in the cells where the worst and most violent prisoners were held, and from whence no one ever successfully escaped.

Or did they? In The Rock, Sean Connery plays a convict and the one unofficial escapee. When a group of crazed rogue Marines take over the prison and claim 81 tourists as hostages, Connery is tapped to help coordinate the police mission to win the prison back. In the end it falls to him and to weiner-chemist Nicolas Cage to save the day.

The prison (in real life) was very expensive to operate and locals were complaining about the sewage attributed to the inmates, so the facility was closed down. Today the whole island is a National Historical Landmark and we’re reasonably confident that hostage situations no longer arise, and if they do, they’ll have the foresight to pick on a later tour group.

During filming, Sean Connery didn’t want to travel back and forth to the mainland so he had a The-Rock-sean-connery-331361_450_350cottage built on the island to accommodate him. Later, the film’s premiere was held in the prison’s rec yard. The island had remained open to the public during filming, so I suppose the tourists had a little something to keep them entertained while waiting in line  (unless it was a Cage scene, in which case I’m sure they asked for their money back).

This is Michael Bay’s favourite Michael Bay film, and the only one in his whole repertoire certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Quentin Tarantino was an uncredited writer on the script. And Arnold Schwarzenegger was offered either Cage’s or Connery’s role, depending who you ask, but in any case turned it down, and lived to regret it.

Later tonight, Sean and I are going to a Giants game where Sean will likely drink a Pabst Blue Ribbon and I’ll cheer for mustard in the hot dog race, we’ll watch a little baseball, and no one will show up to stalk and\or stab any of the players.

The Fan came out the same year as The Rock (1996), what a boon for San Francisco! Robert De de-niro-the-fanNiro plays the degenerate fan and Wesley Snipes the star player who inspires De Niro’s fanaticism. It’s not a great movie and also not a great comfort if these are possibly the kinds of fans we might encounter tonight. Anyway, if a disgruntled knife salesman does get stabby, then I guess we’re out of luck, with little else than a witty Hunter Pence poster to defend ourselves with (and last time I checked, scissors beat paper). A natural disaster, however, we can handle. The other The Rock (as in Dwayne Johnson) showed is in San Andreas just how sturdy this stadium is – AT&T Park is immovable, come hell or high water, and of course both those things come in spades during the course of this disasteriest of disaster movies.

Annnnyway, I’m sure San Francisco is nothing like the movies. I’m sure it’s much more like an episode of Full House!

 

Shark Tale

You know how movies always come in pairs? White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen: same basic film. Dante’s Peak and Volcano: twins! Armaggeddon and Deep Impact: same damn thing. Antz and A Bug’s Life: why the hell not. Infamous and Capote: nominally two different films. Turner & Hooch\K-9. Platoon\Full Metal Jacket. The Truman Show\Ed TV. The Prestige\The Illusionist. No Strings Attached\Friends With Benefits. I could go on and likely so could you. Are the movie studios hoping you’ll see one instead of the other, or are they banking that if you liked one, you’ll like the other?

Or did Jeffrey Katzenberg steal an idea and take it with him when he left Disney? He’s been shark-taleaccused of that more than once, and that’s the theory behind Shark Tale conveniently riding on Finding Nemo’s coat tails. Both are animated movies dealing with outcast sharks befriending fish. Doesn’t that seem like quite the coincidence?

DreamWorks Animation has often been a step behind animation powerhouse Pixar, and in this case, Shark Tale isn’t exactly a bad movie, but it is the inferior one.

Oscar (voiced by Will Smith) is a small fish who dreams big. When a shark turns up dead at his feet (fin?) of course he takes the credit, and then the money and the fame that come along with being The Sharkslayer – everything he’s always wanted. Until some real sharks start threatening his reef and he’s the one that’s supposed to stop them.

There’s a tonne of voice talent on hand: Renee Zellwegger, Angelina Jolie, Jack Black – butGang001.jpg my favourites were Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, who recorded their lines together, and if you look carefully at their characters, you’ll see some tell-tale eyebrows and a distinguishing mole.

So why is it that this movie fails? Story, mostly. Pixar has this magical formula for making a children’s movie that still appeals to adults, and I think in striving for it, Dreamworks failed to hit either target. It’s fast and it’s colourful but it doesn’t seem to captivate kids the way that Finding Nemo did. And there’s no underlying truth and sweetness, so no reason for adults to really watch, except for the sharks-as-mafia bit that’s kind of a tired joke, and got the Italic Institute of America all riled up. But that’s not the only organization they pissed off: the Christian wackos over at the American Family Association (a nice euphemism for spouting pure hatred) decided 1that Lenny the Shark was a bad example to kids because his VEGETARIANISM was an allegory for HOMOSEXUALITY. Um, no comment.

The one thing this movie does get right is its soundtrack. But everything in between is forgettable and derivative. Even the animation doesn’t live up to the standard they set with Shrek. There’s no charm, and no whimsy. Would this movie be as ugly if it wasn’t always being compared to the pretty twin, Finding Nemo? Who knows. But it’s just not interesting enough for me to care.

 

How Many Oscar Winners Does it Take to Save a Piece of Shit?

The Big Wedding stars FOUR Oscar winners: Robert DeNiro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, and Robin Williams.

weddingdeniroSo the answer to the question is: at least 5. It takes at least 5 Oscar winners to save a piece of shit; four were definitely not enough.

The premise: a long-divorced couple (Keaton & DeNiro) have to pretend to still be married on the occasion of their adopted son’s wedding (Ben Barnes, white guy, not remotely Columbian, to Amanda Seyfried), to keep up appearances in front of his religious biological mother, who is visiting all the way from – you guessed it – Columbia.

Flimsy? You bet. It’s exactly the kind of role I hate to see Diane Keaton doing these days, and now she’s dragging Susan Sarandon down along with her (playing her former best friethe-big-weddingnd and current flame of the ex-husband). Ladies at this stage in their career should not have to resort to slapstick.

Topher Grace and Katherine Heigl round out the cast as the two other unlucky-in-love kids, heaping contrived subplot onto contrived subplot. And then Robin Williams shows up as the drunk but devout Catholic priest who’s set to marry these two crazy kids, despite the racist protests of a soon-to-be in-law unfortunately named Muffin (beige grandbabies alert!). Um, haven’t we seen Robin play this exact thing before?

Anyway, you won’t think this movie is good, but if you’re in the right mood – like, in bedThe-big-weddingoscarwinners with a bad head cold, for example – you might find it…passable. Like, if it’s playing on TV and you can’t find the remote, you could do worse. And maybe you just need a little schmaltz in your life: nothing wrong with that. Don’t admit to it, maybe, but enjoy it with a bowl of popcorn, or maybe melty ice cream, because let’s face it: the movie itself is cheesy enough to clog your precious arteries.