Tag Archives: Robert DeNiro

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!


Cop Movies!


TMPThere’s nothing like cop week to get the dirty taste of dance movies out of your mouth! Thanks Wandering Through the Shelves for sponsoring yet another thoughtful Thursday theme, and for giving me the perfect excuse for subjecting my wife to all the explodey movies she normally turns her cute little nose up at.

Bad Boys: Mike & Marcus (Will Smith & Martin Lawrence) are two “loose cannon” cops, not to mention best friends, who spend so much time together they sound like an old married couple – the kind constantly threatening to get a divorce. But damn if they don’t pull together in times of trouble! Legend has it that this script was originally intended for Jon Lovitz and Dana Carvey – now just imagine that movie for a minute, if you will.

heatHeat: Bank robbers start to feel “the heat” from cops when their latest robbery turns out to be a little sloppy. Lieutenant Al Pacino is on to them but Robert De Niro needs one last heist before he can retire (isn’t that always the way?). Then of course De Niro makes his fatal mistake – he goes against the golden rule ‘Never have anything in your life that you can’t walk out on in thirty seconds flat, if you spot the heat coming around the corner.’ Die-Hard-quotes-8

Die Hard: It’s Die Hard, what else do you have to say? It’s Christmas AND he’s off duty (plus he’s NYPD visiting LA), but John McClane (Bruce Willis) is still a bad-ass motherfucker who will single-handedly END YOU.


I watched a lot of cop movies this week and it turns out that a lot of my favourite jams just happen to have cops in them. Actually, if you look hard enough, probably there’s a cop or two in nearly every movie. There were cops in dance movie Billy Elliot, and cops in teen comedy Superbad, and more cops than you can shake a stick at in the black and white movies we watched a while back. They’re everywhere, even in outer space, but above all, they’re immediately below 🙂
Fargo Marge Gunderson is probably my favourite cop-hero of all time. She doesn’t do the ass-slide over the hoods of cars, she doesn’t use karate to subdue perps twice her size, and she doesn’t cause millions of dollars in damage as she careens her car wildly through populated city fargostreets. She’s just a quiet woman getting er done – you know, kind of like a real cop would do. Frances McDormand is crazy-talented, and I love watching her waddle through this movie with her quaint sense of humour, her helmet hair, the meals she shares with her husband. She doesn’t thump her chest or swing her dick around but she’s persistent and dogged and we enjoy watching her unravel this case – poor used car salesman Jerry (William H. Macy); he never really stood a chance against such a humbly formidable opponent.

The Departed This one is kind of on the other end of the spectrum, isn’t it? Two young cops join the force – one, Matt Damon, has a pristine record but works as a mole for mob boss Jack Nicholson. The other, Leonardo DiCaprio, comes from a rough background which helps him go deep under cover, infiltrating the gang, and feeding information back to the only two cops who thedepartedknow he’s actually a good guy – Martin Sheen and Mark Wahlberg. What ends up happening is that these two chase each other, relentlessly trying to uncover the mole while staying hidden themselves. It’s tense, degrading work, and losing means you pay with your life. Honestly, my favourite cop is probably the one played by Mark Wahlberg. He just goes so off the hook, unpredictable, balls to the wall, you have to admire it. The ending leads me to believe that he’s not clean. But is he a disgruntled ex-cop gone rogue or is he somebody’s rat? Either way, “If a gun is pointed at you, it doesn’t matter if you’re a cop or a criminal.”

21 Jump Street Aaaaaand switching gears again, one of my favourite cop buddy movies of recent years, and probably ever (although, for the record, I also super love Hot Fuzz, and if Matt hadn’t jumped on it, I’d have tried my best to beat Sean to it).  This movie is self-referential and 21jumpstreetmocks the very genre it masters, but it’s never a mere homage. It’s smarter than a spoof, much like Hot Fuzz I suppose, and isn’t afraid to pay respect to its roots, embracing them even, and making them part of the fun. There’s never a moment when the film stops winking at us, trading in the cop movie clichés for cops in bike shorts doing slow-speed chases through grass, having cases thrown out on sad technicalities (“You have the right to remain an attorney.” – “Well, you DO have the right to be an attorney if you want to.”), bullet-riddled tankers that somehow fail to explode. I didn’t like Channing Tatum before this, and I still only like him in this (and I believe that includes the sequel) but for some reason the chemistry between he and Jonah Hill just really works.


As long as I can rembmer, I wanted to be a cop. I used to play cops and robbers in the schoolyard- usually with people who didn’t even know they were playing. When I was about to 12 I had to rethink my career goals when I realized that my eyesight wasn’t nearly good enough and would never be able to drive a car or see who I’m shooting at but the dream was fun while it lasted. I didn’t know much about police work back then but I did watch a lot of cop movies. Thanks to Wandering Through the Shelves for giving me an excuse to revisit them this week.

In the Heat of the Night (1967)- In the Heat of the Night is nearly 50 years old but its oepning scenes couldn’t be timelier. There’s been a murder in Sparta, Mississippi and the police go out and arrest the first black man they see. Of course, the suspect turns out to be an off-duty Philadelphia homicide detective who they call Mr. Tibbs. If Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger’s characters ever managed to become buddies, this wouIn the Heat of the Nightld have been a contender for the best cop buddy movie of all time. Instead, What we get instead is much more interesting- a classic that manages to say a lot about race relations in the deep South in a time where you had to pretty careful what you said about race in the deep South. Best of all, it never forgets to deliver an engaging murder mystery

Hot FuzzHot Fuzz (2007)– According to TV ads, Hot Fuzz is “from the guys who have watched every action movie ever made”. Satire works best when a writer understands its subject so Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg were smart enough to take aim at a genre that they clearly knew well- and loved! Pegg plays a big city cop witha love of police work who is paired with a smalltown cop with a love of police movies (espeically Bad Boys 2). You can feel the love for buddy movies in almost every scene as Wright does his best to recreate the look and feel of a mainstream action movie and filling it with unexpected laugh-out loud moments throughout. To me, this is still pegg and Wrse7enight’s funniest movie.

Se7en (1995)– Between Sean and I, we have three picks from 1995 – a year that seems to have been a golden age for cop movies. Unlike most movies about serial killers, the cops (played of course by Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt)- not the killings- are the focus. Freeman, days away from retirement, has lost faith in humanity long before John Doe’s first killing and Pitton his first week on the job, still believes he can make a difference. Over the course of one week and seven brutal killings, both men will have to examine their beliefs. Se7en also has the distinction of being the first film in director David Fincher’s twenty-year winning streak. The final “What’s in the box?” scene is so powerful that even Pitt’s overacting couldn’t derail it.

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 Zellweger, Angelina Jolie, Jack Black – butGang001.jpg my favourites were Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro, 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.