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July 12, 2012


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As an enthusiast for your writing since the days of the printed edition of Premiere, MSN Movies can have all my clicks as long as they they keep you an employed film writer and you shouldn't apologize for their misgivings. (but I have to admit that it blows my mind that a company that was actually born on the internet has such a poor understanding of how to present their content in a competent manner)


"There are those that will argue that it CAN be done"

Of course it CAN be done. You just need to include New York, New York on the list, and everything else falls into place. You can actually do a mathematical proof.

(Of course, it really is too bad that Bobby passed away in 1998. But I do find the CGI version they've been using ever since his passing to be very, very creepy. Uncanny valley, you know. His estate must really be hard up to license his image that way.)


As a huge fan of your writing I apologize for the nitpick, but am I the only reader who finds this line at first more than a little confusing?

"Anyway, this cat was into finance and traveled a lot but had this one cat he totally doted on that needed feeding."


Though, as you point out, everyone and their mother is going to argue with this (I myself would have chosen HEAT, WAG THE DOG or RONIN over THE LAST TYCOON, where I felt De Niro was somewhat enervated, although, to be fair, I think the movie in general was too), I am glad you recognized MIDNIGHT RUN, one of the unsung classics of the 80's. That and TIME BANDITS proved well before ANALYZE THIS and MEET THE FOCKERS De Niro was capable of playing comedy, and unlike those movies and their subsequent sequels, they didn't feature him making fun of his past image. Also, while they weren't up to his later work, his performances in the early films he did with De Palma, especially HI, MOM!, show his comic timing.

David Ehrenstein

You forgot "Brazil." SO much better than "Falling in Love."

Tom Block

>MIDNIGHT RUN, one of the unsung classics of the 80's

Amen. I do wish Elfman's score wasn't so Swinging '80s in the loud spots (though its quiet moments are beautiful) and that Brest could've resisted the urge to stick MILLIONS of cop cars in all the action scenes--that stuff just screams "From the director of Beverly Hills Cop!!!" But De Niro, Grodin, and Paul Gallo's script way more than make up for it, and it's got one of the most satisfying endings of any action flick I've ever seen.

Two other De Niro performances that deserve a bigger rep: "Jacknife" and "15 Minutes".


I used to work for a big producer in the late 80s, and if I remember correctly, MIDNIGHT RUN moved from (I think) Paramount to Universal because Paramount wanted the Charles Grodin role reconceived for Cher.

One day I heard my producer boss (not a MIDNIGHT RUN producer) on the phone recommending Bruce Willis to Brest for the Grodin role.

Though I don't particularly care any of Brest's films since, thank goodness he stuck to his guns about Grodin.

Glenn Kenny

@bettencourt: Yes, the "cat" as in "dude" versus the actual feline cat is pretty confusing even by my own eccentric standards. Will correct. In my defense, I have twenty new stitches in the big toe of my left foot and haven't started taking my ibuprofen yet. Ow, ow, ow. It's distracting.

Owain Wilson

Falling In Love is terrific, and I'm glad it's on the list. If it WERE made today, it would star Channing Tatum and Taylor Swift, and would have some kind of accident/amnesia/widow element to it.

It's also one of those many 70s and 80s movies that gave New York a certain look and feel that made me daydream as a young fella over here in the UK. There's a size and scope about the city in this and Kramer Vs Kramer, Tootsie, Ghostbusters, etc., that filmmakers seem incapable of capturing anymore.

New York looked great in the 80s!

Lord Henry

There never seems to be any love anywhere for TRUE CONFESSIONS, one of De Niro's best, if admittedly anomalous, performances.

David N

My favourite DeNiro performance may be in THE DEER HUNTER. I like him best when he's holding it all in, and he carries that massive film squarely on his shoulders. The way he quietly portrays how a tragedy ultimately effects the life of that sad, lonely character - and his feelings of guilt about it - is magnetic.

Also, I'd second TRUE CONFESSIONS.


"That and TIME BANDITS proved well before ANALYZE THIS and MEET THE FOCKERS De Niro was capable of playing comedy, and unlike those movies and their subsequent sequels, they didn't feature him making fun of his past image."

I'm actually a fan the of We're No Angels remake. Surprisingly unappreciated.


The problem, of course, in compiling "DeNiro Lists" is that of his extreme symbiosis with Scorsese. Pretty much all DeNiro bests are Scorsese pics, just as pretty much all Scorsese bests are DeNiro pics. It's about as extreme as the Dietrich / Von Sternberg symbiosis.

So any kind of DEFINITIVE "DeNiro List" almost has to be an ex-Scorsese list...

Glenn Kenny

David N, Lord Henry, I feel you on "True Confessions" and I think DeNiro is wonderful in it, and his work therein could arguably use a defense from the drubbing it got from Kael back in the day. But I really wanted to back "Falling In Love," too. As I said to begin with, impossible to just limit to ten, tenably.


Oops, I meant BRAZIL, not TIME BANDITS.

Tom Carson

I'll never forgive him for wrecking two generations -- so far -- of (mostly) male movie acting thanks to his influence. Intensity is easy. Relaxing is hard. That's why I'd rather watch Bill Murray or Jeff Bridges any old day.

Sudarshan Ramani

Great that you put Novecento(which means "The 20th Century" not the year 1900) in the list. That's the film everybody forgets that DeNiro made and acted in. It's an incredible film. One of Bertolucci's and DeNiro's best. I'd also include BRAZIL too.


Glenn, though Theresa Russell's luminous performance in THE LAST TYCOON is the one we remember, Monroe Stahr's love interest in the picture is played by Ingrid Boulting.


How cone no one calls out a Tom Carson as being a TOTAL FUCKING BITCH?

Like, do you have no testosterone or masculinity whatsoever?

The worst strain of film asshole are the guys who have NO INTENSITY and only like smirking jerkoff distance and remove.


Also hey creepo with the scary Middle Eastern name above:

Every film geek ever has seen 1900 and properly reveres it. Fuck on off.


Nurse! NURSE!!! The screens!

Jaime N. Christley

Phony, chest-puffing bravado or smirking jerkoff distance and remove. Those are your choices. CHOOSE WISELY OR THOU SHALT PERISH!!

Millsteam Pigworker

As usual, What Tom Carson Said.

Glenn Kenny

Wow, twenty-four hours without a cell phone from which to keep an eye on comments and look what happens.

Sorry about the Lex bullshit, folks, I'll have to put on moderation again and wait out the storm.

Stephen Whitty

Thanks for this, Glenn.

Although obviously the current "Red Lights" is never going to make any "Best of De Niro" list -- or even a "Best of Cillian Murphy" list -- I have to say I think it's given too many people an excuse to haul out their old "De Niro hasn't done anything good since...(fill in the long ago title)."

I thought he was very good in "Stone," a film which hardly anyone saw. I thought he was scarily good in "Being Flynn," too, as an abusive alcoholic. It's absolutely true he does far too many movies (remember when, like a Day-Lewis film, a De Niro picture was an event?) and obviously, far too many of them are strict, paycheck parts.

But he can still hit it...


What Jamie N. Christley said. (I do recall that Carson, in his criticism, loves the fake ultimatum. One Village Voice article, years back [not sure why I remember this], posited that you can either enjoy Melville or Austen, but never both.) Look at Johnny Boy up there. Is that what we take away from that weird and impish performance? "Intensity"? De Niro can "relax" with this best of them, including Bridges: just compare The Dude with De Niro's JACKIE BROWN character.


Or you could just ban him outright.

And is it okay if I think that De Niro is really good as the creature in Branagh's otherwise alarmingly bad FRANKENSTEIN? Yes? No? Well fine then.

Glenn Kenny

Oh it's okay, Bill. Just don't expect a lot of "huzzah"s as a result. Most will choose to see it as an eccentric opinion. I myself don't think he breaks out of the DeNiro-isms quite enough to make the performance wholly work. A noble effort though.

As for "ban him outright:" egalitarian impulses aside, instituting an actual "ban" on a commenter, regardless of how justified it may be, would involve too much work for me, as a fifty-two-year-old man with a desire to have a fucking life outside the fucking Internet, to devote to a blog that I maintain pretty much as a hobby and a professional placekeeper. Which would in its turn make me inclined to just chuck the whole fucking thing. It's easier to just deal with these occasional flareups of nonsense, as irritating as they may be. And they are, in point of fact, plenty irritating.


Oh. See, I thought you maybe had a red button on your keyboard that said "BAN" which made the process easier. I myself have no such button, but I thought that was just because my computer is old.

As for the De Niro/FRANKENSTEIN thing, I would never claim it was one of his ten best performances anyway. I just think that the performance has been overlooked because, understandably, nobody wants to ever watch that movie again.

More pertinent to the actual topic, I'd throw his work CASINO in there, myself. Though I don't think De Niro's subsequent work is anywhere near as bad as most people say (HIDE & SEEK is a bad movie; De Niro is not bad in it), I do think CASINO was his last (so far) truly great performance. Also overlooked, though this time it's because so many people are wrong in thinking CASINO is just a GOODFELLAS retread.

Tom Carson

Joel, I have no recollection of writing that asinine line about Melville and Austen. But lord knows I was once young and stupid enough to have done so.


If that was someone else, then I apologize for the attribution. It was in a review of a Moby-Dick miniseries, or maybe a review of Beau Travail--whatever Melville-related culture existed in 2000 or so. But whoever it was referred to Melville lovers as "insanephiles" or something like that, a label I actually reveled in back then, as a young man eager to return to grad school and write his dissertation on Melville, and probably explains why I still remember a review of that really dumb Patrick Stewart Moby-Dick.

Anyway... bill: I always thought of CASINO as a continuation of GOODFELLAS, a fulfillment of the cowboy fantasies in the latter.

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