Tidbits from the Tribeca ‘Goodfellas’ Reunion

2698239bl News reports  from the Tribeca Film Festival’s  GOODFELLAS reunion include new revelations about the making of the film and funny stories from the q&a after the show, moderated by Jon Stewart. 

Tomris Laffly’s article in Indiewire’s  Thompson on Hollywood blog— excerpted below — sets the stage. She writes: “Martin Scorsese’s seminal gangster film GOODFELLAS –which is widely deemed his finest directorial achievement –celebrated its 25th anniversary Saturday on the closing night of the Tribeca Film Festival, as the movie’s star and festival co-founder Robert De Niro joined the cast on stage.

Martin Scorsese and cast on set of 'Goodfellas'
Martin Scorsese and cast on set of GOODFELLAS.

“When narrator Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) declared ‘As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be gangster’ at the start of the unveiling of a gorgeous re-mastered 4K print of GOODFELLAS, the packed Beacon Theater erupted in enthusiastic applause. Many others followed throughout the screening as the huge crowd nostalgically revisited the film and its most famous moments. Predictably, the ‘Funny how’ scene between Hill and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) nabbed the most rapturous laughter and clapping.

“The screening was also an affirmation of Scorsese’s authentic and energetic depiction of amoral and despicable behavior. The debate that erupted at the opening of Scorsese’s non-didactic yet cautionary and often laugh-out-loud funny take on gangsters was not dissimilar from the reaction to last year’s instantly controversial WOLF OF WALL STREET, as naysayers accused the filmmaker of glorifying excessive behavior. GOODFELLAS famously scored one the worst test screening results in Warner Bros. history, but went on to earn critical acclaim and six Oscar nominations (with one win for Joe Pesci). Now it’s a classic.”

Laffly is referring to the first audience preview screening held in Orange County in 1990. Producer Irwin Winkler remembers the events in a Playboy interview, which describes a far different reaction to the opening of the film than the enthusiastic applause at Tribeca screening:

“Once the GOODFELLAS sneak preview got rolling, things went haywire, right from the hero’s first line of narration: ‘As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.’

“’People started running out of that theater like the place was on fire,’ recalls Winkler. ‘We had 38 walkouts alone after the scene where Joe Pesci’s character, Tommy DeVito, knifes the body of Billy Batts in the trunk of a car. And that was just the beginning of the movie. The screening didn’t go badly. It was disastrous.

“So disastrous that, as the movie’s dark humor and merry mayhem of stabbings, shootings and cocaine-fueled freak-outs piled up, 32 more people fled the theater. After the preview, which De Fina called ‘scary,’ studio execs read a barrage of audience reaction cards typified by one from a dissatisfied customer who’d scrawled ‘F*ck you’ all over his. ‘It upset a lot of people,’ says Scorsese. ‘People weren’t prepared for the mixture of humor and violence, the lifestyle, the attitude.’” Read the full interview with Winkler here, in Stephen Rebello’s article, which is subtitled “The Making of the Mafia’s Ultimate Home Movie.”

The NY Daily News reports Scorsese’s recollection of the reception of the film: “It’s hard to believe in hindsight, but GOODFELLAS wasn’t well received by everyone upon its release. ‘There was this owner of a restaurant that I used to eat at that said we’re not allowed in there anymore,’ said Scorsese, hinting that the place was an Italian establishment. ‘Because apparently we denigrated a certain ethnic group.’ ”

Closing+Night+Screening+Goodfellas+2015+Tribeca+qlBe6GE5jhelPaul Sorvino, Debi Mazar, Robert De Niro, Lorraine Bracco and Kevin Corrigan attend the closing night screening of “Goodfellas” Saturday during the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival at Beacon Theatre.

Laffly continues her Indiewire coverage from Tribeca: “The biggest treat of the night was the reunion panel after the screening, moderated by Jon Stewart, with Scorsese’s co-screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi as well as actors De Niro, Liotta, Lorraine Bracco and Paul Sorvino. Stewart’s questions could have been sharper and more fine-tuned, yet the Q&A session did yield choice and little-known behind-the-scenes stories.

Here are eight highlights:

1. No-shows Joe Pesci and Martin Scorsese greeted the audience in style.

Currently shooting his new film THE SILENCE in Taipei with Liam Neeson, Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield, Scorsese saluted the crowd before the screening with a pre-taped video message… Scorsese  revealed that the music in GOODFELLAS –from Tony Bennett to Darlene Love– represented the way his own life was musically scored. One of the best times they all had on set was during the breakfast scene with his mother (Catherine Scorsese, playing Tommy’s Mother): ‘There were only one or two lines that were written out. The rest was what it was like to be around my mom, Joe, Bob, and Ray. But we didn’t tell her about the body (in the trunk).’

Pesci’s pre-screening message was more concise. ‘Joe Pesci couldn’t be here, but he sent this email,’ said Robert De Niro, reading: ‘F*ck, f*ck, f*ckity, f*ck, f*ck, f*ck, f*ck.’

‘I’ll translate,’ he went on. ‘Dear Bob, I am sorry I can’t be there. Love to all. Best, Joe.’

2. De Niro: ‘We feel connected when we get back together, as we are tonight.’
 

The Tribeca Film Festival co-founder’s sentiment was seconded by actor Paul Sorvino. ‘We sometimes run into each other. What happens is, you see each other 10 or 15 years later, and it is as if the time has not passed. Because we got to know each other so well at an emotional or spiritual level; and it never goes away.’

3. Running into Scorsese at the Venice Film Festival helped Ray Liotta to land the leading role.

‘I was the first person they met,’ the actor recalled, noting that De Niro recommended him and that it took a year to get it. ‘I think what sealed it is – I did a movie called DOMINICK AND EUGENE, which was at the Venice Film Festival. Marty was there with THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST, walking across the lobby of the hotel. I went to him and said ‘Hey Marty, it’s me! I wanted to say hello!’ The way I said hello…it just seemed to happen.’

 

4. Nora Ephron helped to connect Martin Scorsese with her husband Nicholas Pileggi.

The author of the bestselling book WISEGUY (from which GOODFELLAS is adapted) said that Scorsese kept calling him, wanting to connect. ‘I was getting these pink slips that said: ‘Call Martin Scorsese.’ But I thought it was my friend David Denby (playing a trick), so I didn’t respond.’ Scorsese couldn’t figure it out, and finally called Pileggi’s wife Nora Ephron. ‘I got home that night and she said: ‘Are you crazy? Martin Scorsese is trying to reach you and you won’t call him back.’

goodfellas-quotes-hd-wallpaper-175. Henry Hill loved Ray Liotta’s portrayal.

Scorsese didn’t let Liotta talk to Henry Hill before the film was completed, thinking that his real persona would interfere with his portrayal. But after the movie, Liotta got a call to meet Hill in a Bowling Alley in the San Fernando Valley with his brother. ‘The first thing he said was: ‘Thanks for not making me look like a scumbag.’ And I said: ‘Did you see the movie?’
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6. Paul Sorvino almost quit the film, three days before shooting began.
Worried about not being able to find the spine of his character, Sorvino apparently called his manager three days before the shooting began (after he already spent four weeks in prep), asking him to get him out of it. ‘I am a poet, an opera singer, author, sculptor…none of it is gangster,’ the actor explained. ‘I was lost. And one day I was going to fix my tie and I saw this guy (referring to his image in the mirror), and I scared the hell out of me.’v30rx2qca7huq2a07. Lorraine Bracco got a little help from her background in creating Karen.
Although she didn’t know anyone in real life close to the character she portrayed or the women Karen hangs out with, Bracco said her upbringing was helpful. ‘I have an Italian father, but I have an English mother. So I learned a lot about being Italian from my dad. And we lived in a Jewish neighborhood, which helped to create Karen. I just did my homework. Being surrounded by a great director and crew and Ray… It was easy.’

8. Nick Pileggi on Martin Scorsese, perfectionist.
 

As tight-lipped De Niro was unwilling to tackle the question of what Scorsese would want to change in the film today if he could, Stewart turned the mic to Pileggi. Recalling the night of the film’s New York City premiere, he noted that Marty had many more editing ideas in mind: ‘We were at the Ziegfeld, I was sitting next to him, and he said –pointing to an elbow- ‘We should have cut that.’ ‘Marty, I said, we’re at the Ziegfeld, it’s the opening of the movie, and the editing is over.’

Entertainment Weekly adds this wonderful factoid:

Even the ketchup technique is authentic.
Before filming the scene with the meal at Tommy’s mother’s, Scorsese had Pileggi reach out to Hill to find out which method for getting ketchup out of the bottle Jimmy ‘The Gent’ used. That’s why De Niro rolls the bottle in his hands, as we see in the finished film.”

ss3432312_-_photograph_of_ray_liotta_as_henry_hill_joe_pesci_as_tommy_devito_robert_de_niro_as_jimmy_conway_from_goodfellas_available_in_4_sizes_framed_or_unframed_buy_now_at_starstills__92124__93223.1404460384.1280.12

Mick Jagger’s Documentary on James Brown Wins a Peabody Award

jamesbrownWIP_web“Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown” has won a Peabody Award. The film tells the James Brown story from his rural Southern childhood and his musical ascension to his civil rights impact. Produced by Mick Jagger, the film was directed by Alex Gibney, who has been very busy of late. Gibney has had three films premiere on HBO in less than a year. In addition to “Mr. Dynamite” he directed the four-hour biodoc “Sinatra: All or Nothing At All” and the film about Scientology, “Going Clear.”

Peabody winners will be presented with their awards at a gala on May 31, the first-ever red-carpet evening ceremony for the awards. (via The Hollywood Reporter.) Peabody-winner Fred Armisen is set to host the gala at Cipriani Wall Street in New York. The Peabody Awards recognize excellence in TV, radio and web storytelling.

james-brown-hardest-working-man-in-show-business-excerptTHR says “Alex Gibney’s biography of the hardest working man in show business gets up and gets on the scene, telling a fascinating story about race and culture and politics with amazing archival clips and interviews with musicians who worked with him.”

Jagger was instrumental in making the picture happen.  The Telegraph‘s David Gritten tells the story:

“The Stones have always been avid James Brown fans; Jagger admits adapting a few of his dance moves on stage, and witnessed his dynamic show in person at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre in the 1960s. So when Peter Afterman, who places music in films and handles licensing rights (including those of the Stones), told him he had secured the rights to Brown’s catalogue, Jagger was intrigued.

mick-jagger-novamente-na-estrada-em-2014“‘The Brown family would be approached for permission to use a song in a movie, they’d squabble between themselves, it wouldn’t happen and they’d get no money,’ he recalls. ‘Peter told them if they left it to him, he’d run it like a business. And he asked me if I’d be interested in producing a James Brown documentary.’

“He was, and soon secured the services of director Alex Gibney (We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, Taxi to the Dark Side), widely regarded as America’s leading documentary maker. A music buff, Gibney also produced a TV documentary series, The Blues. He and Jagger set to work.”

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1980:  Photo of James Brown  (Photo by David Corio/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Brown, known as the Godfather of Soul, was an electric performer. Jagger told Time that Brown had a huge influence on his own performing style. Excerpts from that interview:

Time: “Were there any of his stage moves that you, either intentionally or unintentionally, made part of your own persona?”

Jagger: “Of course. I copied all his moves. I copied everybody’s moves. I used to do [James’] slide across the stage. I couldn’t do the splits, so I didn’t even bother. Everyone did the microphone trick, where you pushed the microphone, then you put your foot on it and it comes back, and then you catch it. James probably did it best. [Soul singer] Joe Tex did it brilliantly. Prince does it really well. I used to try to do it, but in the end, it hit me in the face too many times and I gave it up. So of course I copied his moves. There was one particular one I used to do a lot, but then I gave up and moved on. You just incorporate everything into your act.”

1212f-likejaggerpelvic-50pTime: “Which was the one you used to do a lot?”

Jagger: “When you move laterally from one side of the stage to the other, twisting your foot on one leg. I could do that one. But it’s a kind of attitude, too, not just a body move. It’s a kind of an attitude that he had on stage. You copy it. Little Richard was another contemporaneous performer who appears in this movie, because they’re from the same town. Little Richard also taught me a lot of things. It wasn’t so much moves. It’s about presence on stage in relationship to the audience.”

jamesbrownmickjaggerThe Time interview also recounts details about how the superstars met: “Mick Jagger first met James Brown backstage at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem fifty years ago, when the now-legendary British superstar was a 20-year-old music industry rookie. Singer Ronnie Spector, who introduced them, has said that Jagger was so excited to meet the funk icon that she thought he was going to have a heart attack.”

GOODFELLAS is 25 Years Old, So Here Are 25 Things You Don’t Know About The Film

The NY Daily News has a great article by reporters Rachel Maresca and Philip Caulfield, who have collected a surprising list — reprinted below — of things you (probably) don’t know about GOODFELLAS. The film has been called “one of the most quoted, influential, enjoyable and endlessly revisited movies of all time.”

goodfellas-main-reviewJoe Pesci as Tommy DeVito, Ray Liotta as Henry Hill and Robert De Niro as James Conway in Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas.” The filmmakers are celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Maresca and Caulfield write:

We took care of that thing for ya.

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of “Goodfellas” this year, the Daily News has compiled a list of 25 things every movie nut should know about the classic gangster flick, which is being honored on the closing night of The Tribeca Film Festival Saturday.

To celebrate, the cast of the Martin Scorsese movie will reunite and participate in a sit-down conversation hosted by Jon Stewart.

The violent, profane and often funny film, based on Nicholas Pileggi’s book “Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family,” featured several cameos by the story’s real-life characters, and is revered by movie fans for its colorful dialogue and memorable lines.

Now go home and get your shinebox . . .

1. Several Hollywood A-listers were mentioned for the role of Henry Hill, including Tom Cruise, Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin and Cruise’s “Top Gun” co-star Val Kilmer, who sent in a tape of himself playing the character, “Goodfellas” producer Irwin Winkler revealed to Playboy recently.

2. Author Nicholas Pileggi didn’t return director Martin Scorsese’s initial call about making his 1986 book “Wiseguy” into a movie because he thought someone was pulling his leg. “I didn’t believe it when Marty left a message. I thought it was my friend David Denby, the film critic, winding me up. So I just ignored him,” Pileggi told The Guardian in 2013. Scorsese eventually got Pileggi’s attention by reaching out to his wife, Nora Ephron.

3. Ray Liotta didn’t meet Henry Hill until after the movie wrapped. According to Hill, Scorsese insisted on keeping the two apart. “He didn’t want me to influence him whatsoever,” he once told an interviewer. Robert De Niro, however, met with Hill and endlessly quizzed him for insights into his character, Jimmy Conway, who was based on mobster James (Jimmy the Gent) Burke.
maxresdefault-1Robert De Niro as James Conway sitting in restaurant booth with Ray Liotta as Henry Hill in GOODFELLAS.

tumblr_n7p5ycyyth1rn5a30o1_500Ray Liotta as Henry Hill sitting with Lorraine Bracco as Karen Hill at a nightclub in GOODFELLAS.

4. Instead, to get into character, Liotta listened to hours upon hours of interviews Pileggi taped with Hill while writing “Wiseguy.” “Henry Hill was eating potato chips the whole time . . . it (was) just a horrible noise,” Liotta recalled to a radio interviewer in 2014.

5. Both of Scorsese’s parents are in the film. His mom, Catherine, plays Joe Pesci’s character’s mother, while his father, Charles, plays Vinnie, the old mobster whom Paulie warns about putting too many onions in the tomato sauce in the prison dinner scene. Charles died in 1993, while Catherine died in 1997.

goodfellasMartin Scorsese’s father, Charles Scorsese, played Vinnie, an aging mobster who gets a little heavy-handed with the onions in his tomato sauce in the prison dinner scene.

goodfellas-1
Catherine Scorsese, the director’s mother, as Tommy DeVito’s mother.

6. In the scene where Henry and Karen Hill are discussing the witness protection program, the prosecutor they are speaking to is Ed McDonald, the actual federal prosecutor who put Hill in the witness protection program. McDonald, now in private practice, told the Wall Street Journal in 2008 that all of his lines were improvised, including the famous, “Don’t give me the ‘babe in the woods’ routine, Karen.”

7. “Goodfellas” was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. It won only one, a Best Supporting Actor trophy for Joe Pesci.

8. Pesci’s acceptance speech was just five words: “It’s my privilege, thank you.”
golden-globes
Lorraine Bracco (l. with James Gandolfini and Edie Falco in 2000.)

9. Lorraine Bracco turned down the chance to play mob wife Carmela on the HBO series “The Sopranos” because she’d already played a mob wife Karen Hill in “Goodfellas.”          “I said, ‘Look, I don’t think I should play Carmela because I did it, I did it in a Scorsese movie, I got an Oscar nomination. I really don’t think I’m going to bring so much to this for you that I haven’t done already,” she recently told HuffPost Live.
goodfellas23f-9-webJoe Pesci as Tommy DeVito, Ray Liotta as Henry Hill in the classic 1990 mobster flick.

10. Joe Pesci’s character Tommy DeVito is based on Lucchese family hit man Thomas DeSimone, aka “Two-Gun Tommy” or “Tommy D.” While Pesci is only about 5-foot-4, DeSimone was actually a hulking 6-foot-2 in real life. Describing Tommy’s death in the film, Henry Hill says: “They even shot Tommy in the face so his mother couldn’t give him an open coffin at the funeral.” In reality, DeSimone vanished in 1979 and his body was never found. He was 28.

11. According to “Wiseguy,” DeSimone did in fact pistol whip William (Billy Batts) Bentvena to death after Batts ribbed him about being a shoeshine boy, but the insult and the murder occurred a few weeks apart. During the gruesome attack, DeSimone smashed the butt of his .38 revolver into Batts’ face and screamed, “Shine these f— shoes!”

12. The famous “Funny how?” scene was inspired by an experience Joe Pesci had working at a restaurant and mob hangout as a young man. As Liotta and other castmates tell it, Pesci got put on the spot after he quipped that one mobster was “a funny guy.”
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13. Chuck Low, who plays the pestering wig salesman Morrie Kessler, was Robert De Niro’s real estate consultant before appearing in the film.

14. De Niro’s character, Jimmy Conway, was based on James Burke, a top associate of the Lucchese crime family nicknamed “Jimmy the Gent” because of his dapper appearance. As depicted in the movie, Burke masterminded the 1978 Lufthansa robbery, which ripped off nearly $6 million from a JFK cargo hold and was the largest robbery in the U.S. at the time. He and Hill were also players in the 1979 Boston College point-shaving scandal.

In “Wiseguy,” Hill describes Burke’s love of stealing: “If you ever offered Jimmy a billion dollars, he’d turn you down and then try to figure out how to steal it from you.” He died of lung cancer in a Buffalo hospital in 1996 while serving a 20-to-life sentence for murder.

mcdgood-ec024Robert De Niro as Jimmy Conway in GOODFELLAS.

15. In the famous introduction scene, Fat Andy, aka “Moe Black’s brother,” is played by Louis Eppolito, one of the notorious NYPD “Mafia Cops.” As a detective in the 1980s and early ’90s, Eppolito — whose father, uncle and cousins were made guys in the Gambino family — secretly worked for the mob, filtering tips and information that eventually led to several murders. Along with Stephen Caracappa, he was convicted of racketeering, murder and conspiracy in 2006 and sentenced to life in prison.

16. Sonny Bunz, the beleaguered Bamboo Lounge owner who gets a bottle cracked over his head, was played by Anthony Borgese, a Brooklyn-bred actor who uses the stage name Tony Darrow. As a young man, Borgese worked in the real Bamboo Lounge in Canarsie, where Hill, Burke and DeSimone hung out.

17. Queens native Christopher Serrone said playing young Henry put a giant target on his back during his teen years. “Every kid in my neighborhood wanted to be the guy who beat up the gangster kid from Goodfellas. It was tough,” Serrone, now in his late 30s, told the Daily Mail recently. “I took my share and gave my share.”

18. Nearly four decades later, the Lufthansa robbery is still being prosecuted in New York’s courts. In January 2014, Vincent Asaro, a 78-year-old Bonanno family capo, was nabbed in an FBI sweep and charged with plotting the 64-minute heist with Jimmy Burke and Henry Hill. Asaro isn’t depicted in “Goodfellas,” but he was in the room when the real Tommy DeSimone pumped a bullet into Spider’s foot. He took the bleeding kid to get patched up.

goodfellas2Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito in GOODFELLAS.

19. The movie’s second-to-last shot shows Pesci firing a pistol point-blank at the screen. It’s a reference to the ending of the 1903 silent film “The Great Train Robbery,” where one of the bandits does the same thing.

20. In the final scene, De Niro’s defense attorney, who says the line “Mr. Hill, you know everything about being a rat,” is played by Eddie Hayes, a legendary New York mob lawyer who was the inspiration for the slick-talking attorney in Tom Wolfe’s “Bonfire of the Vanities.”

21. Frankie Carbone, who is found hanging from a hook in a refrigerated meat truck, was played by Frank Sivero. In recent years, Sivero has filed a handful of lawsuits accusing people ripping off the character. Later year, he went after “The Simpsons” for allegedly stealing his likeness for a Springfield mobster, while another suit targeted a Southern California deli for hawking a “Frankie Carbone” sandwich using his photo.

22. The exact number is in dispute, but it’s generally believed that the “f-word” is said between 300-320 times in the movie. However, another Scorsese flick, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” is said to be Hollywood’s F-bomb Don, with 544, according to a Slate tally.

23. In the scene where Tommy shoots Spider in the foot, the drunk mobster waves his smoking revolver and shouts “Take him to Ben Casey!” as Spider writhes in pain on the floor. Ben Casey was the titular doctor of a hit TV show that ran in the early ’60s.

24. While the movie has a reputation of being a bloody whack-a-thon, only five character deaths are depicted on screen, including Stacks Edwards, played by a then little-known Samuel L. Jackson.

25. Henry Hill died on June 12, 2012, at the age of 69. “His heart gave out,” his girlfriend said at the time. Two years earlier, he’d confided to a reporter that he never stopped feeling like a marked man. “There’s always that chance that some young buck wants to make a name for themselves,” Hill said in 2010. “I never thought I’d reach this wonderful age. I’m just grateful for being alive.”ss3432312_-_photograph_of_ray_liotta_as_henry_hill_joe_pesci_as_tommy_devito_robert_de_niro_as_jimmy_conway_from_goodfellas_available_in_4_sizes_framed_or_unframed_buy_now_at_starstills__92124__93223.1404460384.1280.12

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Robert De Niro’s Greatest Roles

The Telegraph has posted a gallery of Robert De Niro’s greatest roles. The list includes Raging Bull, Cape Fear, Taxi Driver, and The Godfather Part II, but also We’re No Angels, Midnight Run, and The Untouchables. Captions below are from the Telegraph gallery.

Ragingbull2_2644954kAs Jake Lamotta in RAGING BULL.

“Often cited as one of America’s finest films, Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull charts the rise and fall of real life boxer Jake Lamotta. Difficult to watch, De Niro’s Lamotta is violent and cruel on a path to self destruction as he deals with his inner demons. De Niro ‘ain’t going down for nobody’ and this emotionally charged role is one of his best.”

CAPE FEAR, Robert De Niro, 1991

As Max Cady in CAPE FEAR.

“De Niro’s performance as Max Cady in Martin Scorsese’s remake of the 1962 classic makes Travis Bickle look like a Sunday School teacher. Cady, having just been released from prison for rape, is intent on destroying the urbane lawyer (Nick Nolte) who testified against him. De Niro, covered in nasty tattoos, slowly seeps into your skin, becoming the person you’d least like to live next door to.”

robert_de_niro___taxi_driver_by_gabrielttoro-d6gv2rsAs Travis Bickle in TAXI DRIVER.

“Martin Scorsese’s film takes you by the scruff of the neck and takes you into the dangerous, decaying New York of the Seventies. De Niro’s Travis Bickle, the taxi driver of the title is a porn-obsessed loner who ends up as a would be assassin. The scene in which Bickle talks to himself in the mirror – ‘You talkin’ to me?’ is De Niro’s most famous, and one of the most imitated (badly) in cinema history. ”

robert-de-niro-the-godfather_110383-1600x1200Playing Vito Corleone in THE GODFATHER PART II.

“As Vito Corleone, a young De Niro transforms from man to Don in this fantastic revenge story. Corleone travels to Siciliy, whereupon he delivers the fateful line to his father’s murderer, Don Ciccio (Guiseppe Sillato): ‘My father’s name was Antonio Andolini…and this is for you!’ What a way to take the final step into becoming The Godfather. ”

wna-xTeamed with Sean Penn in WE’RE NO ANGELS.

This film “shows Bobby D’s propensity to ‘goof’ and show he’s got a fun side. Actually, he’s good fun in this as Ned (although it looks as if someone’s stuffed his mouth with cotton wool), an escaped convict in Depression-era America who, together with Sean Penn’s Jim is mistaken for a priest. Mistaken identity high-jinks abound, with De Niro gamely tucking into” the David Mamet script for director Neil Jordan.

Midnight-Run-PosterOpposite Charles Grodin in MIDNIGHT RUN.

“We know Robert De Niro’s class as a dramatic actor but Midnight Run, in which he stars as bounty hunter Jack Walsh, showed he could be very funny in a comedy role. His interplay with Charles Grodin (Jonathan Mardukas) and the FBI agent played by Yaphet Kotto are a delight and the whole film crackles with energy. You can tell De Niro enjoyed making this one.”

ACAs Al Capone in THE UNTOUCHABLES.

“Perhaps the star’s broadest, baddest, most cartoonish villain, a hatefully degenerate Al Capone in Brian De Palma’s vision of crime-ridden Chicago. Thinning hair scraped back and mouth never far from a malevolent smirk, he circles underlings at a black-tie dinner before bringing a baseball bat down on the unlucky head of a greedy cheat.”

2000+-+The+adventures+of+Rocky+and+Bullwinkle

Actually, De Niro’s most cartoonish villain was a role not included in the Telegraph gallery: Fearless Leader in THE ADVENTURES OF ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE.

The rest of the Telegraph list: King of Comedy; Mean Streets; New York, New York; What Just Happened; Jackie Brown; Meet the Parents; Sleepers; Casino; Falling in Love; Heat; Goodfellas; The Deer Hunter; and Brazil.

WE GET THE WORLD WE DESERVE — McAdams, Vaughn, Farrell look great in new teaser for True Detective 2

The teaser for TRUE DETECTIVE, Season Two sizzles. The promo features a smoky new song performed by Lera Lynn, with music by T. Bone Burnett, lyrics by Roseanne Cash.  The song begins with “Change will come to those who have no fear,” mentions being “locked inside a holy war,”  then repeats that love is “the only thing worth fighting for.”

Colin Farrell, Taylor Kitsch, Rachel McAdams and Vince Vaughn star.

The official plot synopsis, via Den of Geek:

A bizarre murder brings together three law-enforcement officers and a career criminal, each of whom must navigate a web of conspiracy and betrayal in the scorched landscapes of California. Colin Farrell is Ray Velcoro, a compromised detective in the all-industrial City of Vinci, LA County. Vince Vaughn plays Frank Semyon, a criminal and entrepreneur in danger of losing his life’s work, while his wife and closest ally (Kelly Reilly), struggles with his choices and her own. Rachel McAdams is Ani Bezzerides, a Ventura County Sheriff’s detective often at odds with the system she serves, while Taylor Kitsch plays Paul Woodrugh, a war veteran and motorcycle cop for the California Highway Patrol who discovers a crime scene which triggers an investigation involving three law enforcement groups, multiple criminal collusions, and billions of dollars.

Nic Pizzolatto, who wrote all the episodes last season, will be writing all the episodes this season. Cary Fukunaga, who helmed Sin Nombre and the 2011 film Jane Eyre  and who directed all the episodes in the first season, will be an executive producer. The second season will have multiple directors. Justin Lin, who directed the Fast and Furious movies, directed the first two episodes of the eight-episode season.

-2Vince Vaughn

Vince Vaughn is playing former “thug turned businessman” Frank Semyon, “a career criminal in danger of losing his empire when his move into legitimate enterprise is upended by the murder of a business partner.” Vaughn’s character “is working with corrupt politicians to push through “a high-speed railway system” that would run along the coast of California bringing business in its wake. Semyon tries to go legit but the murder of an associate derails that plan. He’s got politicians in his pockets and more than misdemeanors on his mind. Deadline reported that Pizzolatto wrote Vince Vaughn’s part with the actor in mind. In an interview with Playboy, Vaughn said he got the part while discussing a Rockford Files project with Pizzollato.

-3Rachel McAdams

Rachel McAdams, who broke through as Regina George in the high school comedy Mean Girls in 2004, will play the main female lead, Sheriff Ani Bezzirades, “a Ventura County Sheriff’s detective whose uncompromising ethics put her at odds with others and the system she serves.”

-1Taylor Kitsch

Taylor Kitsch plays Paul Woodrugh, “a war veteran and motorcycle officer for the California Highway Patrol, running from a difficult past and the sudden glare of a scandal that never happened.”

true-detective-skip-cropColin Farrell

 Colin Farrell plays Ray Velcoro, a California Highway Patrol officer whose official description reads: “a compromised detective whose allegiances are torn between his masters in a corrupt police department and the mobster who owns him.” Farrell’s character deals with “cocaine and anger management” and was “suspended for sexually exploiting a young woman he pulled over.”

The poster promises mystery and chills, just like Season One, and features an excellent piece of copy: “WE GET THE WORLD WE DESERVE.”f37ea163564fa1bdf483f54c229bc21b8871bfa3

Furious 7 Is Fastest Film to Earn $1 Billion: Why?

Furious+7+Movie+Poster The Magnificent Seven: Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriquez, Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges and Jordana Brewster in Furious 7.

Furious 7 has grossed  $1 Billion at the global boxoffice faster than any other film. It reached the milestone after 17 days in release. In doing so, it broke the record previously shared by Avatar, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and The Avengers. Each of those films reached $1 Billion in 19 days.

What has driven this success?

THE ACTION

The Christian Science Monitor asks: “So what makes the film series so successful? It’s not reviews from critics  – some moviegoers will always want to see fast cars and fights…” David Sims in The Atlantic agrees: “From Fast Five on, each film has thrived by trying to top its’ predecessors outrageous stunts and balletic set pieces.” Sandy Schaefer of Screenrant calls the Furious films a “Superhero franchise in disguise.”

And yet, audiences seem to accept the stunts as being grounded in reality. No caped crusaders or aliens or genetic mutations explain the incredible feats. Schaefer again: “the crew… must wrestle with matters like parental responsibilities, love, greed vs. generosity, and their obligations to other people, all of which are presented in a context that reflects life in the 21st century.” These characters are real people, so the crazy things they do must be possible. The moviegoer can think “I could do that.”

DIVERSITY

Time notes: “In any other series, a handsome white guy like Paul Walker would be the sole hero…  And ostensibly, Walker was the star of the first two films. But by the fifth installment, he was just one of an impressively diverse entourage that included an Italian-American man, a Japanese man, two black men, a Latino woman and an Israeli woman.” The cast of each installment includes someone for everyone; no matter who you are, you can find a character to follow.

But it isn’t simply that there are many ethnic groups or nationalities represented. These actors also bring loyal fans.

Dwayne Johnson earned the nickname “Franchise Viagra” after joining the ensemble in Fast Five. That installment improved by 72% at the box office over the previous film in the series. Perhaps his added muscle and action credibility contributed to the energy that he brought, but he also appeals to the Pacific rim and urban audiences in North America. 150406093858-furious-7-fire-780x439                                                  Dwayne Johnson in Furious 7.

Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges boasts an army of worldwide fans due to his phenomenal success as a hip hop recording artist.. He has sold 14 million albums, and those fans like to come to the movies too. 2011-topic-music-ludacris                                                                     Ludacris.

The women are strong characters as well. The Atlantic points out that “although it feels ridiculous to say this of a brand that never shies away from featuring a montage or two of girls frolicking in bikinis, its female characters are strong, flinty, and individually defined. While other major franchises like Marvel struggle to incorporate women without reducing them to helpful sidekicks, heroines like Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) felt fully developed from the get-go.” Time also applauds the treatment of women characters, saying “as it turns out, women can drive fast too. Fast & Furious has been surprisingly progressive when it comes to gender equality. Letty throws a punch as hard as Dominic. And when we meet an attractive female hacker (played by Game of Thrones’ Nathalie Emmanuel) in the latest installment, one male character is quick to admonish another who assumes that only nerdy boys can be programmers.” No surprise that 49% of the audience in North America is female.

Significantly, 75% of the audience in North America is non-Caucasian; over half of that amount is Hispanic. “The importance of diversity of the ensemble cast in the Fast and Furious franchise has been an integral part of the success of the brand,” says Rentrak box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian, as quoted in the Hollywood Reporter. “There is literally someone within the cast that is relatable on some level to nearly every moviegoer around the world, and this has paid big dividends at the box office.”

A crucial factor is the equal treatment of the cast of characters. The Guardian observes that Paul Walker was critical to that dynamic: “F&F could never have been the anomaly that it is – a racially egalitarian franchise – unless its lead-male white actor had been willing to accept his place in the ensemble. Walker never shook the boat, and seemed happy where he was as the series grew in popularity and became more ethnically predicated.”

GLOBAL APPEAL

Furious 7 features additional cast members Djimon Hounsou (born in Benin, West Africa), Thai martial artist Tony Jaa, Game of Thrones actress Nathalie Emmanuel (England), Elsa Pataky (Spain), Ali Fazal (India) and Jason Statham (England.) All appeal to international audiences. These international stars strengthen the world wide marquee value of the film, and are further supported by the international storylines and locales featured in the franchise.

The Atlantic charts the growth: “Fourteen years ago, the series started as a caper about illegal street racing in L.A. But over subsequent sequels, it offered up an adrenaline-pumping heist thriller, and eventually a bombastic action epic about international super-spies who just happen to drive cars really, really well,” becoming in the process “a global spy caper…” with “a hint of James Bond.”

FF3 was set in Tokyo, film number 4 traveled to the Dominican Republic and Mexico, Fast Five took place in Rio de Janeiro, FF6 has action in Monaco, London and Spain, and Furious 7 goes to Abu Dhabi. Yet the center of this universe remains Los Angeles. Exotic locations around the world are thus united with LA in the cinema sphere, admitting  viewers everywhere into the most exclusive pop culture club on the planet: Hollywood.

FAMILY

Ultimately, the diverse elements are held together by one core concept: family.

“While the ‘family’ of the Fast & the Furious crew is almost entirely blended, the symbolic significance of the unit has remained consistent throughout the ever-morphing series—it’s understood that these characters have each other’s backs in some fundamental, magical way,” writes Sims in The Atlantic.

He continues, “it’s certainly why these films have maintained such consistent charm over the years. No doubt future installments will be produced even without (Paul Walker), given the certain financial bonanza that awaits Furious 7. But the key to their success will be conveying that these stunt-driving international men (and women) of mystery are a genuine, live-in clan. As long as that continues, Fast & Furious can keep driving forever.”

Schaefer of Screenrant sums it up: “what really makes Dom as much a superhero as Batman or Iron Man – even without a costume (we’ll say his odd-fitting tight shirts don’t count) – is his higher moral calling and devotion to family.”

The right to belong to this group is extended to all, according to Vin Diesel, who told Entertainment Weekly: “It doesn’t matter what nationality you are. As a member of the audience, you realize you can be a member of that ‘family,’” he says.

Great Closing Lines in Films

The Telegraph has collected a gallery of memorable closing lines in films. The list includes:

rains-casa-2Humphrey Bogart to Claude Rains at the end of CASABLANCA: “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

120836_story__deloreanChristopher Lloyd to Michael J. Fox in BACK TO THE FUTURE: “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.”

0529238_520_MC_Tx304Anthony Hopkins to Jodie Foster in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS: “I do wish we could chat longer, but… I’m having an old friend for dinner. Bye.”

SuspectsKevin Spacey in THE USUAL SUSPECTS: “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And like that – poof – he’s gone!”

425fcf3c8756d266360277618e63ab70Joe Mantell to Jack Nicholson in CHINATOWN: “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.”

originalPaul Newman to Robert Redford in BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID: “Oh Good. For a moment there, I thought we were in trouble.”

groundhogday_2409378kBill Murray to Andie McDowell in GROUNDHOG DAY: “It’s so beautiful. Let’s live here! We’ll rent to start.”

sunset_2408090kGloria Swanson in SUNSET BOULEVARD: “You see, this is my life. It always will be! There’s nothing else – just us – and the cameras – and those wonderful people out there in the dark. All right, Mr. De Mille, I’m ready for my close-up.”

 

Cannes 2015 – “You never look as ugly as you do in a selfie”

2015-cannes-film-festival-poster-fb-640x320

The lineup for the Cannes Film Festival 2015 was announced today in Paris. The festival begins on May 13 with a jury chaired by Joel and Ethan Coen.

Reportage of the announcement has been varied, but the most unique news item concerns selfies. The Telegraph leads its article with the festival’s ban of red-carpet selfies, quoting festival director Thierry Frémaux: “We think it’s ridiculous and grotesque and really slows things down,” he officially declared, adding, “you never look as ugly as you do in a selfie.”

As always there is a wide ranging mix of international films and stars on display. Some outlets celebrate actors, others auteurs.  People headlines the stars in attendance under the headline “Charlize Theron, Emma Stone, Natalie Portman Headline Star-Studded Festival Slate.” The article goes on to mention Joaquin Phoenix, Matthew McConaughey, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jesse Eisenberg, Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek,  Rachel Weisz and others. The Huffington Post, on the other hand, concentrates on “cinema heavyweights including China’s Jia Zhangke, Italy’s Paolo Sorrentino and the United States’ Gus Van Sant.”

No surprise to see the parochial nature of some of the journalism; national interests drive regional reporting. The Guardian sulks, bemoaning the almost total absence of British directors: “Asif Kapadia’s documentary Amy, about Amy Winehouse, has been selected for a midnight screening, but there are no British directors elsewhere.”

Down Under, news.com.au cheers on Cate Blanchett and Naomi Watts. Strangely, the Aussie site also promotes the out of competition screening of George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road” with a photo of Mel Gibson, who originated the role, instead of a photo of Tom Hardy, who stars in this reboot.

Variety notes that “Asia will enjoy its strongest competition presence in some time with Our Little Sister,” a Japanese comicstrip adaptation from Hirokazu Kore-eda; “Mountains May Depart,” a three-part drama from mainland Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke; and “The Assassin,” a long-gestating martial-arts epic from Taiwan’s Hou Hsiao-hsien. Cannes 2015 also looks to be a robust edition for Italian filmmakers, with Palme bridesmaids Matteo Garrone (“The Tale of Tales,” a lavish, effects-driven fantasy starring Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel and John C. Reilly) and Sorrentino (“Youth,” toplining Michael Caine and featuring Weisz, Jane Fonda, Paul Dano and Harvey Keitel) duking it out with Palme laureate Nanni Moretti, back with his semi-autobiographical drama “My Mother.”

The official festival poster features Ingrid Bergman this year. Some journalists, such as Brad Brevet at Rope of Silicon, are underwhelmed by this design, preferring the style of  posters from the past few years. 2014 presented Marcello Mastroianni, 2013 had a great photo of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, 2012 delivered a striking shot of Marilyn Monroe, and 2011 showed a sophisticated Faye Dunaway. Each one combines text and image in a powerful graphic interplay. Each one epitomizes cinematic glamour; no selfies here. Check them out below: 2014-cannes-film-festival-poster2013-cannes-film-festival-poster cannes-poster-2012-marilyn-monroe_02282012_234555 cannesposterlargecannes_2015

Which Addams Family member are you?

addams-family-values

Jonathan Barkan at Bloody Disgusting has posted a quick quiz to determine which member of the Addams Family you are. He writes:

“I’m of the firm belief that the Addams Family are the most loving, caring, and connected family that has ever graced the silver screen. They are wildly devoted to each other, show an interest in what the others are doing, and spend tons of quality time together. In all honesty, there’s quite a bit to be jealous when watching them.

“Many times I found myself wishing that I could be a part of that family. Yeah, they might be kooky, ooky, and sometimes a little bit spooky, but I think I could live with that.”

So if you too have wondered who you’d be if you were a part of the Addams Family, head on over to Bloody Disgusting and take the quiz. Which one are you?

still-of-raul-julia-in-addams-family-values-(1993)-large-picture addamsfamilyvalues_980x350 Christina Ricci in Addams Family Values   still-of-christopher-lloyd-in-addams-family-values-(1993)8852506b5cb66f4517dfc2210d4c5f65  f53c75091be8b271a5ccedc9301133e1MV5BMTY2NDU1MDEyN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzU2OTcxNA@@._V1_SX640_SY720_afv_shot6l addams_family_values_ver1

Fellini’s 8 1/2 has been restored

Kevin Jagernauth at The Playlist writes:

“There are cinema classics, and then there’s Federico Fellini‘s “8 1/2.” Sight & Sound placed it in the top ten of its Greatest Films Of All Time list, filmmakers like Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese adore it, and you haven’t seen it, you can’t call yourself a true cinephile. Folks in the UK have a chance to see Fellini’s film as it was meant to be experienced —on the big screen.

The British Film Institute has dropped a trailer for the newly restored “8 1/2,” and of course it looks gorgeous. The iconic Marcello Mastroianni leads the cast which includes Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimée and Sandra Milo in a dreamlike movie scored by the always terrific Nino Rota.

“8 1/2″ returns to UK cinemas on May 1st.” Hopefully the print will come to the USA soon!

The film earned Fellini an Oscar, and has been called a masterpiece by many, but its appeal to those in the industry is certainly due to the subject matter: it is a film about the filmmaking process. Derek Malcolm, writing in his Century of Film series in The Guardian, says “8 1/2 is probably the most potent movie about film-making.” But opinions are divided, in the same way that opinions about BIRDMAN are divided. Some find 8 1/2 sublime, others find it self indulgent. Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius debate the point at Film School Rejects:

Landon:  8 1/2 has a special place in the hearts and minds of cinephiles. It’s almost a rite of passage for movie lovers. So my question is, what does Fellini say about filmmaking that’s so damned special?

Cole: It’s not really about making movies so much as it is about a man struggling with his work…which happens to be making movies. It’s a great movie, but it’s also hugely, unrepentently self-aggrandizing. It makes the work of filmmakers seem terribly important.

Landon: Yes, to your point, 8 1/2 is at its core quite self-indulgent. Do you think it’s self-awarely so, or is its opinion of the seriousness of filmmaking worn on its sleeve?

Cole: That might be entirely up the each viewer. Those who see Guido as a serious hero may place the ideas behind the film on a pedestal that’s on top of a pedestal. Those who see Guido as taking himself far, far too seriously might roll their eyes through the laughter of his experiences and hand-wringing.

Landon:  My bet is that this doesn’t resemble in any way the day-to-day process of filmmaking.

Cole: But 8 1/2 gets at the feeling of the creative process. It bottles the impossibility and the absurdity of filmmaking.”

It’s helpful to note that the director knew he was poking fun at both the filmmaking process and the human condition. Fellini took “a little piece of brown paper tape” and stuck it near the viewfinder of the camera. Written on it was Ricordati che è un film comico — “Remember that this is a comic film”.