Robert De Niro

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Robert De Niro in Grudge Match

We can never have too many wacky road trip comedies, but they need to involve particular formula to make things extra off-the-wall. Here’s one version: take a no-nonsense youngster — extra points if he’s a millennial completely dependent on technology who doesn’t appreciate how good things are nowadays (a mile uphill in the snow to school, etc., etc.) — and pair him with a zany sex-obsessed octogenarian who just wants to party. And party hard! Where we going? Vegas? Why? Who cares? Such an adventure is set to star Zac Efron and Robert De Niro with a script by John Phillips and direction by frequent Sacha Baron Cohen collaborator Dan Mazer (he’s a writer on Borat, Bruno and The Dictator). The project is going through a bit of an identity crisis at this point — it’s either called Dirty Grandpa or Driving Dick Kelly, depending on which outlet you consult. But the premise is the same no matter the name: Efron will play a very uptight young man with a huge problem: he’s going to marry the wrong woman! He is also tricked into driving his grandfather (De Niro), a retired, recently widowed and — this is important — perverted Army general, down to Florida for spring break. We all know where it goes from there. Spring. Break. Forevahhh. Question: How would Robert De Niro look in a pastel colored balaclava while holding a machine gun? Is there any answer besides amazing?

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Robert De Niro in THE BAG MAN

It’s been two decades since Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction crashed the zeitgeist and sent screenwriters everywhere rushing to their keyboards to create quirky criminals with the gift of gab. The best ones (In Bruges, Suicide Kings, Go) quickly form their own identity, but far too many seem content trying to mash together dark comedy and sharp violence and then calling it a day. Barely a month goes by without some new Tarantino-esque crime thriller hitting screens, and while it’s slowed down a bit recently the flow hasn’t stopped. Exhibit C for 2014… The Bag Man. Jack (John Cusack) is hired by a crime boss named Dragna (Robert De Niro) to acquire a particular bag and then wait at a motel for pick-up and payoff. The most important part of the task? Do not, under any circumstances, look in the bag. Jack struggles to resist the urge, but the waiting game is complicated by a host of characters trying to sleep with him, kill him, or possibly both. Writer/director David Grovic‘s debut is clearly inspired by the kinds of films mentioned above, but it feels more interested in duplicating a checklist than in creating its own unique world. Still, you can’t go too wrong with a movie that lets De Niro say a line like this:

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Grudge Match

It’s the cinematic boxing match we’ve always dreamed of witnessing: Rocky Balboa vs. Jake LaMotta. It’s just happening about 30 years later than anticipated. But still! Rocky and the Raging Bull, together at last! Peter Segal‘s Grudge Match is a silly comedy starring Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro as aging boxing legends and mortal enemies. As Henry “Razor” Sharp (Stallone) and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (De Niro), the boxers faced off twice back in the day but a tiebreaking match never happened. They’re bitter, to say the least. Fast forward to present day, and they’re looking to settle the score for good after a viral video spreads of them bickering during a video game shoot in their motion-capture suits. It’s kind of precious. Cue the insane workout montages and inevitable journeys of self-discovery:

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Robert De Niro in The Family

Luc Besson has been missing in action when it comes to action films for over a decade now. Of course he has written and produced a number of aesthetically pleasing shoot’m ups over the past few years — Taken, Transporter, and Lockout – but his behind-the-camera work has involved three animated/live-action hybrids, a bio pic, and two fantasy-type films. And precisely zero of them ever caught fire with us stateside. With his new film, The Family, it looked like Besson was returning to his playful criminal roots. Unfortunately though, the finished product isn’t that film as it lacks the pace, laughs, and coolness the defined his earlier work. This isn’t attempting to be Leon as it instead takes aim towards broad comedy, but even those outlandish laughs fall apart because we just don’t give a damn about the titular family.

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contest the family

We can only imagine what Robert De Niro is saying to the man on the ground in the above image, but why do that when we can have you imagine it for us? In addition to simply having fun putting words into De Niro’s mouth you’ll also be entered into a contest for the chance to win a Blu-ray bundle featuring Gangs of New York, The Godfather Collection, Goodfellas, Heat, and Scarface. All you have to do to win is hit the comments section below and offer up your best caption by Sunday (9/15). From there, we’ll choose a random winner (or the one that makes us laugh the loudest) to receive this murder and “f*ck”-filled Blu-ray prize pack. It’s that simple. Winners must live in the U.S. No P.O. Boxes. OK? And who do we have to thank for this bounty? Luc Besson and Relativity Media of course! Can you believe The Family is his first feature to get a wide release in the U.S. since 1999’s The Messenger? He’s made six other movies since then, but while films about angels, gnomes, a female Indiana Jones, and Burma’s troubles never got the chance to reach an audience here it seems all Besson had to do was make an action-comedy about a mob family enduring witness relocation in rural France. Add De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones, and you have yourself a winner! Hopefully. The Family hits theaters this Friday. Check out the trailer and official synopsis below.

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robertdenirothefamily

It’s not a huge stretch to say that Robert De Niro‘s been off his game in recent years. When you start off making films like Taxi Driver and end up doing films like The Big Wedding, expect a few derisive remarks. But Luc Besson may have found a way to channel that modern-day De Niro apathy into something entertaining in The Family. It may not be Taxi Driver, but that’s probably asking too much as it is.

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Travis Bickle

Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs are using the 2012 Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the best movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they compare Travis Bickle to Don Quixote and try to understand the many contradictions of Martin Scorsese’s angry masterpiece. In the #31 (tied with The Godfather: Part II) movie on the list, Robert De Niro shaves his head, fights with a mirror and tries to rights society’s wrongs with a bullet. But why is it one of the best movies of all time?

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deerhuntertruth-4

Back in 1978, director Michael Cimino gave the world one of the early cinematic examinations of the traumatic experience of the Vietnam War. A film that was vastly ahead of its time, The Deer Hunter took a stark look at how soldiers returning from the war dealt with what is now known as post traumatic stress disorder. The film was a hit with critics and audiences, earning nine Oscar nominations with five wins, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor for Christopher Walken. However, The Deer Hunter was not without its controversy. Not only was the final scene in which the veterans sing “God Bless America” criticized and analyzed, the film was notorious for depicting the torture of American POWs by the Vietcong by forcing them to play Russian roulette. While powerful and effective in the picture, there was no evidence that Russian roulette was forced on prisoners of war in Vietnam, leading to a raging debate at the time of Cimino’s artistic license. Still, no one can deny the effectiveness of these scenes. This got us thinking. Just in case we found ourselves in an artistically-licensed Vietcong jail, how long could we survive playing Russian roulette?

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Last Vegas

Calling your movie Last Vegas and then juxtaposing that title against a black and white image of four older men in tuxedos laughing together makes it seem like the film could be about a couple things. Is it the dramatic but inspiring tale of four legendary Vegas crooners who transformed the strip with their velvety tunes in the town’s golden age? Are they ghosts forever doomed to repeat the same New Year’s Eve party in Las Vegas because they’re trapped in that photograph from The Shining? Seriously, is one of them dying or something?

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TDH4

Robert De Niro began repairing years of poor career choices with Silver Linings Playbook last year, and it looks like he might try and continue this trend with The Good House (for sanity’s sake, let’s just sweep The Big Wedding under a rug and never speak of it again). Also starring Meryl Streep, The Good House is an adaptation of Ann Leary’s similarly-titled novel, and it will be written for the screen by Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Hours,” which became another film starring Streep a few years back. There’s no word yet on who’ll direct. The combination of Cunningham with Streep and De Niro (who previously worked together on The Deer Hunter) sounds like a match made in heaven. The book’s subject matter, however, paints an entirely different picture. The novel tells the story of Hildy Good (Streep), a realtor and recovering alcoholic whose perfect routine is thrown into disarray by the arrival of a new friend (who hasn’t been cast yet) and an old flame (De Niro). The story is described as a dark comedy, but the synopsis bears an unpleasant resemblance to sugary-sweet romantic comedies that have been dotting Streep’s filmography in recent years — Hope Springs, It’s Complicated, and the like. Hopefully, The Good House will end up a dark comedy with some bite to it, rather than something you watch solely because it’s on TV and the remote’s too far out of reach.

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LAST-VEGAS

When the first teaser trailer for director Jon Turteltaub’s upcoming old-guys-in-Vegas comedy Last Vegas hit, it was a brief enough taste of what the film had to offer that it seemed like it could be entertaining fluff. Sure, The Hangover’s wild party montage formula is getting pretty played out at this point, but mixing in a little Grumpy Old Men could help to freshen things up a bit, and with a cast that includes Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, and Robert De Niro, clearly the film was shooting for an older audience than these party movies are usually trying to reach. It seemed like there was a good chance Last Vegas could draw its humor a little bit more from character and performance, and a little bit less from shock tactics and raunch than these movies usually do, which would be a welcome switch. Now that a full trailer has dropped, it’s hard to understand who the heck it’s supposed to be marketed toward though. Despite a report from The Wrap that the film is currently fighting being given an R-rating, this new ad is so toothless and glossy that it looks like it should be selling a PG comedy to people’s grandparents. And all of those “old people sure are old” gags—woof. You’ve got to check this trailer out, just to see how unfunny they are.

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Robert De Niro in The Family

If we’re honest, it’s been a while since Luc Besson has directed any sort of high profile film. Sure, he’s written and produced 5 out of every 10 interesting action films in the last ten years, including the Transporter, Taken and District B13 franchises. But what has he actually directed? The third movie in the Arthur and the Invisibles franchise? I didn’t know there was a second one. The Lady starring Michelle Yeoh. He won an International Human Rights Award from the Cinema for Peace Awards for that one. It’s not exactly The Professional: Part Deux. All of this makes his latest film, The Family, much more interesting. He’s written and directed a mob action movie starring Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones and Michelle Pfeiffer. Hell. Yes. The only odd part: it’s being billed as a comedy.

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Last Vegas

You haven’t lived until you’ve seen drunk Morgan Freeman. The actor has been having a lot of fun lately with his roles, but none of them compare to whatever is going on in Last Vegas. In fact, as Old Dogs Meets The Hangover as it sounds, the trailer for this movie starring Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, Robert De Niro and Freeman actually makes it look like a bit of harmless fun. Probably not a lot of fun, but fun. Of course, it also looks like a vacation for wealthy actors and director Jon Turtletaub. This is what retirement looks like for living legends. Broad humor, twenty-something eye candy and fruity drinks. Oh, and they probably made a movie somewhere in there. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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DeLabeouf

What is Casting Couch? Your daily dose of casting news. Today we’ve got a new job for Viola Davis as well as word on who the next actor to mutate for Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past will be. According to Heat Vision, Robert De Niro and Shia LaBeouf are both in negotiations to take the starring roles in an upcoming espionage thriller called Spy’s Kid. That’s, Spy’s Kid, not Spy Kids, which is something totally different. What’s this one about? It’s based on the true story of a CIA operative named Jim Nicholson who was convicted of espionage and sentenced to 23 years in prison, but who kept the family business alive by teaching his son how to ply his trade from jail. Shady deals with Russian operatives followed. Alongside De Niro and LaBeouf negotiating to star, LaBeouf’s Disturbia director DJ Caruso is also negotiating to direct, and whether the whole package comes together or not is said to hinge largely on if the script that eventually gets written is any good. No writer has yet been hired.

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Robert De Niro

What is Casting Couch? News about actors finding ways to get paid. Today we’ve got word about a new job for that girl who cut up her face in Evil Dead as well as a possible comeback for Mischa Barton. Perhaps you’ve heard of an actor named Robert De Niro. He’s the funny old guy in all of those Meet the Fockers movies. Ring a bell? Well, Deadline is reporting that he’s just signed on to appear in a boxing biopic called Hands of Stone that will focus on Roberto Duran and his rivalry with Sugar Ray Leonard as well as his relationship with his trainer, Ray Arcel (De Niro). Édgar Ramirez (Wrath of the Titans) is also on board the film in the Duran role, but there has yet to be any word on who might end up playing Sugar Ray Leonard. Didn’t I just read the Wesley Snipes got out of jail a couple of days ago? Is he old now?

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Best Supporting Actor

The supporting actor. He’s not the guy, he’s the guy behind the guy. That’s not always a bad thing though. The lead actor generally has to be the guy the audience is relating to, so those sort of roles can end up being kind of vanilla. The supporting roles though, that’s where the memorable weirdos come from. Getting a great supporting role can afford an actor the opportunity to go completely off the wall with their performance, or at least take some calculated risks that aren’t likely to sink the whole film if they don’t pay off. As a result, the best supporting roles of the year can be more interesting than the best leads, and this year definitely has a colorful cast of characters. Here are the ones that the Academy liked in 2012 with my predicted winner in red:

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Jackie Chan

What is Casting Couch? It’s a column that has a lot of new casting news today, so settle in. Even after only two movies, the number of aged action stars who have yet to appear in Sylvester Stallone’s Expendables series has dwindled down to a select few. So, given his age, his lengthy resume, and the way he’s linked almost exclusively to the action genre, Jackie Chan has to be seen as one of the biggest fish out there that Stallone has yet to catch. It looks like that’s going to change in The Expendables 3, however, as Chan has told Cinema Online [via Coming Soon] that Stallone has invited him to join the cast of the film, and he has agreed to appear as long as it’s in a featured part and not just a cameo. Looks like we might finally get our chance to see Dolph Lundgren get beat up with a ladder.

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Silver Linings Playbook

Editor’s Note: Allison’s spot-on review originally ran way back at the beginning of the month, but the film is opening wide today so we’re sharing it once again. Sharing is good. Maybe we are all a bit crazy – whether we are lying to ourselves about the relationships we are in or why we believe holding a handkerchief or having the remote at a certain angle will determine the outcome of a game. But unlike most of us, Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), has been deemed mentally unstable by both the court and his doctors at the mental institution we find him in at the start of Silver Linings Playbook. Pat may seem fairly sane, albeit unflinchingly honest, but as we learn why he ended up in such a facility and watch him unravel at the sound of a certain song, it becomes clear that Pat is dealing with issues he may not be able to easily control with simple positive thinking. Pat is released to the care of his big-hearted mother, Dolores (Jacki Weaver), and his hot-headed father, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro), and while their family dynamic is slightly dysfunctional, it is clear that they all truly care about one another.

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What is Casting Couch? Today it’s proof that if you star in something about sexy young vampires, you will continue to get more work. Warner Bros.’ Lego movie already had names like Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, and Morgan Freeman signed for its voice cast, thus making a stupid-sounding idea suddenly seem promising, but now they’ve really gone and made Lego into a movie that you can start looking forward to. Deadline reports that the film has just added Will Ferrell to its cast as the bad guy, President Business, Liam Neeson as the bad guy’s main henchman, Bad Cop, Parks and Rec’s mustachioed Nick Offerman as a revenge-obsessed pirate, and Community’s cheery-voiced Disney Princess Alison Brie as a member of the protagonist’s team who holds a powerful secret. That may just be the weirdest/most fun cast ever assembled, and it almost makes up for the fact that the movie is going to be in 3D.

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