The King of Comedy (1983)

kingofcomedy_1Starring Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis, Diahnne Abbott, Sandra Bernhard, Shelley Hack, Margo Winkler, Frederick De Cordova, Ed Herlihy, Lou Brown

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Expectations: Moderate.

threehalfstar


The experience of watching The King of Comedy felt like looking at a shirt with a single loose thread. At first everything seems perfect, but once you notice the flaw, it’s all you can focus on. Robert De Niro’s character Rupert Pupkin is this thread personified, and as Scorsese pulls him through the film, I wondered how far he would take it. He couldn’t possibly pull the whole shirt apart, could he? The King of Comedy goes in directions I never would have expected, and this is exactly what makes it a riveting experience. It was a flop upon its initial release, but thankfully intrepid film fans have kept this one alive over the years, as it most definitely deserves to be seen.

As good as it is, though, it’s not a film for everyone. The comedy that runs throughout the film is dark and uncomfortable; the type of stuff that you feel bad for laughing at. What makes the comedy so uncomfortable is that Rupert Pupkin is such a sad character at his heart. He’s likeable to a point because De Niro’s inherent charm goes a long way, but with each passing scene Pupkin pushes this boundary further and further towards the edge, daring you to keep following him. He is a fascinating character; a king in his own mind, Pupkin just has to convince everyone else of it.

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Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

SilverLiningsPlaybookAKA Happiness Therapy

Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher, John Ortiz, Shea Whigham, Julia Stiles, Paul Herman, Dash Mihok

Directed by David O. Russell

Expectations: High.

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I almost didn’t see David O. Russel’s previous film, The Fighter, because I thought I didn’t need to see another boxing movie. I was wrong. Even with this in mind, I wasn’t all that fired up when I first heard about Silver Linings Playbook, Russell’s latest film. Over time, the hype machine built it up enough so I felt like I had to see it, and I’m glad I did, as I enjoyed Silver Linings Playbook quite a lot. My girlfriend seemed less than impressed, remarking that the song over the end credits “is upbeat to make you think it was a great movie,” and I don’t necessarily disagree. While Silver Linings Playbook is easily one of the best films of 2012, I don’t think it’s one that will stand out as a classic as the years roll on.

The film is a very interesting mix of mental illness and “boy meets girl,” making the film transcend its romantic roots and feel like more of a quirky indie drama than a romantic film. The romantic angle is always there, though, brewing under the surface in the electric, honest scenes between Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) and Pat (Bradley Cooper). But by the time the film reaches its climax it can’t hold itself back any longer, embracing its true nature and delivering an ending that is nice, while clichéd and obvious. I guess there’s only so many ways for a romantic story to end.

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Machete (2010)

Machete (2010)

Starring Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Steven Seagal, Don Johnson, Shea Whigham, Tom Savini, Felix Sabates, Electra Avellan, Elise Avellan

Directed by Robert Rodriguez & Ethan Maniquis

Expectations: Moderate, and hoping for the best.


One of my favorite aspects of the Rodriguez/Tarantino film Grindhouse were the fake trailers. Easily my favorite of the bunch was Rodriguez’s Machete trailer. When it was announced that a full film was being produced, my excitement was through the roof. If they could keep up that level of over-the-top insanity that the trailer promised, while not resorting to the overly digital filmmaking that Rodriguez seems to favor these days, this could be awesome! To my surprise, Rodriguez actually pulled it off (for the most part)!

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Goodfellas (1990)

Starring Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Expectations: High. Love it, does it hold up?


If someone were to tell me that they thought Goodfellas was Scorsese’s best film, I really couldn’t argue with them. I might not agree but it is a completely valid position, as Goodfellas is one of the best films of the 1990s and still holds up today. The film is just as skillfully made as you remember it being, 20 years later. Goodfellas opens in the middle of the story, in the middle of a scene even, after some minimalist but effective Saul Bass titles. Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci drive through the dark of night when strange sounds come from the back of the car. They pull over and open the trunk, revealing a bloody mess of a man. Joe Pesci violently stabs him repeatedly before De Niro opens fire. Liotta chimes in via voiceover, “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” This scene serves as an introduction to the film, but repeat viewers will recognize it also as one of the most important moments in these character’s lives, defining and shaping everything that ultimately comes to each of them.

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