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Are You Talking to Me?….Because I Can’t See you Through My Cataracts November 24, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Pop Culture Rants.

There is a scene in Michael Mann’s Heat. You know the one.

Mann decided to have the two titans of acting prowess, Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro, share their first bit of screen time in a diner. The scene was not guns ablazing or a shouting match of epic proportions. Instead, he turned the two men into my grandparents at the early bird special. They sat around and discussed the meaning of life and crime. It was like the money shot in a method actor’s porn film. People fast forwarded to the scene and watched it over and over. Truly, not much going on in the rest of the film you can’t find anywhere else (though if you freeze it just right, you do get some Natalie Portman boobage). Yet the scene encapsulates what has happened to both of these men. Their guns don’t blaze much anymore. And their shouts always seem to be covered in some sort of thick cigarette fueled lubrication. All their films seem to take place in a subdued diner now.

In sports, when a player reaches a certain age, he retires. It’s a wild combination of ego and the realization that their arms and legs now have the strength of pipe cleaners. But some stick around a little too long like THAT guy at the party. We try asking them to leave. We try telling them to leave. We even try turning on all the lights and playing our entire collection of Raffi albums, that we “say” we bought for the nephew that doesn’t exist. But they hang around, asking for more beer or nachos, or in the athlete’s case, one more chance at glory. Though most of these elderly athletes didn’t take physics in college and don’t realize that it is scientifically proven that younger athletes are quicker, faster and stronger, it isn’t great for their legacy when you watch Jerry Rice huffing and puffing down the field like a fat smoker after a Mickey D’s lunch.

Now acting has no real age limit. You can keep going as long as your body holds up. I mean, they propped up Marlon Brando and fed him some Oreos and he was acting up until about twenty minutes before his death. There’s very little physical work for you in acting. They rarely let anybody with talent do their stunts (less you are Tom Cruise, who uses a complex wiring system and magical Scientology voodoo.) And complain as you may, actors, brow furrowing and brooding are not dangerous activities (unless you are peter Gallagher, whose eyebrows killed six interns and a camera guy on the set of The OC, when the script called for him to “look upset.”) Actors can go on for a while. But the talent can fade. The generations change. The scripts start disappearing. Couple all of those, and suddenly, a maverick pantheon of an actor can look like he’s just holding on. Looking for one more chance in the spotlight before EW does a cheery remembrance piece on them (after the latest Lindsay/Bruce photos.)

So, it is with a heavy heart and scared reverence, I say to you, Mr. Pacino and Mr. DeNiro, it is time to hang them up.

Each of you has nothing left to do. You each won your prizes and garnered your nominations. You are synonymous with acting. And the pieces you each excelled at for many years (Italian gangster films and anti-establishment eccentrics exploding against The Man) are dated. The gangsters are all Eastern European and we have enough people on our evening news railing against all sorts of The Men every night on our network news. Think about it. Your last few films each have been sub-par. Sure, Mr. DeNiro, you’ve re-invented yourself as a comedic straight man playing against nebbish Jewish stock actors, but do I need Travis Bickle, an icon of depression, wearing fake mammaries? And Mr. Pacino, one word, Gigli. I rest my case.

In what may be typical of somebody hanging on, you may point to your other recent works. And while you tried to pair yourself with an a-list director and a fabulous script in Insomnia, Mr. Pacino, and did well, the film succeeded in one thing: making Robin Williams look creepy and disturbed (A fact I was already aware of, due to his obscene amount of back hair). And for all the disturbed parents and secret killers you try to intersperse throughout your burgeoning straight man career, Mr. DeNiro, one small, but important fact will remain. In The Departed, the recent film by the yin to your yang that is Martin Scorsese, he didn’t cast you as the evil Irishman. He trotted out your friend Jack Nicholson. And while he may not have your chops, he is now the go-to guy for evil elderly mobsters. Hollywood has spoken. When they need evil, they call Jack. When they need man boobs and sciatica jokes, they call you. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of your skills.

You will be missed, don’t worry there. But the time has come. Your upcoming films have promise, but beyond that, I worry if the writers aren’t just giving you scripts and playing on past glories. One great speech or the chance to work with hot, up and coming actors, so you look aged and accomplished by comparison isn’t acting. It’s how they sell fruit in C-grade bodegas. Bait and switch. Each of you were overshadowed on screen the last time you tried working on screen with “hot” young actors.. Mr. DeNiro, you were out acted by Dakota Fanning, which I will allow, but again, Mr. Pacino, it is impossible, nay, a breakdown of cosmic order, if somebody says, in comparison, “Wow! Ben Affleck is good.”

Gentlemen, you are both sports fans and you know how it pains all fans to watch their heroes limp across the field or ride the bench, playing second fiddle to somebody who may not be better, but is younger and faster. It is not failure. It is not quitting. It is Darwinism. It is the natural order of things. And to two actors who probably gave us the best portrayals of Satan on film, it is evil. But it’s life.

If you want to go out with a bang, take only one, maybe two, more films. But make sure they have brooding, yelling, the words “Hoo” and “Ha” together in order and at least one more scene. Because if you do heed my advice, we should get one more chance to see you work with each other. Without stale coffee and waffles. Leave those to the newbies. Your horses are ready and the sunset is waiting.



1. Kitty Kat - November 28, 2006

Per your request you’ve been reviewed at Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Tally ho!

2. Ratboy - November 29, 2006

Whatta ya talkin’ about? Dem fellas gots all sortsa talent left in ’em. Like a big ole cannoli that still has a shit load of that creamy junk left in it! Der’s all kindsa projects that can fill there time! Howsa bout a new version of the ‘Super Mario Brothers?’ Screw Bob Hoskins and John Leguiz-whatever-the-hell-his-name-is! You get Bobby D and Al as Mario and Luigi, get one o’ them Coppalas to direct and your set! Christ! You cast James Gandolfini as King Kupa and I’m talkin’ Oscar, baby! Anyways I gotta hit it- My nephew’s birthday party’s in a few and I gotta to get to Tower Records to pick him up a copy of Raffi’s newest…

Hasta la Pasta!

Your Pal,

Joe Pesci

3. doctorolove - November 29, 2006

Hoo-ha! If I were younger, I’d have taken a flamethrower to that comment!


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