1987 Movie Review: THE UNTOUCHABLES, 1987

 

THE UNTOUCHABLES MOVIE POSTER
THE UNTOUCHABLES, 1987
Movie Reviews

Directed by Brian De Palma
Starring: Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro
Review by Mike Peters

SYNOPSIS:

Chicago-1930-Eliot Ness is an idealistic and ambitious Treasury officer new to the ranks of the corrupt Chicago Police Force. His goal of cleaning up the streets is thwarted by the presence of the larger than life gangster, Al Capone. Overcoming hardships and threats against his family, Eliot Ness rounds up a group of “Untouchables” (men who are unable to be corrupted) and decides to challenge the Mega Empire of Capone.

Review:

To some, The Untouchables may not be considered a “classic film”. I would disagree. Growing up, I became enamored by the visual sight of gangsters in film. They appealed to me for many reasons. The freedom and the power they achieved through their modes of conduct was always a road I wanted to travel on. Then I grew up. I realized that this would not be the life for me. The danger and violent nature needed to be a part of this sort of “group” was not who I was. I could never kill a man, nor beat a man to a bloody pulp for minimal reasons. No, the life of the gangster was not for me. But, it is still an entertaining world in which to inhabit for two hours.

The Untouchables arrived in 1987 and was directed by Brian De Palma. A director, well known for his controversial films, had been deemed violent, misogynistic and anti-social by many of his critics. Known for such films as Carrie (1976), Scarface (1983) and Body Double (1984), De Palma has never shied away from controversy. Arriving at a time when Hollywood was undergoing great change, De Palma rose through the ranks with other directors such as Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola. Studios had lost control of their films for a brief period of time and it was the director who was allowed to have full control of his film. It was his vision, not a producers or studios, which gave the director an unbelievable sense of importance and power. This was good and bad in a sense. Some directors blew it through their egotistical ways while others managed to make a name for themselves and remain an important part of the industry. De Palma was the latter.

De Palma began making films that strived to push the limits of acceptable behavior deemed appropriate by society. Growing up the son of a surgeon, De Palma never shied away from the images of violence and blood. It was a natural part of life in his eyes and he strived to depict it in, as some would say, voyeuristic ways. However, many could not see that he was critiquing the images that he presented on screen. He understood that he had become a controversial figure and regularly poked fun at this classification.

Studios were afraid to work him. However, in 1986, he directed a film called Wise Guys. This film was not well received and quickly vanished from people’s minds. The film however proved that De Palma could be uncontroversial and as a result, he scored The Untouchables.

The Untouchables is an interesting film. It is largely a Hollywood manufactured production but it embodies so much more. Themes such as loyalty, corruption and perseverance are readily presented in a beautifully crafted film. The production design is immaculate in its recreation of 1930’s Chicago. The buildings and the streets are simplistic and very formal in their design which helps to create a sense of nostalgia of what it might have been like to live during this time.

The clothes, designed by Giorgio Armani, are perfect and help to define the characters in truly distinctive ways. Al Capone and his cronies all live an upper class life. Through their suits to Al Capone’s silk pajamas, these men are deemed with high regard because of their social and financial standings. In many De Palma films, he has been known to upend the iconographic modes of good and evil. For instance, Frank Nitti is always represented by his white suit. Typically white has been linked to wholesomeness and purity but here, it is defined as corrupt and a color to be avoided. The police force on the other hand is visualized through their extremely dark police uniforms. By wearing these, the corrupt officials blacken the very meaning of what these uniforms are supposed to represent. The fact that every color is deemed corrupt only helps the audience to understand that Chicago has very few straight arrow citizens. The fact that the four “untouchables”, Ness (Kevin Costner), Malone (Sean Connery), Stone (Andy Garcia) and Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith) are all represented through individualistic clothing attire helps to represent their non-conformist (corrupt) ways. They do not wear a uniform but rather wear their street clothes which allow them to be characterized as a group that cannot be swayed by the corruptive nature of the city.

The story is very linear in its approach. The film moves along at a decent pace which helps to settle the audience into sort of a lull but then immediately, and out of the blue, explodes into extreme violence. Just because De Palma was deemed uncontroversial at this point did not mean that he would totally shed his old ways. When the violence strikes, it has an impact that is harsh and unrelenting. When a particular star of the film is murdered, the film is merciless in its depiction of brutality and anguish. De Palma sets the tone very early in the film through the use of violence. At the beginning of the film, one of Capone’s men attempts to force a bar/diner owner to buy alcohol from them. He refuses. The man leaves. Another man, dressed in white, leaves the bar as well but leaves his briefcase sitting on a stool. A little girl, who is in the diner, attempts to track down the man but as she reaches the door, the briefcase explodes, killing everyone in the diner. This scene emphasizes that during this time everyone was fair game to be killed, even children (this scene is also important to imply that everyone is capable of being murdered within this film). It attempts to identify the fact that this was a very dangerous time period in American society. If you didn’t comply, then you would have to face the penalties. This scene also helps to foreshadow a scene later on in the film involving a child.

There are some memorable scenes in this film. The first is a P.O.V. perspective shot through the eyes of a gangster breaking into Malone’s apartment. This P.O.V. shot also works as a long tracking shot which creates a sense of suspense and fear because the viewer has now taken on the identity of the assassin. As we track Malone through his apartment, tension increases causing a fear that this man, whom we have come to admire throughout the course of the film, is about to be killed. It is a brilliant use of camera work displayed by De Palma in this scene.

Perhaps the most famous part of the picture is the train station scene. Inspired by Sergei Eisenstein’s Soviet silent film classic, Battleship Potemkin (1925), this scene is long and dragged out but manages to create an unbelievable sense of unease within the audience. While Ness and Stone are awaiting the arrival of the bookkeeper (who they need to apprehend), whom is being escorted out of town, the pacing slows to a crawl. We wait as Ness and Stone wait. There is no immediate rush into the action. We know that there will most likely be a violent confrontation but we must wait and thus the tension rises to an all new high. To make matters worse, a woman struggles to drag her baby carriage (with baby inside) up the stairs where this confrontation is likely to take place. I will not ruin it for those who have not seen it but this is a scene that is perhaps one of the greatest suspense sequences in film history.

The script by David Mamet is filled with suspense and tension and the actors help to bring his story to life. Sean Connery, in an Oscar winning performance, is magnificent as the over the hill Malone who still has a hunger within him to fight the fight. As well, Andy Garcia and Charles Martin Smith are well cast as new recruits to the “untouchables” team. Robert De Niro provides an interesting performance as well. He provides little nuances to his portrayal of Al Capone, like a smile or nod, which adds flavor to the character but in some instances he glides, knowingly and flamboyantly, over the top. The one problem with the casting is in Kevin Costner. When he is surrounded by the likes of Connery and De Niro, it is hard to accept him for who he is trying to be. I understand that his character wants to embody a sense of innocence and that he must learn how to achieve victory, but I felt he was weak for the role. He didn’t instill a fear within me throughout the course of the film. I enjoy him as an actor, just not in this film.

The Untouchables is a well made and crafted film. There are some slight problems with the film however. For instance, the editing is abrupt and distracting at times. Some scenes that should have had a few seconds of pause prior to edit are cut prematurely. But, these are small problems. This film attempts to encapsulate a time period while placing its’ own spin on the genre. The gangster film had all but disappeared from cinemas but, in my mind, this film helped to reestablish its’ roots (and as well make it a commercially viable genre once again). The film was one of my favorites as a child and still holds a special place within my heart. If one wants to witness the blending of a controversial figure like De Palma with the mainstream ideas of Hollywood, watch this film. You won’t be disappointed.

 the untouchables.jpg

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

Advertisements

1977 Movie Review: NEW YORK NEW YORK, 1977


NEW YORK NEW YORK, 1977
Movie Reviews

Directed by Martin Scorsese
Starring: Liza Minnelli, Robert De Niro, Georgie Auld
Review by Jayvibha Vaidya

SYNOPSIS:

Jimmy Doyle and Francine Evans meet in New York as young, struggling musicians. They fall in love, get married and struggle with fame, career and marriage, all against the backdrop of the 40’s big band era.

REVIEW:

“You do not leave me! I leave you!”

Part musical, part film-noir, Martin Scorsese’s New York, New York is an epic love story following the rise and fall of two struggling artists.

It’s V-J Day, 1945. The war has just ended and young Jimmy Doyle (Robert De Niro) is itching to have some fun. Enter Francine Evans (Liza Minnelli), classy, polished and utterly uninterested in Jimmy. A long fast-talking, insult-throwing scene sets their love story on course. The film follows their crazy, mismatched pairing as they struggle to make it in the music business in the city that never sleeps.

The look of the film shifts between gritty and stylized. The film showcases the busy, dirty bars in New York against the film noir rain-slicked streets. Some scenes are filmed in bright daylight or stark darkness with other scenes shot with gauzy filters re-creating the look of the 1940’s musical, with soft lighting and extreme close-ups. Utilizing these techniques, Scorsese creates a mood that is equally dark and exuberant; much like the relationship between the two lovers.

With many scenes largely improvised, the plot sometimes falters then gains momentum. The editing however, keeps most of the film consistently moving forward. Both actors bring amazing performances with De Niro more New York street-punk and Minnelli channeling the 40’s musical, film-noir dame. This slight mismatch works for the film as it slides between convention and satire; the characters are sometimes talented artists then raging egomaniacs.

As any epic love story, the couple endures difficulties and in this case it is Jimmy’s insecurity as Francine’s career catapults her into the limelight. The more Jimmy struggles to be a well-recognized saxophone player, the easier it seems for Francine to launch her singing career. The fights that ensue are painful, dark and violent. Apparently, Scorsese encouraged both actors toward more physical acting which escalated and ended up putting them all in the hospital! But the resulting scene is intimate and disturbing, giving brevity to the complexity of their marriage.

The film does not use the musical convention where actors suddenly burst into song. Instead, the singing and sax playing is all organic; as they’re rehearsing, auditioning or performing. De Niro learned to play the sax even though the sound was dubbed and in the film, he hardly sings. Minnelli however sings her heart out! She has the ability to convey a range of emotions through controlled, precise vocal performances. The “Happy Endings” sequence near the end of the film showcases her singing, dancing and comedic talent. It is at this moment that the film takes a break to highlight a musical convention: the performance within the performance. Utilizing large-scale sets, choreographed dancers and many costume changes, it is light, funny and entertaining. And of course, her performance of the title song written by John Kander and Fred Ebb went on to become one of the most famous songs sung in history.

New York, New York, is a love story between two people who are bonded through music. The last scene breaks the convention of the happy ending, allowing the viewer to come to their own conclusions about the fate of the troubled lovers. Sometimes adhering to the conventions of the musical and sometimes satirizing those very conventions, the film is an interesting, visually stunning piece of work.

SCREENPLAY CONTESTSUBMIT your SCREENPLAY
Voted #1 screenplay contest in the world!
NEW MOVIE REVIEWSNEW MOVIE REVIEWS
Read Today’s POSTED REVIEWS
MOVIE KILLSEE 1000s of PICTURES
Best of photos, images and pics
MOVIE YEARMOVIES YEAR BY YEAR
Pages from 1900 to present

 

NEW YORK NEW YORK.pg

Film Review: The Comedian. Starring Robert DeNiro

the_comedian.jpgDirector: Taylor Hackford
Writers: Art Linson (screenplay), Jeffrey Ross (screenplay)
Stars: Robert De Niro, Leslie Mann, Danny DeVito

Review by Gilbert Seah

THE COMEDIAN is, as the title implies about the story of insult comedian Jackie (Robert De Niro) who once found fame as Eddie in the TV sitcom Eddie’s Home. Jackie is now surviving on low-paying gigs in New York City but his audience wants to remember the Eddie routines that Jackie hates to be remembered for.

The trouble starts when Jackie assaults a heckler at one of his performances resulting in him being sentenced to community service at a homeless food shelter. But Jackie meets a fellow community service server, Harmony (Leslie Mann) who he has a relationship with.

Director Taylor Hackord (AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, RAY, THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE) treats his star and the material with respect. It shows. THE COMEDIAN turns out to be a likeable, respectable film despite some very lewd humour.

As in movies about stand-up comedians that pays homage to stand-up comedians go, the film contains worthy cameos provided by the likes of Charles Grodin, Jimmie Walker and Oscar Winner Cloris Leachman. Danny DeVito and harvey Kietel also deliver memorable performances. The comic routines on film are also well written and funny – garnishing laugh-out loud laughs. The best of these is the banter carrying on between the Jewish lesbian comic on hand and De Niro.

De Niro, no stranger to comedy being in comedies like MEET THE PARENTS and THE FAMILY, proves in this film that he can also do stand-up and insult stand-up at that. He is winning in his performance and though unlikely to win him another Academy Award, it is a performance that invokes both sympathy and laughter. De Niro looks good (with his hair probably dyed) and fit, and believable as the late 60 year old that can still become a father.

Where the film (both script and direction) succeeds is the difficult yet successful blending of vulgarity and sincerity. This is witnessed for example, in the one wedding scene when Jackie’s performance both delights his niece and infuriates her mother, Flo (Patti LuPone).

The film is a drama comedy with more laughs than anything else. As one late critic said, a funny film will allow a multitude of faults to be overlooked. The script is smart enough not to include any messages or uncomfortable sex scenes, to include the effects of modern technology (like viral youTube videos) and hilarious stand-up routines in the film.
The best film about a comedian remains Martin Scorsese’s satirical THE KING OF COMEDY that happens also to star a younger Robert De Niro as a stalker of a famous comedian played by Jerry Lewis. THE COMEDIAN is a light drama, played for laughs rather than insight or satire. The film succeeds in its lesser aimed goal.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALlj3RRF9h8

Watch Winning Best Scene Readings:

TV CONTESTSUBMIT your TV PILOT or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
FILM CONTESTSUBMIT your SHORT Film
Get it showcased at the FEEDBACK Festival
writing CONTEST1st CHAPTER or FULL NOVEL CONTEST
Get full feedback! Winners get their novel made into a video!
SCREENPLAY CONTESTSUBMIT your FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script

Happy Birthday: Robert De Niro

robertdeniro.jpgRobert De Niro

Born: August 17, 1943 in New York City, New York, USA

Married to:
Grace Hightower (17 June 1997 – present) (2 children)
Diahnne Abbott (28 April 1976 – 1988) (divorced) (2 children)

Growing up in the Little Italy section of New York City, his nickname was “Bobby Milk” because he was so thin and as pale as milk.

HI MOMHi Mom!
1970
dir. Brian DePalma
Cast
Robert De Niro
Jennifer Salt
Mean StreetsMean Streets
1973
dir. Martin Scorsese
Also Starring
Harvey Keitel
David Proval
THE GODFATHER PART IIThe Godfather Part II
1974
dir. Francis Ford Coppola
Starring
Al Pacino
De Niro
Taxi DriverTaxi Driver
1976
dir. Martin Scorsese
Also Starring
Harvey Keitel
Jodie Foster
THE DEER HUNTERThe Deer Hunter
1978
dir. Michael Cimino
starring
DeNiro
Meryl Streep
RagingBullRaging Bull
1980
dir. Martin Scorsese
Also Starring
Cathy Moriarty
Joe Pesci
ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICAOnce Upon a Time in America
1984
dir. Sergio Leone
Starring
DeNiro
James Woods
BRAZILBrazil
1985
dir. Terry Gilliam
Starring
Robert DeNiro
Jonathan Pryce
Kim Greist
The MissionThe Mission
1986
dir. by Roland Joff�
Also Starring
Jeremy Irons
The UntouchablesThe Untouchables
1987
dir. by Brian De Palma
Also Starring
Kevin Costner
Sean Connery
Midnight RunMidnight Run
1988
dir. by Martin Brest
Also Starring
Joe Pantoliano
Charles Grodin
GoodfellasGoodfellas
1990
dir. Martin Scorsese
Also Starring
Ray Liotta
Joe Pesci
AwakeningsAwakenings
1990
dir. by Penny Marshall
Also Starring
Robin Williams
CAPE FEARCape Fear
1991
dir. by Martin Scorsese
Also Starring
Jessica Lange
Nick Nolte
HeatHeat
1995
dir. by Michael Mann
Also Starring
Val Kilmer
Al Pacino
CASINOCasino
1995
dir. Martin Scorsese
Cast
Robert De Niro
Joe Pesci
FRANKENSTEIN MOVIE POSTERFrankenstein
1994
dir. Kenneth Branagh
Starring
Robert DeNiro
Kenneth Branagh
MOVIE POSTERNEW YEAR’S EVE
dir. Garry Marshall
Stars:
Sarah Jessica Parker
Jessica Biel
COP LANDCop Land
1997
dir. James Mangold
Cast
Sylvester Stallone
Harvey Keitel
15 MINUTES15 Minutes
2001
dir. John Herzfeld
Starring
Robert DeNiro
Edward Burns
WAG THE DOG MOVIE POSTERWag the Dog
1997
dir. Bary Levinson
Also Starring
Anne Heche
Dustin Hoffman
MOVIE POSTERBEING FLYNN
dir. Paul Weitz
Stars:
Paul Dano
Robert DeNiro
STARDUSTStardust
2007
dir. Matthew Vaughn
Also Starring
Ian McKellen
Bimbo Hart
What Just HappenedWhat Just Happened
2008
dir. Barry Levinson
Also Starring
Sean Penn
Bruce Willis
Righteous KillRighteous Kill
2008
dir. Jon Avnet
Also Starring
Al Pacino
EVERYBODY'S FINE Movie PosterEverybody’s Fine
dir. Kirk Jones
Stars:
Robert De Niro
Kate Beckinsale
Sam Rockwell
Little Fockers Little Fockers
dir. Paul Weitz
Stars:
Ben Stiller
Teri Polo
MACHETEMACHETE
dir. Ethan Maniquis
Robert Rodriguez
Stars:
Danny Trejo
Michelle Rodriguez
LimitlessLIMITLESS
dir. Neil Burger
Stars:
Bradley Cooper
Anna Friel
MOVIE POSTERKILLER ELITE
dir. Gary McKendry
Stars:
Jason Statham
Clive Owen
MOVIE POSTERAMERICAN HUSTLE
2013
dir. David O. Russell
Stars:
Christian Bale
Amy Adams
MOVIE POSTERKILLING SEASON
2013
dir. Mark Steven Johnson
Stars:
Robert DeNiro
John Travolta
MOVIE POSTERLAST VEGAS
2013
dir. Jon Turteltaub
Stars:
Robert De Niro
Michael Douglas
MOVIE POSTERTHE FAMILY
2013
dir. Luc Besson
Stars:
Robert DeNiro
Michelle Pfeiffer
MOVIE POSTERTHIS BOY’S LIFE
1993
dir. Michael Caton-Jones
Stars:
Leonardo DiCaprio
Robert DeNiro
MOVIE POSTERMARVIN’S ROOM
1996
dir. Jerry Zaks
Stars:
Leonardo DiCaprio
Meryl Streep
MOVIE POSTERGRUDGE MATCH
2013
dir. Peter Segal
Stars:
Robert DeNiro
Sylvester Stallone
MOVIE POSTERTHE GOOD SHEPHERD
2006
dir. Robert DeNiro
Stars:
Matt Damon
Angelina Jolie
SEE TOP 100 ROBERT DE NIRO PHOTOS
and Al Pacino
and Angela Basset
and Ben Stiller
and Bernie Madoff
and Bill Murray
and Billy Crystal
and Bradley Cooper
and Bridget Fonda
and Charles Grodin
and Charlize Theron
and Chazz Palminteri
and Children
and Christopher Walken
and Clive Owen
and Cybill Shepherd
and Dakota Fanning
and Diahnne Abbott
and Drew Barrymore
and Dustin Hoffman
and Edward Norton
and Gerard Depardieu
and Grace Hightower
and Harvey Keitel
and Jack Nicholson
and Jason Statham
and Jodie Foster
and Joe Pesci
and Kate Beckinsale
and Kermit the Frog
and Kevin Costner
and Leonardo DiCaprio
and Liza Minnelli
and Marlon Brando
and Martin Scorsese
and Meryl Streep
and Michelle Pfeiffer
and Mickey Rourke
and Monica Bellucci
and Naomi Campbell
and Philip Seymour Hoffman
and Ray Liotta
and Robert Duvall
and Robin Williams
and Sean Penn
and Sharon Stone
and Sylvester Stallone
and Uma Thurman
and Val Kilmer
and Wife
as a Priest
as Al Capone
as Frankenstein
as Jake LaMotta
as Jimmy Conway
as Leonard
as Rupert Pupkin
as The Devil
as The Godfather
as Travis Bickle
as Vince Lombardi
as Vito Corleone
Badass
Beard
Caricature
Eyebrows
Eyes
Face
Fat
in Analyze This
in Awakenings
in Being Flynn
in Brazil
in Cape Fear
in Casino
in Frankenstein
in Godfather 2
in Goodfellas
in Great Expectations
in Heat
in Jackie Brown
in Killer Elite
in Limitless
in Mean Streets
in Meet the Parents
in Men of Honor
in Midnight Run
in New Year’s Eve
in Raging Bull
in Ronin
in Stardust
in Stone
in Taxi Driver
in The Deer Hunter
in The Mission
in Untouchables
Mohawk
Mole
Nose
On Set
On the Street
Painting
Red Carpet
Smile
Tattoos
Tuxedo
Wallpaper
with Oscar
Young