Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fallen icons - De Niro and Pacino

Patrick Goldstein in the LA Times wrote an article that is painful to read, but had to be written. The title of the column is "How The Mighty Have Fallen," and by mighty, he means Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. The impetus for the critique is Pacino's latest, 88 Minutes, which scored a horribly miserable 7% on That puts it in the running for one of the worst movies of the year. Goldstein's sad thesis is that they've decided to run up their bank accounts while they still can, and that means they take just about whatever comes their way, quality be damned. I liked De Niro in Meet the Parents, but I can't remember the last Pacino performance that I cared for. Goldstein contrasts them with most of their compatriots, who have either gotten fairly selective (Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine), or have dropped out (Warren Beatty, Gene Hackman). And then there's Clint Eastwood, who is doing such great work as a director. He doesn't mention Morgan Freeman, but he could - his name attached to a movie is still a draw for me. It's sad to see great actors, who presumably don't need the money, selling themselves short.

It's also a strange contrast with the status of older actresses. Maybe women are weirdly lucky in this respect - there aren't that many roles for them, but the ones that are there can be memorable. Judi Dench could play M from a wheelchair in a nursing home and I would watch her. And Gloria Foster will always be The Oracle. I know she spent a lifetime preparing for that role and that 15 minutes of fame, but I am grateful. It's too bad De Niro and Pacino probably won't leave with that kind of role.

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