Today is Paul Newman day on AMC. As I've mentioned before Paul Newman totally kicked ass, no need to dwell on the various reasons why. One of the most amazing things about Paul Newman's career is how consistent he was well into his older years. Most good actors have maybe a 7 to 10 year peak where they do their finest work. Truly great actors however, can generally adapt to different roles in their older years and still do great work. Some of Paul Newman's most powerful roles came in his older years from his Oscar winning nod as a veteran pool shark in "The Color of Money" (Age 61) to his final Academy nominated role as an old mob boss in "The Road to Perdition" (Age 77). Today, Clint Eastwood (age 80) is still knocking them out of the park every time he makes a movie. Jack Nicholson (Age 63) even though he does a lot of paycheck comedies, still shines when he's cast in a real movie like "The Departed" or "About Schmidt." Not that I really watch many of her movies, but Merryl Streep upon hitting 60 has recently seen her career flourish with a series of critically acclaimed roles. You get the point. So WHAT I ask you...is the deal with the two geezers pictured to the left?
At one point there were perhaps no two actors in history that had more consistent Hollywood careers than Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro. Obviously their careers peaked in the 70s and 80s, but no actor could expect to replicate their ridiculous run of great films in a row during those decades. From the first 2 Godfather flicks in the early 70s through about 1983, it seemed like every single film they appeared in was a classic. Then of course their careers tailed off a little bit, and they started to do some cheesy paycheck films and comedies. Generally however, every couple of years they would appear in a great (or at least good) movie and remind you they could still take charge of a powerful role and keep you glued to the big screen. De Niro countered every "Midnight Run" or "Mad Dog and Glory" with a powerful role in "Cape Fear" or "Casino." For every "Dick Tracy" or "Frankie and Johnny" Al Pacino got involved with there was a great role in "Carlito's Way" or "Donnie Brasco" to make up for it. They of course shared the screen together for the first time (Never seen together in Godfather 2) in 1995's "Heat" and that coffee shop scene is one of those movie moments you ALWAYS sit through whenever you catch it on tv.
Then the millenium hit and I have no fucking clue what happened. I don't know if Pacino and De Niro just randomly started picking shitty roles. I don't know if great directors randomly decided to stop casting them in movies. Who knows? The point is from 2000 onward their careers have pretty much been shit. Name me ONE memorable Pacino/De Niro movie or role from the last decade. One that will stick with you for years to come. The only one that will come to mind is De Niro's turn as asshole father-in-law in "Meet The Parents." Don't get me wrong, "Meet The Parents" was funny the first couple of times and De Niro pulls of subtle comedy really well. That however shouldn't be the ONLY thing a legendary actor is remembered for over the course of a decade. "The Score" is the last decent De Niro flick I remember. Pacino doesn't really dabble in comedy except when it's unintentional so he has had zero memorable roles after 2000. "Insomnia" was a halfway decent flick but that was at the very start of the decade. "The Recruit"..? "Two for the Money." WHAT THE HELL? Why did Al Pacino suddenly start having to share his screen with Colin Farrell and Matthew McConaughey? If there were a Hall of Fame for shitty acting, Farrell and McConaughey would have shrines devoted to them.
Things really hit rock bottom for Al and Bob in 2008 with "Righteous Kill." I was SO psyched for this movie. My two favorite actors acting together...in a cop flick...over the course of a WHOLE MOVIE? No way I am disappointed right. OMG. "Righteous Kill" is maybe the worst fucking movie ever made. Awful. Seriously Rocky 5 is basically "The Shawshank Redemption" compared to "Righteous Kill." I just didn't get it. After all these years, these two legendary actors decide to finally work together on a project, and they get some no-name director, horrible script, and a supporting cast of 50 Cent and the other Wahlberg brother? The thing that really blows my mind is that there seemingly isn't ONE decent director in Hollywood willing to cast Al or Bobby D in a decent movie. All of Scorsese's movies over the last decade featured prominent older male characters. He casts Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin...Martin Sheehan to fill these roles. Seriously ONE of these roles couldn't have gone to Pacino or De Niro? Martin Sheehan's turn in "The Departed" featured the WORST movie accent ever. I'm pretty sure Bob or Al could have pulled off saying "Caaaawp" 30 times in an exaggerated Boston Accent.
Despite the disaster that was "Righteous Kill" I'm still conident that these two geezers have some acting chops left. Pacino has garnered recognition for his work in HBO series/movies like "Angels in America" and "You don't Know Jack." De Niro still grabs you with his reserved but powerful on-screen presence, even if it's in a shitty movie like "The Good Shephard." So they just need a good director to take a good script and find a place for Bob or Al in their movie. Then they can get the chance to get on screen and remind us why we idolized them in the first place. So Marty. Or Sydney Lumet. Or Clint Eastwood. Or the Coen Brothers. SOMEBODY. Please find these guys some decent work. If I have to watch these guys trade one-liners with Donnie Wahlberg again I am gonna jump off a fucking bridge.