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Review: New Year’s Eve, The First Grader, Red State and Courageous

By Cinema, Reviews

For years now I’ve been fight­ing a single-handed defence of the later career of Robert De Niro (no defence, of course, being neces­sary for the early career which fea­tured Mean Streets, Taxi Driver and The Deer Hunter). This defence has sev­er­al argu­ments. Firstly, his decline hasn’t been nearly as pro­nounced – or as strange – as Al Pacino’s. Secondly, he was mak­ing some unusu­al decisions even dur­ing the eighties and, frankly, one Harry Tuttle – the reneg­ade cent­ral heat­ing engin­eer in Brazil – or foul-mouthed bail bonds­man Jack Walsh (Midnight Run) will get you a free pass for an awful lot of We’re No Angels.

In the nineties, too, he would make choices that fans of Raging Bull and King of Comedy would think were beneath him – Mad Dog and Glory, Frankenstein – but also pull out Wag the Dog and Jackie Brown. It’s been clear for a while now that De Niro is some­thing of a work­ahol­ic – and an act­or who waits for pro­jects as good as Goodfellas is an act­or who doesn’t work all that often.

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Cinematica: Back to School

By Audio, Cinema, Cinematica

Kailey has already giv­en up on Christmas already and moved on to New Year’s Eve; Simon goes back to school with The First Grader; and I look at cine­mat­ica present­a­tions of evan­gel­ic­al Christianity – Kevin Smith’s Red State and Alex Kendrick’s faith-based Courageous and we pre­view a sweet little film from Italy by inter­view­ing the writer and dir­ect­or of The Salt of Life – Gianni Di Gregorio.