Tag Archives: Robert De Niro

Remembering Lenny Bruce

Forty-four years after his death his influence still towers.

You may or may not like Lenny Bruce; if you discovered him towards the tail end of his career sometimes his appearances were little more than anti-establishment rants about the persecution he was being subjected to. He was losing his career, his freedom, and towards the end, his sanity. Who wouldn’t?

But his belief in personal freedom, the right for anyone to speak their mind, the drive to question authority – you know, fundamental human rights – made him a trailblazer in the world of comedy. His jazzy, free-flowing style blurred the line between storytelling and joke-telling; his subject matter risqué for the times; his intelligence and subtlety a reward for those who were really paying attention.

Jazz musicians in the pocket are capable of taking a solo at any moment; so too Bruce was able to run off on a tangent and weave his way back in almost invisibly. When they make lists of the greatest and most influential comedians ever to walk the planet, Bruce is always in the very top cluster, if not the apex.

When the movie Lenny first came out I was sure I wouldn’t like Dustin Hoffman in the lead, but I liked the film and thought he did great work. The film we really need to see is the documentary Swear To Tell The Truth, narrated by Robert DeNiro.

Read more about Swear To Tell The Truth.

But while it’s nice to read about him and hear about him, your first move should be to listen to him. I highly recommend that you get your hands on Let The Buyer Beware, the boxed set collection of his albums. Also Lenny Bruce Without Tears (a DVD with some of his TV performances) and The Lenny Bruce Performance Film, most copies of which include Thank You Masked Man.

Rest in Peace,  Lenny. Finally, peace.

Lenny Bruce official website.

Lenny on Wikipedia.

Nice collection of links to Lenny related material.

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Filed under Comedy, Editorials, Film/TV, Reviews

T.G.I.F. – Ten from Cop Land

While spinning the TV dial last night I stumbled across Cop Land, and as I always do when this happens, I stopped searching and settled in to watch. I’ve seen it a dozen times, I know exactly what’s going to happen, but any movie with this cast is worth watching again regardless. While there are plot points that are a bit preposterous, several of the actors in the film give understated performances, especially Sylvester Stallone…although there is (Robert DeNiro) a wee bit (Ray Liotta) of scenery chewing going on.

Watch the trailer for Cop Land.

Frankly, Stallone’s portrayal of Freddy Heflin might be the best work Sly has ever done, especially considering the caliber of actors he’s playing against and with. Heflin is a guy who life has left behind; a hangdog middle-aged Sheriff who has given up on success and just wants to get through the day without any problems. Ironically, a moment of actual heroism left him deaf in one ear and cost hin a chance at the NYPD and the girl whose life he saved. There’s a quiet scene between Sly and Annabella Sciorra as the girl who got away where she asks him why he never got married; the pain and heartbreak in his expression is the antithesis of one of his Rambo grunt-fests.

James Mangold wrote and directed this gem, in which you’ll spot half the cast of The Sopranos as well as other familiar faces, including Paul Calderon, Frank Vincent, Tony Sirico, Bruce Altman, John Ventimiglia, Debbie Harry, Malik Yorba and even Method Man!

So many of the people in this film are known for iconic characters from television and/or movies, but they also have some gems that might not be as well-known. So today I thought I’d pick ten Cop Land cast members and offer a viewing tip for each. And, of course, see this movie.

* Harvey Keitel in The Border, as Jack Nicholson‘s corrupt partner. A forgotten gem for both actors.

* Robert Patrick in The Sopranos, in a short but memorable arc as gambling addict who gets in over his head.

* Ray Liotta in Phoenix, playing a cop with a gambling problem who tries to take the easy way out.

* Peter Berg in The Last Seduction, as the ultimate tool of Linda Fiorentino (not that I blame him!)

* Annabella Sciorra in Whispers in the Dark. Not great, but a decent suspense flick with twists and turns and a shocking performance from Alan Alda.

* John Spencer in Presumed Innocent, as a Detective who tries to help Harrison Ford out of a jam. Also one of Ford’s best roles.

* Michael Rappaport in Kiss of Death, where he plays David Caruso‘s slimy weasel of a cousin.

* Cathy Moriarity in Soapdish. An underrated movie with a great cast and her comic performance is a standout.

* Noah Emmerich in The Truman Show. Everyone remembers Jim Carrey and Ed Harris but often forget Emmerich as Truman’s “best friend”.

* Edie Falco in Sunshine State, sadly one of John Sayles’ lesser known pictures but a great character study.

(I think you can research that DeNiro guy on your own.)

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Filed under Features and Interviews, Film/TV

T.G.I.F. – Ten More Impressions

 

Matt Damon as  Matthew McConaughey.

A contestant on Next Big Thing nailing  Al Pacino.

Joe Alaskey as Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Don Knotts, Alfred Hitchcock, Walter Brennan and Peter Lorre.

Barry Mitchell does Woody Allen.

Another mystery guy channeling  Christopher Walken, Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson.

Jim Carrey as David Caruso in CSI Miami.

Dre Parker doing Dave Chappelle, Bernie Mac and Damon Wayans.

Another anonymous YouTuber imitating Gilbert Gottfried.

Ray Ray in a skit as Regis Philbin and Owen Wilson.

Rob Magnotti as Ray Romano, Brad Garrett, Michael Richards, Bill Cosby, Dudley Moore, Paulie Walnuts, Nicolas Cage, Al Pacino and John Travolta.

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Filed under Comedy, Film/TV