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Author Topic: De Niro's best acting role?  (Read 16108 times)
dave jenkins
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« Reply #15 on: June 15, 2007, 06:10:26 PM »

TAXI DRIVER. Simple as that. He is in almost every single shot, and in much of the film his performance is dialogue free.
Although his on-screen performance is sometimes augmented by voice-over (a very effective voice-over, with De Niro giving incredibly flat, seemingly disaffected, readings). Still, you make a persuasive argument and you've nearly won me over.

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« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2007, 08:03:46 PM »

TAXI DRIVER. Simple as that. He is in almost every single shot, and in much of the film his performance is dialogue free. He must project the complexity of Bickle purely through the eyes and his body language. This he does superlatively, one of the greatest acting jobs ever captured on film, end of story. Where does a man go to get that fearsome blankness in his eyes in that enormous close up at the picture's climax where he puts his bloody finger to his shaved head and hisses that gunshot "phssssooo"?

Yes, he's been more physically showy in RAGING BULL and THE KING OF COMEDY, but they are more dialogue heavy roles. He only really matched his TAXI DRIVER "other place" intensity in the Russian roulette scenes in THE DEER HUNTER. For me though Travis Bickle is an incredible creation. Another actor could have taken that script and merely played a one note monster.
That post said everything I come up with in my mind yet can't put into words.

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« Reply #17 on: June 16, 2007, 04:49:40 AM »

  I mean, what is ADHD? Elderly man in Miami wants to know.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attention-deficit_hyperactivity_disorder

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« Reply #18 on: June 16, 2007, 07:32:48 AM »

Although I agree that his roles in Taxi driver and Raging bull are great,I'd had to go with TDH. Azn

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« Reply #19 on: June 16, 2007, 07:42:29 AM »

Although I agree that his roles in Taxi driver and Raging bull are great,I'd had to go with TDH. Azn
  Taxi Driver is set in an America that once was(porn theaters, close access to politicians, disco clothes etc.) It was great in it's time, but after 30 years of real-life imitators, may-be this film shouldn't have been made so alluring to the emotionally disturbed. The ending is absurd and pure fantasy. Bickle would not have gotten off scot-free for multiple killings, no matter how despicaple the victims.  We call it ADS, here! Cheesy

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Juan Miranda
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« Reply #20 on: June 16, 2007, 10:53:31 AM »

may-be this film shouldn't have been made so alluring to the emotionally disturbed.

It's called "great film making". And who is to predict what will affect the emotionally disturbed? Jeffrey Dahmer was obsessed by THE RETURN OF THE JEDI and wanted to have eyes like the Emperor in that picture. BAN THIS FILTH, I say.  Wink

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« Reply #21 on: June 16, 2007, 11:02:55 AM »

It's called "great film making". And who is to predict what will affect the emotionally disturbed? Jeffrey Dahmer was obsessed by THE RETURN OF THE JEDI and wanted to have eyes like the Emperor in that picture. BAN THIS FILTH, I say.  Wink
What filth, I say?

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Jill
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« Reply #22 on: June 16, 2007, 05:23:03 PM »

Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, Godfather II, The Deer Hunter, Heat, The Fan, OUTIA, Goddfellas, Casino, The Mission, Wag the Dog, Sleepers - lots of great performances. This fellow rocks. But God save me from his newest movies, especially terrible comedies. He's NOT a comedian, he's a dramatic charakter.

I loved him best in Heat -  Cry poor Neil... nice western duel in a neo-noir. But whyyy he died...  Cry Cry Cry (I know, if fangirls could cry. Grin)

And OUTIA - it's brilliant.

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« Reply #23 on: June 16, 2007, 07:11:58 PM »

Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, Godfather II, The Deer Hunter, Heat, The Fan, OUTIA, Goddfellas, Casino, The Mission, Wag the Dog, Sleepers - lots of great performances. This fellow rocks. But God save me from his newest movies, especially terrible comedies. He's NOT a comedian, he's a dramatic charakter.

I loved him best in Heat -  Cry poor Neil... nice western duel in a neo-noir. But whyyy he died...  Cry Cry Cry (I know, if fangirls could cry. Grin)

And OUTIA - it's brilliant.

You're right Jill. Lot's of great performances by good old Bobby. I put Raging Bull and The Deer Hunter a step above all those performances you mentioned. The only one that's on par is The Godfather Part II in my opinion.

Speaking of Heat. It's a full fledged MASTERPIECE that got the shaft from the Academy during Oscar time. This film should of at least won 5 Academy Awards. Neal had to go down though Jill, as sad as it was.  Cry What a film!

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« Reply #24 on: June 16, 2007, 09:42:40 PM »

It's called "great film making". And who is to predict what will affect the emotionally disturbed? Jeffrey Dahmer was obsessed by THE RETURN OF THE JEDI and wanted to have eyes like the Emperor in that picture. BAN THIS FILTH, I say.  Wink
  Look, 35 years ago, I would have championed this film right along with you. But it doesnt hold the test of time, or repeat viewings. I can only watch it once every few years now. The true standard of a masterpiece is it's endurability in the viewer's mind. That's why the Mona Lisa still is hanging around. I will give you the fact that it was groundbreaking entertainment, but so was the first Mickey Mouse cartoon. It's pacing has 70's written all over it. Not a great era for film editing.

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« Reply #25 on: June 17, 2007, 12:46:01 PM »

TAXI DRIVER. Simple as that. He is in almost every single shot, and in much of the film his performance is dialogue free. He must project the complexity of Bickle purely through the eyes and his body language.

Yes, he's been more physically showy in RAGING BULL and THE KING OF COMEDY, but they are more dialogue heavy roles. He only really matched his TAXI DRIVER "other place" intensity in the Russian roulette scenes in THE DEER HUNTER. For me though Travis Bickle is an incredible creation. Another actor could have taken that script and merely played a one note monster.

Juan, I liked your post and argument.  I found I kept going back and forth on Taxi Driver and Raging Bull.  I did end up going with Raging Bull the more physical role.  I found when I was trying to decide, I was thinking about the jail and dressing room scenes, maybe the more introspective parts of his performance, and went with Raging Bull.   I definitely agree with everything you say.  Enough to think more on it.  Of the two films, I like Taxi Driver better.  Like Taxi Driver, I think what I really appreciate about his performance in OUATIA is what he's able to communicate without dialogue.  Taxi Driver is one of the seminal films of the 1970's.  I don't think it's dated in the least.  As a matter of fact, I think it becomes more relevant with each year that passes.  

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« Reply #26 on: June 17, 2007, 03:39:57 PM »

But it doesnt hold the test of time, or repeat viewings.

It does for me, if not for you. These things are not universal and easily quantifiable, so why get so impatient if somebody disagrees with you? First time I saw it (probably back in 1978) I thought it was a masterpiece, and still thought the same last time I saw it.

As for your comment on the editing of the film, "You're crazy."  Azn

I can qualify this statement by pointing out that Avid and Final Cut Pro digital editors on features today are still aping ground breaking film splicing techniques created by Tom Rolf, Melvin Shapiro and Scorsese all those years ago (never mind the even earlier MEAN STREETS).

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mal247
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« Reply #27 on: June 18, 2007, 08:33:15 AM »

Some-one who can stir a cup of coffee for approx. 60 seconds and yet, all the time, keep me on the edge of my seat gets my vote.
 Smiley

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #28 on: June 18, 2007, 04:00:00 PM »

Just to keep everybody oriented, let me remind you all that we aren't talking about the relative merits of the films, just the roles (and presumably the performances) enacted by De Niro in each. That being the case, films where he is a supporting character (Goodfellas, say) don't really qualify. A film where he acts the lead is so much more impressive. Juan has rightly pointed out that De Niro is in almost every scene in Taxi Driver (I believe there is only one in which he doesn't appear, an exchange between Sport and Jodie Foster), and that he delivers an incredible (mostly non-speaking) performance consistently. Perhaps the only comparable performance is in Raging Bull. I don't happen to like Taxi Driver much as a film, but I've got to admit that Travis Bickle is one of the most convincing characters ever enacted on film. He is so life-like that I imagine him living on well after the film concludes.

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« Reply #29 on: June 25, 2007, 11:52:43 AM »

I guess much of it depends upon what you hope to get from a movie.

For me it's like with a band. I'm a great believer in the whole aspiring to something greater than just the sum of the parts. My favourite ever band is The Band who epitomised such collective effort. Even where a band is fronted by an ultimate showman/star turn like a Springsteen I want to see the others in the band connecting to form a similar sort of collective force a la Clarence/Stevie Van Zandt/Nils.

Personally, all's I can ever ask for from any lead actor is a performance that meshes imperceptibly with that of the other actors in the movie. Not one that blows the others off the screen but one that complements the others and allows the movie to take centre stage. In the final analysis it's the movie that's the thing. Not the actor's magnificence or otherwise. His or her performance simply has to convince me. That's all I'm ever looking for.

I've never been one to drool over a virtuoso acting performance. Like a showman Hendrix-like rock star it tends to leave me shrugging my shoulders - in a Eh - so what sort of thing??!!

Not that I don't appreciate the talent, perhaps even genius involved in such statements of artistic performance/acting. Just that I see it as lip gloss as distinct from lips. That's why Brando or Olivier - fantastic talents as they were - never did it for me. Unless their character actually calls specifically for the portrayal of a huge ego, for me they just put too much oomph into their roles.

Same with de Niro. Give me the understated De Niro performance in OUATIA to his Goodfellas or his Raging Bull or even Travis.

De Niro's switching from a late 20 ish hood to a 60 ish old man was as good as I could ever wish to see in a movie. He devoured the emotional core of the role and brought it to us. To marvel at. The role never demanded virtuosity in the sense of any towering overt tour de force. On the contrary, it required a disciplined team role of a lead actor balancing that role neither subservient to it or dominant over it - all the time with his eye firmly on the object of the exercise which was to be a part only of the creation of a truly magnificent film.

And by those criteria De Niro certainly more than convinced me that he's never done better.

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