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Author Topic: De Niro's best acting role?  (Read 16098 times)
Noodles_SlowStir
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« Reply #30 on: June 25, 2007, 03:42:03 PM »


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.

Thanks aldog.  Nice post.  You're right, he does seem to approach his leading acting role with an almost supporting actor approach; his transformation from young to old is brilliant.   He conveys so much with his body language and facial expressions.  Leone basically said no one else could of been as effective in the part, I think he was so right.  I love the film and his performance.  I wish the OUATIA performance would be recognized more.

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #31 on: June 25, 2007, 03:45:21 PM »

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.
Very well said. Bravo, aldog. Afro

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Juan Miranda
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« Reply #32 on: June 25, 2007, 04:53:10 PM »

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.

Possibly you haven't known many actors, or understood "the method" that De Niro works with?

Clearly Bobby is superb in Leone's film, and arguably gives the greatest single performance in any of Sergio's pictures. However, I tend to rate his Bickle more because De Niro was younger and a much less experienced actor at that time, making his transformation all the more remarkable.

Actors are by nature supremely egotistical and quite ruthless in dominating the stage or screen with whatever quirks or tricks they can get away with, almost to the point of being childish at times. Yul Brynner's inability to cope with Steve McQueen's upstaging through body languge has become a now famous example, and yet THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN remains somehow all seven of the actor's (well, five of 'em at least plus Eli) film, rather than McQueen's. Actors are never in my experience interested in the musical analogy you gave, of a jolly ensemble. These things may happen over a period of time with a large number of players constantly working together, but Leone never had such a John Ford like working pattern.

In ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, by the time De Niro steps into Noodle's shoes, his character has done all it's thinking and played out it's innovative moves in the shape of Scott Tiler. De Niro spends the remaining film re-acting instead of innovating - puzzled and stymied. He is almost purely passive. Instead he plays against Max, in the shape of James Woods. Woods takes the opportunity and screams away with it, happily trouncing De Niro in several scenes, and no wonder as "the Method" which both men work with as actors demands that it should be so. Noodles has become the weak, passive, traumatised underling to Max's outragous ambition. As such De Niro plays almost the entier picture both as a young and old man with an expression of sour bafflement. Indelibly so, admitedly, but it lacks the range of Travis Bickle, taking his frustrated desire and anger out on the woman he "loves".

« Last Edit: June 25, 2007, 04:55:02 PM by Juan Miranda » Logged

aldog
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« Reply #33 on: June 26, 2007, 04:53:44 AM »

Fair dinkum Juan. You convey your hypothesis well. However, the points you make don't convince me regarding how I prefer my lead acting to bloom.

There are times - in comedy roles especially - where I need the lead actor or even a rival to dominate the screen. However, it takes a lot for the purely overt to do the trick for me. In a movie like OUATIA, for me, the movie itself simply has to triumph. Scenes such as James Woods's outrage may still work in the context of his derangement as the character Maxie yet he could never convince in the understated manner which De Niro integrated into the Noodles character particularly the 60's scenes. 

Vive la difference eh pal.

 Smiley

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Noodles_SlowStir
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« Reply #34 on: June 26, 2007, 04:23:01 PM »

In ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, by the time De Niro steps into Noodle's shoes, his character has done all it's thinking and played out it's innovative moves in the shape of Scott Tiler. De Niro spends the remaining film re-acting instead of innovating - puzzled and stymied. He is almost purely passive. Instead he plays against Max, in the shape of James Woods. Woods takes the opportunity and screams away with it, happily trouncing De Niro in several scenes, and no wonder as "the Method" which both men work with as actors demands that it should be so. Noodles has become the weak, passive, traumatised underling to Max's outragous ambition. As such De Niro plays almost the entier picture both as a young and old man with an expression of sour bafflement. Indelibly so, admitedly, but it lacks the range of Travis Bickle, taking his frustrated desire and anger out on the woman he "loves".

I agree with a lot of what you've said about the performance in Taxi Driver in your previous posts and here.   I know you like DeNiro’s performance in OUATIA by your comments in this post and others.  You’re making a statement within the context of the thread about your preference in quality of the actor’s roles.

Not so sure I fully buy into your idea that the Noodles role or character was fully fleshed out in the youth segment before De Niro steps in.  I think that in the film, there had to be a continuity in the depictions of the character by younger and older actor.  But I think a different actor could of played the adult Noodles part differently than De Niro in the 1930s and 1960s segments.  Woods did have the more showy role.  The Noodles character does assume greater characteristics of passivity as the story progresses.  I still see De Niro being innovative in how he handles his characterization.  The character does have to go through transformations after the incarceration and rape segments.  He could not look to the Tiler characterization to fully define his way through that.  At times, perhaps the Max character overshadows the Noodles character.  However, I don't think that Woods constantly upstages DeNiro because perhaps he had the more glamorous actor's part.  I find there are just as many times that DeNiro very quietly upstages Woods.  I do like both actors in the film.

I wanted to make a point on the character passivity issue you raise. Not so much with what you say, but in general terms.   I find a lot of times that critics tend to put down performances or films about characters with passive traits.   I've seen similar criticism leveled at OUATIA. The point of view expressed is....why make an epic film about such a passive central character or......more specifically with OUATIA.....it's a film of three, almost four hours, which tells the story of an eventual fatalistic, passive, dupe, loser.   I don’t understand that kind of thinking at all.  There are people with passive traits in the world.  Their stories have to be told as well.   It may be more of a challenge from an acting perspective to depict the complexity of a character with these traits.  Many times the passivity in a character has significance in how it helps define and comment on society and the external world around that individual.  Much like the gangster genre has been used effectively to comment on society by telling the stories of those who strive to live beyond the laws and boundaries of society.

« Last Edit: June 30, 2007, 01:52:56 PM by Noodles_SlowStir » Logged

aldog
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« Reply #35 on: June 26, 2007, 04:52:52 PM »

Some precise analogies there noodles with which I agree - as you might have gathered.

The more I read all these threads on these sites relating to OUATIA, the more I feel the movie will continue to fight a losing battle against the initial butchered release of the film in the USA and its inevitable failure resulting from that butchery. It meant even the cast seemed to want to distance themselves from it for fear of guilt by association.

I read a De Niro biog some time back and you'd hardly have thought he'd ever appeared in the movie let alone the fact it ranked as arguably his finest role in arguably his finest ever film.

 Smiley

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #36 on: July 01, 2007, 09:17:48 PM »

Some precise analogies there noodles with which I agree - as you might have gathered.

The more I read all these threads on these sites relating to OUATIA, the more I feel the movie will continue to fight a losing battle against the initial butchered release of the film in the USA and its inevitable failure resulting from that butchery. It meant even the cast seemed to want to distance themselves from it for fear of guilt by association.

I read a De Niro biog some time back and you'd hardly have thought he'd ever appeared in the movie let alone the fact it ranked as arguably his finest role in arguably his finest ever film.

 Smiley
James Woods is on record saying that his work with Leone was the best he's ever done.

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« Reply #37 on: July 01, 2007, 11:31:20 PM »

James Woods is on record saying that his work with Leone was the best he's ever done.

I have the Once Upon a Time: Sergio Leone documentary on tape. All the trivia is the nothing new to most of us here, but the interviews with James Woods, Scott Tiler, James Coburn, Rod Steiger, etc. make it worthwhile.


James Woods comments on how working with Leone was the everest of his life, and I was amazed at how well he studied Leone's previous films.

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aldog
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« Reply #38 on: July 02, 2007, 03:28:01 AM »

James Woods is on record saying that his work with Leone was the best he's ever done.

You're right of course Dave. He really does champion the movie and Leone in the dvd.

I think I had in mind the leading man and lady neither of whome seem to have ever realized the enormity of the movie. Certainly not from what I've ever read.

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« Reply #39 on: August 10, 2007, 02:31:54 PM »

I absolutely love James Wood's comments on the OUATIA DVD. It really shows you how much actor's enjoyed working with Leone. James gave great insight here.

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« Reply #40 on: August 16, 2007, 06:31:54 PM »

Quote
Clearly Bobby is superb in Leone's film, and arguably gives the greatest single performance in any of Sergio's pictures.

Bah. I would put him behind Wallach, Fonda, Volontè, Kinski and Coburn anytime. True, I don't like the movie, so I'm biased. But I don't think he adds anything new to what he had been doing for the previous 15 years. I like him in TD and King of Comedy, apparently his most underrated role. The problem with him is that I can always anticipate the way he will deliver a line or make a grimace. He did a commercial in Italy a couple of years ago and each time I saw it I couldn't help laughing at the way he exhibited the whole array of his facial expressions, with the out of time movements of the head and the rest. He sclerotized the style for which he got famous and that puts him below, in my book, people like Fonda, Kinski or even Volontè.
Now, do we want to talk about Pacino?

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« Reply #41 on: September 10, 2007, 02:00:17 PM »

While his roles in OUATiA, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and The Deer Hunter are certainly more well regarded, his interview with Elmo on Sesame Street is probably the greatest two minutes of film that ever existed. Seriously. Angry.

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