Tag Archives: Robert De Niro

“Stardust” (2007) – 5-Obstructions Review

Click on image to be taken to overview.

Click on image to be taken to overview.

Nostra at “Myfilmviews” is continuing his 5-Obstrucitons blogathon, and I have waited to the absolutely last possible minute to post my entry.  For this interview review I have asked my husband to be the interviewee, Edwin Scharlau.  I first thought about conducting an interview about his documentary, Unfit:  Ward vs Ward,  but I felt I would be cheating since I had such easy access to the filmmaker.  When I asked Edwin which film he would like to be interviewed on he said Stardust.  I first I said no since I recently reviewed it here, but after a lackluster Hugo interview I relented.  So, without further ado,

VMR:  Why Stardust?

ES:  Because it is the only movie in my memory that I can recall going back to watch in a theatre a second time the following day.

VMR:  What made you want to watch it again?

ES:  Everything about that movie was so perfect that I wanted to see it again to validate that feeling from watching it the first time.  I’m not normally a fan of fantasy, but something just really spoke to me about that movie. I don’t know if it was the great mix of the time period, or the whole mystical aspect, the visuals, the music.  Everything just seemed to come together perfectly for that one.

VMR:  What about the music did you like so much?

ES:  I liked the epic feel of the music.  There was something about the music that made my heart race.

VMR:  What were you favorite scene involving the music?

ES:  When Michelle Pfeiffer is on the cliff and walks away with the whole landscape in the background.

VMR:  You said the movie “spoke to you,” in what way?

ESI think it had a really good message.  The way Tristan went out on this adventure to search for something for this girl he had a puppy-dog crush on because she seemed like the perfect girl for her—though we know she is not.  But then he goes out on this adventure and he realizes something about true love.  You can find true love in the least likely places or people.

VMR:  Do you see a little of Tristan in you?

ES:  I think Tristan is probably more adventurous than I am, and a bit more of a hopeless romantic.  But I did find him relatable.  He does tend to see the good in everyone, and I feel I do the same in most cases.

VMR:  Even though you think the movie is practically perfect in every way, is there something you would change?

ES:  There is nothing I would change about that movie.

I think another reason way I liked it, though it was fantasy, was that it made sense to me.  It seemed much more realistic to me then some other movies…like science fiction movies.  There is something really human and relatable to it.  I also really liked that they took Michelle Pfeiffer–who is arguably one of the most attractive women ever–and turned her into an old ugly witch, and she was wiling to do that.  And that they could take Robert de Niro—a badass tough guy—and put him in a dress, and he was willing to do that.

VMR:  Have there been any other movies that spoke to you in the same way?

ES:  No, not fantasy movies.  Thinking about it, Big Fish also spoke to me.  It was similar in that there is something real about it, but there is the fantasy element in it.  The Narnia films as well.  There is something incredibly sweet about Stardust.  It had everything in it:  greed, honesty, love, beauty.

VMR:  Where you surprised to learn this was only the director’s second film?

ES:  Yes.  It did surprise me he was able to do such a big movie with a big cast.

VMR:  Did you enjoy his third film Kick-Ass?

ES:  Yeah, I did.  It was surprisingly funny.

VMR:  Final question.  What numerical and alphabetic score do you give Stardust?

ES:  A+ and 10

VMR:  Thank you.

Click on image to view trailer.

Click on image to view trailer.

“Stardust” (2007) – Review


Director: Matthew Vaughn

Writers: Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn

Stars: Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, and Sienna Miller

We begin at the wall where the Guard of the Breach (David Kelly) initially prevents young Dunstan Thorn (Ben Barnes) from crossing.  But Dunstan fools the guard and crosses the breach.  We then learn the wall is more than a wall, and the breach is a portal.  For on one side of the wall is England and on the other side is the magical world of Stormhold.

In Stormhold Dustan meets Una, and nine months later back at his home he surprised by a newborn son, Tristan.  Eighteen years later Tristan is a shop-boy infatuated with Victoria (Sienna Miller), but Victoria only has eyes for Humphrey.  Eventually Tristan convinces Victoria to join him for a candlelight picnic by the wall.  At the same time in Stormhold, the soon to pass King (Peter O’Toole) calls all his sons to his side.  Disappointed that four of the seven still live and no successor to his throne has been determined, the King enchants his ruby necklace to lose its color and fly into the sky.  Whichever son finds the stone and restores the color shall be the future king.  But the stone in its flight to space strikes a star and causes it to fall.  As the star falls to the earth it is witnessed by both Victoria & Tristan, as well as the witch Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer).

Tristan vows to recover the fallen star as a present for Victoria’s birthday in two weeks.  Lamia vows to her sisters to recover the star in order for them to claim its heart and continue their immortal lives.  Said star crashes to earth in the form of Yvaine (Claire Danes)with the king’s colorless ruby.  Now three opposing forces are all in search of the same thing.

Stardust is a loyal adaptation of a Neil Gaiman novel of the same name.  The story moves along at a good clip with interesting and developed characters.  The only negative is the ending.  The primary antagonist final act is not clearly shown nor explained, leaving the audience with a “why did they do that” feeling.  The rationale behind the actions make sense upon further thought, but it does blot an otherwise solid story.

The performances across the board are strong.  Charlie Cox carries the film well as the youth who becomes a man.  Claire Danes brings just the right amount of bitchiness and naiveté to her role as Yvaine–the star made human.  The supporting cast all deliver fun and enthusiastic performances, each actor perfect for the role.  Both De Niro as Pirate Captain Shakespeare and Michelle Pfeiffer as Lamia are clearly having fun with their roles and their enthusiasm shows.  Along the same lines, both Peter O’Toole as the King and Mark Strong as Septimus have just the right amount of menace in their performances without taking themselves too seriously.

As a second directorial effort, Matthew Vaughn shows he is a capable director who is able to realize his vision.  The world he creates is beautiful and believable.  His pacing is strong, and the film never feels flabby.

Minus the misstep at the end, Stardust is a solid fairy-tale film.

Grade = B+


Click on image to view trailer

PS  Henry Cavill–Superman–is completely unrecognizable as Humphrey.

“Taxi Driver” (1976) – Movie Review

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Director:  Martin Scorsese

Writer:  Paul Schrader

Stars:  Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Albert Brooks, Harvey Keitel, Peter Boyle, and Cybill Shepherd

Taxi Driver is a warped noir film.  If the beginning where in black & white you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching an old Humphrey Bogart film.  But instead of a narration by Sam Spade you have Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro).

You are slowly introduced into Travis’ world.  Tavis is a Vietnam vet fighting personal demons as he tries to make a life as a taxi driver.  At night he drives husbands as they follow their philandering wives; couples hooking-up after a fun night out; johns with their lady of the night; all manner of lowlife he feels should be cleansed from the city.  It is during one of these shifts that he meets Iris (Jodi Foster).  Getting involved in an argument between Iris and her pimp, Sport (Harvey Keitel).

Travis also has an infatuation with Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), a campaign operative for Senator Charles Palantine.  One day he introduces himself to her, and eventually convinces Betsy to go out on a date.  Their “relationship” does not end well.  He later constantly hangs around the periphery of her life; even giving a ride to Palantine himself.

As Travis’ insomnia continues and his perception of reality becomes more and more damaged, he goes down a dark path of destruction as he attempts to become a hero to a city he has grown to hate.

Taxi Driver is very much a film of New York in the 70s.  A city on the verge of financial bankruptcy and physical decay.  The city is dangerous, dirty, and damaged.

Travis is one of many souls of New York barely getting by.  De Niro owns this role.  Allowing us into Travis’ inner turmoil and psychosis.  When we first meet him Travis is meek.  But by the climax, though physically the same, he is lean and dangerous.  He has an edge that makes you wary.  As for the rest of the supporting characters, they each hold their own.  Stand-outs include Albert Brooks and Peter Doyle.  Each acting and behaving in the way we come to expect when we see them performing, but in this case early in their career.  Harvey Keitel is unrecognizable in his short role as Sport, and Jodi Foster makes an impression as Iris.  The weakest link in the cast is Cybill Shepard.  She never conveys why Travis is so infatuated with her.  Betsy comes across as a blank.

As for the script, it does an excellent job bringing you into Travis’ world and making you understand where he is coming from and where he is going.  The one failing is the ending, which left me scratching my head.  After all that happened how can there be no scars?  How can life go on as if nothing happened?  How are there no ramifications?  If the film had just ended before the phone message narration it would have been perfect.

Grade = B+