ROBERT DE NIRO FEATURE
He doesn’t compromise.’
While the ﬂashy, angry on-screen De Niro is the one that’s most likely to stick in our minds, the quieter Mr Normal seems to be closer to the man himself. He may be recognised as a name and a face the world over, but no one in his profession is better at distancing his private life from the screen persona. The star mantle is one he wraps himself in rather unwillingly, and he’s often at a loss when he
In the driver’s seat: Robert De llro stars In and directs A Bronx Tale.
has to express himself in the public arena. Ask him about his work, and he’ll stumble through an answer full of pauses, reﬂective questions, vague insights. Ask him about something closer to his heart, and he’ll clam up completely. At last year’s Cannes Film Festival, one hack dared ask if he wished supermodel Naomi Campbell, a former girlfriend, well in her forthcoming marriage to U2’s Adam Clayton; De Niro just
sat back and pulled on that eyebrows-raised, chin-stretched-down mask that stands in for comic bemusement in his movies.
A few details do, however, emerge from behind the barrier. His parents, both painters, split up when he was two years old; Robert De Niro Snr died last year, and A Bronx Tale is dedicated to his memory. The actor has been married once, to actress Diahanne Abbott, with whom he had a son, Raphael, now in high school. A string of high-proﬁle girlfriends, including Mad Dog And Glory co-star Uma Thurman, have shared restaurant tables with him over the years, but more than anything, De Niro seems to be married to his work. More so now, with the formation of the Tribeca Film Centre in 1989. ‘We’re trying to utilise the talents of younger people and just generate projects from all sorts,’ he says. ‘l’m trying to set up a place where there are cinemas that show ﬁlms that are not just popular movies. I like to live in New York and generate things in New York, not out in LA. It’s another creative outlet, but it’s not easy.’
Tribeca productions to date have included Thunderheart, Mistress and Night And The City, as well as A Bronx Tale. The company’s state-of—the-art Greenwich Avenue ofﬁce houses a full range of services for the entertainment industry, from production facilities to a screening room and a celebrity restaurant. In a quieter comer, on a wall in De Niro’s personal ofﬁce, hangs the framed call sheet from the ﬁrst day’s shooting on A Bronx Tale. A plaque below it reads: ‘If one advances conﬁdently in the direction of his dreams and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unimagined in common hours.’ Before the camera, behind the camera, on~screen and off, De Niro has that dedication to reach his goalsD
A Bronx Tale opens in Scotland on Friday 18 February. For review, see Screen Test.
the last Tycoon (Elia Kazan, US, I976) 124 mins.
Certain aspects of F. Scott Fitzgerald's unﬁnished novel are lacking in Harold Pinter‘s adapted screenplay, but De Niro admirably ﬁlls the gaps with a subtle turn as golden-boy ﬁlm producer Monroe Stahr, a barely disguised portrait of Irving Thalberg. The uninspiring unrequited love plot only distracts from the atmospheric 30s Hollywood feel, which comes alive due to the efforts of each member of a starry cast, which includes Tony Curtis, Robert Mitchum and Jack Nicholson. Sun 20 Mar. 9pm
set a record.
Goodtollas (Martin Scorsese, US, 1990) I48 mins.
The Scorsese-De Niro partnership found its stride again with this gangster epic, which Sprawls between the years
of I955 and l98(), telling the true story of would-be wiseguy Henry Hill. Ray Liotta may hold centre-stage, but it’s De Niro‘s presence that permeates the movie. As father-ﬁgure mobster Jimmy Conway. he retains an old-fashioned nobility alongside his violent streak, leaving the out-and-out psycho turn to Joe Pesci. And at 246 F-words. the ﬁlm
Sun 10 Apr. 10pm
Once Upon A Time In America (Sergio Leone, US, I984) 227 mins. The master of the spaghetti western brings an unsentimental European feel to this ambitious account of Jewish gangsters from the l920s until the late l960s. The intercutting ﬂashback
sequences. Sun 24 Apr. 10pm
I973) 110 mins.
Sun 17Apr, I 0pm
structure is challenging, but perfectly portrays the complex nature of memory and guilt that is central to the story. De Niro is Noodles, a man whose life has intertwined with childhood friends Max and Deborah, and while he is great when playing young or old, the movies highlights are in the early childhood
Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, US,
At the other end of the scale from the mob aristocracy of The Godfather lie gutter gangsters like the volatile Johnny Boy, a liability to all those who befriend him. This early low-budget gem sets out many of Martin Scorsese’s recurring themes, particularly the conﬂicting sense of loyalty felt by Harvey Keitel’s deeply religious Charlie. De Niro, building his character from pork-pie hat down, relishes the looseness of the improvised scenes.
New York, New York (Martin Scorsese, US, 1977) 155 mins.
One of Scorsese’s most tepidly received ﬁlms, it hankers back to the days of the Hollywood musical, bringing a modern edge to a sentimental genre. Aspiring saxophonist Jimmy Doyle (De Niro’s ﬁngering is exact, but Georgie Auld dubbed the playing) has an ongoing love/hate relationship with songstress wife Francine (Liza Minnelli), as professional jealousy taints their lives and careers. Despite some wonderful musical numbers, the portrayls of vanity become a bit one note.
Sun I May. 10;)":
Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese. US.
I - I980) 129 mins.
Loosely based on the autobiography of Jake La Motta, it chronicles the life of the boxer from lowly bouts to the glories of being champion to the bloated days of decline. De Niro has never been better: not only does he allow his body to balloon and become the character, he radiates aggression, while still gaining some sympathy for a ﬁghter constantly going ten rounds with his own inner demons. The black- and-white photography is crisp, the editing achieves textbook perfection. A masterpiece.
Sun 8 May, 10pm
The List 13—24 February 1994 9