Tag Archives: Robert De Niro

Brian’s Review – Silver Linings Playbook (2012)


After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.


Rating: 9 out of 10

Holy Shit! Bradley Cooper can act! I honestly had no idea. Everything I’ve ever seen him in prior to this movie, he’s always delivered a minimalist performance where he seems to be doing little more than acting like himself. But, here he delivers a nuanced and fleshed out character that isn’t just interesting, but funny and touching as well. Honestly, all the acting in this film is fantastic. Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Jacki Weaver are all top notch and make the film work but I knew THEY could act. Cooper caught me a bit off guard.

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As I’m sure you’ve read from the above synopsis, this is a film about mental illness and the long term effects it can have on life, love, and finding your place in the world. As generalized as that description can sound, it describes the experience of watching the film perfectly. David O. Russell does his best work since Three Kings here. He has always been a visionary director that uses interesting characters to help round out a detailed and oft-kilter world. But, here is a film that is more about emotion than rational thought. Cooper, De Niro, and Lawrence all have their mental illness vices. De Niro is obsessive compulsive, Lawrence lost her husband and has thrown herself to any man sexually who will make her forget her pain, and Cooper has constant fits of rage stemming all the way back to an incident where his wife was unfaithful. Each of them is looking for their own “Silver Lining.”

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 That makes for an interesting premise and certainly Russell is adept at weaving the tale but it’s the interaction between the characters that makes this film special, particularly the believable chemistry between Lawrence and Cooper. Their relationship builds over the course of the movie, not from some lame chance meeting like all of the predictable romantic comedies. They have very little in common except for one thing: they both have no filter between their brains and their mouths. This makes for some funny and unpredictable dialogue that is completely original.

I’ll admit that this may not be everyone’s cup of tea. A lot of film goers like their neat and tidy films that ride off into the sunset. While this film is far from a negative experience, it doesn’t dare to think that these people are cured. It just lets them find their silver lining within their imperfect existence. 



Hired to assassinate a politician, vigilante and ex-Federale Machete (Danny Trejo) nearly dies when a sniper shoots him during the job. Out for revenge, he’s joined by a reluctant old buddy (Cheech Marin) who’s become a pacifist priest. Written and co-directed by Robert Rodriguez, this homage to exploitation films based on his fake trailer in Grindhouse co-stars Robert De Niro, Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Alba and Steven Seagal.

Rating: 8 out of 10

No one else on the planet could have played Agent Machete other than Danny Trejo. He is the low-keyed, cool-as-ice bad ass with a scarred face and a body covered in tattoos. His delivery of this likable man who slashes bad guys in all kinds of disgustingly fun ways makes this movie successful.

This is an absurd action movie — as most are — but is done with a campy style, similar to “Grindhouse” where this movie spawned. It was a fake trailer that showed before the movie, also directed by Robert Rodriguez, and I was pumped to see it get its own feature-length film. Rodriguez is an intriguing director. He takes on action and horror films by and large but never loses his sense of humor. This movie is extraordinarily violent — there’s a scene where Machete cuts open a man’s stomach and uses his intestines like a rope to swing out a window — but it’s always with a tongue-in-cheek flair that made me laugh because it’s so impossible. It’s also a smart script with a fantastic cast — De Niro is in his element as the racist, Texas conservative hellbent on getting illegal aliens out, and Alba is sharp as a Latino immigration agent who is conflicted about busting her people. Michelle Rodriguez is her usual self as the tough and sexy leader of a network that helps immigrants get work and shelter. All of their worlds collide with a Mexican drug dealer played by Steven Seagal. The support roles were excellent. It was nice to see Don Johnson return in one of the most evil roles in the film and Cheech Marin’s character was a nice addition as Machete’s brother who is a priest.

Wrap a revenge action story and camp humor around a subtext of immigration and you’ve got a fun film that never loses its sense of self. It’s not for everyone, but if you liked “Grindhouse” and “Death Proof” or are a fan of 70s exploitation films, you’ll love this movie.

Top 5 underrated actors


There are a lot of great actors that are worth the hype – Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro or Philip Seymour Hoffman. There are also some guys that are overhyped, like Tom Cruise. But this list is for the unsung actors who sometimes get accolades but not enough love. So here is some just-due love for five of our favorite unheralded actors.

5. Viggo Mortenson: Performance after performance, this guy delivers the goods and yet is very rarely talked about amongst the industries’ best. If you watch “History of Violence,” “The Road,” or “Eastern Promises,” he gets better and better with each film he does.

Here’s a nice clip from Mortenson’s Oscar-nominated roll in “Eastern Promises”

4. Alec Baldwin: He has never delivered a bad performance and is just as adept at comedy as he is at drama. If he hadn’t been such a pain in the ass to work with throughout his career he could have been one of the biggest stars ever. If you doubt his abilities, I recommend watching him in “The Cooler” or any of the times he hosted Saturday Night Live, or from his recent series 30 Rock.

Here’s a great clip of Baldwin in “Glengarry Glen Ross”

3. Sam Rockwell: The epitomy of the great actor that no one mentions among the best. He can play characters, he can do comedy, and he can carry the leading role. His skills were most on display in “Moon,” “Iron Man 2,” and “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.”

Even in small roles, Rockwell steals the scene

2. Joaquin Phoenix: Before he went insane and started a career as a rapper, Joaquin Phoenix was becoming one of the great actors today. I felt he should have won the Oscar for “Walk the Line” and he was best performance in “Gladiator” despite Russell Crowe getting the statue. and in “Two Lovers” he anchored the entire film. I hope he gets his brain back and starts acting again because he’s a true talent.

Here’s a clip of Phoenix talking about learning to sing for “Walk the Line”

1. Tim Roth: This guy is a genius who is always believable no matter what the role is. He can do any style of film with any form of character and nail the performance time and time again. He’s played heroes, villains, bellhops, an ape, and other varied roles. He also handles the physical elements of acting roles in “The Incredible Hulk” and “Rob Roy.” Currently, he’s on the show Lie to Me and excels as usual. A truly gifted actor.

Roth freaks out in “Four Rooms”

Roth in the opening scene of “Resevoir Dogs”

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