Friday, October 19, 2007

Why is Coppola still relevant?

In the ultimate case of the pot calling the kettle black, Francis Ford Coppola rips Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson, and Al Pacino, maybe the three greatest actors of our time, certainly in the top 5.

"I met both Pacino and De Niro when they were really on the come. They were young and insecure. Now Pacino is very rich... De Niro was deeply inspired by (Coppola’s studio American) Zoetrope and created an empire and is wealthy and powerful... Nicholson was — when I met him and worked with him — he was always kind of a joker...

I don’t know what any of them want anymore. I don’t know that they want the same things... they all live off the fat of the land.

They live off the fat of the land? Coppola has one good movie (Bram Stoker's Dracula) in 20 years (since Peggy Sue Got Married, so I'm being charitable), and they live off the fat of the land? Robert De Niro has established himself as an accomplished comedic actor since 1999, has repeatedly gone outside his comfort zone with diverse roles such as a coma patient (Awakenings), the title role in Frankenstein, and a wannabe talk show host (The King of Comedy). I don't see Jack stepping outside the box as much but he should have gotten a 13th Oscar nod for The Departed, and will likely get one for The Bucket List, where he'll star opposite Morgan Freeman. Even Al Pacino, who Coppola seemingly criticizes for not doing more theater, recently played Shylock in Merchant of Venice and Roy Cohn in Angels in America.

Coppola's Youth Without Youth is set to open next week. The first review is positive (A-), but his last movies, The Rainmaker, was well reviewed but completely formulaic and uninspired. I have feeling this will be another derivative period piece. If anyone thinks I'm discounting Coppola's work, keep in mind The Godfather is the greatest movie of all time by a mile and I've seen it at least a dozen times. But Don Larsen was a journeyman pitcher who threw the only hitless game in postseason history, a perfect game on October 8, 1856. Kurt Warner had the greatest season ever in 1999, and has faded into a role as a nice backup. Sometimes it all comes together for somebody, and then they lose it.

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