Review: ‘Ezra’ (2024), starring Bobby Cannavale, Rose Bryne, Vera Farmiga, Whoopi Goldberg, Rainn Wilson, Tony Goldwyn, William A. Fitzgerald and Robert De Niro

May 27, 2024

by Carla Hay

William A. Fitzgerald and Bobby Cannavale in “Ezra” (Photo courtesy of Bleecker Street)

“Ezra” (2024)

Directed by Tony Goldwyn

Culture Representation: Taking place in various parts of the United States, the dramatic film “Ezra” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with some black people, Asians and Latin people) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A divorced stand-up comedian, who has a volatile temper, illegally takes his 11-year-old autistic son on a cross-country road trip when the comedian gets a guest appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” 

Culture Audience: “Ezra” will appeal primarily to people are fans of the movie’s headliners and stories about father-son bonding, even if some of the story is problematic.

Robert De Niro, Bobby Cannavale and William A. Fitzgerald in “Ezra” (Photo courtesy of Bleecker Street)

Even though the name of the movie is “Ezra,” this uneven but well-acted drama is really about Ezra’s loudmouth and volatile father Max Brandel. This sometimes-frustrating film comes dangerously close to glorifying bad parenting but is saved by some realistic and heartfelt moments. Still, viewers with enough life experience will never feel like this movie is completely relatable, since so much of the movie looks contrived, even if some of the story was inspired by real people.

“Ezra” is directed by Tony Goldwyn, an actor who’s had numerous roles in film and TV but is best known for the role of Fitzgerald Grant III (a fictional U.S. president) on the TV drama series “Scandal,” which was on the air from 2012 to 2018. Goldwyn has directed several episodes in TV series (such as “Scandal” and “Dexter”), and the previous movies he directed have been about romances, such as 1999’s “A Walk on the Moon,” 2001’s “Someone Like You” and 2006’s “The Last Kiss.” Tony Spiridakis wrote the screenplay for “Ezra,” whose title character is a boy living with autism. Spiridakis’ son Dimitri is also living with autism. “Ezra” had its world premiere at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival.

The movie begins with a scene of comedian Max Brandel (played by Bobby Cannavale) doing a stand-up comedy performance somewhere in a New York City nightclub. In his perfomance, Max talks about having an underage autistic son and how this child wouldn’t speak for several years, and “when he finally started speaking, he wouldn’t shut up.” Max tells a few more jokes and gets a fairly good, but not overly impressive, response from the audience. People clap and do some cheering, but they aren’t giving Max a standing ovation.

Max has a few more upcoming gigs booked at this nightclub. The nightclub owner Robert “Bob” Segal (played by Geoffrey Owens) tells Max that a talent booker from “Jimmy Kimmel Live” is going to be in the audience at one of Max’s upcoming shows to. Max’s manager Jayne (played by Whoopi Goldberg) is thrilled and tells Max not to do anything to mess up this big opportunity.

Max has a tarnished reputation and a damaged career, so getting a guest apperance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” will be a big career boost for Max. He used to be a hotshot comedy writer in late-night television until he was fired for punching his former boss Conan O’Brien. Max became a stand-up comedian after not being able to get a job as a TV writer because of this scandal. Max (who lives in Hoboken, New Jersey) is also financially broke and had to move in with his divorced father Stan (played by Robert De Niro), who also has a “loose cannon” temper.

Max is divorced from Ezra’s mother Jenna (played by Rose Byrne), and they share custody of 11-year-old Ezra (played by William A. Fitzgerald), who is a bright and inquisitive child. (Fitzgerald is on the autism specturm in real life.) Max still hasn’t gotten over the divorce from Jenna and keeps hoping that he and Jenna will get back together. Jenna has already moved on to someone else. She’s currently dating an attorney named Bruce (played by Goldwyn), who’s somewhat smug, but Bruce tries to stay out of the squabbles that Jenna and Max have over how Ezra should be raised.

Max and Jenna have very different parenting styles. Max sees nothing wrong with not having a strict routine for Ezra and exposing Max to entertainment meant for older teens and adults. For example, Max lets Ezra binge watch “Breaking Bad,” a TV series about a drug dealer, with a lot of violence and cursing. Max also sees nothing wrong with bringing Ezra to nightclubs and letting Ezra stay up late to watch Max perform. Jenna wants Ezra to have a more structured upbringing where he’s expected follow rules that most kids his age would have.

At the public school where Ezra is a student, Ezra gets into trouble for disrupting a class by quoting some threatening curse-filled dialogue that he heard on “Breaking Bad.” Max and Jenna are called to have an urgent meeting with the school’s Principal Lee (played by Daphne Rubin-Vega) to decide what to do about Ezra, who has gotten into fights before at this school. These fights are not seen in the movie, but Max insists in the meeting with Principal Lee that Ezra was being bullied and fought back in self-defense in these previous fight incidents.

Principal Lee suggests that Ezra might be better off in a school for kids with special needs. Max hates the idea because he thinks Ezra needs to learn what it’s like to be in the “real world,” and he thinks Max does not belong in a school for kids with disabilities. Jenna is concerned for Ezra’s safety in this public school, so she is much more open to the idea of putting Ezra in a school where he is much less-likely to be bullied for being “different.”

During this family turmoil, Max is at home with Jenna, when he overhears Bruce sarcastically joking that Bruce can get rid of Max by putting a murder-for-hire hit on Max. Ezra doesn’t understand that Bruce is just joking, so Ezra panics and runs out in the street, where he is hit by a car.

It leads to an investigation over whether or not Ezra is suicidal. Ezra doesn’t tell anyone right away that he ran out in the street because of what he heard Bruce say. Max insists that Ezra is not suicidal. Jenna isn’t so sure and wants to wait and hear the diagnosis of a child psychiatrist who has examined Ezra.

A meeting that Max and Jenna have with a child psychiatrist named Dr. Kaplan (played by Alex Plank) goes very badly when the doctor prescribes Risperdal, also known Risperdone, to Ezra. Risperdal is prescribed to people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism spectrum disorder. Max thinks this medication is too strong and inappropriate for Ezra. Max and Dr. Kaplan have a verbal argument, which turns into Max punching Dr. Kaplan.

Max gets arrested for this assault. Dr. Kaplan declines to press charges on the condition that Max has a restraining order against him. Under this restraining order, Max can’t see Ezra for three months. Bruce is Max’s attorney, which seems like a conflict of interest, but it can be presumed that Bruce only decided to take Max as a client because Jenna asked Bruce. Jenna probably asked Bruce to give Max a discount on Bruce’s usual legal fees.

Not surprisingly, Max hates being in this legal mess, but he doesn’t show much remorse for the fact that he created this mess. Max also thinks it’s unfair that he can’t see Ezra because Max doesn’t think he’s a danger to his child and can’t bear to go three months without seeing Ezra. When Max finds out that he’s been booked for a stand-up comedy appearance on the Los Angeles-based “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Max decides to illegally take Ezra on a cross-country road trip to Los Angeles so that Ezra can be on the set of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to watch Max perform.

During this road trip (which includes stops in Michigan and Nebraska), Ezra tells Max several times that Ezra wants to go home, but Max ignores those pleas. Max rudely and stubbornly treats a frantic Jenna as if she’s being an unreasonable shrew for worrying about Ezra in this kidnapping. And to be clear: It is literally a child abduction, since Max went to Jenna’s home at night, woke up a sleeping Ezra, and secretly took Ezra out of the home without permission. Max also dismisses Stan’s warning advice not to take Ezra on the road trip and to bring Ezra back to Jenna’s home.

If all of this sounds like awful and selfish parenting from Max, it is. And at times, it becomes very annoying when the movie tries to convince viewers that Max is a misunderstood parent who’s fighting back against the “system” that’s “robbing” Max of wanting to spend time with his child. The movie only succeeds if the intention is to show that flawed, self-absorbed and dysfunctional parents like Max exist and are very much in denial about the bad decisions that they make as parents.

Some of Max’s childhood is mentioned as a way to explain why he turned out the way that he is. When Max was a child, Stan used to have a successful career as a professional chef in top-rated restaurants in New York City. But time and time again, Stan would get fired because of something (usually violent) that he did when he lost his temper. Stan’s wife eventually left the family because she couldn’t take living with Stan anymore. Stan raised Max as a single parent, and they have not had contact with Max’s mother for decades.

For a while, when Max was still a boy, Stan and Max moved to a rural part of Nebraska because Stan couldn’t find work as a chef in the New York City area. But father and son eventually moved back to the New York/New Jersey area. Stan became an apartment building doorman, which is the job that he has when this story takes place. Stan seems to have mellowed with age, but he can still be feisty, and he gets into arguments with Max. Although they disagree on many things, Stan and Max are actually a lot more alike than they care to admit.

At first, Jenna doesn’t want to call the police about Max illegally taking Ezra because she thinks it would be traumatic for Ezra to see Max get arrested. But after four days of Max avoiding or deliberately cutting off her phone calls, Jenna takes Bruce’s advice and calls the police to report the kidnapping. Because most of the movie is about the road trip, a lot of screen time in “Ezra” is about Max revisiting friends from his past, because he needs safe places to stay to hide out from the law. Two of these friends are a former comedian named Nick (played by Rainn Wilson) and a former schoolmate named Grace (played by Vera Farmiga), who knows Max from when they went to the same high school.

“Ezra” has moments of messy melodrama that are kind of eye-rolling in how fake these moments look. But then, the movie also has quieter moments that are engaging and more authentic. The scenes where Max visits past friends stand out as among the strongest parts of the movie. Cannavale and Byrne also have realistic chemistry as parents who know each other very well. (Cannavale and Byrne are a couple and parents in real life.)

Ezra has the type of autism where he doesn’t like to be hugged. And so, there are some poignant scenes where Max and Jenna try to hug Ezra, and he recoils as if he’s in pain. He sometimes shouts at someone to not touch him, or he will coldly tell someone who wants to hug him, “You can go now.” These scenes show the heart-wrenching emotions parents must feel when they know showing affection to their child, such as giving a hug to their child, can make the child feel very uncomfortable or unsafe. Jenna can usually calm Ezra down by rubbing his ear while he rubs her ear.

Ezra is also afraid of using eating utensils that aren’t plastic. Max tries to get Ezra to change this way of thinking in a scene that’s a little hard to watch because of how Max loses his patience with Ezra. Max often fails to understand that he can’t force Ezra to have the same type of childhood learning process that Max had when Max was a kid.

Max doesn’t want Ezra to be coddled, but Max frequently loses sight of what’s in the best interest of Ezra. Nowhere is this more evident than in scenes where Max repeatedly describes Ezra as Max’s “mojo” good luck charm. A child should not be described as being a good luck object. A child’s worth should not defined by a parent forcing the child to have the responsibility of making a parent happy. Max uses this excuse as the reason why Ezra needs to go on this road trip with Max to “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

Cannavale (who’s doing yet another role as a brash, fast-talking character) carries the movie with a certain amount of intensity but doesn’t go overboard into implausibility for his Max character, even though some of the situations are written and directed in an over-the-top way. (The movie’s mid-credits scene is ridiculous and out-of-place.) Max isn’t a bad person, but he can be very irritating, and his violent actions should not be excused.

Fitzgerald, De Niro and Byrne do fine jobs with their roles and are convincing as family members who are frequently at odds with each other. But this “Ezra” movie is really Max’s show, and everyone else is just living in it. How much viewers will enjoy this movie will depend how much they think what Max does is worth forgiving and how much they think he’ll learn from his terrible mistakes.

Bleecker Street will release “Ezra” in U.S. cinemas on May 31, 2024. A sneak preview of the movie was held in U.S. cinemas on May 20, 2024.

Review: ‘Killers of the Flower Moon,’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone

October 19, 2023

by Carla Hay

Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio in “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Photo courtesy of Apple Studios/Paramount Pictures)

“Killers of the Flower Moon”

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Some language in Dhegiha Siouan with no subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in Oklahoma, from 1919 to 1926, the dramatic film “Killers of the Flower Moon” (based on the non-fiction book of the same name) features a white and Native American cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: World War I veteran Ernest Burkhart gets caught up in murders of members of the Osage Nation, including family members of his Osage Nation wife, who are being killed to gain possession of land that is rich in petroleum oil.

Culture Audience: “Killers of the Flower Moon” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of filmmaker Martin Scorsese, the star headliners and history-based movies with a top-notch principal cast.

Robert De Niro and Jesse Plemons in “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Photo courtesy of Apple Studios/Paramount Pictures)

Epic in scope and tragic in tone, “Killers of the Flower Moon” is an impactful drama that tells the true story of a shameful part of American history when racism and greed caused the murders of Osage Nation people. The movie is very long but worth seeing. At 206 minutes (nearly three-and-a-half hours), “Killers of the Flower Moon” has moments when the pacing tends to drag. However, the movie is impressive in almost every other way.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese directed “Killers of the Flower Moon” from a screenplay that he co-wrote with Eric Roth. The screenplay was adapted from David Grann’s 2017 non-fiction book “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI.” “Killers of the Flower Moon” had its world premiere at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” (which takes place in Oklahoma from 1919 to 1926) is fairly straightforward in showing what it’s about early on the story. World War I veteran Ernest Burkhart (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) arrives in the city of Fairfax, Oklahoma, to start a new chapter in his life. Ernest was wounded in the war, so his job opportunities are limited.

Ernest begins working for his cattle-farming uncle William “Bill” Hale, also known as King Hale, who is one of the most powerful and corrupt people in the city. Bill, who is also Farifax’s deputy sheriff, has a fake persona of being an upstanding and lawful citizen. Fairfax and the surrounding cities have a lot of petroleum-rich land that is owned by the Osage Nation tribe of Native Americans/indigenous people, who have a complicated and often uneasy co-existence with the white people who live in the same cities.

Soon after bachelor Ernest arrives in Fairfax, Bill asks him what kind of women appeal to Ernest. Ernest says he likes all types of women and is open to romancing women of Native American heritage. Bill tells Ernest that it would be to Ernest’s financial advantage if he marries and has children with an Osage Nation woman, in order for Ernest to get control of some of the Osage Nation land that can make the owners wealthy from the petroleum oil mined from the land.

There’s a very sinister aspect to this inheritance-by-marriage scheme: Osage Nation people in the area have been dying in alarming numbers in the region. Many of these deaths look like accidents or suicides but are actually murders. This period of time was called the Reign of Terror.

The local law enforcement controlled by white people are doing little to nothing to investigate these deaths and hinder any investigations from Osage Nation officers. It isn’t long before Ernest gets involved in these murders. None of this is spoiler information, since “Killers of the Flower Moon” is a history-based drama.

At Bill’s urging, Ernest begins courting an Osage Nation woman named Mollie Kyle (played by Lily Gladstone), who has hired Ernest to be her driver. Mollie is the movie’s frequent voiceover narrator. Ernest and Mollie have a mild flirtation that quickly grows into mutual sexual attraction. Mollie genuinely falls in love with Ernest. Meanwhile, Ernest seems to have romantic feelings for Mollie, but he’s more in love with what he can get out of this marriage. After a quick courtship, Mollie and Ernest get married and they have children together.

At the time that Mollie and Ernest get married (she changes her last name to Burkhart), her family consists mostly of women. Mollie’s widowed mother Lizzie Q (played by Tantoo Cardinal) suspects that white people are murdering Osage Nation people, so she doesn’t trust white people, and she disapproves of Mollie’s marriage to Ernest. Mollie’s sister Reta (played by Janae Collins) is married to a white man named Bill Smith (played Jason Isbell), who was previously married to Mollie’s other sister Minnie (played by Jillian Dion), who died of a “wasting illness.” Mollie has another sister named Anna (played by Cara Jade Myers), who is feisty and who likes to party.

Other people who are connected in some way to the murders and/or the investigations include Federal Bureau of Investigation official Tom White (played by Jesse Plemons); Osage Nation Chief Bonnicastle (played by Yancey Red Corn); and a lowlife thug named Kelsie Morris (played by Louis Cancelmi), who works closely with Bill. Other supporting actors in the movie include John Lithgow as Prosecutor Peter Leaward and Brendan Fraser as defense attorney W.S. Hamilton. Fraser’s over-the-top performance verges on being campy and doesn’t quite fit the more grounded and somber tone of the movie.

A valid criticism of “Killers of the Flower Moon” is it that the Osage Nation people in the movie aren’t the center of the story and should have been given more screen time and better character development. Except for Mollie and her Osage Nation family members, Osage Nation people are primarily depicted in the movie has having vague or non-existent personalities. Without Mollie and her family, “Killers of the Flower Moon” would be a largely soulless portrayal of hate crimes and racial injustice.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” accurately shows that the wealthy Osage Nation people couldn’t get access to their money without getting permission from the white government officials (in this case, all white men) who controlled the Osage Nation’s finances. Ironically, similar dynamics exist in the film industry, in terms of who usually gets to tell stories about Native American people in big-budget movies. (Not much has changed since the Oscar-winning blockbuster success of 1990’s “Dances With Wolves.”) It’s unlikely that Native American filmmakers—no matter how talented or experienced—would have been given the same privileges or budget to tell this story as the all-white team of producers, screenwriters and director who made “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

One of the more fascinating aspects of “Killers of the Flower Moon” is how the personalities of Ernest and Mollie change during the period of time when this story takes place. At first, Ernest appears to be somewhat of an easily led buffoon who doesn’t seem to know much about life. Over time, Ernest shows that he’s much more manipulative and cunning than he first appears to be. He’s the type of schemer whose loyalties to anyone except himself are very murky, questionable, and can quickly shift to suit his own agenda.

Mollie starts off being confident and outspoken, with more power in the relationship. After all, she was Ernest’s boss when they began their courtship. However, as time goes on, after Mollie and Ernest are married, she becomes worn down and insecure by tragedy and illness. (Mollie, who has diabetes, is being slowly poisoned by tainted insulin without her knowledge.) Mollie’s unconditional love for Ernest also blinds her to the dark side of his personality, so she becomes too trusting of what he’s saying and doing.

The movie tries to push a narrative that Ernest is a loving father and husband who’s conflicted about his ulterior motives. However, during the latter half of the film, there’s no doubt about what type of husband Ernest is, because of his knowledge about why Mollie is slowly dying. Ernest is also not shown having a close bond with his and Mollie’s children (Elizabeth, Cowboy, and Anna), who are all under the age of 7, and are mostly background characters.

Vanessa Rose Pham has the role of Elizabeth as a baby. Kinsleigh McNac has the role of Elizabeth at ages 2 and 3. Elizabeth Waller has the role of Elizabeth at ages 3 to 5 years old. Alexis Waller has the role of Elizabeth at ages 5 and 6. Roanin Davis has the role of Cowboy as a baby. Bravery Lane Nowlin has the role of Cowboy at ages 2 and 3. Mamie Cozad has the role of Anna as a baby. Lux Britni Malaske has the role of Anna at 2 years old.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is not a murder mystery, because it’s revealed very early on in the story who are the main perpetrators of these crimes. The movie is more of a chronicle of systemic racism and how it leads to incalculable damage that goes beyond city borders. The story is told through the lens of the relationship between Mollie and Ernest as a way for viewers to see how one particular family was affected by evil disguised as entitlement.

On a technical level, “Killers of the Flower Moon” is nearly flawless, when it comes to cinematography, production design, costume design and musical score. (Robbie Robertson, the composer for “Killers of the Flower Moon,” passed away in August 2023.) “Killers of the Flower Moon” succeeds in immersing viewers into this particular community where “truth” and “justice” can be warped and have different meanings to people.

People who watch “Killers of the Flower Moon” can expect the usual excellence from the principal cast members, although there’s a lot of familiarity to DiCaprio and De Niro portraying dishonorable characters in Scorsese movies, as they have done so many times already. Gladstone has the breakout performance in “Killers of the Flower Moon,” since her depiction of Mollie is absolutely superb. Although the Reign of Terror involved many people in several regions, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” along with Gladstone’s performance, shows with disturbing clarity the horror of a duplicitous serial killer as a trusted member of one’s own household.

Apple Studios and Paramount Pictures will release “Killers of the Flower Moon” in U.S. cinemas on October 20, 2023.

Review: ‘About My Father’ (2023), starring Sebastian Maniscalco, Robert De Niro, Leslie Bibb, Anders Holm, David Rasche and Kim Cattrall

May 26, 2023

by Carla Hay

Sebastian Maniscalco and Robert De Niro in “About My Father” (Photo by Dan Anderson/Lionsgate)

“About My Father” (2023)

Directed by Laura Terruso

Some language in Italian with no subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in Illinois and in Virginia, the comedy film “About My Father” features a nearly all-white cast of characters (with a few Latinos and black people) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: An Italian American hotel manager in Chicago travels with artist girlfriend and his hair stylist father to Virginia, to meet the girlfriend’s Anglo Saxon wealthy family, and various uncomfortable situations occur because of different ethnic identities and socioeconomic classes. 

Culture Audience: “About My Father” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the movie’s headliners and predictably subpar comedies about tension-filled family gatherings.

Kim Cattrall, Leslie Bibb and David Rasche in “About My Father” (Photo by Dan Anderson/Lionsgate)

“About My Father” is just a mishmash of scenes that look like stale leftovers from a second-rate sitcom. Robert De Niro is doing another “grumpy old man” character that he keeps doing in awful comedies that fail to match the quality of “Meet the Parents.” De Niro has not made a really good comedy film since 2000’s “Meet the Parents,” in which he co-starred as a stern potential father-in-law to a neurotic male nurse (played by Ben Stiller), who meets this patriarch and other would-be in-laws for the first time during a family gathering.

It’s perhaps no coincidence that “About My Father” (directed by Laura Terruso) is a weak imitation of “Meet the Parents,” but with no real charm and with characters that mostly look very phony. “About My Father” has so many of same plot points and gags as “Meet the Parents,” the screenwriters of “About My Father” should be ashamed to call the screenplay “original.” Sebastian Maniscalco (who stars as the nervous bachelor in “About My Father”) and Austen Earl co-wrote the shallow and derivative “About My Father” screenplay. “About My Father” has such a lack of imagination, Maniscalco portrays a character who has the same name as he does.

Just like in “Meet the Parents,” the plot of “About My Father” is about an insecure American man in Chicago who meets the conservative, wealthier parents of his blonde, thin and pretty girlfriend at the parents’ family home. In “Meet the Parents,” the bachelor is Jewish and works as a nurse. In “About My Father,” the bachelor is of Italian heritage and works as an average-level hotel manager. Both movies use various ethnic and socioeconomic stereotypes as fuel for the comedy. The bachelor goes back and forth between being embarrassed and being proudly defensive about coming from a working-class family. He tries very hard to impress his more sophisticated potential in-laws.

The anxious bachelor hopes to get the parents’ approval because he wants to propose marriage to his girlfriend. Several wacky incidents then ensue involving the family playing competitive games with each other; pet animals that are liked or disliked by people at this gathering; and physical mishaps that cause tension and embarrassment. “Meet the Parents” and “About My Father” both have the girlfriend’s annoying siblings make the bachelor uncomfortable.

In “About My Father,” you can do a countdown to a lot of the predictable comedy clichés that have been in dozens of other movies. There’s even a “race against time” scene of someone trying catch up to someone else who’s about to leave on an airplane. The main plot difference between the two movies is that in “About My Father,” the bachelor brings his father along for this family visit. As expected in a formulaic comedy such as “About My Father,” this dad is an outspoken loose cannon who will clash with the pretentious and snobby family who’s hosting this gathering.

“About My Father” has somewhat irritating voiceover narration from the character of Sebastian throughout the movie. In the beginning of the film, Sebastian says that his family is originally from the Italian region of Sicily and has a very strong work ethic. His father Salvo (played by De Niro) immigrated from Sicily and comes from “a long line of Sicilian hairstylists.” Even though Salvo is well past retirement age, he still works in his own hair salon, where his customers (at least those shown in the movie) are middle-aged women who laugh at his unfunny jokes.

Sebastian (who has no siblings) is a first-generation Italian American. Sebastian’s mother is talked about but never shown in any flashbacks. Near the beginning of the movie, it’s mentioned that Sebastian’s mother has been dead for about a year. Sebastian and Salvo have had a very close father-son relationship since Sebastian was a child. And now that Salvo is a widower, Sebastian feels obligated to stay close to his lonely father. Salvo and Sebastian live together.

Salvo and Sebastian’s relationship is a weird mix of co-dependent and macho. On the one hand, Salvo acts like Sebastian is being a disloyal son for having a life outside of being Salvo’s closest friend. (And to be clear: Salvo really has no other friends.) On the other hand, Salvo believes that certain things make men look like “sissies” and “wimps,” such as crying, or father and sons hugging each other.

Sebastian and Salvo have a ritual of spraying cologne on themselves before they go to sleep. It’s supposed to be one of the funny “gags” in the movie, but it just falls flat. Sebastian says in a voiceover: “At bedtime, our room smelled like an Uber [car] in Las Vegas.” Get used to this type of dreadful joke in “About My Father,” because the movie is full of these unfunny comments.

Sebastian is in a loving relationship with his cheerful and perky girlfriend Eleanor “Ellie” Collins (played by Leslie Bibb), who comes from a wealthy family in Virginia. Ellie’s ancestors were among the English settlers who came over to the future United States on the historic Mayflower voyage of 1620. Ellie is an artist whose specialty is in painting abstract art. An early scene in “About My Father” shows Ellie and Sebastian at a gallery exhibit for Ellie’s art. Sebastian and Ellie joke that one of her paintings looks like it could be a vagina, except when the painting is turned horizontally. That’s what’s supposed to pass as “comedy” in this lackluster film.

In the voiceover narration, Sebastian describes Ellie as his “complete opposite” and his “dream woman.” Sebastian also mentions that Ellie introduced him to things such as sunlight coming into bedroom windows, daytime naps, avocado facials and smiling. There’s even a montage in the movie showing Sebastian grimacing, as he “trains” himself to smile more. Viewers will be grimacing for different reasons, as this movie strains to come up with funny lines of dialogue.

Ellie invites Sebastian to meet her family in Virginia, for a Fourth of July holiday weekend. (“About My Father” was actually filmed in Louisiana and Alabama.) Sebastian think this visit is a great idea, until Salvo starts whining about how the trip would mean that Salvo will be left home alone. Salvo also doesn’t think that Sebastian will fit in well with Ellie’s family. Sebastian tells Ellie he won’t go on the trip because he doesn’t want to leave Salvo at home alone, but then Ellie says that Salvo is invited too.

However, Sebastian doesn’t want Salvo to meet Ellie’s family, because Sebastian is sure that Salvo will be a complete embarrassment. Sebastian wants to propose to Ellie with the engagement ring that was owned by Salvo’s deceased mother. Salvo won’t give Sebastian this ring unless Salvo meets and approves of Ellie’s family.

After much hemming and hawing back and forth, Salvo ends up going on the trip with Sebastian and Ellie to the Collins family estate. They take a private plane to a private air strip, where they are greeted by Ellie’s spoiled, obnoxious and hard-partying older brother Williams Collins XIII (played by Anders Holm), whose nickname is Lucky. Sebastian, Salvo and Ellie then go in a helicopter piloted by Lucky to the vast summer home owned by the Collins family. Predictably, one of the helicopter passengers (Sebastian) gets airsick.

At the Collins family estate, Salvo and Sebastian meet Ellie’s parents and younger brother. Ellie’s father William Collins XII (played by David Rasche), whose nickname is Bill, is a luxury hotel mogul in charge of the family’s Collins Hotel Group empire. Bill is friendly in an elitist way. He loves to name drop and brag about high-priced items that he’s bought, while trying (and failing) to look humble.

Ellie’s mother Tigger Collins (played by Kim Cattrall) is a hard-driving and prickly U.S. senator who is used to getting her way. Ellie has warned Sebastian that Tigger will be much harder to please than Bill. Tigger is essentially the type of character that De Niro played in “Meet the Parents”: a domineering authority figure who intimidates the visitors.

Ellie’s younger brother Doug (played by Brett Dier) is the family’s spaced-out weirdo, who walks around dressed like a hippie cult member. Doug rambles about things that he thinks are “enlightening,” such as chakras, cleansing the energy in a room, and how a certain organic food affects his bowel movements. Doug’s family members treat him like a harmless eccentric.

Lucky works in the family’s hotel business. Doug doesn’t seem to work at all. Out of all three siblings, Ellie is clearly the favorite child of their parents, who treat Ellie like a pampered princess. When she’s around her parents, Ellie seems to revert back to acting like a teenager, which should be a “red flag” warning sign for someone who’s in a romance with her. However, immature Sebastian has got enough family issues of his own, and he gets very caught up in trying to impress Ellie’s parents.

The Collins family has peacocks that Ellie says are the family mascots. These peacocks walk around the property wherever they want, mostly outside. Salvo dislikes peacocks and says that they are bad luck. You know where this is going, of course. In “Meet the Parents,” the family pet that caused conflicts was a cat, which was adored by the patriarch but disliked by the visiting bachelor.

“About My Father” has mostly unremarkable acting by cast members trying very hard to be funny when saying cringeworthy lines and depicting even more cringeworthy scenarios. Cattrall fares the best in some of the slapstick comedy, while De Niro is just going through the motions in rehashing the same persona he does in nearly all of his comedies since “Meet the Parents.”

Maniscalco became famous as a stand-up comedian, but he can’t carry this comedy film with the leading-man qualities required for this role. His smirking Sebastian character is both hollow and dull, reduced to nothing but idiotic quips and hammy facial expressions. The direction and writing for “About My Father” look very outdated, like a 1990s movie that was made for a third-tier cable TV network.

“About My Father” might elicit a few chuckles from viewers. A scene that shows a brief flash of mildly amusing banter is when Sebastian and Salvo privately rant to each other about how pompous Tigger and Bill are about their wealth. But watching this disappointing movie dud is like being stuck in a room full of comedians using other people’s well-known and tired jokes, while the comedians try desperately to convince the audience that what they’re watching is fresh and original.

Lionsgate released “About My Father” in U.S. cinemas on May 26, 2023.

Review: ‘Amsterdam’ (2022), starring Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Rami Malek, Anya Taylor-Joy, Robert De Niro and Andrea Riseborough

October 7, 2022

by Carla Hay

Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Mike Myers and Michael Shannon in “Amsterdam” (Photo by Merie Weismiller Wallace/20th Century Studios)

“Amsterdam” (2022)

Directed by David O. Russell

Some language in French with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place primarily in New York City and Amsterdam, from 1918 to 1933, the dramatic film “Amsterdam” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with some African Americans) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A medical doctor, his attorney best friend, and the attorney’s girlfriend get caught up in a murdery mystery involving wealthy and powerful people. 

Culture Audience: “Amsterdam” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the stars of the movie, which doesn’t offer much that’s compelling except for its star power.

Pictured clockwise, from left: Anya Taylor-Joy, Rami Malek, Christian Bale, Robert De Niro and Margot Robbie  in “Amsterdam” (Photo by Merie Weismiller Wallace/20th Century Studios)

The frequently boring and muddled “Amsterdam” has many big-name stars, but this misguided drama just adds up to a lot of posturing and hot air. The filmmakers cared more about wrangling celebrities into the cast than crafting a story worthy of this talent. “Amsterdam” is a huge misfire from writer/director David O. Russell, who seems so enamored with the star power in the movie, he let the acting and tone of “Amsterdam” become scattershot and uneven.

“Amsterdam” veers in and out between voiceover narration of three characters: medical doctor Burt Berendsen (played by Christian Bale), his attorney best friend Harold Woodman (played by John David Washington), and Harold’s girlfriend Valerie Voze (played by Margot Robbie). Burt gets the most voiceover narration and is presented in the movie as the lead protagonist. The story, which takes place primarily in New York City and Amsterdam, jumps around in the timeline from 1918 to 1933, with several flashbacks within this time period.

As shown in a flashback, Burt (who has questionable medical ethics) and Harold (who is more sincere and staightforward), who are both from New York City, met each other in Europe in 1918, when they were soldiers in World War I. When they were both wounded in the war in France, they ended up in the care of Valerie, who pretended to be a French nurse named Valerie Vandenberg while living in France. It turns out (which was already revealed in the “Amsterdam” trailer), Valerie is really an American heiress who was estranged from her family and trying to start over with a new life in Europe.

While Burt and Harold healed from their wounds, the three of them went to Amsterdam, became close, and made a loyalty pact with each other. Harold and Valerie fell in love, while Burt remained ambivalent about his crumbling and unhappy marriage to heiress Beatrice Vandenheuvel (played by Andrea Riseborough), who pressured a reluctant Burt to enlist in the military so that he could become a war hero who would get medals of honor. The tight-knit trio of Burt, Harold and Valerie unraveled when Valerie suddenly left of her own choice and didn’t tell Harold and Burt where she was going.

Burt and Harold eventually returned to New York City, where they have been helping each other out by referring clients and patients to each other. The movie opens in 1933, when Burt is asked by heiress Liz Meekins (played by Taylor Swift) to do an autopsy of her father, General Bill Meekins (played by Ed Begley Jr.), who passed away unexpectedly. Liz believes that her father did not die of natural causes. The autopsy reveals that her father could have been poisoned. (Squeamish viewers be warned: The autopsy scene is very graphic.)

But before toxicology test results can be processed, Liz tells Burt and Harold that she wants to call off the investigation. While Liz, Harold and Burt are speaking outside on a street, a shady character named Taron Milfax (played by Timothy Olyphant) pushes Liz in front of a car in motion. She is run over by the car and killed instantly. Police are nearby, and Taron immediately says that Burt and Harold killed Liz by pushing her in front of the car.

Burt and Harold vehemently deny it, and then run away when it looks like the police don’t believe them. Burt and Harold become the prime suspects in the murder and do their own investigation to clear their names. During the course of this investigation, Burt and Harold find out that Valerie is really an American heiress who has been living in nearby New Jersey for several years. Valerie lives with her oddball brother Tom Voze (played by Rami Malek) and Tom’s domineering wife Libby Voze (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), who tries to control the lives of Valerie and Tom.

Harold, who was heartbroken over Valerie’s sudden departure from his life, eventually forgives her, and they resume their love affair. Burt’s love life isn’t going so well, since Burt’s wife Beatrice has asked him to move out of their apartment. Beatrice tells Burt that she’s unhappy in the marriage because he used to be “beautiful,” but his war scars (including his injured back) have made him “hideous,” and he’s an overall disappointment to her. Harold, Valerie and Burt eventually cross paths with General Gil Dillenbeck (played by Robert De Niro), “the most decorated military general in U.S. history,” who has power, influential connections and political aspirations.

“Amsterdam” is packed with a lot of undeveloped characters who don’t do much except show that the “Amsterdam” filmmakers could get well-known actors to play the roles of these characters. Chris Rock has the role of Milton King, a wisecracking former war buddy of Burt and Harold. Milton, who currently works for Harold, is supposed to be hilarious, but he’s not. Milton’s not-funny-at-all remarks include his obnoxiously racist comments about white people. Alessandro Nivola is Detective Hiltz, and Matthias Schoenaerts is Detective Lem Getweiler, the two generic police characters who are leading the Meekins murder investigation.

Zoe Saldaña has the role of Irma St. Clair, Burt’s strong-willed autopsy nurse, whose feelings for Burt might go beyond a work relationship. And, of course, any movie that involves war and international intrigue has to predictably have spies. In “Amsterdam,” they are Paul Canterbury (played by Michael Shannon) and Henry Norcross (played by Mike Myers), whose spy identities are shown as captions immediately when these characters are first seen on screen.

“Amsterdam” is made with the tone that audiences should automatically be impressed by all the celebrities who are in the cast. Unfortunately, “Amsterdam” has so much awful dialogue and messy plot developments, all that star power is wasted in a substandard movie. Bale, Washington and Robbie seem to be doing their best as the three central characters, but this three-way friendship looks awkward and fake on screen. Awkward and fake is how to describe “Amsterdam” overall—an example of how star power in front of the camera can’t save a bad movie.

20th Century Studios released “Amsterdam” in U.S. cinemas on October 7, 2022.

Review: ‘The War With Grandpa,’ starring Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman, Rob Riggle, Oakes Fegley, Laura Marano, Cheech Marin, Jane Seymour and Christopher Walken

October 10, 2020

by Carla Hay

Robert De Niro and Oakes Fegley in “The War With Grandpa” (Photo courtesy of 101 Studios)

“The War With Grandpa”

Directed by Tim Hill

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed U.S. city, the comedy film “The War With Grandpa” has a predominantly white cast of characters (with some Latinos and African Americans) representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: A sixth-grade boy declares war on his grandfather, because the grandfather has moved into the family home and has been given the boy’s room, while the boy has been forced to live in the attic.

Culture Audience: “The War With Grandpa” will appeal primarily to people who like silly family comedies that have a lot of predictable slapstick gags.

Cheech Marin, Robert De Niro, Jane Seymour and Christopher Walken in “The War With Grandpa” (Photo courtesy of 101 Studios)

Robert De Niro is an Oscar-winning actor who has influenced countless of other actors and worked with many of the best and most talented people in the movie business. His work with director Martin Scorsese has been highly lauded and always anticipated. But when it comes to the types of comedy films that De Niro makes, for whatever reason, he usually chooses bottom-of-the-barrel dreck. “The War With Grandpa” is one in a long list of De Niro comedy films that are downright demeaning for an actor of his talent.

De Niro hasn’t really made a good comedy film since 2000’s “Meet the Parents.” And the types of characters he’s been playing in comedies fit the same mind-numbing cliché: He’s a grumpy retiree (usually a widower) who annoys someone younger. And the movie almost always revolves around this flimsy “generation gap” premise that is poorly executed in the movie.

Such is the moldy concept presented in “The War With Grandpa,” directed by Tim Hill as if it’s a cheesy made-for-TV movie. Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember wrote “The War With Grandpa’s” awful screenplay, which is adapted from the Robert Kimmel Smith novel of the same name. The quality of this movie is so low that unknown actors could’ve played the roles and it wouldn’t have made a difference in the cheap and mostly unfunny gags and jokes in the movie.

The essential story is that De Niro plays a widower named Ed Marino, whose daughter Sally Decker (played by Uma Thurman) is worried about him being depressed and living alone. Ed is a two-hour drive away, so Sally insists that he move in with her and her family. Ed is given the bedroom of Sally’s only son Peter (played by Oakes Fegley), who is forced to live in the house’s run-down and leaky attic. Peter hates being displaced from the comfort of his bedroom, so he declares “war” on his grandfather.

Sally works at a car dealership. Her husband Arthur Decker (whom Ed likes to call Artie) works in a corporate desk job that Ed calls “soul-sucking.” Ed, who is a retired construction worker who built homes, doesn’t respect Arthur, who was an aspiring architect, but Arthur abandoned those dreams to work in a boring office job.

Sally and Arthur’s three children are Mia (played by Laura Marano), who’s about 16 years old; Peter, who’s about 11 years old; and Jennifer, or Jenny (played by Poppy Gagnon), who’s about 6 years old. Mia is a typical sarcastic teenager, while Jenny is a typical cute kid who’s the “innocent and sweet” child in the family. Peter is a typical middle child who often feels ignored and underappreciated.

Mia is at an age where she wants more independence, but Sally is paranoid about Mia’s dating activities and won’t allow Mia to be alone in the house with any teenage boys. Mia and a fellow student named Russell (played by Colin Ford) have some romantic sparks between them and they inevitably begin dating. Sally can’t even stand the thought of Mia kissing a boyfriend, which leads to an over-the-top scene later in the movie when Sally goes on a rampage and attacks Russell.

Peter begins sixth grade at around the same time that his grandfather Ed has moved into the family home and gets Peter’s bedroom. Peter complains about it to his three closest friends, who are all in the same class with him at school: anxious Steve (played by Isaac Kragten), wisecracking Billy (played by Juliocesar Chavez) and practical Emma (played by T.J. McGibbon).

In yet another cliché in movies like this, Peter is the target of a school bully (played by Drew Scheid), an older student who does things like dump chili in Peter’s backpack while Peter and his friends are seated at a table in the school cafeteria. The movie also has a running joke that Steve’s older teenage sister Lisa (played by Lydia Styslinger) frequently interrupts the friends’ conversation to mention something embarrassing about Steve, which he usually denies.

Among the problems that Peter encounters by living in the attic are a leaky roof that drips water onto one side of his bed; a mouse that chews an electrical cord, causing interruptions in the attic’s electricity; and a bat that randomly appears out of nowhere, which causes Peter to get so scared that he accidentally bumps his head on a ceiling beam. Instead of telling his parents so they could handle these problems (for starters, they could get a mousetrap), Peter blames his discomfort on his grandfather. Ed didn’t really want to live in the home in the first place, but he only agreed to live there to please his daughter Sally.

One night, Ed finds a note slipped underneath his door. The note is titled “Declaration of War,” with a demand that Ed has 24 hours to “give me back what’s mine.” The note is anonymously signed with the alias Secret Warrior, but of course Ed knows exactly who wrote this hostile missive. Ed is slightly amused and ignores the note.

After the 24 hours have passed and Ed hasn’t given up his place in Peter’s former bedroom, the war is on. After midnight, Peter sends another note, this time, by a remote-controlled noisy toy car, which wakes up Ed. The note reads, “People who steal each other’s rooms should not sleep well.”

The next morning, Ed has a heart-to-heart talk with Peter and tells him, “I’m not your enemy.” Peter remains unmoved, so Ed tells him that if they’re going to war with each other, they have to establish rules of engagement. Ed and Peter agree to two rules: (1) They won’t do anything that would involve other family members during the “war” and (2) They won’t tell anyone else in the family about the “war” while it’s still going on. Easier said than done.

What follows is a series of slapstick scenes that are mostly juvenile and unimaginative. Ed, wearing nothing but a towel in the bathroom, finds out that the shaving cream on his face is really foam sealant that was placed in the shaving can by you-know-who. Ed makes a ruckus that alarms Arthur, who goes in the bathroom to see what’s going on.

Arthur’s sudden presence startles Ed, who accidentally drops his towel in front of a mortified Arthur, who screams at the sight of his naked father-in-law. It won’t be the last time that Arthur sees Ed’s naked genitals and has the same high-pitched screaming reaction. (This is a family movie, so there’s no nudity.)

There are also numerous scenes showing Ed (in other words, De Niro’s obvious stunt double) falling down hard from tripping or losing his grip somewhere, because this movie wants people to think that it’s supposed to be funny that old people fall down in a way that could break bones or cause head injuries. Ed has a sentimental collection of marbles that he keeps in a jar. You can easily predict what happens and who’s responsible.

Ed’s pranks on Peter aren’t as harsh. At school, Peter is asked to read an essay out loud to his class about what he did for his summer vacation. As Peter starts to read the essay, he finds out that it’s been replaced with an essay that he didn’t write, which says things like, “I stopped showering until I smelled like a monkey’s butt” and “I sealed my own farts in a baggie.”

Ed decides to spy on Peter, so he buys surveillance equipment at a Best Buy type of store, where he has problems using the self-checkout machine. A store clerk named Diane (played by Jane Seymour) offers to help him use the machine. They make small talk, she asks why he’s purchasing a lot of spying equipment, and Ed tells Diane about the “war” that he’s having with his grandson Peter. Diane is sympathetic, because she says that she has a granddaughter who drives her crazy. It’s easy to see that Diane will eventually become Ed’s love interest in the movie.

Peter also does things like put hot pepper in coffee that’s intended for Ed, but Peter’s mother Sally ends up drinking the coffee instead while she’s in her car and stopped at a street intersection. She spits out the coffee, and the cup with the remaining coffee goes flying out the car window onto a cop on a motorcycle that’s right next to her car. Things escalate to a point where Peter pays Billy to borrow Billy’s pet snake, but there’s a mishap where the snake doesn’t go where it was intended. (Hint: The gag with the motorcycle cop is used more than once in the movie.)

There’s another slapstick scene where Ed is attending the funeral of a close friend, and his phone starts ringing loudly while he’s standing next to the open casket. Of course, it’s Peter who’s calling. When Ed gets the phone to turn it off, he accidentally drops the phone on top of the body and makes things worse when he tries to retrieve it. The phone slides further down the corpse in an area where Ed definitely doesn’t want to touch. Because this is a dumb movie, it’s never explained how Peter could know the exact moment to call to engineer this humiliating funeral mishap.

Ed has two close friends whom he eventually recruits to help him get revenge on Peter. Jerry (played by Christopher Walken, another Oscar winner who’s slumming it in this movie) is like a teenager in a senior citizen’s body, because he lives in a loft that’s decked out with games like pinball machines and foosball and the latest technology. Danny (played by Cheech Marin) sees himself as a ladies’ man and he flirts with younger women as much as he can.

When Ed and Peter decide to face off in a game of dodgeball with their respective friends, Ed enlists the help of store clerk Diane to join his team. Ed, Jerry, Danny and Diane then compete against Peter, Steve, Billy and Emma in a fairly long dodgeball scene that once again uses male genitals as fodder for a joke, when Steve gets brutally hit in his genitals by a dodgeball during the game. It’s a predictable gag that doesn’t work as well as the gag of Danny’s dentures flying out of his mouth during the game.

All of these gags and slapstick humor would work better if the movie’s dialogue and acting had some level of unique spark or creativity. But almost everything in “The War With Grandpa” is tiresome and formulaic. The experienced actors in the movie look like they only did this film for the money. Fegley does his best to be funny, but his Peter character (who turns into quite the annoying brat) is written in such a generic way (there are similar annoying brats in too many other movies) that “The War With Grandpa” will not be a breakout role for him.

The “war” culminates at a big Christmas-themed birthday party for youngest child Jennifer. It goes as badly as one would expect, with a lot of over-the-top and unrealistic antics and mishaps. “The War With Grandpa” isn’t the worst comedy ever, but it’s another unnecessary embarrassment that’s tainted De Niro’s illustrious career. The man who starred in the classic 1982 film “The King of Comedy” has now become the king of bad senior-citizen comedy.

101 Studios released “The War With Grandpa” in U.S. cinemas on October 9, 2020.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EohVvIWg-Oc

2020 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Robert De Niro to receive Life Achievement Award

November 12, 2019

Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

The following is a press release from the Screen Actors Guild:

Robert De Niro – Academy Award®-winning actor, producer and director – has been named the 56th recipient of SAG-AFTRA’s highest tribute: the SAG Life Achievement Award for career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment. De Niro will be presented the performers union’s top accolade at the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, which will be simulcast live on TNT and TBS on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020 at 8 p.m. (ET), 7 p.m. (CT), 6 p.m. (MT) and 5 p.m. (PT).

The SAG Life Achievement Award is given annually to an actor who fosters the “finest ideals of the acting profession.” De Niro will add the award to his extraordinary catalog of preeminent industry and public honors, which includes two Academy Awards®, a Golden Globe® Award, the Cecil B. DeMille Award®, a Silver Berlin Bear, a Kennedy Center Honor, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, a GLADD Excellence in Media Award and the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Chaplin Award. He was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Brown University.

“Robert De Niro is an actor of extraordinary depth and ability. The characters he creates captivate our imaginations. From the smoldering inferno of young Vito Corleone to the raging bull Jake Lamotta and everybody’s grandpa Ben Whittaker, he continues to touch our hearts and open our minds to new and exciting worlds of understanding and emotion,” said Gabrielle Carteris, President of SAG-AFTRA. “It is my great privilege to announce that SAG-AFTRA’s highest honor will be presented to one of the most singular talents of our generation, Robert De Niro.”

“I have been a member of this union for over 50 years. It’s an honor to receive this award from SAG-AFTRA,” says De Niro.

A Lasting Impact Through Film

De Niro is the recipient of a SAG Award® for his work as a member of the cast of American Hustle. He received Screen Actors Guild Awards cast nominations for his work in Silver Linings Playbook, for which he also earned an individual nomination, and Marvin’s Room. De Niro is a seven-time Academy Award nominee, a six-time BAFTA nominee and a nine-time Golden Globe nominee. De Niro, who made his directorial debut in 1993 with A Bronx Tale, in which he also starred, can currently be seen in Joker.

De Niro’s breakthrough role was in the 1973 film Mean Streets, where he began the first of nine collaborations with director Martin Scorsese. Other films created out of their special partnership include Goodfellas, Cape Fear, Casino and the recently released Netflix film, The Irishman.

De Niro’s incredible repertoire of films includes his Academy Award®-winning roles in “The Godfather II” and “Raging Bull,” as well as Oscar®-nominated turns for his work in “The Deer Hunter,” “Taxi Driver,” “Awakenings,” “Cape Fear” and “Silver Linings Playbook.” De Niro has proven his versatility with his memorable dramatic roles in “The Untouchables,” “Jackie Brown” and “Backdraft,” and several successful comedies in his career, including “Meet the Parents,” “Meet the Fockers,” “Little Fockers,” “Analyze This” and the dramedy “Midnight Run.”

Accomplishments in Television

De Niro’s career has spanned into television where he has received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination and four Emmy nominations for his work both on- and off-screen. For his performance as disgraced financier Bernie Madoff in the HBO miniseries “The Wizard of Lies,” De Niro received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series, as well as Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. He won a Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film for his portrayal of Madoff.

He also earned Emmy nominations for his work as an executive producer on “The Wizard of Lies” and, again this year, as executive producer alongside Oprah Winfrey, Ava DuVernay, Jonathan King, Jane Rosenthal, Jeff Skoll and Berry Welsh, on the Netflix drama “When They See Us,” based on events surrounding the 1989 Central Park jogger case.

De Niro served as an executive producer for the NBC series “About a Boy,” starring Minnie Driver.

Philanthropist and Activist

New Yorkers know him as one of the driving forces behind the revitalization of downtown Manhattan into a center for the film industry. In 1989, he and Jane Rosenthal founded the Tribeca Film Center, the first commercial space in Tribeca dedicated to housing film, television, and entertainment companies.

After the attacks of 9/11, De Niro and Rosenthal co-founded the Tribeca Film Festival as a way to breathe new life into their neighborhood and spur economic development through the arts. Now welcoming its 19th year, the festival brings hundreds of thousands of visitors downtown each year and is a prominent cultural event not only for New Yorkers, but for the entire film industry. Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal were the 2011 recipients of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Jane Jacobs Medal for Lifetime Leadership.

He is also co-founder and co-chair of the Tribeca Film Institute, which supports the work and stories of underserved filmmakers.

In addition to his entertainment and philanthropic work, De Niro is involved in several capital ventures including part ownership of restaurants Nobu and Tribeca Grill, as well as The Greenwich Hotel in New York City and the Locanda Grill, located inside the hotel.

About the Life Achievement Award

Nominated and voted on by members of the SAG-AFTRA National Honors and Tributes Committee, the Life Achievement Award is bestowed for outstanding achievement in fostering the best ideals of the acting profession. The recipient of this award is a well-established performer who has contributed to improving the image of the acting profession and has a history of active involvement in humanitarian and public service endeavors.

About SAG-AFTRA

SAG-AFTRA represents approximately 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcaster journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other professionals. SAG-AFTRA members are the faces and voices that entertain and inform America and the world. With national offices in Los Angeles and New York and local offices nationwide, SAG-AFTRA members work together to secure the strongest protections for media artists into the 21st century and beyond.

Connect with SAG-AFTRA
Website: http://www.sagaftra.org
Twitter: http://twitter.com/sagaftra/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sagaftra/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/sagaftra
Instagram: http://instagram.com/sagaftra
Newsroom: http://www.sagaftra.org/newsroom

About the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards®

The 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards®, presented by SAG-AFTRA with Screen Actors Guild Awards, LLC will be produced by Avalon Harbor Entertainment, Inc. and Hazy Mills Productions and will be simulcast live on TNT and TBS on Sunday, January 19, 2020, at 8 p.m. (ET) / 5 p.m. (PT). For more information about the SAG Awards®, SAG-AFTRA, TNT and TBS, visit sagawards.org/about.

Connect with the SAG Awards
Hashtag: #sagawards
Website: http://sagawards.org
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sagawardsofficialpage/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/sagawards/
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/sagawards/

About TNT

TNT, a WarnerMedia Entertainment brand, is basic cable’s #1 network in primetime among young adults and is home to some of television’s most popular slate of original series, including The Alienist, Animal Kingdom, Claws, I Am the Night and the upcoming sequel The Alienist: The Angel of Darkness. TNT’s forthcoming, premium unscripted series include Shaq Life and the live, multiplatform event Chasing the Cure.

TNT also presents popular shows such as Bones and Castle; primetime specials and sports coverage, including the NBA and NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championships and the professional wrestling league All Elite Wrestling (AEW).

About WarnerMedia

WarnerMedia is a leading media and entertainment company that creates and distributes premium and popular content from a diverse array of talented storytellers and journalists to global audiences through its consumer brands including: HBO, HBO Now, HBO Max, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS, truTV, CNN, DC, New Line, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies and others. WarnerMedia is part of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T).

2019 New York Film Festival: ‘The Irishman’ is the opening-night film

July 29, 2019

Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro in "The Irishman"
Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro in “The Irishman” (Photo by Niko Tavernise/Netflix)

The following is a press release from the Film at Lincoln Center:

Film at Lincoln Center announces Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” as Opening Night of the 57th New York Film Festival (September 27 – October 13), making its World Premiere at Alice Tully Hall on Friday, September 27, 2019. “The Irishman” will be released in select theaters and on Netflix later this year.

“The Irishman” is a richly textured epic of American crime, a dense, complex story told with astonishing fluidity. Based on Charles Brandt’s nonfiction book “I Heard You Paint Houses,” it is a film about friendship and loyalty between men who commit unspeakable acts and turn on a dime against each other, and the possibility of redemption in a world where it seems as distant as the moon. The roster of talent behind and in front of the camera is astonishing, and at the core of “The Irishman” are four great artists collectively hitting a new peak: Joe Pesci as Pennsylvania mob boss Russell Bufalino, Al Pacino as Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa, and Robert De Niro as their right-hand man, Frank Sheeran, each working in the closest harmony imaginable with the film’s incomparable creator, Martin Scorsese.

“’The Irishman’ is so many things: rich, funny, troubling, entertaining and, like all great movies, absolutely singular,” said New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones. “It’s the work of masters, made with a command of the art of cinema that I’ve seen very rarely in my lifetime, and it plays out at a level of subtlety and human intimacy that truly stunned me. All I can say is that the minute it was over my immediate reaction was that I wanted to watch it all over again.”

“It’s an incredible honor that ‘The Irishman’ has been selected as the Opening Night of the New York Film Festival. I greatly admire the bold and visionary selections that the festival presents to audiences year after year,” said Martin Scorsese. “The festival is critical to bringing awareness to cinema from around the world. I am grateful to have the opportunity to premiere my new picture in New York alongside my wonderful cast and crew.”

Campari is the exclusive spirits partner for the 57th New York Film Festival and the presenting partner of Opening Night, extending its long-standing commitment to the world of film and art.

Presented by Film at Lincoln Center, the 17-day New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema, featuring works from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. The selection committee, chaired by Jones, also includes Dennis Lim, FLC Director of Programming, and Florence Almozini, FLC Associate Director of Programming.

Tickets for the 57th New York Film Festival will go on sale to the general public on September 8. Festival and VIP passes are on sale now and offer one of the earliest opportunities to purchase tickets and secure seats at some of the festival’s biggest events, including Opening Night. Support for Opening Night of the New York Film Festival benefits Film at Lincoln Center in its non-profit mission to support the art and craft of cinema.

New York Film Festival Opening Night Films

2018 The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, Ireland/UK/US)
2017 Last Flag Flying (Richard Linklater, US)
2016    13TH (Ava DuVernay, US)
2015    The Walk (Robert Zemeckis, US)
2014    Gone Girl (David Fincher, US)
2013    Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass, US)
2012    Life of Pi (Ang Lee, US)
2011    Carnage (Roman Polanski, France/Poland)
2010    The Social Network (David Fincher, US)
2009    Wild Grass (Alain Resnais, France)
2008    The Class (Laurent Cantet, France)
2007    The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, US)
2006    The Queen (Stephen Frears, UK)
2005    Good Night, and Good Luck. (George Clooney, US)
2004    Look at Me (Agnès Jaoui, France)
2003    Mystic River (Clint Eastwood, US)
2002    About Schmidt (Alexander Payne, US)
2001    Va savoir (Jacques Rivette, France)
2000    Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier, Denmark)
1999    All About My Mother (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain)
1998    Celebrity (Woody Allen, US)
1997    The Ice Storm (Ang Lee, US)
1996    Secrets & Lies (Mike Leigh, UK)
1995    Shanghai Triad (Zhang Yimou, China)
1994    Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, US)
1993    Short Cuts (Robert Altman, US)
1992    Olivier Olivier (Agnieszka Holland, France)
1991    The Double Life of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieslowski, Poland/France)
1990    Miller’s Crossing (Joel Coen, US)
1989    Too Beautiful for You (Bertrand Blier, France)
1988    Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain)
1987    Dark Eyes (Nikita Mikhalkov, Soviet Union)
1986    Down by Law (Jim Jarmusch, US)
1985    Ran (Akira Kurosawa, Japan)
1984    Country (Richard Pearce, US)
1983    The Big Chill (Lawrence Kasdan, US)
1982    Veronika Voss (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, West Germany)
1981    Chariots of Fire (Hugh Hudson, UK)
1980    Melvin and Howard (Jonathan Demme, US)
1979    Luna (Bernardo Bertolucci, Italy/US)
1978    A Wedding (Robert Altman, US)
1977    One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (Agnès Varda, France)
1976    Small Change (François Truffaut, France)
1975    Conversation Piece (Luchino Visconti, Italy)
1974    Don’t Cry with Your Mouth Full (Pascal Thomas, France)
1973    Day for Night (François Truffaut, France)
1972    Chloe in the Afternoon (Eric Rohmer, France)
1971    The Debut (Gleb Panfilov, Soviet Union)
1970    The Wild Child (François Truffaut, France)
1969    Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (Paul Mazursky, US)
1968    Capricious Summer (Jiri Menzel, Czechoslovakia)
1967    The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, Italy/Algeria)
1966    Loves of a Blonde (Milos Forman, Czechoslovakia)
1965    Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard, France)
1964    Hamlet (Grigori Kozintsev, USSR)
1963    The Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel, Mexico)

 

FILM AT LINCOLN CENTER
Film at Lincoln Center is dedicated to supporting the art and elevating the craft of cinema and enriching film culture.

Film at Lincoln Center fulfills its mission through the programming of festivals, series, retrospectives, and new releases; the publication of Film Comment; the presentation of podcasts, talks, and special events; the creation and implementation of Artist Initiatives; and our Film in Education curriculum and screenings. Since its founding in 1969, this nonprofit organization has brought the celebration of American and international film to the world-renowned arts complex Lincoln Center, making the discussion and appreciation of cinema accessible to a broad audience, and ensuring that it remains an essential art form for years to come.
Support for the New York Film Festival is generously provided by Official Partners HBO, Campari, and The New York Times, Benefactor Partners Netflix, illy caffè, and Dolby, Supporting Partner Warby Parker, and Contributing Partners Hudson New York-an SBE Hotel and IMDbPro. JCDecaux, Variety, Deadline Hollywood, WNET New York Public Media and Shutterstock serve as Media Sponsors. American Airlines is the Official Airline of Film at Lincoln Center.

Film at Lincoln Center receives generous, year-round support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. For more information, visit www.filmlinc.org and follow @filmlinc on Twitter and Instagram.

2019 Tribeca Film Festival: Tribeca Talks add Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, Guillermo del Toro, Queen Latifah to lineup

March 19, 2019

Tribeca Film Festival - white logo

Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro
Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

The following is a press release from the Tribeca Film Festival:

The Tribeca Talks program will return to entertain and inspire audiences at the 18th annual Tribeca Film Festival, presented by AT&T, taking place April 24 – May 5. This year’s lineup will include intimate and once in a lifetime conversations with a diverse list of groundbreaking and critically acclaimed filmmakers, artists, entertainers, and icons.

Tribeca Talks: Directors Series will feature some of the industry’s most renowned filmmakers who will share stories and highlights from their illustrious careers. Longtime filmmaking partners Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro will come together for a conversation at the Beacon Theatre. From Mean Streets to their upcoming The Irishman, the duo will reflect on their decades-long working relationship. This year’s series will also include a conversation with Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro, and Oscar-nominated filmmaker David O. Russell will be joined by his frequent collaborator Jennifer Lawrence.

Tribeca Talks: Storytellers spotlights pioneering creators working across multiple mediums. This accomplished group includes musician Questlove; comedian Sarah Silverman in conversation with Mike Birbiglia; actor and writer Rashida Jones; actors Michael J. Fox and Denis Leary will come together for a one-on-one conversation; and author and VR pioneer Jaron Lanier. There will also be a special Tribeca Talk featuring a conversation with Queen Latifah and Dee Rees about Queen’s extraordinary career followed by the premiere of the Queen Collective shorts.

Tribeca Games Presents a conversation with legendary video game creator Hideo Kojima and actor Norman Reedus to discuss working together on the upcoming video game, Death Stranding.

“Our Tribeca Talks have been so successful because they bring together cultural icons to discuss and debate a wide range of topics,” said Paula Weinstein, EVP of Tribeca Enterprises. “With each participant comes a different perspective and set of career experiences, which, when juxtaposed with those of the other participants and audience members, creates an exclusive experience. No two Tribeca Talks are the same.”

Tribeca Talks: Master Classes, a series of free events to engage with the film industry, will return with each class focusing on a different aspect of the filmmaking process, breaking down the intricacies and discussing them in-depth. This year’s series will offer an inside look at film producing with esteemed Oscar and Golden Globe winner Irwin Winkler. The series will also include a master class on The Art of Cinematic Sound presented by The Dolby Institute and a class discussing the rise of New Online Work (N.O.W.) and the process of translating from the web to the screen.

The Festival announced additional feature films as part of the Movies Plus section. The series gives audiences the opportunity to hear directly from the filmmakers and creators about their projects’ themes through lively panels, discussions, and performances following the screenings. The films include Luce, It Takes a Lunatic, Meeting Gorbachev, The Wrong Man, and Waldo on Weed, and more.

“As cinema continues to grow and change, we wanted to broaden the Tribeca Talks program to include a wider spectrum of filmmakers than ever before,” said Cara Cusumano, Festival Director of the Tribeca Film Festival. “This lineup of speakers includes those creatives at the cutting edge of innovative storytelling alongside some of the all time greats.”

TRIBECA TALKS: DIRECTORS SERIES

In Partnership with Squarespace
Today’s most groundbreaking filmmakers discuss their careers and highlights.

Tribeca Talks: Directors Series – Martin Scorsese with Robert De Niro
Martin Scorsese is an Academy Award®-winning director and one of the most influential and celebrated filmmakers working today. He has directed some of the mostly highly-regarded, critically acclaimed films, including Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Gangs of New York, The Departed, The Wolf of Wall Street and Silence. He will sit down with the Academy Award®-winning actor and frequent collaborator Robert De Niro, who he has directed in nine feature films, including his Academy Award®-winning performance as boxer Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. Scorsese has directed documentaries including the Peabody Award-winning No Direction Home: Bob Dylan and the Emmy Award®-winning George Harrison: Living in the Material World. He was the executive producer on the HBO series, Boardwalk Empire, winning an Emmy Award® and DGA Award for directing the pilot episode. This legendary duo will come together at the Beacon Theatre to reflect upon their illustrious decades of collaboration from Mean Streets to their upcoming film, The Irishman.

  • Event time: Sunday, April 28 at 2:00 PM, Beacon Theatre

Tribeca Talks: Directors Series Guillermo del Toro
Among the most creative and visionary artists working today, Guillermo del Toro will discuss his prolific career turning horror, fairy tales, and the supernatural into world-class filmmaking. Del Toro earned widespread acclaim and multiple Academy Award® wins for 2006 fantasy drama, Pan’s Labyrinth. His 2018 film, The Shape of Water, won four Academy Awards® including Best Director and Best Picture. His other work includes beloved genre films such as Cronos, Mimic, The Devil’s Backbone, Hellboy, Pacific Rim, and Crimson Peak. In this conversation, the auteur will give audiences an exclusive look into his creative process. UPDATE: Alec Baldwin will interview del Toro for this panel.

  • Event time: Thursday, April 25 at 8:00 PM, BMCC

Tribeca Talks: Directors Series David O. Russell with Jennifer Lawrence
David O. Russell is an acclaimed Oscar®-nominated film writer, director, and producer known for his cinema of intense, tragi-comedic characters and worlds. Russell has earned immense acclaim and recognition throughout his career, most notably for his Academy Award® and Golden Globe® winning films The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle. Russell will be joined in conversation by Academy-Award® winning actor and frequent collaborator Jennifer Lawrence, who he has directed to three Golden Globe® wins and three of her four Oscar® nominations, including a Best Actress win for her role in Silver Linings Playbook. This iconic duo will come together for an extraordinary, one-on-one conversation covering their remarkable creative relationship.

  • Event time: Saturday, April 27 at 6:00 PM, BMCC

TRIBECA TALKS: STORYTELLERS

Sponsored by Montefiore
This series celebrates the illustrious careers of today’s most innovative creators, who have broken from traditional roles and pioneered their own forms of storytelling.

Questlove (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

Tribeca Talks: Storytellers Questlove
Questlove is an iconic drummer, DJ, producer, culinary entrepreneur, New York Times best-selling author, and, as a member of The Roots, the unmistakable heartbeat of Philadelphia’s most influential hip-hop group. He is the Musical Director for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where his Roots crew serves as house band. Beyond that, this five-time Grammy Award®-winning musician’s indisputable reputation has landed him musical directing positions with everyone from D’Angelo and Eminem to Jay-Z. Join Questlove in conversation for a celebration of his boundless and eclectic career.

  • Event time: Tuesday, April 30 at 8:30 PM, Tribeca Festival Hub

Tribeca Talks: Storytellers Sarah Silverman with Mike Birbiglia
Sarah Silverman is a force in stand-up comedy, but this two-time Emmy Award® winner works across a variety of mediums and has cemented herself as one of the most versatile talents working today. Silverman’s many credits include the Emmy®-nominated Hulu talk series I Love You, America and the acclaimed films I Smile Back and Battle of the Sexes. She has lent her voice to the Emmy Award®-winning animated series Bob’s Burgers and the Wreck it Ralph films, and received widespread praise for her 2017 Netflix stand-up special A Speck of Dust. Silverman will be joined in conversation by fellow comedian, actor, and filmmaker Mike Birbiglia, best known for his indie breakout films Sleepwalk with Me and Don’t Think Twice – for which he was the writer, director and star – as well as his guest role as Oscar Langstraat on the hit series Billions, and his celebrated solo Broadway play The New One. Silverman and Birbiglia share a unique gift for transforming the deeply personal into the universal and will come together to discuss their creative processes as comedians, storytellers and performers.

  • Event time: Monday, April 29 at 8:00 PM, BMCC

Tribeca Talks: Storytellers Michael J. Fox with Denis Leary
Michael J. Fox is an acclaimed television and film actor known for his iconic work on the sitcom Family Ties and the classic film trilogy Back to the Future. At 29, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, news the actor and icon shared publicly in 1998. In 2000, he established The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to advance scientific progress toward a cure. In addition to his Parkinson’s advocacy, Fox is a NY Times bestselling author and his acting continues to earn him widespread recognition, including a Grammy®, four Golden Globes®, two SAG® awards and five Emmy Awards®, including a win for his guest appearance on Rescue Me, the critically acclaimed show created by and starring his longtime friend and fellow hockey lover, Denis Leary. Join these two spirited entertainers and friends for an illuminating and lighthearted conversation that will cover the breadth of Fox’s remarkable career.

  • Event time: Tuesday, April 30 at 6:00 PM, BMCC

Tribeca Talks: Storytellers Jaron Lanier
Jaron Lanier, a celebrated writer, computer scientist, musician, is frequently cited for his pioneering work in Virtual Reality. He is known for charting a humanistic approach to technology appreciation and criticism, wrote books including Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, has consulted on films such as Minority Report and The Circle, and created music with Philip Glass and T Bone Burnett. Lanier takes a singular approach to the intersection between technology and the arts, evidenced by his significant creative output. In this enticing talk, he discusses his dynamic and prolific career while illustrating the powerful connection between science, music, and storytelling.

  • Event time: Saturday, April 27 at 2:00 PM, Tribeca Festival Hub

Tribeca Talks: Storytellers Rashida Jones
Versatile actor, director, screenwriter, producer, and Harvard graduate Rashida Jones will be in conversation to discuss an illustrious and accomplished career that spans across a variety of mediums. She co-wrote and starred in the indie breakout film Celeste and Jesse Forever, and received widespread acclaim for her sophomore directorial effort Quincy—an intimate portrait of her father and music legend Quincy Jones. She is the executive producer of the TNT hit-series Claws and currently stars on the TBS series Angie Tribeca.

  • Event Time: Wednesday, May 1 at 6:00 PM, BMCC

TRIBECA TALKS: MASTER CLASSES

Supported by The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment
Tribeca Talks: Master Classes feature in-depth conversations focusing on a specific sector of the filmmaking process.

Tribeca Talks: Master Class The Art of Cinematic Sound
Following the world premiere screening of Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound, three of the industry’s most legendary and decorated sound designers will come together in conversation to discuss the art and craft of sound design. Oscar winner Walter Murch created indelible soundscapes on such films as The Conversation, The Godfather and The English Patient, winning three Academy Awards® including for his work on Apocalypse Now, where he coined the term “sound designer.” Ben Burtt transported audiences to a galaxy far, far away, winning Academy Awards® for his masterful sound work on such films as Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Gary Rydstrom created visionary sound designs on such iconic films as Jurassic Park, Toy Story, Titanic, and Saving Private Ryan, and has won a total of seven Academy Awards® and two Career Achievement Awards. Join these illustrious sound designers as they speak to their creative process and illuminate how their work has evolved the craft of sound on film. Moderated by the Director of the Dolby® Institute Glenn Kiser.

  • Event Time: Monday, April 29 at 5:00 PM, SVA-02

Tribeca Talks: Master Class Irwin Winkler on the Art and Craft of Producing
With a career spanning over 50 years, Academy Award®-winning producer and director Irwin Winkler is one of the most prolific and decorated producers working in the industry today. His incalculable contributions to cinema include his work on such films as Rocky, Raging Bull, The Right Stuff, Goodfellas, The Wolf of Wall Street, Creed, Silence, and the upcoming film, The Irishman. He has received numerous honors, including the Commandeur des Arts et Lettres and the 2017 Producers Guild of America’s David O. Selznick Achievement Award. For this master class discussion, Winkler will walk audiences through his process of getting a movie made, what it really means to be a great producer, and illuminate the innumerable ways in which producing is integral to the filmmaking process.

  • Event Time: Friday, May 3 at 3:30 PM, SVA-2

Tribeca Talks: Master Class The Journey of Digital Storytelling to TV: A Discussion with HBO Talent
Source material for Television series has changed over the past decade. As the media landscape continues to shift, the model of stories that are created solely from original concepts or adapted from literature has become more and more open to interpretation. Now, we see networks like HBO finding unique and diverse voices from the ever-expanding sphere of media. Web series and podcasts have become increasingly exciting areas from which to build a fleshed-out series. Join HBO talent who hail from the digital storytelling space as they discuss the process of transitioning their series to the small screen.

  • Event Time: Saturday, May 4 at 3:30 PM, SVA-1

TRIBECA TALKS: QUEEN LATIFAH WITH DEE REES
with the premiere of the Queen Collective shorts
Sponsored by P&G

Queen Latifah is a critically acclaimed and award winning musician, actor, label president, author and entrepreneur. The first hip-hop artist to be crowned with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Latifah has had immeasurable success in music and acting; she has received Grammy®, Emmy®, and Golden Globe® awards for work, as well as an Academy Award® nomination for her portrayal of Mama Morton in Chicago. The trailblazing, Academy Award®-nominated screenwriter and director Dee Rees, who directed Latifah to a SAG award for her role in the HBO film Bessie, will join Latifah in conversation to discuss her extraordinary and multifaceted career. Together, these two remarkable storytellers will cover Latifah’s creative journey from musician to actor to entrepreneur, and how she is using her influence to mentor and uplift diverse female filmmakers in order to accelerate gender and racial equality behind the camera

  • Event time: Friday, April 26 at 5:30 PM, Tribeca Festival Hub

Following the talk will be the debut of The Queen Collective short documentaries. The Queen Collective is a program developed in partnership with Procter & Gamble and Queen Latifah with Flavor Unit Entertainment, aimed at accelerating gender and racial equality behind the camera. Created by diverse young women – these short films inspire positive social change and embody Procter and Gamble’s commitment to supporting gender and racial equity, on-screen and behind the scenes.

  • Ballet After Dark – Directed by B.Monét. (USA) – World Premiere, Short Documentary. Ballet After Dark tells the story a young woman who found the strength to survive after an attack. She created an organization that is helping sexual abuse and domestic violence survivors find healing after trauma through dance therapy
  • If There Is Light – Directed by Haley Elizabeth Anderson. (USA) – World Premiere, Short Documentary. Fourteen-year-old Janiyah Blackmon wrestles with her new life in New York City as her mom tries to move her family out of the shelter system and into a stable home. With Janiyah Blackmon, McKayla Blackmon, Jakena Blackmon.

TRIBECA GAMES PRESENTS: HIDEO KOJIMA WITH NORMAN REEDUS

World-renowned auteur game creator Hideo Kojima, widely considered the father of the stealth genre, has been hard at work on the highly anticipated PlayStation®4 title Death Stranding. Little is known about this mysterious new project, and speculation from fans and industry alike have created a deafening excitement. To discuss his boundary-pushing new game, Hideo Kojima will be joined by the star of Death Stranding, Norman Reedus, best known for his star-turning performances in The Boondock Saints and the acclaimed series The Walking Dead. Together, they will discuss pushing the boundaries of the video game medium and talk about how their relationship has established over working on the title together. This exclusive conversation will be moderated by game journalist Geoff Keighley, whose work and creation of The Game Awards has furthered the appreciation and understanding of the video game industry.

Death Stranding is a trademark of Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC. Created and developed by Kojima Productions. “PlayStation” is a registered trademark of Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc.

  • Event time: Thursday, April 25 at 6:00 PM, BMCC

MOVIES PLUS

A Tribeca tradition, Movies Plus offers audiences the unique opportunity to continue the experience of a film through buzzworthy conversations or performances after each special screening.

Wynn Handman (pictured at right) in “It Takes a Lunatic” (Photo by Cliff Lipson)

It Takes a Lunatic, directed and produced by Billy Lyons. (USA, UK, Germany) – World Premiere, Feature Documentary. A tribute to the life and legacy of influential acting teacher Wynn Handman, whose American Place Theater helped launched the off Broadway scene, as well as the careers of students from Richard Gere and Michael Douglas to Sam Shepard. With Michael Douglas, Richard Gere, Susan Lucci, Eric Bogosian, John Leguizamo, Woodie King, Jr.

  • After the Premiere Screening: A conversation with acting teacher, artistic director and film subject Wynn Handman, actors Robert De Niro and Michael Douglas, and director Billy Lyons.
  • Event Time: Friday, May 3 at 8 PM, BMCC

Luce directed by Julius Onah, written by JC Lee, Julius Onah. Produced by John Baker, Julius Onah, Andrew Yang. (USA) – New York Premiere. After writing an inflammatory essay, a high school overachiever finds himself on a collision course with his adoptive parents and an overbearing teacher. A complex drama boasting an amazing ensemble cast, Luce sears the screen. With Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Tim Roth, Norbert Leo Butz, Andrea Bang and Marsha Stephanie Blake. A NEON and Topic release.

  • After the Premiere Screening: Join us in honoring the virtuosic ensemble cast of Luce with an empowering conversation led by Naomi Watts, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Andrea Bang, Marsha Stephanie Blake, and director Julius Onah, discussing their expansive careers and the indelible roles that led each cast member to Luce.
  • Event Time: Sunday, April 28 at 7:30 PM, BMCC

Meeting Gorbachev, directed and written by Werner Herzog, André Singer. Produced by Lucki Stipetic, Svetlana Palmer. (UK, USA) – New York Premiere, Feature Documentary. Profiling one of the most influential figures of 20th-century history, legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog candidly sits down with Mikhail Gorbachev for a revealing look at the life and legacy of the final leader of the Soviet Union. An Orchard release.

  • After the Premiere Screening: Director Werner Herzog will be in conversation with his frequent collaborator and Professor of Classical Studies at Boston University Herb Golder.
  • Event Time: Friday, April 26 at 6:00 PM, Village East Cinema

Waldo On Weed, directed and written by Tommy Avallone. Produced by Lee Leshen, Derrick Kunzer, Raymond Esposito, Josh Bender. (USA) – World Premiere, Feature Documentary. When Brian and Danielle Dwyer’s son, Waldo, is diagnosed with cancer, they proceed with a controversial—and illegal—treatment plan consisting of one of the most divisive substances in our country: cannabis. With Waldo James Mysterious Dwyer, Brian Dwyer, Danielle Dwyer, Matt Rize, Mike Wert, Larry Anderson, Senator Daylin Leach, Senator Mike Folmer, Dr. Staci Gruber, Dr. Charles Pollack.

  • After the Premiere Screening: a conversation with medical marijuana expert Doctor Junella Chin, patient Lily Derwin, subject Danielle Dwyer, and Senator Daylin Leach. Moderated by actor, comedian and author Whoopi Goldberg.
  • Event Time: Friday, May 3 at 8:30 PM, SVA 2

The Wrong Man directed by Ross Golan, John Hwan. Produced by Jaren Shelton, Ross Golan and John Hwang. (USA) – World Premiere, Feature Documentary. From multi-platinum songwriter Ross Golan, The Wrong Man is an animated concept film that uses Golan’s poetic lyrics and haunting melodies to tell a tragic story of love gone terribly wrong.

  • After the Screening: A conversation with director and acclaimed songwriter Ross Golan, CEO of Lava Records and board member of The Innocence Project Jason Flom and more
  • Event Time: Saturday, April 27 at 11:00 AM, Tribeca Festival Hub

Tribeca Talks: Prune Nourry and Serendipity
Artist Prune Nourry has spent her working life exploring issues around the human body. At the tender age of 31, Prune is diagnosed with breast cancer and she starts documenting her treatment and its effect on her own body, turning her medical odyssey into an epic artistic adventure — and feature documentary film Serendipity — discovering new meaning in her body of work and its curious relationship to her illness. Join us for a multisensory evening of film, food and conversation that explores the many themes of Prune’s work and opens up a dialogue about narrative medicine.

  • After the Screening: A conversation with Director and Artist Prune Nourry, Columbia University Professor and author Rita Charon, and more. Afterwards, join us for drinks and bites inspired by the work of Prune Nourry.
  • Event Time: Friday, May 3 at 8:00 PM, Tribeca Festival Hub

Passes and Tickets for the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival
The Hudson Pass, an all-access pass to screenings and talks taking place at BMCC, Regal Battery Park Stadium, Village East Cinema, and SVA theaters as well as full access to all events at the Festival Hub at Spring Studios, which includes VR and Immersive projects, Movies Plus screenings and access to festival lounges. The Hudson pass can be purchased online at tribecafilm.com/festival/tickets, or by telephone at (646) 502-5296 or toll-free at (866) 941-FEST (3378).

Single tickets cost $24.00 for evening and weekend screenings, $12.00 for weekday matinee screenings, $30.00 for Tribeca TV and Movies Plus, $40.00 for Tribeca Talks panels and $40.00 for Tribeca Immersive. Single ticket sales begin Tuesday, March 26 and can be purchased online through our film guide or through the call center.

Tickets for events at the Beacon Theatre are now available for purchase. You can find information here.

Packages and passes are now available for purchase on the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival App, on:

# # #

About the Tribeca Film Festival:
The Tribeca Film Festival, presented by AT&T, brings visionaries and diverse audiences together to celebrate storytelling in all its forms, including film, TV, VR, gaming, music, and online work. With strong roots in independent film, Tribeca is a platform for creative expression and immersive entertainment. The Festival champions emerging and established voices; discovers award-winning filmmakers and creators; curates innovative experiences; and introduces new technology and ideas through premieres, exhibitions, talks, and live performances.

The Festival was founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in 2001 to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of lower Manhattan following the attacks on the World Trade Center. Now in its 18th year, the Festival has evolved into a destination for creativity that reimagines the cinematic experience and explores how art can unite communities. The 18th annual edition will take place April 24 – May 5, 2019.www.tribecafilm.com/festival

Hashtag: #Tribeca2019
Twitter: @Tribeca
Instagram: @tribeca
Facebook: facebook.com/Tribeca

About 2019 Tribeca Film Festival Partners:
As Presenting Sponsor of the Tribeca Film Festival, AT&T is committed to supporting the Festival and the art of filmmaking through access and innovation, while expanding opportunities to diverse creators around the globe. AT&T helps millions connect to their passions – no matter where they are. This year, AT&T and Tribeca will once again collaborate to give the world access to stories from underrepresented filmmakers that deserve to be seen. “AT&T Presents Untold Stories” is an inclusive film program in collaboration with Tribeca – a multi-year, multi-tier alliance between AT&T and Tribeca along with the year-round nonprofit Tribeca Film Institute.

The Tribeca Film Festival is pleased to announce its 2019 Partners: 23andMe, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Bai Beverages, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), BVLGARI, CHANEL, Diageo, ESPN, IMDb, Kia, Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card from Chase, Merck, Montefiore, National CineMedia (NCM), Nespresso, New York Magazine, NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Prime Video Direct, P&G, PwC, Spring Studios New York, Squarespace, and Status Sparkling Wine.

Hollywood Walk of Fame announces 2019 star recipients

May 25, 2018

The following is a press release from the Hollywood Walk of Fame:

A new group of entertainment professionals in the categories of Motion Pictures, Television, Live Theatre/Live Performance and Recording have been selected to receive stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it was announced today, June 25, 2018 by the Walk of Fame Selection Committee of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. These honorees were chosen from among hundreds of nominations to the committee at a meeting held in June and ratified by the Hollywood Chamber’s Board of Directors. Television Producer and Walk of Famer Vin Di Bona, Chair of the Walk of Fame Selection Committee for 2018-2019 and Walk of Famer Ellen K, host of The Ellen K Morning Show, announced the new honorees with Leron Gubler, President & CEO for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce who is also the emcee of the Walk of Fame ceremonies.The new selection was revealed to the world via live stream exclusively on the official website www.walkoffame.com. The live stream began at 1 P.M. and was held at the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce offices.

“The Walk of Fame Selection Committee is pleased to announce our newest honorees to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Committee always tries to select a group of talented honorees that appeal in various genres of the entertainment world,” Chairman and Walk of Famer Vin Di Bona,  “I feel the Committee has outdone themselves and I know the fans, tourists and the Hollywood community will be pleased with our selections. We are excited to see each and every honoree’s face as they unveil that majestic star on Hollywood’s most famous walkway!”

The Hollywood Walk of Fame Class of 2019 are:

In the category of MOTION PICTURES:
Alan Arkin, Kristen Bell, Daniel Craig, Robert De Niro, Guillermo del Toro, Anne Hathaway, Lupita Nyong’o, Tyler Perry, and Gena Rowlands.

In the category of TELEVISION:
Alvin And The Chipmunks, Candice Bergen, Guy Fieri, Terrence Howard, Stacy Keach, Sid and Marty Krofft, Lucy Liu, Mandy Moore,  Dianne Wiest, and Julia Child (Posthumous).

In the category of RECORDING:
Michael Bublé, Cypress Hill, The Lettermen, Faith Hill, Tommy Mottola, P!nk, Teddy Riley, Trio: Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, and Jackie Wilson (Posthumous).

In the category of LIVE THEATRE/LIVE PERFORMANCE:
Idina Menzel, Cedric “The Entertainer”, Judith Light, and Paul Sorvino.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and its Walk of Fame Selection Committee congratulate all the honorees. Dates have not been scheduled for these star ceremonies. Recipients have two years to schedule star ceremonies from the date of selection before they expire. Upcoming star ceremonies are usually announced ten days prior to dedication on the official website www.walkoffame.com.

Nobu Toronto will include hotel, restaurant, world’s first Nobu Residences

May 31, 2017

Nobu Toronto includes Nobu Residences
Nobu Toronto living room (Rendering courtesy of Nobu Hospitality)

The following is a press release from Nobu Hospitality:

Nobu Hospitality principals renowned Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Academy Award winner Robert De Niro and Hollywood producer Meir Teper, principals of Nobu Hospitality, along with principal developer Madison Group unveiled plans for Nobu Residences Toronto at a press conference inside the soon to be open Nobu Residences Toronto Presentation Centre.

Pre-construction sales of the residential units will begin in mid-June, it was announced.

Nobu Toronto, a dynamic project featuring the world’s very first Nobu branded high-rise residences as well as Canada’s first Nobu Hotel and Nobu Restaurant will be located in the heart of the entertainment district, transforming Mercer Street with its landmark design. Nobu Residences Toronto will rise 45 stories above the historic Pilkington Glass Factory with two dramatic residential towers, featuring 660 units with enviable views of Toronto.

“I am very proud to have my name on this building,” said Chef Nobu Matsuhisa. “It will be very special, and we are happy to be in Toronto. We want people to be happy.”

Toronto is a great city,” said Robert De Niro. “I’ve filmed here, I’ve been here for the Film Festival, which is excellent, and I’m looking forward to spending more time here once Nobu Toronto opens.”

Acclaimed Toronto-based Teeple Architects and Studio Munge have created the incomparable residences to feature distinctive amenities that span two floors of the podium level at Nobu Residences Toronto. The outdoor terrace and Nobu Athletic Club are connected by a two-storey glass atrium and anchored by an oculus that cuts through the podium, culminating in an artistic reflecting pond centering the Nobu Athletic Club. The Nobu Athletic Club amenities include a private massage room, yoga studio, spin studio, wet steam, dry sauna, hot tub and cold plunge in addition to state of the art fitness equipment.

In keeping with the Nobu lifestyle, which integrates energized public spaces that offer both excitement and escapism, Nobu Residences Toronto will feature Nobu Villas. The villas are highly designed private entertaining spaces available exclusively to its residents. Nobu Villas include billiards, fireplaces, a private dining area with chef’s table, the chic Nobu outdoor terrace and four barbeque prep decks.

Nobu Residences Toronto will also feature a private theatrical screening room, conference room, dedicated bicycle elevator with direct access to bicycle storage and a dog spa located in both the east and west residential lobbies.

Nobu is one of the world`s most celebrated luxury hospitality brands renowned for its award-winning “new style” Japanese fusion cuisine and exceptional hotel offerings in the world’s most desirable locales.  Founded by Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Robert De Niro and Meir Teper, the growing Nobu Hospitality portfolio caters to vibrant international customers, celebrities, tastemakers and powerbrokers.

The exclusive Nobu Hotel Toronto will offer a collection of exceptionally appointed guest suites located atop the west tower, with stunning panoramic views and featuring the best of everything, from distinctive service to energized public spaces.

A cornerstone of the Nobu Hotel and Nobu Residences Toronto is Nobu Restaurant with its approximately 15,000 square foot, two-level restaurant, signature bar lounge, outdoor seating and chic private dining rooms.

“Chef Nobu, Robert De Niro, Meir Teper and everyone at Nobu Hospitality have shown an unwavering commitment and passion for this project,” said Josh Zagdanski, Vice President – High-Rise, Madison Group. “We are so thrilled to bring the Nobu lifestyle to Toronto.”

Those interested in learning more about Nobu Residences Toronto are encouraged to register at NobuResidences.ca and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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