Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: Al Pacino

Opening Night of 48th Chicago Film Festival Features Film with Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, Julianna Margolies

Al Pacino at the 48th Chicago Film Festival, Thursday, Oct, 22th, 2012.

The Opening Night of the Chicago Film Festival—the oldest film festival in North America—was Thursday, October 11, at the Harris Theater, with Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin and Chicago native and Director Fisher Stevens present. Also present onstage was Bon Jovi, who wrote two original songs for the film.

Appearing in the film, but not present on Opening Night, was Julianna Margulies, better-known for her roles on television’s “E.R.” and “The Good Wife.” Newcomers who graced the stage with the legends were Addison Timlin, (who played Alex, Walken’s granddaughter, in the film), and Vanessa Ferlito, (who plays a girl found nude in the trunk of a car.)

If I had to compare Pacino’s lead role here with his previous performances, I’d place it on a par with 2008’s “Righteous Kill,” where Pacino played Rooster, running around in track suits with an over-the-hill Robert DeNiro. If you want to talk previous comic roles (not Pacino’s forte) there is 1985’s “Revolution,” in which Pacino played Tom Dobb. Also not his finest hour.

The film was quite similar to the plot of last year’s opening night film, “The Last Rites of Joe May,” which co-starred Dennis Farina and Gary Cole. That film, even if it had less well-known stars, was better. Each film’s plot involves old guys getting out of prison (a la Michael Douglas in “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”) and wanting to get the old gang together one more time.

As scripted by first-time script writer Noah Haidle, there just wasn’t much to cheer for at this World Premiere. With actors as fine as Pacino, Margulies , Walken and Arkin, it could have been a good film, if the words they were given to speak were good. They weren’t.

It’s sad to watch actors try to play parts that they are too old to play. [“The Expendables” are expendable, in my movie-going life.] Watching Pacino visit a whorehouse known as Miss Dee’s after his release from prison wasn’t a good idea. When he can’t get it up, he takes too many Viagra (and other substances) and ends up in the emergency room with Julianna Margulies (playing Alan Arkin’s daughter) treating his chemically-induced priapism.

The entire fixation with the Miss Dee scenes comes off as though it were written by a male fixated, sexually, at about the age of sixteen. And why must all the hookers be in their twenties, when the male members (pun intended) are in their seventies? There are no prostitutes in their forties or older? Is that the message? Does not sound plausible.

For me, watching one of the greatest serious actors of our time play comedy was just uncomfortable. The lines weren’t funny. The humor was strained and juvenile and the vehicle, overall, was not worthy of the talents of the cast. The “best” role probably belonged to Alan Arkin as Hirsch, but even Arkin’s time onscreen ended up making me feel embarrassed for him, when considered next to his great comic turn alongside Peter Falk in the (original) film “The In-Laws.”

Perhaps it’s just me, but I pray that Al Pacino sticks to more appropriate role(s) (he’ll be 73 in April) in films like his brilliant turn as Jack Kevorkian in that recent made-for-television movie (“You Don’t Know Jack”), rather than having an Opening Night audience watching him squander his considerable talents on drivel with lines like “You still got it, buddy,” and “Those were the days, my friend.” (Christopher Walken).

The added tension—which is very low-key—comes because Walken was hired by Claphands (Mark Margolis) to kill Pacino for the accidental murder of Claphands’ son 28 years earlier. The denouement (when it limps into view) seems as though it would have occurred to the duo as a course of action much earlier in the film.

Okay. Time to hang up the action pictures, Mr. Pacino. Time to portray the intense King Lear-type roles that have always suited an actor like Pacino . No more “Expendables” or “Space Cowboys” or other drivel casting aging stars as guys who can still hang with the younger crowd. It’s sad to no longer be in your “Glory Days.” But there are still age-appropriate roles for actors as talented as these three, and I hope I see them in some soon. I don’t want to see more miscasting like Michael Caine playing a soccer star in “Victory” (1981). And I want to hear better lines than the ones I heard in this vehicle, because the script really does matter.

One line (repeated twice) is supposed to be clever: “We’re either going to kick ass or chew gum..and I’m fresh out of gum.” (Groan) Another line: “Claphands is the kind of guy who would take your kidneys out and not even sell ‘em.” [Ha, ha…not.]

Even “more cow bell” would have been stronger scripting than was heard on October 11, 2012, in “Stand Up Guys’” World Premiere at the Chicago Film Festival.

“Righteous Kill” and “Lakeview Terrace” in Theaters Now

Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino

I recently ventured into the movie theater to see “Lakeview Terrace” and “Righteous Kill.”

The first film was good; the second sad, because it reminded of the glory days of its stars, Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino, which seem to be long-gone.

In “Lakeview Terrace,” the Neil LaBute-directed film starring Samuel Jackson, there is a nice switch. It’s not the rednecks that harass the African Americans, this time out. It’s Samuel Jackson, with an evil-eye look that would make Jack Nicholson proud, who is the policeman neighbor of a mixed-race couple, played by Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington. The couple, Chris and Lisa Mattson, move into Lakeview Terrace and instantly enrage their old-fashioned neighbor, who is not enlightened enough to accept a black woman married to a white man. Plus, Samuel Jackson’s character (Abel Turner) has two young children—a teen-aged daughter and her younger brother—and he rules their lives with an iron fist.

As the rage grows, so does a fire in the California Valley that moves inexorably towards the ritzy neighborhood. Interestingly enough, the neighborhood Lakeview Terrace was the area where, in real life, Rodney King’s beating took place. The movie’s climax is reached when Jackson’s character hires a thug to ransack the couple’s home while they are out, but the pregnant wife returns early and is put in jeopardy. Extreme measures must be taken, and they are. It’s a well-cast, observant, well-acted film.

The second film that I saw in theaters this week has 3 men who are well past retirement age supposedly still chasing the bad guys on the streets of New York. Robert DeNiro, as “Turk” and Al Pacino as “Rooster,” are, first of all, too old to be called either of these names, and too old for the stunts they are asked to perform. Brian Dennehy, as their boss, must be pushing 80. What police department in the country still has 70 to 80 year old officers patrolling the streets? Not any that I am familiar with.

The rap singer known as 50 Cent plays a drug dealer who has set up shop in a club inside a renovated bank. Curtis Jackson, or “Spider” as he is known in the film, told an amusing story on one of the late-night talk shows about how DeNiro really did kick him in a memorable scene. He also said that he didn’t need any acting lessons from DeNiro on how to act after being shot. This, of course, is because “50 Cent” was shot several times in real life and lived to tell about it.

The always-good John Leguizamo as Detective Simon Perez and Donnie Wahlberg as Detective Ted Riley are well cast. They are the right age and they seem believable as police officers. But no matter how many times they show an overweight DeNiro puffing away in a jogging suit or imply that he is porking a much-younger partner (Karen Corelli playing Carla Gugino), and no matter how many times Al Pacino pumps that iron, it just doesn’t wash. Surely there are roles these two could play that are commensurate with their age and station in life. Pacino has done Shakespeare. Maybe he could do the Merchant of Venice. What he can’t do any more is the policeman of New York, and it’s really sad to see “Serpico” looking wrinkled and old. The scenes shot in bright daylight are particularly merciless for both these aging leading men.

Even though there is an attempt at a “surprise” ending, I was most surprised that DeNiro and Pacino would try to re-enact roles that, as younger men, they pulled off with ease. Now, as aging lions of the cinema, they need to either lighten up (as DeNiro has done in numerous comedies like “Meet the Fokkers”) or, at the very least, play age-appropriate roles.

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