Tag Archive: Joe Pesci


Review by C.J. Bunce

Following up on The Toys That Made Us (previously reviewed here at borg), Netflix’s surprise hit documentary series leaning on viewers’ nostalgia with a look behind select high-profile toy lines of the past, this weekend the streaming provider added a new series based on the same formula.  The Movies That Made Us takes a four episode-per-season look at what someone somewhere thinks are important movies in the national consciousness.  The series arrives nicely timed, since season three of The Toys That Made Us already is showing signs the studio has run out of ideas.

Like The Toys That Made Us, the new series isn’t really about the subject of the series, instead taking viewers on a deep, dark dive into the business world of pop culture.  Like the first series, The Movies That Made Us has some fascinating gold nuggets.  It also has its problems.  The biggest issue being the odd introductory selection of movies, and the second, the glaring omission of key players viewers want to see interviewed for the stories.  As for the first issue, understandably the show is trying to appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers.  But it seems highly unlikely any single person, whether a movie buff or casual moviegoer, would put the following four movies on their list of must-see films: Dirty Dancing, Home Alone, Ghostbusters, and Die Hard As for the second problem, part of the issue is the series is too late to the table.  So many of the key players behind and in front of the camera in these films have died, like Ghostbusters writer/actor Harold Ramis, Dirty Dancing director Emile Ardolino and co-stars Patrick Swayze and Jerry Orbach, Home Alone writer John Hughes, and Die Hard actors Alan Rickman and Alexander Godunov and writer Roderick Thorp.  But people die and that shouldn’t hold up a good story, except that so many players that could have been interviewed who are living also didn’t participate.  A documentary about Dirty Dancing without star Jennifer Grey?  Die Hard without Bruce Willis?  Ghostbusters without Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, or Rick Moranis?  And the clincher… they couldn’t get Macauley Culkin, Joe Pesci, or Catherine O’Hara to say anything about Home Alone?

It really gets to the point of audience expectation.  Movie buffs will enjoy this series’ first season even if they didn’t care for the films, simply because it’s always going to be interesting for them to watch the wheeling and dealing of the studio machine told from the people who were there.  In that regard, the episodes about Dirty Dancing and Home Alone were entertaining by virtue of their tales of odd ideas that managed to emerge like the phoenix from dead deals to become major box office successes through a lot of luck and happenstance (told nicely in the episodes).  And the same was true for The Toys That Made Us, although after nine episodes an hour of the retired talking heads of Toyland has lost its luster.  To that end, the series should be called something more accurate, like The Making of the Movies That Made Us, etc.  But even that would set the expectation that you’d see more than talking heads interspersed with fuzzy snapshots from productions of the past.

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Another trailer has arrived for director and auteur Martin Scorsese′s new movie The Irishman (we ran the first trailer here), this time focusing more on Al Pacino′s take on ill-fated labor leader Jimmy Hoffa, and comedic actor “Everybody Loves” Ray Romano bringing his charm back to audiences as Teamsters lawyer Bill Bufalino, asking questions of Robert De Niro as one of the guys alleged to have murdered Hoffa.

At first blush, the issue with The Irishman is twofold.  First, we’ve already seen Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, etc., when they were younger, and now they have been extensively de-aged via CGI and makeup for this film.  So we know what they looked like at the ages of the characters in the film, but they didn’t look like the de-aged characters in the trailer.  Second, preview audiences that have seen the movie in theater screenings have already commented on the dreaded “uncanny valley”–that difficulty in adapting the eye to the CGI efforts to make humans look real via digital effects manipulation.

The positive is that most viewers will see The Irishman on the small screen.  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s CGI re-creation of Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin was easier for the eye to adapt to on the small screen than in the theatrical release where more detail was present.  Maybe the same will be true for The Irishman The film is a direct-to-Netflix release, and Scorsese is a tried and true filmmaker, so audiences have nothing to lose but three-and-a-half hours (yep, this is a long one, folks).

Check out this new trailer for The Irishman:

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With the first trailer for The Irishman out, it may be getting clearer why Martin Scorsese′s latest in a 45-year career-spanning string of films is going straight to Netflix.  Despite Netflix claims that it can compete financially with movie theater releases, it has yet to provide a reliable run of hits.  Can The Irishman help?  Even heavy hitters of Scorsese’s past, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, can’t seem to make this movie look compelling.  The audience is left with only “another crime movie with those guys,” with no reference to who or what it’s about.  And is any amount of CGI and makeup going to get audiences to believe in a married couple played by 36-year-old Anna Paquin paired with 75-year-old De Niro playing 55-year-old Frank Sheeran?  If you’re like everyone else you may not know Sheeran claimed late in life to have killed teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa.  So it’s no wonder this feels like Scorsese’s version of an Oliver Stone movie.

Take away the Las Vegas and this first trailer for The Irishman looks plenty like a trailer for Scorsese’s Casino, complete with an attempt to get De Niro and Pesci back to how they looked in 1995, De Niro and Pesci looking like they did in 1990 in Goodfellas, Pacino looking like he did back in 1973 in Mean Streets, or, to jump into Francis Ford Coppola pictures, like Pacino and De Niro looked in 1974 in The Godfather, Part II.  As much as we loved Peter Cushing’s transformation in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Michael Douglas’s transformation in the Ant-Man movies, a legion of fans will need more improvements in technology before they get past the “uncanny valley”–that reaction you have when something digital is trying to look real but doesn’t quite succeed.

Long-time “bad guy” club member Harvey Keitel, Ant-Man’s and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’s Bobby Cannavale, and “Everybody Loves” Ray Romano are not seen in this trailer, but expected to have key roles.  See whether the CGI works for you in this first trailer from Netflix for The Irishman:

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Merry Christmas!

It’s that time of year again, time to take a look forward at what movies should be on your radar for 2019.  Are you going to see them all?  Heck no.  These are the genre films we think borg readers will want to know about to make their own checklists for the coming year–and they are only the films we know about so far.  We pulled 78 of the hundreds of films that have been finalized or are in varying stages of final production, slated for next year’s movie calendar.

What looks to top the list for most fanboys and fangirls?  The last of the nine films in the Star Wars saga.  Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: Far From Home.  Shazam! is DC’s contribution.  Quentin Tarentino returns to movies to direct Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Martin Scorsese is back with an all-star cast in The Irishman (on Netflix).  M. Night Shyamalan finishes his dark superhero trilogy with GlassArnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton return in TerminatorJordan Peele is back with another horror film with Us.

Do you like sequels?  This is your year.  Another Men in Black, X-Men, Shaft, Happy Death Day, Lego Movie, Hellboy, John Wick, Kingsman, Jumanji, The Secret Life of Pets, How to Train Your Dragon, Fast and the Furious, Zombieland, Addams Family, Charlie’s Angels, Godzilla, Shaun the Sheep, Annabelle,and Stephen King’s It and Pet SemataryDisney is trying to get you to move into your local theater with another Toy Story, Aladdin, Dumbo, Frozen, and Lion King–all in one year.  Yep, lots and lots of sequels are coming.

Some films don’t have locked-in release dates yet.  Amazon Prime and Netflix haven’t revealed dates for these 2019 releases:

  • Martin Scorcese’s The Irishman, a film about Jimmy Hoffa starring Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, and Bobby Cannavale (Netflix)
  • The Kid, a Western biopic with Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Dane DeHaan, and Vincent D’Onofrio (Netflix)
  • The Man Who Killed Hitler Then Bigfoot, starring Sam Elliott (Netflix)
  • 6 Underground, a Michael Bay film starring Ryan Reynolds, Ben Hardy, Dave Franco, and Mélanie Laurent (Netflix)
  • The Last Thing He Wanted, Dee Rees directs Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck, Willem Dafoe, and Toby Jones; journalist quits newspaper job to become an arms dealer for a covert government agency (Netflix)
  • The Laundromat, Steven Soderbergh directs Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, James Cromwell, about the Pentagon Papers (Netflix)
  • Radioactive, Rosamund Pike plays Marie Curie, with Anya Taylor-Joy (Amazon)

Some of these films will have revised release dates, or get pushed to 2020.

So grab your calendar and start making your plans–here are the movies you’ll want to see in 2019 (and many you might not):

January

Glass – Superhero, M. Night Shyamalan trilogy part 3, stars Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, James McAvoy; continues where Unbreakable and Split left off – January 18.

Serenity – Mystery/Thriller, stars Anne Hathaway, Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Strong, Diane Lane; sorry, no relation to Firefly – January 25.

King of Thieves – Heist Comedy, stars Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay, Charlie Cox, Michael Gambon, and Ray Winstone – January 25.

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