Monday, 1 August 2016

The Intern, 2015

My password to Tuesday's Overlooked Films, Audio & Video over at Todd Mason’s blog Sweet Freedom.

Robert De Niro is 72, robust, and still making films. Sometimes four to six flicks a year. The Raging Bull star is probably the busiest actor of his era. He made 24 of his hundred-odd films only in the past six years. I have seen less than half of the total. So I'm no authority on his body of work.

The Scorsese veteran plays a widower in at least five of his recent films, including Nancy Meyers' The Intern (2015). As I watched the family drama on cable TV Sunday evening, I recalled an article I'd read in The Independent on why De Niro making bad films was wildly depressing
.

Is it because there are no constructive roles for actors of his calibre and generation? Is he doing it for the money? I'm inclined to go with lack of suitably challenging roles rather than a love for the green bucks. I'm sure he has made enough. But who doesn't want more? 

Illeana Douglas, who worked with the actor on Goodfellas, Cape Fear and Guilty by Suspicion, had this to say in the UK paper: "They talk about De Niro walking through roles, just collecting the money, and I do think that’s true. I’ve heard from financiers that if you have the money De Niro will be in anything, and that he seems to just have checked out, that he knows in a way the gig is up and he’s just getting to the finish line, but I'm not sure if that’s true concerning his performances in Silver Linings Playbook for example, and even in something as benign as The Intern he brings a strange kind of authorial presence to a very lightweight movie."


I can't say if De Niro is making bad films considering that he has appeared in serious dramas, too, in recent years. Action thrillers like Stone, Killing Season, and Heist, which may not match his previously more enduring films. But I quite liked him in The Intern as opposed to his other widower-movies, Dirty Grandpa, Last Vegas, and Everybody's Fine. I have not seen Being Flynn yet.

The Intern is a lighthearted and lazy-Sunday flick in which his character Ben Whittaker, experienced, retired and 70 years, works as an intern in a Brooklyn-based e-commerce fashion startup owned by its hands-on founder and chief executive Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). Ben endears himself to his much younger colleagues, always willing to lend a hand, even break the law, and helps Jules cope with office pressures and repair her marriage. Jules learns to respect and value Ben’s trust and friendship, and the two bond like father and daughter. This is their film only.

De Niro is charming in a role that
“suits” him well, perhaps because he looks the part of an elderly, kind and affable gentleman and because he doesn’t say much in the film. Along the way he meets Fiona (Rene Russo), a masseuse, and rediscovers love and companionship. And you’re glad he does.

The Intern is a nice film about friendship, love and relationship. There is nothing "wildly depressing" about it. De Niro gets the film out of the way with the flick of his wrist.

19 comments:

  1. I'm a card carrying De Niro fan and Anne Hathaway is so damn likable but I'll probably pass on this film. Plot just doesn't interest me but I appreciate your well-written write-up, Prashant.

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    1. Thanks, David. The film was just rolling when I switched on the television last Sunday and so we decided to sit through it. The frequent commercial breaks were annoying.

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  2. This is a very well-written review, Prashant, for which thanks. I really do like De Niro's work a lot, even when the film is less than stellar. I've not seen this one, but it sounds like something that might pass the time quite nicely.

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    1. Margot, thank you. It is a pastime film, I agree. I plan to watch some of De Niro's earlier films that I have long missed.

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  3. What a sad, sad end to a career that started so well. He has given up any chance of being remembered for any film in the last 25 years.

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    1. Patti, you put that very well. A quarter of a century is a heck of a long time. I'm going to see what he did during that period and before.

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  4. I quite like him usually, but can't say that this one interests me at all.

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    1. Col, I preferred him in THE INTERN compared to his other recent films like LAST VEGAS and THE BIG WEDDING, the latter not dissimilar to IT'S COMPLICATED.

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  5. I would really do with a nice film right now Prashant - I'm sold on this one now, thanks chum!

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    1. You're welcome, Sergio. You are the expert. In fact, you should do a piece on De Niro's films that I'd no doubt love to read.

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  6. I like De Niro. I think maybe when you get to a certain age you want to work because you think you may not have a lot of time left.

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    1. Charles, he has been very productive over the past few years and has more films lined up next year. It helps to keep busy in any walk of life.

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  7. Prashant – I am a little surprised at the comments here. This is a good film. De Niro turns in a fine, subtle performance as a character different from others he has played. Every thought registers on his face. My wife and I saw this in the movies and later I watched it on cable with my teenage nephews. They thought it was OK, but were expecting a rock-em, sock-em Robert De Niro. Instead they got a sensitive older gent and a film with a lot of humor, some outright laughs and a funny suspenseful sequence that made the whole thing worth it for me.

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    1. Elgin, it is a good film, I agree. Although, frankly, it's not the kind I'd go to the theatres to watch. And that's partly because I don't go to cinema halls a lot these days. The last two films I saw at the movies were CAPTAIN PHILLIPS and BATMAN VS SUPERMAN. I enjoyed reading your views on THE INTERN and especially your take on De Niro's "subtle" and "sensitive" performance. Leave out De Niro and Hathway and everyone else is just a prop.

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  8. I'm still debating on seeing it, but you fine article helps.

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    1. Thank you, Oscar. It's worth an hour and a half of one's time.

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  9. I may give this a try. Not the kind of film I would usually like, but some of the comments here and your thoughts on the movie have gotten me interested.

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    1. Tracy, THE INTERN is a decent film but not a must-see. De Niro has made better movies even in recent years.

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  10. I loved this movie. I like seeing older people in movies. Too many American movies and tv shows forget that everyone isn't 30. I wrote a blog post on it, and if you want to read it, here it is:
    http://lettersfromahillfarm.blogspot.com/2016/03/the-intern.html

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