Auditions I Love: Robert De Niro for The Godfather

With Thanksgiving approaching, that can only mean that it’s time for AMC to do their annual showing of The Godfather movies.

This gives me an excuse to put up one of my favorite clips, Robert De Niro auditioning for the role of Sonny Corleone in the original 1972 Godfather.

(The role, of course, went to James Caan and De Niro went on to play the young Vito Corleone in The Godfather, Part II.  Caan was nominated for an Oscar while De Niro actually won.)

This audition, by the way, can be found in the extras of The Godfather DVD set.

A Quickie With Lisa Marie: Unstoppable (dir. by Tony Scott)

This is going to be a quick review because Unstoppable is a quick movie.  That’s not meant to be an insult because Unstoppable is one of those, race-against-time type films that has to move quickly to be succesful.

Unstoppable’s plot is amazingly simple.  There’s a runaway train that could derail at any seconds.  Since the train is being used to transport dangerous and toxic chemicals, this could potentially lead to the destruction of a small portion of Pennsylvania.  However, there’s another train on the tracks.  The train is being steered by Denzel Washington and Chris Pine.   Washington’s a grizzled veteran type.  Pine’s a callow, headstrong youth type.  Can they put aside their difference and work together to save Pennsylvania?  Does the sun rise in the … wait, which side of the Earth does the sun rise on?

I have to admit that I was prepared to dislike Unstoppable.  For one thing, its set in Pennsylvania and right now, I’ve got some issues with that state.  For several years, I liked Pennsylvania because I associated the state with The Office.  But then a few months ago, that damn Levi’s Jeans commercial started up with that “Heigh Ho” song playing over grainy black-and-white images of Braddock, Pennsylvania and John Fetterman (the town’s mayor, who looks like a serial rapist) saying something about half the town being in a landfill.  And those commercials made me dislike Pennsylvania because, seriously, Fetterman, you’re not fooling anyone.  

(Quick disclaimer: Fetterman, to my knowledge, has never been accused, arrested, indicted, or convincted of rape.  Also, Braddock has a really inspiring story that all you rich kids who know nothing about poverty can go swoon over.)

But anyway, back to Unstoppable.   It’s actually a fairly entertaining movie.  Scott’s direction keeps the action pretty tight and both Washington and Pine give pretty good performances even if they are playing stereotypes.  Both of them have to deliver a lot of technical, “train” dialogue and they both deliver it with such confidence that it really didn’t matter that I couldn’t figure out what they were talking about most of the time. 

The real star of the film, obviously, is that runway train and — roaring across the tracks and shattering through various barrier — the train does not disappoint.  Give it the Oscar for Best Supporting Performance By A Machine. 

In the end, watching Unstoppable is kinda like wrapping yourself up in your favorite blanket.  It’s warm and familiar and it serves its purpose. 

(Quick note: I always find it funny how Tony Scott is always credited as “the director of Man on Fire” as if that’s a good thing.)