Matt Damon in The Good Shepherd (dir. Robert De Niro, 2006).
With The Good Shepherd, Robert De Niro has directed the best Francis Ford Coppola film since Apocalypse Now. Unfortunately, that's not necessarily saying much, and though this is really a lot better than, say, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, or The Godfather III, it's trying to be as good as The Godfather II. (I will give it the benefit of the doubt that it knew better than even to try to be as good as The Godfather I). Why does it fail? Partly because you just can't make that kind of movie anymore, since part of what was so great about that kind of movie was that movies like them hadn't been made before. Partly because Matt Damon just doesn't look twenty years older than himself, and the effect is sort of like watching a little kid in a grown-up hat and shoes. Partly because a movie whose main idea is that organizations like the CIA and the Skull and Bones Society function together as conflicted expressions of men's inability to trust each other as friends is missing most of the bigger picture. And partly because that Eddie Redmayne guy who plays the son is so, so, so annoying. The intertwining past/present plot is handled pretty skillfully, but there are a lot of insufficiently differentiated supporting characters, many of whom don't end up being very important anyway. It's amusing to listen to Michael Gambon play a professor who mumbles drivel about good poetry being as pure as mathematics.
Labels: Robert De Niro