Robert De Niro
Ladies and gentlemen, set your DVRs. At the Movies, the beacon of televised film criticism founded by Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel in 1975, is about to undergo a much-needed makeover.
For those who have followed the syndicated weekly show since Ebert and latter-day partner Richard Roeper left Disney-ABC Domestic Television last summer, the introduction of Michael Phillips and A.O. Scott as the latest pair of critics to occupy the vaunted balcony should come as welcome news.
Hyperbole runs rampant in the entertainment industry, but it’s hardly effusive to call Woody Allen a living legend.
At 72, the Brooklyn-born director of Annie Hall and Manhattan has received 21 Oscar nominations during his four-plus decades behind the camera, taking home the statuette three times. He has expanded his canon at the astonishing rate of a movie each year since 1992, and his latest, the remarkable romantic comedy Vicky Cristina Barcelona, won an Academy Award nomination for Penélope Cruz. In short, he has earned his place in the fraternity of the finest filmmakers of any era: among them, Fellini, Scorsese and the man Allen once described as “the great cinematic poet of morality,” Ingmar Bergman.
Following his one-man run on Broadway performing A Bronx Tale, which he wrote more than two decades ago and adapted in 1993 for Robert De Niro’s film-directing debut, Chazz Palminteri returns to the screen with Yonkers Joe, a shrewd move for a native New Yorker who has rarely strayed far from his roots. (What’s next? Brooklyn Bennie? Staten Island Sal?) Whatever the future holds for Palminteri, whose Italian roots and Bronx upbringing have helped earn him a career playing assorted streetwise heavies, he seems in his element here, as a working-class hustler who fixes games of chance.
New Year’s Day has come and gone, and by now you’re already too familiar with the films hailed by critics as the cream of last year’s crop, to the extent that the official announcement of nominees for the 81st Academy Awards (due in the wee morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 22) may seem like something of a formality.