I was having a discussion the other day about the new Robert De Niro movie, “Dirty Grandpa” and it really got me thinking about the actor’s career.
How could a legend like De Niro — whose resume is filled with all-time classic movies like “Taxi Driver” and “The Godfather, Part II” or “Good Fellas and “Raging Bull” or “The Deer Hunter” — sink to what appears to be such a low point in his career?
“Bang The Drum Slowly” was one of the first baseball movies I ever watched and certainly the first De Niro movie I ever saw since it was in 1973 when I was only 7 years old.
Fair to say it affected me for life as it gave me the trifecta of a love for baseball, cinema and story telling.
Even in “Angel Heart” and “Midnight Run” De Niro was awe-inspiring as an actor, be it a serious and intense role or more-comedic fare.
All told, he won two Oscars and 42 other acting awards. He was nominated 75 different times.
I suppose maybe the downfall started with “Analyze This” — where De Niro pokes fun at himself and his former mobster roles, starring opposite of Billy Crystal.
Then came those Fock-ing movies — “Meet The Parents” et. al. — and while they were fun, good-time and somewhat humorous movies, they weren’t De Niro-esque in terms of being classics. Or, even close to his best work.
The other day it kind of hit me.
De Niro is now 73 years old. His best days are behind him, but he’s still making a living, taking what roles he can.
Now I would never compare myself to Robert De Niro. Nor would I ever compare my journalism career to his acting career.
De Niro was great. If I may just toot my horn, I’m pretty good.
But a lot of times I write things these days and it feels like I’m falling short of my former self. Or, simply put, it feels like I’m not as good as I used to be.
Sure, I could make an excuse that in this day and age of journalism, I’m planning the papers, managing people, taking photographs, writing stories, laying out pages, running out to breaking news for other sections of the paper and dealing with a public that is either angry or apathetic that newspapers aren’t what they used to be.
De Niro had “Once Upon A Time in America.”
I have “Once Upon A Time I Was Just A Writer.”
Bottom line: De Niro is a shadow of his former self and sometimes I feel that way about my career. It’s not a feeling I like. Just calling it like I see it.
All that being said, though, I’ve been cleaning up my apartment of late — trying to lighten the load of history, if you will — and I’ve come across a bunch of stories I had written in the past.
Stories that take me (and the reader, I suppose) back in time.
Stories that tell great stories.
Stories that (maybe) made a difference.
Stories that I enjoyed writing and want to share with you now.
So, from time to time, here in “The October Weekend”, I’m going to present THE BEST OF ME … and follow up it up with some of my favorite pieces from my career.
It’s going to take me back to a time when I felt great about this career.
I hope, if you take the time to read them, you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing them.
I’ll post the first one tomorrow.