Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Counting Turkeys After They've Hatched

In a recent interview, De Niro discussed his imminent retirement from directing. Most people picked up on his comment that, before quitting, he'd like to make a sequel to The Good Shepherd, the film he's plugging right now, but very few picked up on another, confusing little detail.

In the interview, De Niro counted the number of films he has directed so far as three.

That's Bronx Tale, Good Shepherd, and...

Well, if you believe imdb (and I suppose you probably would?) he was an uncredited director on The Score, the heist film he, Ed Norton and Brando appeared in and which was ostensibly directed by Frank Oz. Is this the third? As far as I understand - and more to the point, as far as I can tell by looking at the thing - most of the film was identifiably directed by Frank Oz. I'd say, at most, De Niro's direction affected about a fifth of the film's running time.

Is there another De Niro directed project that people don't generally know about? Well, i believe there is, and I've often been laughed at for asserting this before, but honestly, take a close look at the film - and I mean a close look - and you'll see where I'm coming from.

I think De Niro was an uncredited director on King of Comedy. Not the immeasurably superior Stephen Chow film but the 'Scorsese satire' (and, for the record, if it were directed entirely by Scorsese I'd credit it as his second best film, after Kundun).

A director's choices don't so much leave fingerprints on a film as they do curve the film's aesthetic in a particular way - like our own individual handwriting changes how words and letters look when we scribble them down. The curve of King of Comedy is much closer to Bronx Tale than it is Goodfellas, The Good Shepherd than it is The Last Temptation of Christ - while, in case you were wondering, Last Temptation, Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, After Hours, Kundun, The Age of Innocence and so on are all very similar.

Look closely and you'll see what I mean.

No comments: