On the Aisle
By Tony Macklin
Imagine this conversation
A phone call between actor Bob De Niro and director Marty Scorsese
Bobby: Hello, Marty. I’ve been calling and texting, but you never answer.
Bobby: I’m talking to you. Are you talkin’ to me? Are you talkin’ to me?
Marty: I’ve been busy, Bob.
Bobby: Yeah, your Oscar.
Marty: Yes, I finally got one.
Bobby: Oh, that’s right. For “The Departed.” Your first. You didn’t get an Oscar for “Raging Bull” like I did. Who beat you? I forget.
Marty: Robert Redford for “Ordinary People.”
Bobby: Oh, yeah. The actor.
Marty: He’s directed.
Bobby: That really stung. Didn’t Thelma get an Oscar for “Raging Bull,” too?
Marty: Yes, Bob.
Bobby: Yeah, Best Actor and Best Editor. Thelma also got an Oscar for editing “The Aviator,” didn’t she? The editor and the director almost always win for the same picture.
Marty: Yes, Bob. Why did you call?
Bobby: I thought you might have a project for the two of us. We made nine movies together, but not since “Casino” 13 years ago.
Marty: We’ve gone our separate ways.
Bobby: I did “Meet the Parents” and “Analyze This.” They showed my range.
Marty: Yes. You scowled and grinned. You really shouldn’t grin, unless you want to play “I Am Sam.”
Bobby: I’ve got a good grin. Did you see my latest movie?
Bobby: “Righteous Kill.”
Marty: I saw your “Stardust,” “Arthur and the Invisibles,” “Hide and Seek: and “Godsend.”
Bobby: You should see “Righteous Kill.”
Marty: I really don’t want to see a movie without a director and without a script.
Bobby: You did see it. Pacino and I showed how you can work wthout a director or a script. We did some sweet improv.
Marty: To be frank, I think you did “Righteous Kill” to try to prove that a good director is unnecessary.
Bobby: It had a director, Jon Avnet.
Marty: Avnet directed “Fried Green Tomatoes.” He made you and Al into Fried Green Pasta.
Bobby: Avnet is from New York.
Marty: Yeah, Brooklyn. Not the old neighborhood.
Bobby: The script was by Russell Gewirtz who did Spike Lee’s “Inside Man.”
Marty: You always did like contrivance, didn’t you, Bobby? Lines such as, “I hate scumbags” and “Is it killin’ time, or is he just killin’
Bobby: Another character said that.
Marty: Gewirtz is a long way from Paul Schrader. Remember the dialogue in “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull?”
Bobby: What’s Di Caprio got that I ain’t got? He couldn’t play Jake La Motta.
Marty: He made a great Howard Hughes in “The Aviator.”
Bobby: He played him as a twerp. He’s a twerp. Remember how much weight I put on to play Jake La Motta; Di Caprio couldn’t even grow fingernails.
Marty: Leonardo is fine.
Bobby: I think you keep casting him because he reminds you of Liza Minnelli. Talk about “The Departed.”
Marty: Don’t be jealous.
Bobby: You never wanted me to play love scenes. In “Righteous Kill” I got a steamy sex scene.
Marty: Old steamed ham.
Marty: Nothing. Bob, Carla Gugino is 28 years younger than you.
Marty: You’re turning into Gary Cooper.
Bobby: I could have played Frank Costello in “The Departed.” Jack Nicholson. Jack? You’ll do anything for an Oscar. I’m surprised you didn’t cast Clint Eastwood.
Marty: I’m going to hang up now.
Bobby: What about making “Taxi Driver, Part 2”?
Marty: I don’t think so.
Bobby: Sequels sell. “Meet the Fockers,” “Analyze That.” Right now Gewirtz is writing “Inside Man 2.”
Marty: I don’t think so.
Bobby: You’re the man who does remakes. “The Departed” is a remake of a Hong Kong movie.
Marty: The world has changed. The business has changed. It’s not the 1960s, the 1970s, or even the 1980s. “Mean Streets” have become Main Streets, Bob. Our kills weren’t righteous. They were unique, visceral, and personal. They were one of a kind. “Righteous Kill” is run-of-the-mill.
At the other end of the line, there seems to be the faint sound of sobbing.
On the Aisle