Friday, February 15, 2008

Daily SAll-Star: Al Pacino

One of the finest actors of all time, Al Pacino is most famous for roles as two of cinema's most diabolical criminals: The Godfather's Michael Corleone and Scarface's Tony Montana. The difference in these two characters' emotional output is a microcosm of Pacino's talent throughout his entire career; Michael, a cold, silent, calculating man, ultimately devoid of human affection despite his pretenses, and Tony, a boisterous, violent, coke-addicted overprotective psycho who kills his best friend for marrying his sister. The two men could not be more different (unless, of course, one of them didn't commit crime), and yet despite being played by the same man, command their own legacy of respect. Everyone knows Michael Corleone because he's a great character. Everyone knows Tony Montana because he is a great character. It just so happens that Al Pacino is both men.

Pacino's path to glory began in the 1970's, when he made two parts of The Godfather, Serpico, And Justice for All, and Dog Day Afternoon. He received an Academy Award nomination for his roles in all of these films.

Interestingly, Pacino was the only member of the cast or crew of The Godfather of Sicilian heritage besides author and screenwriter Mario Puzo; specifically, Pacino's grandparents emigrated to New York from the town of Corleone. It is unknown if director Francis Ford Coppola knew this at casting. And unlike many actors who portray Italian-Americans onscreen, Al Pacino is 100% Azzurro.

Pacino has a few promising projects in the near future, such as 88 Minutes, which is basically 16 Blocks starring Al Pacino, and Righteous Kill, which will be only the second film in which Pacino and Robert De Niro share screen time after 1995's Heat by Michael Mann. Unfortunately the producers blew their casting budget on these two heavyweights and cast 50 Cent as the film's villain. Hmm.

But the one we should really be looking forward to is Rififi, whenever it gets made. Pacino will play an elderly, curmudgeonly thief who gets released from prison after decades only to find his woman has moved on; he plans the heist of a lifetime in his resultant anger. It will be a remake of the 1955 French film of the same name, and if you have not seen it, I highly recommend it. It is noir and Frenchness at its finest.

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