Where’s Robert De Niro when you need him?
De Niro, who has a way of elevating weird character roles into commanding lead parts, made a cottage industry of portraying the sort of person who now stands accused of attacking Paul Pelosi, in what is alleged to have been a scheme to take hostage his wife Nancy, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. (DePape has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and other charges.)
Bickle in Taxi Driver (1976), Pupkin in The King of Comedy (1982) and Renard in The Fan (1996) were eerily recognizable as examples of a perhaps uniquely American type. Marginalized. Damaged. Increasingly isolated. They spiral into very personal obsession, as the noisy pop and political culture overwhelms their fragile grip on the real.
Suspect In Attack On Paul Pelosi Pleads Not Guilty To State Charges – Update
It was fascinating stuff, the more so because brilliant filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, who directed Taxi Driver and King of Comedy, and Tony Scott, who made The Fan, probed their scary subjects with a kind of chilling empathy that is necessarily lost in the politically riven media coverage of a DePape.
Reporters hunt for the next fact and evidence of motive or influence. But filmmakers, the good ones, come at these frightening people from the inside, leaving viewers with the awful sense that they, the demented outcasts, are our own fault — they are the inevitable fallout of a society that trades too heavily in fame and public drama.
It has nothing to do with party politics. Turn the screw once or twice, and any somewhat fragile psyche can crack, creating the next “D-FENS,” William Foster, the defense engineer played by Michael Douglas who spread mayhem across Los Angeles, and monopolized the news cycle, in Joel Schumacher’s Falling Down (1993).
Frankly, it’s disappointing to see Rob Reiner, as talented a popular director as ever there was, reverting to Twitter in the wake of the Pelosi attack. On Friday, Reiner pronounced Donald Trump “100% responsible” for DePape’s actions and called for the ex-president’s indictment.
Once upon a time (1990), Reiner directed a brilliant movie called Misery. It was about a fan (Kathy Bates) who became disillusioned by the latest manuscript from an author (James Caan) whom she had adored. He was injured, and in her control. She broke his ankles with a sledgehammer, shades of David DePape. Way back then, it won an Academy Award for Bates.
We could use something like that now. But that would involve a lot of work. It’s so much easier to rant on Twitter.
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