Wednesday, March 14, 2012


JOHNNY CHAZZ: Hello CINEMA: COUNTERPOINT fans - I am going to choose three (3) this week I honor of this topic.

Now, let’s proceed, or Andiamo!

#1. MARCELLO MASTROIANNI: There should of course be more and more discussions circling this actor, but let’s be real honest when we say that American film-goers and movie-watchers live in a decaying shell. Mastroianni was often cast as the “Latin Lover” of Italian film he is probably best known internationally for acting in “La Dolce Vita” in 1960 directed by Federico Fellini.

Mastroianni received his first Academy Award nomination in 1962 for his role in the film “Divorzio all'Italiana,” translating to “Divorce Italian Style.” Mastroianni also received great acclaim for his performance in Fellini’s “8 ½” and ”La Notte” must also be included in the same list. As an actor he was possibly considered to be one of the sexiest leading men on the big screen. His charisma, those shades, the cool and calm yet passionate flair was what made his characters “Bond-esque” in a sense, but with more artistic and cinematic value per se.

A great tribute video for Mastroianni! enjoy!

Before passing away, we last saw Mastroianni in a comedy-domestic drama titled “Used People”. Marcello Mastroianni was a skilled actor who always brought the screen to life and offered-up a new style of film-acting for future actors to interpret the best they can.

#2. ROBERT DE NIRO: Where to begin and where to end? Mostly considered as an Italian-American actor, we must include him in our list. It would be safe to say that the early 1970’s jump-started his career with the likes of “Mean Streets” and playing the role of Vito Corleone in the “The Godfather II”. “Taxi Driver”, “The Deer Hunter” “Mean Streets”, “Raging Bull” and “The King of Comedy” would soon follow making De Niro a certain household name.

As a method actor, he is among the most talented in the world (learning how to live amongst NYC cabbies, boxers and gaining weight for his role in “The Untouchables”). How about “Midnight Run” or “The Mission” – these films sometimes fall through the cracks. “Cape Fear”, “Goodfelllas”, “Casino” and “Once Upon a Time in America” are other gems that audiences should re-visit as well. It almost seems that through the years, De Niro simply acts without any knowledge that he is on stage or that cameras are present….he is fully immersed into the roles he plays.

The recent films with De Niro have been quite forgettable, but we simply hold screenwriters, audiences and the like responsible for these types of mindless films. De Niro has won the Best Actor award five (5) times since 1976 (his role in Taxi Driver) and something tells me that there are probably 2 more waiting for him out there in the future.

Now, I will probably leave my counterpart “Jer” with the choices of “Pacino” or “Pesci” and those are obvious choices which he will likely elaborate on. Still, I am going to throw another name into the hat here that will round out my top-3.

#3. JOHN CAZALE: Although Cazale, who was always understated and underrated, only appeared in a handful of films; he basically was casted in sad and desperate character roles that only wanted one friend in life – and never really got it.

Probably best known for his role in the "The Godfather" films as Fredo Corleone, Cazale was equally wonderful and highly convincing in his role as Stan in Coppola’s “The Conversation” (1974). Cazale again starred alongside Pacino in Sidney Lumet’s suspenseful and gripping “Dog Day Afternoon”. Oh, and how interesting it is that he would again play the role of a “Stan” – yet this time in “The Deer Hunter”. Perhaps Cazale just looks like a Stan – and in some real way or fashion, his acting reflected that name to a “T”.

Cazale passed away at the age of 42 and was a great loss to the film industry. Cazale will always be remembered not only for his stunning performances, but also for lifting childhood friends Al Pacino and fellow theater actor Robert De Niro to fame in their early years on the set.
A wonderful tribute collection from John Cazale's films!

Tell me about your three, Jer-

JER: It is so great having you kick- off this topic was three very respected and reputable actors… this only makes it tougher for me to narrow it down to my ‘three’ and not repeat any of your selections. It isn’t fair that you nabbed Robert DeNiro, since he is still highly respected in the acting community and has such an expansive list of acting credits and can only leave anyone gasped at all of the memorable characters and films he represents.

Philip Seymour Hoffman as CAPOTE
Actors claiming to be the ‘best actors’ may fall under this category by default in some cases. There are some who turn- in a powerful performance that is completely out of their element. Take, for example, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s transition and full embodiment of Truman Capote in the film CAPOTE or even Jamie Foxx’s uncanny appearance and vocalizations as Ray Charles in RAY. Then, there are fine actors who are ‘type-casted’ in the similar roles that were once considered a stand- out performance and the audience continues to ask for the same in everything thereafter. Jack Nicholson has never stepped out of his Jack Torrance character in THE SHINING since 1980! From THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK to A FEW GOOD MEN and even ABOUT SCHMIDT on through to THE DEPARTED, the characters haven’t really stretched out much for Jack. Now, compare those films mentioned with his earlier works like FIVE EASY PIECES, THE LAST DETAIL or the classic CHINATOWN and we now have a case!

As to not sound repetitive, I have to bring our readers’ attention to my blog page dated July 12, 2011 in which I paid tribute to one of my favorite actors working today in: “Recognizing Actor Gary Oldman”. I would place him on my list, but I think anyone would enjoy reading the whole entry as apposed to a condensed version here. Enjoy!

Now that I have lightly touched a few, let me get my three on the list..

#3. SEAN PENN: A literal powerhouse of an actor who has done it all in every genre imaginable. Winner of two Academy Awards for MILK (2008) and MYSTIC RIVER (2003), Penn has brought the cinematic world a bevy of memorable characters including the high- flying stoner Jeff Spicoli in FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (1982), the innocent but vengeful Mick O’Brien in BAD BOYS (1983), wanna- be bad- ass Officer Danny McGavin in COLORS (1988), the weasling David Klienfeld in CARLITO’S WAY (1993) and the upcoming Mickey Cohen in the upcoming THE GANGSTER SQUAD set for a Winter 2012 release.

Penn has shown the intensity on the screen and has blurred the lines with his short- tempered confrontations with the press and the paparazzi in particular.

#2. BEN FOSTER: Talk about explosive! Foster has come out of nowhere with a powder-keg of high- octane recklessness that he puts former bad boys like Sean Penn, Russell Crowe and Colin Farrell to shame! Let’s not confuse their personal lives with Foster’s acting abilities, since he hasn’t ever been in the tabloids…no, he saves his aggressions for the screen instead. Case in point: The loose canon portrayal of Mars Krupcheck in HOSTAGE (2005), the ticking time bomb of Jake Mazursky in ALPHA DOG (2006), the mysterious Stranger in 30 DAYS OFNIGHT (2007), the unpredictable Charlie Prince in 3:10 TO YUMA (2007) and what will be another unforgettable performance as John Gotti Jr. in the upcoming GOTTI: IN THE SHADOW OF MY FATHER set for 2012.

Foster is one of those up and coming actors with an already impressive list of films under his belt with more to come in the near future. I am watching him closely… do not surprised if we see an Academy Award nomination from him soon! You heard it here first!
An explosive tribute video with highlights from Ben Foster

#1. CHRISTOPHER WALKEN: So many fine actors to choose from with a variety of different talents and personas, but one that constantly stands out, in my personal opinion, is Mr. Walken. As early as 1978, with his portrayal of Nick in THE DEER HUNTER, an established sense of nerves and uncontrolled direction made him an over-night sensation. The tensions that mounted during the harrowing Russian roulette games played with a blank feel of carelessness of what the outcome would be still makes the hairs on my arms stand in panic and shock!

Considered a box- office failure (but one my ‘closet’ favorites) was the second film directed by Michael Cimino (THE DEER HUNTER) where he played hired gun Nathan Champion in HEAVEN’S GATE (1980). This was quickly followed by two excellent performances in BRAINSTORM (1983) and the adapted film based off of Stephen King’s best seller THE DEAD ZONE (1983).

In 1985, Walken was given the distinct honor to play a Bond villain! The character of Max Zorin appeared in A VIEW TO A KILL starring Roger Moore as the classy James Bond. 1988 brought us his interpretation of the ever- strict and slightly off-his- rocker Sgt. Toomey in BILOXI BLUES.

 Although small parts by screen time and dialog’s definition, his moments on the screen in the following two films proved that Walken can deliver both a monologue in his classic monotone, deadpan expressionless look with slight knee-jerk reactions on his face and still captivate us regardless. Written by an unknown Quentin Tarantino, TRUE ROMANCE rose to the level of cult status as Vincenzo Coccotti first appears at the front door of Dennis Hopper’s character to seal his fate as an Italian Mafioso. The second film would have Walken return to work with writer Tarantino on his second directorial film PULP FICTION as the memorable Captain Koons and his classic watch story!

Other memorable roles include the vindictive Gabriel in THE PROPHECY (1995), the unpredictable Mr. Smith in NICK OF TIME (1995) and the demonic Horseman in Tim Burton’s SLEEPY HALLOW (1999). There are no signs of slowing down as he is in the midst of eight films in pre and post- production for the 2012- 2013 season… so expect more Walken!
The original 1983 trailer for Christopher Walken in BRAINSTORM

And there you have it. JOHNNY CHAZZ has always had more of a classic/ international flair where as I still remain contemporary. What do think of the selections made? Do you agree or disagree with them? We look forward to your comments and always check back for our replies! Tune in next time when it’ll be JER’s turn to select a well deserved cinematic topic. Check back right here on Wednesday March 28th, 2012 for our next blog topic! Thanks again for stopping by and we’ll see you at the movies!

Have you visited the official CINEMA: COUNTERPOINT page on YOUTUBE? Check out classic and contemporary trailers, scenes and other great trips down memory lane! Just click the link and check out the "Favorites" on our site! Enjoy!


  1. I always though that Al Pacino was one of the best of the italian actors. He was simply amazing in all of the Godfather movies not to mention his strong roles in Scarface and Serpico. Pacino is really spot-on when it comes to playing crime-related characters and is someone I would include in this list. (Joel from Burlington,North Carolina)

  2. I may have missed the point...I didn't know that it was Italian actors...JC never hinted to that being the topic!
    However, I purposely avoided Pacino becuase that would have been too obvious! I wanted to highlight some other talented actors who aren't mentioned as often as they should!
    Great choice, Joel and thank you for sharing!

  3. Marlon Brando deserves to be on this list also. When it comes to Italian-american actors, he is one of the best of all time. Brazzi and Mastroianni who you guys highlited are also superb at their craft. - Cliff, San Antonio TEXAS.

  4. Well said, Cliff! A great selection and one that needs to be recognized as well. Thank you so much for your comments!