Film stars should stick to the big screen and turn down naff TV ads – Kevan Christie

Robert De Niro, not waiting, but flogging bread (Picture: PA)
Robert De Niro, not waiting, but flogging bread (Picture: PA)
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Trotted off to the pictures on my Jack Jones on a day off last week. In the afternoon, of course, Tarantino’s latest, which I’d marked down as a “marquee event” in my own head having completed thorough due diligence on the Rotten Tomatoes film site.

Careful planning went into this operation.

First off, cinema times had to be checked, with the 12.30pm showing being selected to minimise the risk of other folk turning up.

As the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre once said, “Hell is other People” – reportedly after going to a night time showing of Fast and Furious at the Odeon Cinema in the Fife Retail Park – so I was leaving nothing to chance. Jean Paul knew his onions.

Next up, a quarter of Sports Mixture and a can of diet coke were purchased from the local ice-cream shop, the original Sports Mixture not the softer version, with the black liquorice slotting into the number ten role behind the main strikers.

After paying a very reasonable £7.99 for a premium seat and saving myself around £200 on Pick’n’Mix, I sat through 30 minutes of adverts, paralysed with fear at the thought of a nacho-munching couple, armed to the teeth with buckets of fat coke, deciding to sit within, or on the fringes of, the five row exclusion-zone I’d created.

Thoughts of Thatcher and the Belgrano were put to one side and three trips to the lavvy later, my pee-game was tight and I settled in for the feature presentation.

The only downer was that I’d eaten all the Sports Mixture and drank the diet coke before the start but I got over the crushing sense of disappointment and made a mental note to “keep some sweets for the film in future”.

The movie itself was bang average but it had Brad Pitt in it so the time passed smoothly enough, even if Tarantino forgot to include a script – there’s an hour where nothing very much happens – and the ending is ridiculous.

Cheers for that Barry Norman – Film 2020 beckons. This got me thinking about great movie stars and how they differ from other actors who mostly ply their trade on television and in the theatre.

It’s not spoken about as much these days, and “star vehicle” seems like an old-fashioned term, but leading men like Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio can pretty much carry any film to success at the box office.

Two things are required: a) they have to be exceptionally good looking and b) we can’t know, or at least remember, too much about their personal lives.

Acting ability is important but the real greats understand that doing as little as possible on screen while maintaining a stillness works best.

Brando knew this and was lauded for it even when the film was a bit ropey.

Of course, I’m talking exclusively about men here.

Things are still much harder for women actors despite the #MeToo movement attacking the Hollywood casting system.

The term “leading lady” to complement the male star is hopefully redundant but there are still fewer opportunities for women to look cool and very few are given the chance to have their names appear above the title.

Jodie Foster and Meryl Streep are the only two female actors I can think of in the last 30 years who have rivalled male stars in terms of box-office power. Things only appear to be getting better – sure, there are lots of great actors out there like Emma Stone and Kristen Stewart, but no-one yet has the clout of a Foster or a Streep.

Perhaps they never will and those days are gone, with a slew of female actors doomed to stay at the same, albeit top, level, having to compete for parts.

One of the things I like about Brad Pitt is that he seems fairly normal.

You don’t hear horror stories about him being difficult to work with and I imagine he’s the sort of person who doesn’t order off-menu when he goes out to eat.

No egg white omelettes for him.

I’d like to think he likes a medium-rare steak with chips, or French fries as he probably calls them, and isn’t on a constant diet like most actors – but I’m probably being too kind.

I do know he was married to that nice Rachel from Friends, then cheated on her with Angelina Jolie, married her, then got divorced again and now has 18 kids to look after, but that’s no different from wee Bert who drives the fish van in Lochgelly. No doubt Brad has made a few stinkers in his time, Troy and The Devil’s Own where he played an “Oirish” republican terrorist to name two, but his movie choices in the last few years have been pretty much flawless and his IMDb filmography ranks among the best.

This talk of choices brings me onto the tricky subject of Robert De Niro, or Bobby as I like to call him.

His choices have been dreadful for well over ten years now and he’s in danger of ruining his legacy.

I’m not loving the stuff he did for Warburtons bagels and the new Kia Niro car advert with a “hilarious” play on his name is downright painful, which makes me question if he ever was making his own choices on scripts.

I know some people don’t mind these shameless earners, and obviously he still gets a pass because he’s Bobby, but it’s hard to watch his classics knowing how the movie of his life has panned out.

It’s getting to be like he’s a character out of one of his own films – a down at heel Jake la Motta, or worse still, wannabe comedian Rupert Pupkin from Martin Scorsese classic The King of Comedy.

Who knows, maybe his best mate Scorsese has rode in again to save the day with the forthcoming The Irishman... but I wouldn’t bet a quarter of Sports Mixture on it.