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Copernicus isn't a fan of the Edward Norton Robert De Niro drama STONE!

I know both Robert De Niro and Edward Norton have their share of lovers and haters out there, but I’m pretty neutral. I mean, early DeNiro was as good as any actor has ever been. Too bad we’re in the fey pirate phase of his career. And Edward Norton – FIGHT CLUB – need I say more? But the rumors that he was such a prima donna that he demanded major creative control over INCREDIBLE HULK appear to have been true. Or at least that’s how I interpret Kevin Feige’s statement about why Norton was kicked off of THE AVENGERS. The setup for STONE -- Robert De Niro: parole officer; Edward Norton: asshole punk up for parole; Milla Jovovich: sex bomb. Surely this must somehow involve my two favorite words: moral turpitude! This is an idea that could go places. Sadly, it doesn’t. STONE is flaccid and lifeless. I was never invested in any character, because at no time did I believe this was anything other than Edward Norton talking to Robert De Niro. Just look at Norton in those cornrows:

He looks ridiculous. But that’s nothing. -- wait until you hear the silly accent he ladles onto that train wreck. I kept expecting Barbara Billingsley to step in and say, “Oh stewardess, I speak jive!” Have these people never seen THE WIRE? There are hundreds of quite capable and exceedingly believable actors out there that can play criminals. Edward Norton is not one of them. I have not seen horseshit Hollywood casting this egregious since Frank Sinatra played a Mexican. De Niro is tolerable in his role, which is saying something, since he’s continually bathed in the reflected glow of Norton’s stunningly unfortunate pate and patois. I’m surprised De Niro could get through enough takes without bursting into laughter (or tears) to put a movie together (such as it is). But still, this is just De Niro playing De Niro with different props and scenery. We’ve seen it a hundred times. Actually, the most interesting performance was Milla Jovovich. Yes, that’s right, Milla Jovovich out-acted Robert De Niro and Edward Norton. Star of RESIDENT EVIL Milla Jovovich. One step away from being in a Uwe Boll film Milla Jovovich. It doesn’t hurt that she’s still atomic bomb hot, and her character is essentially a sex goddess. She’s at least a wildcard, and we never quite know what she’s going to do. Well, ok, you know the main thing she’s going to do. She won’t be getting any statues for what amounts to a one-note affair (a note that she hammers pretty damn hard), but in a film chock-a-block with caricatures and dead-obvious plot points, we’re desperate for any whiff of mystery. For at least a fleeting moment we get to think, “Maybe this one way trip to Obvioustown has a stop somewhere!“ Her presence is kind of like finding a glass of water in the desert. It is just plain old H20 in most contexts, but in this barren wasteland, it’s a life-giving elixir. I suppose I should summarize the plot, though there’s not much more to it than I already wrote. I won’t even bother looking up the characters’ names, because they never managed to convince me they even were characters. Norton is a criminal facing the parole board. De Niro is the cop who has to interview him. You know the drill, it is his last case before he retires! Norton’s fate is in De Niro’s hands. But then Jovovich, the inexplicably hot supermodel wife of moronic street thug Norton, comes into the picture. Yes, it goes where you think it is going to go. Themes hit you on the head in this film like safes raining from the sky. Both the film and Norton’s character are named STONE, for a start. The movie begins in a flashback with De Niro’s character doing something bad. See, he could have ended up like Norton, but for the grace of God. But that’s not enough – the characters have to mull this point over a few times and repeat it back and forth to each other. Why just imply when you can show and reiterate? But then, subtlety is never the strong suit of any film where a character is going to do something, “One last time!” I saw STONE at TIFF. I talked to about a half-dozen people who saw it there, and it left them all cold. One guy even fell asleep. The Tomatometer is running at 33%. That is hardly a scientific poll, but I was quite perplexed at the 8.4 rating on IMDB, with about 300 votes. How could this be, before it is even released? Could it be ballot box stuffing by an overzealous marketing department? They certainly are advertising the hell out of it on sites like this. Which is why I felt all the more motivated to get this review in. It opens in some cities this weekend, but don’t waste your time.

Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 7, 2010, 6:04 p.m. CST

    ed norton

    by LethargicJ

    I'll never understand why people like Norton. He's the most boring person alive. I've never seen him in a movie where he showed any emotion whatsoever. He's completely lifeless. A Mister Potato Head would be a better actor. At least then you can change it's facial expressions.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 6:05 p.m. CST

    Norton does indeed look ridiculous, but you ever see...

    by FlickaPoo ex con white boy from Newark NJ? I'm just sayin'.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 6:06 p.m. CST

    Edward Corn-rowton...

    by Read and Shut Up


  • Oct. 7, 2010, 6:11 p.m. CST

    "Primal Fear" is still my favourite Norton performance


    He was very good in "American History X" and "Fight Club" but "Primal Fear" is still the highlight of his career for me.<p>Sadly, I haven't seen much of a spark in many of his performances recently. It's as though he's content simply to coast along, and his heart isn't truly in whatever he's doing. And that's probably the main problem with "Stone" because De Niro has been doing the same thing for a while.<p>Do I want to watch a movie in which not one, but TWO, once-great actors are content to be merely average? No, not really.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 6:11 p.m. CST

    Preview makes it look predictable and weak

    by I am_NOTREAL

    so I'm not surprised, but listen - cornrows look idiotic on any white guy, so that seems like a pretty small sin to me. In fact, I find it pretty believeable that a guy who's been in prison for a long time would have 'em.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 6:16 p.m. CST

    That photo looks photoshopped

    by No Respectable Gentleman

    No saying it is ... but it sure looks like it. Bizarre.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 6:35 p.m. CST

    That's exactly what I got from the trailer

    by belasco_house

    Never really got the Norton-love, never found his performances natural<p> Sorry.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 6:36 p.m. CST

    No Respectable Gentleman

    by belasco_house

    I thought that too! Maybe if it's used for publicity, then it is..?

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 6:40 p.m. CST

    Ed Norton's "accent" in this flick is fucking laughable.

    by AzulTool

    Sorry, Ed. But, they can't all be winners.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 6:47 p.m. CST

    Milla just called....

    by LargoJr

    The restraining order was completed this afternoon, It's now officially illegal for Harry to root thru her trash for soiled undies

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 6:49 p.m. CST

    why do you always tell us where you saw it?

    by AzzyAzzy

    I mean, who cares? In every damn review of a movie that hasn't dropped the reviewer has to legitimize their review by telling us where they saw it. Dumb. I saw this at fantastic fest, I saw this at my friend gary's house who works for universal, i saw this at plug plug plug.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 6:52 p.m. CST

    It DOES look photoshopped! LOL

    by CountryBoy

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 7:07 p.m. CST

    Prison Mike: The Movie

    by MelGibsonsRacialTirade

    Seriously....Edward Norton with corn rows? This is funnier than the Prison Mike episode of The Office.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 7:28 p.m. CST

    I agree...

    by Carolinamaestro

    DeNiro hasn't done anything great lately, but what is he supposed to do. Honestly, I feel sorry for actors of DeNiro's caliber. "Next up for DeNiro... Perry White!" I guess he's supposed to appear in a comic book movie or "Something, part 7". I mean, all the high profile films that are coming out are a waste of time for someone like DeNiro or Al Pacino. I guess if I were Robert DeNiro, I would have a hard time getting excited about playing Skipper in the upcoming "Gilligan's Island" remake. Hollywood sucks.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 7:38 p.m. CST

    you know it's a stinker


    when it has an all star cast but the studio isn't pushing it.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 8:04 p.m. CST

    There's nothing wrong with a movie like this ...

    by Itchy

    that a three minute scene of buck-naked Mila getting jackhammered on a back alley mattress can't fix. Shit - that's an appealing visual. I should be a cinematographer or some shit.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 8:04 p.m. CST

    Re: Mad Eye Mongo

    by Dan the Geek

    No it was Paul Newman... Hombre. or maybe it WAS Frank Sinatra... The Kissing Bandit. see, we can do this all day if you want.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 8:14 p.m. CST

    Here's what De Niro should do

    by SnootyBoots

    Theatre. There are great roles he could be playing on stage instead of these eminently missable movies he's been making the last few years.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 8:19 p.m. CST

    Primal Fear with Cornrows

    by MST3KPIMP

    you can tell Norton's desperate for a hit so he resorted to playing yet another inmate but this time he's from the hood y'all. I don't think the gamble will pay off.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 8:33 p.m. CST

    I'm always thrown off when...

    by ConfusedPanda

    ...big names get cast in a movie that, based on the script, doesn't have mainstream or arthouse appeal. It just is. It was made....because it was made. Nothing more.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 8:41 p.m. CST

    Sinatra played a mexican?

    by doodler

    Are you sure you don't mean Chuck Heston in Touch of Evil? I would like to think Frankie would have more class than that.....

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 8:45 p.m. CST

    De Niro's head in this shot

    by taro_milk_with_pearls

    Does anyone else think his head looks like someones done a terrible photoshop. It seems very oddly placed.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 8:53 p.m. CST

    I think this IS a Photoshop

    by MST3KPIMP

    only Norton is in focus, the desk should be as well as it close to him. As for Deniro, it reminds me of the Analyse This posters. Working at a video store I'm often perplexed that in this age of FX wizardry they can't make better promo and poster art.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 9:01 p.m. CST

    DeNiro looks like Dan Rather

    by doodler

    in that photo. if he could master the voice/cadence, he should play a biopic about when he got ousted over that BS story....

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 10:14 p.m. CST

    From the trailer....this looks awful

    by SmokingRobot

    Ridiculous and false. Stale and tired.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 10:16 p.m. CST

    locations, photoshop, and sinatra

    by copernicus

    AzzyAzzy, I say when I saw the film at TIFF because I'm accredited press there. It helps me collect all my coverage together when I have to turn it in to ensure I get accredited next year. Plus, the festival likes to see shout-outs like that. Yes I did mean Sinatra as a Mexican (THE KISSING BANDIT), but he also played the leader of a spanish army in THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION. That picture might have been photoshopped, but not necessarily so. It is possible to get a large depth of field with a larger f-ratio. De Niro's hand is blurred because it is moving, and the edge of the table might be blurred because it is at the edge of the frame where there can be optical distortions.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 11:20 p.m. CST

    I'm sorry

    by thecheesegrommit

    I couldn't get past his first paragraph. It stunk of snarky, superior attitude. Wow Gross "Copernicus"

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 12:11 a.m. CST

    Hardly a surprise

    by Rocco Curioso

    First of all... great review, Copernicus. That Barbara Billingsley comparison is priceless. Norton couldn't approximate being down with the homies if it was beaten into him. No matter what the role, he always seems to wear that sense of entitlement like a Versace tuxedo. In real life, he comes from a very rich family; I'm guessing that factors into it in no small measure. You want to see an austere actor go in the opposite direction and convincingly play an OTT mook who's nothing nut trouble? Watch Christian Bale in "Harsh Times". A middling movie, but he nails the role completely.<P>Absolution requires first confession, then penance. First, Norton needs to go on a late night talkshow, and admit that being a control freak prick was got him excluded from "The Avengers". That's the confession part; done deal.<P>As penance, he needs to reprise the role of fancylad Nathanial Mayweather in a remake of "Cabin Boy". In addition, maybe the Bobster can reprise Letterman's classic turn as "Old Salt" to complete their DeNiro/Norton Master Thespian Trilogy:<P>"You talkin' to me, monkey? You talkin' to me, monkey? Well, I'm the only one here who wants to buy you".

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 12:42 a.m. CST


    by JonChambers

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 12:43 a.m. CST


    by JonChambers

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 12:43 a.m. CST


    by JonChambers

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 12:44 a.m. CST


    by JonChambers

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 12:44 a.m. CST


    by JonChambers

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 12:45 a.m. CST

    Edward Norton's name on a film guarantees a lousy movie now . .

    by JonChambers

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 1:04 a.m. CST

    Norton used the same accent in Primal Fear

    by Titus05

    or almost the same right?...didn't mind it too much

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 1:18 a.m. CST


    by Rocco Curioso

    In "Primal Fear", his accent was either West Virginia or Tennessee. Not sure about this one.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 1:32 a.m. CST


    by Galactic

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 2:21 a.m. CST

    Edward Norton can't play a criminal? Really??

    by RedJester

    American History X, The Score, etc...

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 3:11 a.m. CST

    Heston as a Mexican

    by Jonatwork

    I never had a problem with that because Heston brought a performance to the film. I see Norton bringing believability to a lot of roles but I inevitably react with "So what?" Elsewhere Harry said he longed for a Sinbad movie with an actor who was ethnically-correct for the part--why? Who cares? I'll take Morgan Freeman in Shakespeare over a dozen fey Brits any day of the week. It's what works that matters. Just as people today seem way too caught up in "canon" I think people pretend that some things matter that really don't. While watching a recent DeNiro thing--Everybody's Fine--I kept wondering "Why was this movie made?" I put on Taxi Driver and sorry to be corny but it was electrifying. It isn't about realism, it's about what works, and realism is only one doorway into art. Norton invariably plays someone I could meet on the street, but I wouldn't want to meet them, not because I'm afraid of them but because the characters he plays are boring. He may be trying to look like a ridiculous white guy in his corn rows here, but I'm not going to pay money to watch him play a "realistic" goof. I'd rather be entertained by Charlton Heston--or Sinatra--as a Mexican. ((I also have a fondness for how Orson Welles took every opportunity to praise Heston for helping him get the directing gig for Touch of Evil, which is why Tim Burton's snarky dig in Ed Wood is offensive.))

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 3:15 a.m. CST

    Norton playing a criminal

    by AsimovLives

    What the hell was his character in AMERICAN HISTORY X, then? And he was EXTREMELY convincing in that movie.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 3:17 a.m. CST

    As for Norton's stupid look in this movie...

    by AsimovLives

    ... obviously you guys never worked at a court of law, have you? specially at a criminal court. that's my job, and trust me, norton actually looks too good compared to the many idiots that show up, this dumb whiteboys who dress and try to talk like black street thugs, or rather, like bad impersonation of american rappers who like to pretend they are badass thugs. Norton actualyl looks too good compared to most criminal idiots that goes around. Never understimate hos stupid looking one of this white black-wannabes criminals look.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 3:20 a.m. CST

    And i feel that DeNiro thinks he already payed his dues

    by AsimovLives

    I think that Deniro thinks he already payed his dues, already proved himself many, many times, and now he's working for his pension plan. He's in pre-retirement mode. And frankly, who's to blame him? We are already lucky that we got an actor this good and the good stuff he did in his earlier career, that will never go away.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 7:22 a.m. CST

    Deniro needs to retire.

    by mojoman69

    I love the guy. Hey, Taxi driver and Godfather 2 are absolute works of art and he could have quit after those and still been famous. But, as of late, he has done shit. Righteous Kill? Machete(granted a goof role, but still he was awful in it) Where the gravitas Bob? Where'd it go? Soon he will be doing Disney movies or going on Dancing with the Stars. Retire!

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 7:49 a.m. CST

    you could tell it would suck

    by FleshMachine

    you could feel it's uninterestingness

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 7:52 a.m. CST

    a shitty review over the Ad...bravo!!

    by FleshMachine

    well done.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 8:09 a.m. CST

    DeNiro, de nada.

    by blackwood

    I won't excuse poor performances in crappy movies, but DeNiro doesn't have anything to prove. Sometimes I'm sure he just wants to make bank. We've all forgiven Michael Caine for far worse.<p>I'm glad Milla comes off well. I think she's better than she gets credit for. Overall, though, I didn't have much interest in this and still don't. I think Ed Norton is a good actor, broadly, but pretty uninteresting.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 8:45 a.m. CST

    i liked The Score

    by slickerynodes

    good flick, solid retard shtick by Norton and a cool fat Brando. <P> I'll catch this one in a year and a half on hbo

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 9:18 a.m. CST

    Norton was also good in 25TH HOUR...

    by NoHubris

    ...which is my favorite Norton performance.<p>Agreed regarding THE SCORE. That's another good movie where Norton is credible as a criminal.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 10:36 a.m. CST

    I like how the benchmark for realism for this guy is TV

    by torontoxic

    Norton most likely did more research than watch HBO, tough guy. <P> If his accent doesn't sell you it could be because you've never met anyone like his character. And admit it... you haven't.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 11:02 a.m. CST

    De Niro is LEFT HANDED, like meeeeeeeeeeeee

    by Tigger Tales

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 11:57 a.m. CST

    re: "One step away from being in a Uwe Boll film Milla Jovovich.

    by Stalkeye

    You couldnt have said it better. And how so true.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, noon CST

    Norton hasnt been good since the 25th Hour

    by Stalkeye

    because the Incredible Hulk was a bit underwhelming.So much for topping Ang Lee's version.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 12:18 p.m. CST

    Norton was fantastic in 25th HOUR

    by AsimovLives

    And the movie itself is fantastic. the movie certainly hit a chord with me because the characters were of my age group, the friend dynamics was pretty much like my group of friends (except none of us is a drug dealer...i think) and on a persoanl note,it was devastating for me to see thw hole that once was the Twin Towers, because just a little more then year before i visited the place when they were still there. The movie really worked for me.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 12:19 p.m. CST

    Capone's review of this movie is very positive

    by AsimovLives

    Who to believe, who to believe.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 1:13 p.m. CST


    by cleaningwindows

    This is what happens when two doctrinaire, dick sucking, liberals make a movie together. Weak shit

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 1:45 p.m. CST

    I didn't knew Milla was a liberal

    by AsimovLives