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DeNiro, Front And Center

Singer Britney Spears watches the Houston Rockets play the Los Angeles Lakers during the first hlf of their NBA basketball game, Friday, March 30, 2007 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
It's ironic that at a time when independent films and filmmakers are becoming the creative center of the movie world and slowly edging into the mainstream themselves, that an actor they so often cite as an inspiration — Robert DeNiro — opens this week in what looks like a mainstream police thriller.

It isn't necessarily that DeNiro has sold out, or that 15 Minutes necessarily lacks a subversive edge, for it propounds to be a satire of something that dearly needs some spoofing — the mainstream news media.

It's just that 25 years or so ago, when he was making Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Mean Streets and 1900, would anybody have pictured DeNiro chasing bad guys in an action thriller with a detective shield on his belt and a gun in his hand?

But there he is, alongside indie prod actor/director Ed Burns playing one-half of a dynamic cop duo charged with catching two crazy Eastern European killers who like to do their dirty deeds on TV a la Natural Born Killers in search of those 15 minutes of fame Andy Warhol promised them.

Maybe the challenge for DeNiro is in trying to put a different spin on stock characters or maybe this is one of the smart choices (Wag The Dog, Copland, Analyze This) that he's made since going mainstream.

Kelsey Grammar is also along as the too-pompous television reporter. 15 Minutes is rated R with some sex scenes and nasty violence.

Some guys will do anything to keep a girlfriend. Even Shakespeare.

Take Berke (Ben Foster). He's a high school basketball player so hot to regain the most popular girl on campus (Melissa Sagemiller) that he gets quits the team to take a part in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Get Over It is a fish-out-of-water teen romance that one hopes has some of the gentleness and sagacity that informed similar movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless.

Get Over It is rated R with some sexual scenes.

The Bay of Pigs invasion is one of the worst military-political blunders in U.S. history. It hobbled the Kennedy administration, led directly to the Cuban Missile Crisis, constituted one of the low-water marks of the Cold War and worse, practically guaranteed Fidel Castro's lifetime tenure in office.

Theories abound as to who bears ultimate responsibility and where it all went so wrong, and Company Man, Paramount Pictures' latest release, has the most novel explanation yet for it all:

Allen Quimp, a henpecked grammar school teacher from Connecticut, who will go to any lengths — even political intrigue — to get away from his overbearing wife.

What's interestig about this ostensibly wacky comedy is how many big name actors are in supporting roles. Sigourney Weaver, John Turturro, Anthony LaPaglia, Ryan Phillippe, Denis Leary, Woody Allen, and Bill Murray all have roles in this spy spoof. What does it say about the scarcity of political satire in American movies that a film as offbeat as this garners so many stars?

Company Man stars Doug McGrath and is rated PG-13. It is in limited release.