Birthday Double Dynamite

Birthday Double Dynamite

Posted by Mike Finnegan on Aug 17th 2018

Both share enduring movie careers highlighted by two Academy Awards® for acting and admired forays into directing, and have worked together on screen. Each has forged individual paths in social and political activism, and outspoken support of humanitarian causes. And also in common, 75-year-old Robert De Niro and 58-year-old Sean Penn mark birthdays today. Happily, they’re both also prized members of the Twilight Time hi-def Blu-ray library. De Niro gives a tender and thoughtful performance as an illiterate laborer helped to self-realization through tutelage from and romance with Jane Fonda in the marvelous working-class romantic drama Stanley & Iris (1990), the final movie from lauded “social issue” director Martin Ritt. Penn delivers powerful crisis-of-conscience turns in a pair of haunting and gritty crime thrillers: he’s the son of an unscrupulous father (Christopher Walken) leading him down a dark criminal path in director James Foley’s riveting At Close Range (1986) and an undercover cop who returns to his Hell’s Kitchen roots to infiltrate and unravel a violent Irish mob populated by old pals (ruthless patriarch Ed Harris and wild card son Gary Oldman) in director Phil Joanou’s compelling State of Grace (1990). In addition to Isolated Music Tracks of enthralling scores by, respectively, John Williams, Patrick Leonard and Ennio Morricone, each title features an Audio Commentary, by either TT historians or the directors themselves, that acutely analyzes the work of birthday honorees De Niro and Penn, as well as the artists who share the screen with them. All are worth a celebratory spin.