400 Screens, 400 Blows is a weekly column that takes an in-depth look at the films playing below the radar, beneath the top ten, and on 400 screens or less.

Okay, so Righteous Kill (381 screens) wasn't the world's greatest movie. At best it was rudimentary -- and at worst, it was outright stupid. But I have to admit, I got a giant-sized kick out of seeing Robert De Niro and Al Pacino together for the first time (aside from not appearing together in The Godfather Part II and appearing together only briefly in Heat). They had a wonderful banter going that suggested they'd been pals for 30 years. However, we had a right to expect more from two guys who are considered among the greatest screen actors of all time.

This label, I think, has only hurt their careers, because now we tend to think of them in terms of hot and cold. Everyone remembers De Niro in Taxi Driver and Raging Bull and Pacino in The Godfather films and Scarface, but what have they done for us lately? And why on earth did Pacino win an Oscar for Scent of a Woman, of all things? Then we have their most recent films to contend with, De Niro's amiable but lightweight What Just Happened? (36 screens) and Pacino's ultra-lame 88 Minutes. But let me suggest that we ignore the hot-cold concept and concentrate instead on some warmth? After all, both actors have given terrific performances in recent years that deserve some consideration.

categories Columns, Cinematical