Everyone is familiar with actor Robert De Niro. He has so many great films under his belt in so many different genres that it is nearly impossible to pick his best performance. I think there may be a new contender for favorite role after seeing the new HBO documentary “Remembering Robert De Niro, Sr”.
This documentary, directed by Perri Peltz and Geeta Gandbhir, focuses on De Niro’s father, Robert De Niro, Sr. In the 1930s and 1940s, Senior was a highly talented artist who had works shown in some very prestigious art galleries. We are shown his life story, starting with his birth in Syracuse, New York. He had an instinctual approach to painting, eventually going to Black Mountain College in 1939 and spending his summers studying with Hans Hoffman in Massachusetts, where he met his future wife (and eventual mother of his actor son). The film has De Niro, Jr, reading through some of his father’s personal letters and the journals his father kept, and the story of depression and professional letdowns begins to unwind. His paintings never really fit into any one genre, never giving him the fame and recognition he sought, even though at the beginning of his career he had received accolades from his peers. He was quickly overshadowed by abstract and pop artists, and he turned his disappointment into poignant letters and journal entries he penned, never giving up hope that one day his art would be appreciated for the great work it is. As anyone knows, however, an artist is rarely ever appreciated while they are still alive, and sadly this becomes the case in Senior’s story.
“Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro Sr” is now showing on HBO, and can also be streamed on HBO.com and using the HBOGO app.