Raging Bull star receives Lincoln Center's prestigious Chaplin Award for motion picture excellence on May 8. If you're going, keep a bingo card out with words and phrases on it like "epochal," "meteoric rise," and "protean." In advance, the Film Society hosts "NO BULLS**T: Starring Robert De Niro," a week-long retrospective of the actor's many phases. Before the man's work with David O. Russell, before the Vito Corleone torch passed to him from Marlon Brando, before even his long collaboration with Martin Scorsese, De Niro began his cinematic life as a regular player in Brian De Palma's troupe, as a husky twentysomething in The Wedding Party (1969) and as a lean, enthusiastic mischief-maker in Greetings (1968) and Hi, Mom! (1970). We were so dumbstruck by his shape-shifting abilities that Pauline Kael decreed dissent via heavily qualified praise — something about how we never glimpsed his real self. We know a little more now: He's damned shy in public and, in more recent roles (not all belonging in the Smithsonian), a turbulent force of quiet epitomized by his almost unnoticed expressions of demurral, grimacing against the tide.
Presenters will struggle to introduce an actor as seemingly eternal as Robert De Niro when the