Streets, Taxi Driver, New York, New York, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, Goodfellas, Cape Fear, Casino and, now, The Winter of Frankie Machine brings the grand total of Martin Scorsese/Robert De Niro director/actor collaborations to nine. That strange popping sensation you just felt was the universe clicking back into place.

Why has it taken twelve years for one of the greatest director-star tandems in film history to re-team? According to Deadline Hollywood Daily‘s Nikki Finke, who has it in her to break a big entertainment news story when she isn’t being utterly ridiculous, the culprit has been nothing more insidious than distraction. Apparently, the duo have been developing numerous projects over the last decade, but, for one reason or another, have failed to get any of them up on their feet (which should give you an idea as to how fucking hard it is to make a movie in this town). So why Frankie Machine (as it will allegedly be known henceforth)? Well, it’s about a retired mafia hitman who’s lured back into the game for one last job only to discover he is the job. The milieu is definitely right even though it sounds a bit conventional for two guys who began their run on a distinctly Cassavetes note. But who gets more experimental as they grow older (aside from David Lynch, Jean-Luc Godard and, to hear him talk about Youth Without Youth, Francis Ford Coppola)?

The only regret I have w/r/t Frankie Machine is that it’s largely set on the West Coast. But if De Niro is to be believed, there will be one more collaboration with Scorsese in order to bring their grand total of movies together to ten. As for what this sudden flurry of activity means for Marty’s Jesuit movie, Silence, I haven’t the slightest. It wouldn’t surprise me if Scorsese sets that project aside for the time being in order to get to Frankie Machine first (this isn’t a hunch, and, to be annoyingly cryptic, I can’t tell you why this is the case). The screenplay, by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, is adapted from Don Winslow’s novel.