Saturday, October 26, 2019

Movie Review: "The Irishman" (2019)

Director: Martin Scorsese
Year: 2019
Rating: R
Running Time: 3 hours, 29 minutes

Irishman Frank Sheeran tells the story of how he went from being a meat truck driver to becoming a hitman for the Italian mafia. His newfound position also led him to become the best friend and closest confidant of Teamsters Union president Jimmy Hoffa.

Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Lucy Gallina in Netflix's The Irishman
"You'd never know it by looking at the guy, but all roads led back to Russell." (Image Source)
Netflix reeeeeeeeally wants an Oscar, and who better to get it for them than legendary director Martin Scorsese, the master of dramatic crime thrillers and mob movies? From "Mean Streets" to "Goodfellas," from "Casino" to "The Departed," Scorsese has spent the last five decades churning out cinema of the highest quality. After a brief step back from mafia movies to make "Hugo," "The Wolf of Wall Street," and "Silence," Scorsese returns to the genre that made him an icon with "The Irishman," his adaptation of Steven Zaillian's novel "I Heard You Paint Houses." It tells the story of Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), who began his career as a truck driver delivering beef. A chance meeting with mobster Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) would change the course of his life forever. Frank's cold mentality and his life as a former soldier would lead him to become an enforcer for the mafia... "allegedly." Eventually, Frank rises the ranks and becomes a close friend of Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) and one of the few men who had his complete trust.
Robert De Niro is digitally de-aged in a movie still for Netflix's "The Irishman"
"Maybe they thought if they did a good job, the guy with the gun would change his mind." (Image Source)
The whole gang is back together in Netflix's "The Irishman." Martin Scorsese once again directs his favs. Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel, and now, Al Pacino is added into the mix just to up the ante. This film has "awards season" written all over it, and we're sure it's going to be a significant Oscars contender. Scorsese hasn't missed a beat after all these years, and "The Irishman" fits perfectly with all of the other classic mainstays in his gangster filmography. Like many mob movies, the protagonists are all really, really bad dudes. They are criminals, thieves, and murderers who cheat on their wives, neglect their children, usurp one another for money and power, and cover up their misdeeds. Actors like De Niro, Pesci, and Pacino have built careers out of turning horrible people into relatable characters. We don't necessarily empathize with them (c'mon, we're not psychopaths), but we're still enthralled by their stories and their journeys, even when they're blasting members of the opposition in the face at point-blank range. That's the biggest hurdle any filmmaker must get over when making a movie with anti-heroes: they have to get their audience to care about them. It's the performances from the previously mentioned actors that help elevate this project to the next level. While De Niro, Pesci, and Pacino all give Oscar-worthy performances, it's Pacino who gets the most grandiose, bombastic moments where he gets to fly off the handle and fill the room with his bloviating and blustering hand movements. De Niro is actually the more reserved character this time around. It's kind of fun to watch him play "yes man" to the more powerful men controlling things. Without their expert acting, and some terrific bit performances by the likes of Bobby Cannavale, Ray Romano, and Stephen Graham, well, let's just say our experience would have been a lot more fatiguing. This brings us to our next point. As much we enjoyed this film, we have to say, a three and a half hour runtime is pushing it a bit. We had the opportunity to see "The Irishman" in the theater as part of the San Diego International Film Festival, and not a soul in the section we were in dared to check their phone while the artists were hard at work on-screen. We can only imagine the opposite will be true in an at-home setting since most people can't sit through a 30-minute sitcom without checking Twitter or Instagram or BlingBlangBloop to upload selfies or poke each other, whatever the youths are doing these days.

The biggest question we had before watching "The Irishman" was, "what about the digital effects? Are they going to be good, or are they going to suck?" Most of the key actors are now well into their 70s/80s, and the people they are playing are sometimes significantly younger than they are. It's no problem, Industrial Light and Magic to the rescue! Thanks to the digital de-aging technology they have perfected over the years in comic book movies and FX-heavy films from Marvel Studios, Disney, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox, and Universal, Scorsese didn't have to hire younger actors, he just had to smooth out some wrinkles and add some abs in post-production. The de-aging could be a sticking point and might become too distracting for some viewers, and we can totally understand this sentiment. Once we got over the initial shock of seeing a young De Niro with a set of baby blues, it became less noticeable as the movie moved along its runtime. We're not saying it's perfect, but it gets the job done. Still, no matter how young their faces look, there's no way to hide how much their bodies move like men who are in their 70s/80s. There are times when De Niro and Pacino are required to throw kicks and punches or dodge blows, and they just don't move like young men move. That being said, it is otherwise still a visually stunning film. What Scorsese movie isn't? The guy has an eye for impressive camerawork, and he moves the camera in a way that is just so engaging. Who else can make blood splatter more artfully than the master himself? All of the shots that Scorsese made famous over the years are out on full display here, and we have no doubt he will be getting his ninth directorial nomination at the upcoming Academy Awards.
A man enters a courtroom to kill Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) while Bill Bufalino (Ray Romano) has his back turned in a movie scene for The Irishman, a Netflix original directed by Martin Scorsese
"You're not afraid of tough guys, are you?" (Image Source)
Netflix's "The Irishman" is an excellent film worthy of an unadulterated viewing experience, so get a babysitter, drop the dogs off with a friend, put your phone in a different room, and watch this movie when it's released on Netflix on November 27, 2019. Scorsese has done it again!

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.6/10
RT Rating: 100%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!

No comments:

Post a Comment