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The Irishman (2019)

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Reggie W, Jul 31, 2018.

  1. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I have to agree with others that with the back and forth timeline, viewing like that wouldn't work for me which is why I watched the entire movie at once.
     
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  2. benbess

    benbess Producer

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    Right after the movie plays there's a nice conversation with Scorsese and the top stars of the movie, which is interesting to watch. However, something that Scorsese says early on is part of my problem with this genre. The director says he want to explore the "humanity" of these mafia characters. Exploring the "humanity" of the mafia is why I sometimes have issues with these movies. I understand it dramatically, but....
     
  3. Richard V

    Richard V Cinematographer

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    Watched it on Netflix, Pacino and Pesci perform brilliantly and I think they easily outshine DeNiro. I was disappointed that Keitel didn't have more screen time, always love his performances.
     
  4. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    You would think if they can de-age the actors with CG, that they could have used similar "movie magic" to use body doubles for the fights and use CG to graft the actor's faces on those doubles. That would fix the old-man-movement issue.
     
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  5. SamT

    SamT Producer

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    Yes that is what I was thinking. They could have used young body doubles and paste the heads of the stars on them. However it is not that easy to do. For example in Revenge of the Sith, Ian McDiarmid's head is pasted into a body double for lightsaber fight and you can tell.
     
  6. Cranston37

    Cranston37 Cinematographer

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    It's one thing to do it for a fight scene, but 3+ hours worth? I don't think that would be reasonable budget wise.

    Also, if they used body doubles for that long then pasted de-aged faces on them, at what point are we not watching actual performances from some of our best actors?
     
  7. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Yes, I would not suggest it for the entire film, but some here have called out the fights as particularly glaring in the inconsistency between the supposed age of the character and their movements.
     
  8. AshJW

    AshJW Screenwriter

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    This should have been shot over a period of 40 years or so. Then it would’ve been perfect. :lol:
     
  9. Cranston37

    Cranston37 Cinematographer

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    Well hey, there WAS "Boyhood" ;)
     
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  10. AshJW

    AshJW Screenwriter

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    I know, that’s why this thought came to me already sitting in the theatre.
     
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  11. Cranston37

    Cranston37 Cinematographer

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    One nice touch that I had to go back and make sure I wasn't imagining things:

    For a full 26mins leading up to the... ahem... event... near the end - there is no music at all. Just dialog.

    It's an eerily quiet stretch of film for a Scorsese movie.
     
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  12. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    And, with luck and barring something catastrophic in about 20 years there will also be Merrily We Roll Along.
     
  13. Message #253 of 341 Nov 28, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2019
    Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Lead Actor

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    Little surprised that no one (sorry if I missed a comment) is talking about the dialog in this film. I thought it was just terrific in an absurd sort of way where something is being said that conveys another unspoken meaning. Part of this is of course is the delivery by the exemplary actors that inhabit this film.

    Part of the fun was attempting to identify a veritable sea of actors and actresses who inhabit the world depicted by this film. I was able to pick up on most of them, but a trip to IMDB was required in a few cases. On a somewhat related note, I always enjoy these films that serve as a time capsule, as many of the events portrayed took place during my childhood / teens. Interesting to see the film float the mob connection to the assassination of JFK. I thought they might dabble with some of the urban legends concerning Hoffa's final resting place; but I suppose that doesn't make sense in a feature that presents a definitive (from its perspective) representation of his fate in death.

    I really enjoyed the fractured narrative of the film and the shifting viewpoints / perspectives that the film presents. I was at a friends house for Thanksgiving and we watched it at his house via Netflix. And while a theatrical presentation would have been superior, the most enjoyable aspects of the film (for me - the dialog and story structure) were just fine on a decent television.

    A terrific feature that I am sure I will watch again.

    - Walter.
     
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  14. JoeStemme

    JoeStemme Agent

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    When Martin Scorsese made GOODFELLAS he was in his mid- to late-40s. It was a dynamic, thrilling edge of your seat journey into the criminal underworld, fueled by his own upbringing among 'mob' figures in his New York City hood. Now, some 29 years later the famed Director is pushing 80. The tone is different, and dare one say (?) -- the filmmaker looks at the criminal activity within differently as well.


    THE IRISHMAN strikes a somber tone from the beginning. A tracking shot leads us to Robert DeNiro in chair confessing straight to camera. As if he were confessing to a Priest. DeNiro is Frank Sheeran, a WWII veteran Pennsylvania truck driver who stumbles his way into the graces of the Bufalino crime family headed by Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci). Small 'favors' eventually became bigger and bigger ones which included another mob boss Angelo Bruno (Harvey Keitel). Sheeran was Irish, but, as he gained more and more trust he eventually was partnered with one of the Mafia's 'partners' - the Teamsters, headed by one Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).


    THE IRISHMAN is told in a series of flashbacks and narrations. The muscle for a corrupt union boss like Sheeran is about as unreliable a narrator as you can get. The book which Steve Zallian's fine script is based on is entitled I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt. Even that title has been disputed by other chroniclers of underworld crime, who claim they've never heard it employed by actual mobsters as a euphemism for a mob hit.


    DeNiro has be inconsistent in his post RAGING BULL career. And, even within THE IRISHMAN he displays some of that. He's better in older scenes, but, seems to be too mannered and perhaps too conscious of not trying to repeat his earlier, fiery performances. There is a lot of fine acting all around, but the focus is on the Scorsese quartet. His traveling company as it were. Keitel is mostly a presence, but conveys gravitas. Pacino is playing “Al Pacino” in Jimmy Hoffa makeup, hair and costume. But, once one gets past the notion that he isn't playing Hoffa as much as his bravado version of same, it's a compelling performance. Joe Pesce doesn't get the big, loud or brassy scenes as he is most famous for -- and he's all the more effective for it. Pesce was apparently reluctant to come out of retirement, but, here he delivers one of his most finest roles. Outwardly still and restrained, he nonetheless commands the screen.


    Zallian's script is sober but with a dark humor flowing throughout. The droll laughs come mostly out of actions and story, but some of it knowingly pays tribute to well known personas of the main cast, as well as Scorsese's career long exploration of this world. One thread that is woven through the film are title cards which introduce many of the multitude of crime figures in the story -- usually, highlighting their bios with their, let's say, “untimely” demises! The flashback structure as well as the film's sheer length (209 minutes), demand the complete attention of the viewer. Thelma Schoonmaker's editing is excellent, if a bit slack at times (even considering the film's tone) and there are a few patchy sequences which could have been tightened up. Each hour builds upon the one previous, and then there is an extended epilogue. But, it's all of a piece.


    Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto mixes digital & film to capture the images, and it's an effective mix. The digital was likely in part because of the extensive use of CGI to 'de-age' the antediluvian cast, as it follows them over several decades (with Sheeran's character even shown as a soldier in Sicily - which required de-aging DeNiro over 50 years). It's a mixed bag. The tech has come a long way, but, it still shows the seams - particularly in wider shots where it can appear that a Digital mask has been grafted on. One can't help think of THE GODFATHER II and how odd it would have been for Brando to play the young Vito Corleone (played, of course, by DeNiro).


    THE IRISHMAN is clearly and older man's - and it should be. One can't help but think of the later films of an Akira Kurosawa (who Scorsese is a great admirer of). With KAGEMUSHA and RAN in the 80s, the Japanese master filmmaker who became internationally famous with his dynamic Samurai films of the 50s & 60s, gave us a more mature look back. One can look at THE IRISHMAN as the logical conclusion of his grand crime trilogy with GOODFELLAS and CASINO (the problematic middle child) being the first two sections (see also Scorsese's contemporary, Francis Ford Coppola's, Godfather trilogy; who Scorsese pays explicit homage to here).

    A younger Scorsese may have ended the film at around the three hour mark. There's a definite point at which the 'story' ends. Because of the bookends, a few moments to wrap it up would have been in order. But, here, Zallian and Scorsese keep on. And on. There isn't a neat and clean ending. Just as in life, there is always more. A lingering afterthought. A legacy. An elegy. Some of the epilogue is almost too painful to watch. Too intimate. Too personal. But, Scorsese's camera doesn't flinch. It's as if he is expressing through his camera that he too is confronting that epilogue himself.



    Flaws and all, you almost wish this were Scorsese's swan song - but, why deprive the world of the possibility of another great film?
     
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  15. willyTass

    willyTass Supporting Actor

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    He better not be late
     
  16. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Lead Actor

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    Time was when I would not have missed a film like this at the movies. A movie like this is an event: One of the world's greatest film makers, with arguably the greatest cast of actors ever assembled, on a subject matter with which they're all very familiar. The length wouldn't have kept me away either. But times change, and I have kids now, so seeing this in the theater would have required a babysitter that easily would have run north of $100. And with the opportunity to watch it at home within three and half weeks of its opening, well... The movie people made the choice for me.

    I think there are two ways to look at this movie: Where it fits among the best films of 2019, and where it fits among the best films of Scorsese's career. For 2019, it's one of the best, easily. The film making that went into this is masterful - the acting, directing, writing, cinematography, music, editing. It's always a joy to see the best craftsmen in the business doing their thing. But in a career as celebrated as Scorsese's, where so many films have had the best craftsmen and have resonated with audiences, I do not think it's at the top. Scorsese has made several other films about gangsters, and this one seems like his Unforgiven, a movie about the end of an era. I'm very familiar with Scorsese's films, so I tend to evaluate it in the context of his work.

    The most compelling part of the movie is what it should be: The relationship between DeNiro and Pacino's characters. These two are fascinating to watch, and the audience acutely feels the betrayal before it comes. The movie also plays over a larger canvas, with the stakes sometimes being national politics. Not enough attention is paid to this but it does elevate the film to being about more than mobsters expanding their territory, a story we've seen many times.

    But the movie itself is not as compelling as Good Fellas or Mean Streets. The story is told in a variety of flashbacks, almost in vignettes of the characters' lives. There's almost no through-line. Also, with so many characters in the story, it can be difficult to remember who's who when you see someone in hour 3 who hasn't appeared in 2 hours.

    Much has been said about the CGI work on the actors, and it's very good. That said, I'm not sure it works. Part of the problem is that we know the actors too well. DeNiro is supposed to be a young man in the early scenes meeting with a mature Harvey Keitel, whom we know to be DeNiro's contemporary in real life. DeNiro playing a young man doesn't really work.

    I was disappointed to see so little from the women in the film, especially Anna Paquin, whose role is critical to the story but just not very developed. It's a valid criticism against Scorsese that his films never get into his female character's heads or give them much to do in the story that's essential to it (with one exception being Lorraine Bracco's role in Good Fellas). You can argue that it's the misogynists who populate Scorsese's movies, but as the film maker, he could choose to tell any story he wants, and he doesn't tell theirs. So that's on him.

    DeNiro's character is unrelatable. He's a contract killer, almost from the moment he returns from the war, and we never really see him show any passion. Even after he's made to do something he doesn't want to do, we don't really see any remorse. Only at the end of his life, when it's too late, do we see him possibly regret his past. It's an ending we've seen before, in Godfather III, where Al Pacino's Michael Corleone ends up old and alone, but at least there, we've followed him for three films and know the choices he's made and the things he feels.

    Do these films glorify a life of crime? That's debatable, as we see the fates of many of these characters, none of which are pleasant, but ultimately, I think they do glorify that life. The audience follows DeNiro's character throughout his life and we're meant to understand the things he has to do. We're also immersed in that world, so when someone above him tells DeNiro to carry out an execution, we're meant to accept that that's just the way it is. See enough movies like that and you can understand why some of Donald Trump's supporters see no problem with him punishing those he calls "rats." The problem with these films is that there is no voice of decency in them.

    If anyone stands out in the film and should be recognized, it's Joe Pesci. He gives the most subtle performance of his career, and he's fascinating to watch, remaining calm at all times. His character still isn't a voice of decency, but he is the grown-up in the room.

    It's difficult to get funding for movies, and Scorsese has had a hard time throughout his career. It's a shame, because this is a movie that really could have benefited from being made 15-20 years ago.
     
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  17. usrunnr

    usrunnr Writer

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    "ROMA" --- February 11, 2020 according to Amazon.
     
  18. Tino

    Tino Executive Producer
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    Umm.....no.
     
  19. Tino

    Tino Executive Producer
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    This is The Irishman thread. Glad you edited your comment to clarify you were speaking about Roma.
     
  20. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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