"The Irishman"

“The Irishman” – Review

Truth be told you’ve very likely already seen this since it was a very successfully launched for NetFlix and millions dutifully tuned in when told to. It was a bit of a no-brainer – Martin Scorsese directing, Robert DeNiro AND Al Pacino acting – Cinematic confections do not come more potentially tasty than this(less they contain ‘Droids and have a script written in crayon).
Carping aside, “The Irishman” is a particularly good film , and I think, in my modest way that I may be able to expand your appreciation of it (preferably after) watching it, since spoilers may well follow.

Martin Scorsese is 77 years old. He’s been making films for over fifty of them. He is still evolving as a director, an artist and an intellect. From his earliest success, “Mean Streets” Scorsese seems to have been fascinated by reality, both visually and intellectually. I haven’t seen “Mean Streets” in longer than some of you have been alive but I still remember three petty hoods squabbling in their car over the way that their stolen booty is less valuable than expected. These hoods were so convincing, (even though they were actors) that I couldn’t shake the feeling that what I was watching was real– twenty years before “The Godfather” reality programming and films like [“Tangerine”]. Its true – “The Godfather” won the best picture the year “Mean Streets” was released but these pond scum were real and “Mean Streets” is still a stunningly good film. In fact both those gangster films altered the shape of entertainment to the present day – it could easily be argued that “Mean Streets” was at least the harbinger of the reality Tv, while without “The Godfather”, “The Sopranos would not have been viewed as a viable project, which in turn would have affected “Game of Thrones.”

Back to “The Irishman” and Scorsese’s relationship with reality. “The Irishman” is not the final instalment in the “Goodfellas trilogy” in any way other than the viewer’s interaction with the mind that created the films. “Goodfellas” starts with narration then instantly states that the film is not fiction but a melange of truth and the tricks of dramatic filmmaking. It promises to be an expose’ of the real U.S “suburban Mafia”- and it delivers, in classic style, the feeling is more documentary than Drama – “Mean Streets” again.

Scorsese followed “Goodfellas” with what I consider his masterpiece “Casino” takes the “Docu-Drama form even further to produce a film that exposes how Las Vegas works. Narrated, more complex than “Goodfellas”, Scorsese paints his characters more richly, with more complexity and detail allowing Sharon Stone (for example) to deliver one of the most mind-buggeringly bravura performances you will ever see. A truly classic film in the style of the old classics.

“The Irishman” follows in this evolution though, sadly without an equivalent female part to Sharon Stone; but in choice of subject, the canvas is bigger, even bigger than Las Vegas. In this film Scorsese takes on the assassination of J.F.K and the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa – and he makes sense of both complex subjects, makes them interesting and though their climaxes are already “known” makes them truly suspenseful. Just waiting this makes me want to watch all 3.5 hours again.

(C) Alex Rieneck 2019 All Rights Reserved.

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