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Tag: Martin Scorsese

Reviews

Review: The Irishman

November 28, 2019

Perhaps the most anticipated movie of the year featuring a cast list covered in Oscars, a director rightly hailed as one of the best there ever was and a writer who’s written everything from Schindler’s List to Moneyball. And it’s on Netflix.

What’s Going On?

The Irishman (source: buffalonews.com)

The Irishman follows the life of Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) from meat-delivery driver to well… not in the Mafia, but certainly doing a lot of work for them, after all, he’s Irish, not Sicilian. Frank is effectively brought into this life by Russel Buffalino (Joe Pesci) a high up person in the Mafia. Frank does a lot of work for him up to and including killing people. After a few years, Russel sends Frank to watch over Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), head of the Teamsters union and very much in business with the Mafia. The film follows the course of this relationship and especially how Frank is pulled in opposite directions because of his friendships with Russel and Hoffa.

Behind The Scenes

I’m sure this isn’t a surprise to anyone – the director is Martin Scorsese, certainly one of the best directors alive if not one of the best directors ever. And this is a crime movie with an incredible cast, hardly unfamiliar territory for Scorsese. He’s already directed what in my opinion is the best Mafia movie ever – Goodfellas and expectations are high.

In Front Of The Camera

The Irishman (source: denofgeek.com)

First, there is the key trio of De Niro, Pesci and Pacino, and already that’s amazing. De Niro is the narrator and gives an excellent performance especially as things become strained as the film goes on. Pesci, normally known for his wild, unpredictable and maybe a little crazy criminal characters plays against type as a very calm and, for the mafia, reasonable man. However, it’s Pacino who I think gives the best performance. Hoffa is a man surrounded by criminals, murderers even, and never bats an eyelid. He will argue with them, he will insult them, he’ll get in fistfights with them. He’s a larger than life character and you can see how he ended up union president.

Outside of those three roles, the cast is still full of diamonds. Actors like Bobby Cannavale, Stephen Graham, Jesse Plemons, Anna Paquin, Harvey Keitel and Ray Romano taking on small roles. I was convinced that Plemons was going to go through the movie and not actually have a line. Paquin, and indeed the child actors who play her characters, are excellent and act almost like the conscience of the film, judging the bad people around her, including her father Frank Sheeran. At one point Paquin says a single word that seems to break Sheeran.

Historical Note – Jimmy Hoffa & The Teamsters Union

Jimmy Hoffa was a very famous person in America, and in many ways still is, and I don’t think there will be a person in America who doesn’t already know where the story is heading and Scorsese made this film knowing that. I only knew of Hoffa from references to him in American film and TV but didn’t really understand who he was or what happened to him. After all, union bosses don’t tend to be that famous. Again, I’ve heard of “teamsters” but didn’t really know what that was but it’s enough to say this was the largest union in America at the time, giving Hoffa an incredible amount of power and influence, and in looking after their pension fund, access to literally billions of dollars. My perhaps controversial opinion is you look Hoffa up on Wikipedia before you watch the film.

He Looks Good For His Age

The film shows these characters at various stages of their life Scorsese employed some clever de-ageing special effects which I thought were flawless.

Does It Work?

The Irishman (source: slate.com)

My expectations for The Irishman were very high, not only is Scorsese one of my favourite directors many of the early reviews were saying that was his best film in a long time. Personally I would put this in the second-tier of Scorsese films, with Gangs of New York and The Departed, it’s great but not quite up there with his best. Let’s be clear, it’s a great film, it’s three and a half hours long and keeps you engaged throughout, the acting is all first-rate and is full of brilliant little flourishes – one scene of a person having to psych themselves up to start their car as they were worried it might explode was one such moment. But I was a little disappointed and perhaps thought it was a mistake for Scorsese to return to territory he has already thoroughly explored. I am a big fan of Wolf of Wall Street and see it as a kind of Goodfellas for a different sort of crime and was a good move for him and I think maybe another gangster film wasn’t the best use of Scorsese’s time and talent.

That said if this was a film by virtually any other director I would only be singing it’s praises and really the only problem is it’s Martin Scorsese so you’re hoping for a masterpiece.

Even before this film, the debate about are Netflix films proper films was surely settled and this just adds to the argument that they are. They’ve made everything from Oscar-winning drama like Roma to fantasy special effects-laden frippery like Bright, not everything is gold but the same is true for every studio.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

The Irishman (Official Trailer)

Also Read: For Your Consideration: Sci-Fi, Comedy & Oscar Snubs

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Editorials

Dynamic Duos: Iconic Actor/ Director Match-Ups

July 11, 2019

Batman and Robin, Doc and Marty, Bonnie and Clyde, Han Solo and Chewbacca. There are many iconic duos on screen, but there are just as many iconic partnerships between some actor and director duos that are behind some iconic films.

Martin Scorsese / Leonardo DiCaprio

Dicaprio and Scorsese

This duo first appeared in 2002 with “Gangs of New York” and have produced four feature films together since, with two more in development as well as a promotional short. While this partnership has not produced as many films as Scorsese’s other famous partnership with Robert DeNiro, it is arguably more varied, with their collaborations including genres like crime, comedy (“The Wolf of Wall Street”)and biopic (“The Aviator”), with Leo helping the director win his first Oscar with his role in “The Departed”

Interestingly it was actually DeNiro who introduced the pair, after having worked with DiCaprio previously, DeNiro sang the young actors praises and that Scorsese needed to work with him, with the director referred to as “extraordinary fortune” and that they wanted to make movies the same way

Christopher Nolan / Michael Caine

Nolan directing Sir Micheal Caine on the set of “The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Brothers/Legendary Pictures, 2012)

When Christopher Nolan turned up at Micheal Caine’s house, he was initially going to turn down the part of Alfred, Batman’s loyal butler, as serving dinner and coffee didn’t really appeal to the veteran actor. Then he read the script and quickly changed his mind, noting that he had “written great parts for real actors“.

Michael Caine is a prolific actor who has been in the business for over sixty years, so it’s fair to say he recognises talent when he sees it, and that’s exactly why he keeps partnering up with Nolan. Since “Batman Begins” in 2005, Nolan has included him in every one of his films, with a small voice cameo in “Dunkirk” being the only time he hasn’t appeared in person.

Sam Raimi / Bruce Campbell

Campbell and Raimi at a promotional event (WDIV ClickOnDetroit )

Raimi and Campbell have been friends since high school, making short films in their spare time. They eventually convinced some dentists to invest in their first feature “Evil Dead” and both of them became cult horror icons.

Bruce Campbell has gone on to have roles in various fan favourite projects, but aside from his role as Ash Williams, he is also known for his memorable cameos in various Raimi movies, especially his Spider-Man trilogy, appearing in various roles through the series. If Spider-Man 4 had ever gone into production, Campbell would once again appear, this time as the villain Mysterio.

Guillermo Del Toro / Doug Jones

Del Toro and Jones, talking about “Shape of Water”

Possibly the least recognisable duo on this list, not due to the body of work, but because Doug Jones’ face is often hidden behind hours worth of prosthetics, with his first big break actually being a McDonald’s ad. He first met Del Toro on the director’s English language debut “Mimic“. Despite the films’ troubled production, the two became friends, bonding over their love of monsters and movies.

Jones has appeared in all of Del Toro’s films since the original “Hellboy”, except for “Pacific Rim”, with his biggest arguably being the creature in Del Toro’s “Shape of Water” which won an Oscar for Best Picture.

Matthew Vaughn / Mark Strong

Matthew Vaughn and Mark Strong

Some partnerships happen because of a pre-existing friendship or a recommendation. Some just happen because the pair find each other easy to work with, as is the case with Director Matthew Vaughn and actor Mark Strong.

The pair have worked together four times since their first collaboration in 2007’s “Stardust” with Strong only being absent for X-Men First Class. Having previously played villainous characters in “Stardust” and “Kick-Ass” he plays Merlin in the “Kingsman” films, in which he is a member of the super-secret spy organisation.

Wes Anderson / Bill Murray

Anderson and Murray going over a scene for “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (Beuna Vista Pictures, 2004)

Murray has worked with Anderson since his second feature “Rushmore”. Anderson sent him the script with no expectations, then had an executive leave their own office while Murray talked to him about the role. His role in “The Royal Tenenbaums” happened simply because Murray lived close to the shoot, the two talked about “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”.

Murray and Anderson have such a good rapport, that he instantly says yes when the director calls, no matter the project. He must get the call a lot as Murray has appeared in all of Anderson’s film since, totalling eight, with some being important parts, and others just wordless cameos.

Quentin Tarantino / Samuel L Jackson

Quentin Tarantino and actor Samuel L. Jackson pose at the Hollywood Walk of Fame on December 21, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)

Tarantino has several actors that he frequently collaborates with, which he refers to as his “Tarantino superstars“. However. he clearly has a favourite, Samuel L Jackson, whom he frequently writes roles in mind for. The admiration goes both ways, as Jackson cites some of his roles in Tarantino’s films as his favourites.

Jackson has appeared in 6 of Tarantino’s 9 films (Tarantino considers “Kill Bill” one film, and Jackson does not feature in “Once upon a time in Hollywood”). He actually auditioned for “Reservoir Dogs” but didn’t get the part, when he saw Tarantino again later at the premiere, the director told him he was writing something for him, which would turn out to be his Oscar-nominated role in “Pulp Fiction”.

Also Read: Video Nasties: The History of Censored Films in the UK