Before I get into how I feel about The Irishman I’d just like to say that it is kind of a miracle that this film actually got made. Thanks to Netflix for picking it up and letting Marty create the magic that he always does. So, let’s get back to the film at hand. The Irishman is different from a film like GoodFellas particularly in it’s pacing. While the 1990 film was more about the speed at which the mob goes, this is more of a methodical approach. The result is that we get to see all elements of the mob, the government and most importantly the men.
This is more to do with how these men deal with what what they’ve done. The most obvious example of this is Frank Sheeran (Robert de Niro) and the final shot says so much about him. It ends up being a little heartbreaking to see a man at the brink. The Irishman is backed up by what you expect from a film that has this much firepower. From the performances that frequently feel sublime and the direction that knows when to reveal and when to hold back. A special mention has to be made about Rodrigo Prieto’s camera that captures all the chaos with such elegance that it feels intoxicating.
And of course, you can’t talk about The Irishman without the heavyweights that are involved. De Niro, Pacino and Pesci all pull off their best work in years and they’re not really playing to type here. Pesci’s Russell is in many ways the anti Tommy from GoodFellas. You don’t expect him to be this way but it is a revelation to see him introspect so much while being a complete badass. De Niro does explode every now and then but by the end of the film, there is almost a sense of guilt and regret in his mind. Pacino on the other hand gets the most showy part of the film and is in incredible form. When you have so many people operating at their peak, the results are going to be magical.
These three are supported by some fine turns including Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano and Anna Paquin who in a nearly wordless performance says so much about Frank the man. The Irishman is more than just a story about the mob. It is about betraying friends, losing family and all the while looking to survive. The jobs these men do takes a lot out of them and it is visible both physically and literally. Using digital effects to show the age of these men will feel a little distracting to begin with. But due to the power of talent on display, you will soon forget that and be invested in the story. I’d never thought I would get to see a somber mob film from Marty but I’m so happy that he’s entered that zone. More than anything else, The Irishman is proof that there are very few directors who can stage a scene as well as Scorsese does. From all of us, thank you for The Irishman. Keep making more movies and bringing such amazing talents together. Also, thank you Netflix.
It would not be wrong to claim that this is going to be the most widely discussed film this year. And as we are already seeing, not all the discussion is happening in the right spirit. I feel that there is no point in reviewing Joker. We have heard about the dark tone, the incredible acting etc. What I would like to do is look at this film from hopefully a different perspective.
Joker is unlike any comic book film I’ve ever seen. This is more of a psychological drama than anything else. I’m curious to know how this film will be received if we didn’t have the beloved supervillain in it. Todd Phillips and Scott Silver have created a monster that’s actually created by us (society). This is a man who is pushed from all sides and decides that he can’t take it any longer. Put this story in any other context and you and I will not be celebrating what the Joker unleashes. I kept wondering why do we like the Joker. Is it because of the actors associated with him or is it something to do with our inner selves? Perhaps there is a Joker hidden in us somewhere. This is what thrills and terrifies us in equal measure.
As for the film, this is one that goes beyond the Marvel/DC war. As a standalone film, it works as a remarkable showcase for what comic book films can be like. There is not much that can be added about Joaquin Phoenix’s performance. He lives and breathes the torment that this man is put through. He is especially amazing in the scenes were he wants to burst open but just can’t. He’s like a bottle of champagne that is waiting to pop. Eventually it just bursts open.
But the acting prowess of this man will be no surprise to you if you have seen The Master which still remains his best performance I feel. It might feel like the writers didn’t feel the need to give importance to the supporting cast. It is indicative of the way that no one is really there to support this man. Halfway through writing this I was thinking about the box office prospects of Joker and while I expect it to be a blockbuster, I’m not sure how big a success it’ll be. The discourse surrounding this film is going to engulf our timelines and I for one am intrigued to see how it plays out. Is this a film that is divisive? Yes. Is this a film worth seeing? Absolutely. Will it be a fun experience? Art is subjective so, to each their own. Hope this made some sense at least.
There are many directors that get criticized for focusing more on the style aspect of their film making. Some of the biggest names in this list include legends of the industry such as Brian De Palma. Michael Mann is also mentioned as part of this “list”. It’s in quotes because it is a dubious list and not reflective of reality. This is becuause, as I have mentioned in an earlier post, style is a very subjective topic. So, let’s move on to the film. In my opinion, Heat is one of the best crime/action films I’ve ever seen. Apart from the opportunity to see two of the finest actors of all time share screen space, we get some absolutely tense and nail-biting sequences. This includes one of the best shootouts in movie history. Despite there being so much about in a film such as this, I would like to talk about, as you guessed from the title, ‘The Showdown’.
This is the moment that anyone who sees the film will be waiting for. The showdown between two legends, also happens to be a pivotal aspect of the whole story. What makes this a truly special scene, apart from the history we are witnessing is just how engrossing it actually is. These guys could have sat across each other, not said a word and it would have amazing. That is primarily due to how much Pacino and De Niro can convey through silence. But they do talk and it offers wonderful insights into their characters. It tells us about the respect they have for one another despite wanting to take the other person down. The film delves deeper into their lives and their psyche and it also shows us the impact of their actions on their everyday life. It is this relationship that frames the story.
It is elements such as this that elevate Heat to one being one of the all-time great crime sagas. The level of detailing present, makes the film feel authentic and this goes a long way in increasing the overall impact. But despite all this, the film will always be remember for the ‘The Showdown’ and for that, all I can say is, thank you Michael Mann.