Monday , November 18 2019
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ScorseseLand

Summary:
Martin Scorsese is trending on Twitter for denouncing superhero movies as being more like theme parks than films because “Cinema is an art form that brings you the unexpected.” And yet the director’s The Irishman proves that the expected can have its cinematic pleasures. Imagine the best possible gangster movie that Marty Scorsese could make in his later 70s. Well, The Irishman is it, Scorsese’s autumnal reprise of his peak 1990 film, GoodFellas, reuniting the old gang of Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci from Raging Bull and Casino, while adding a likable Al Pacino (in, after all these years, his first Scorsese film) as doomed Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. Immensely long at three hours and thirty minutes, The Irishman still held my

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Martin Scorsese is trending on Twitter for denouncing superhero movies as being more like theme parks than films because “Cinema is an art form that brings you the unexpected.” And yet the director’s The Irishman proves that the expected can have its cinematic pleasures.

Imagine the best possible gangster movie that Marty Scorsese could make in his later 70s. Well, The Irishman is it, Scorsese’s autumnal reprise of his peak 1990 film, GoodFellas, reuniting the old gang of Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci from Raging Bull and Casino, while adding a likable Al Pacino (in, after all these years, his first Scorsese film) as doomed Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa.

Immensely long at three hours and thirty minutes, The Irishman still held my attention all the way through despite its lack of novelty. This is the best talent of the 1970s getting together in 2019 for one last hurrah…and not disappointing.

These 75-plus-year-olds (including Harvey Keitel from Scorsese’s 1970s films Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, plus Scorsese’s personal editrix, the 79-year-old Thelma Schoonmaker) aren’t doing anything new, but they are exceedingly skilled and well practiced. (Although there is much discussion lately of the luck of baby boomers, the most fortunate generation appears to be those born in 1940–46.)

The Irishman is one of the most imposing movies so far this year, along with the neo-Scorsesean Joker, the Korean Parasite, and of course Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

This picture might even be worth finding the time to see in a movie theater during its four-week limited-release window (a 7 p.m. show will get you out the door at 10:40). But if you can’t make it, The Irishman debuts on Netflix over the long Thanksgiving weekend.

De Niro has been a famous actor since his TV movie about a dying baseball player, Bang the Drum Slowly, 46 years ago. De Niro benefited from having an Italian surname during the peak era of Italian-American directors, but his ancestry is more generic Western European: He looks like the movie-star version of my Swiss-American father.

After a long run of serious leading-man roles, De Niro reinvented himself as a comic actor in 1988’s Midnight Run, just as his Deer Hunter costar Meryl Streep did about the same time. Eventually, however, Streep’s wider range of comedic invention proved more enduringly popular than De Niro’s repetitions.

Here he’s back to a largely serious role in the old manner, complete with his easily imitated grimace. It sounds uninviting, but it’s enjoyable to wallow once again in De Niro being De Niro as he plays Frank Sheeran, an Irish-American truck driver–turned–Teamsters functionary who had learned to speak Italian during his years fighting in Italy under General Patton. What can I say? The camera, especially Scorsese’s, loves Robert De Niro.

In contrast to De Niro, Pesci has had one of the briefest careers since Streep’s fiancé John Cazale appeared in exactly five movies before dying of cancer: as Fredo in the first two Godfathers, The ConversationDog Day Afternoon, and The Deer Hunter.

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