God lately had honored me with the experience of watching Martin Scorsese’s newest feature, the type of movie where some who hear about it may think, “Ugh! I cannot watch this mob movie! Yuck! If I wanted to see cursing men shoot fire, I would just turn on a cop show!” Well here’s the thing: A proper crime film exposes the sincere sins of humanity without any shmaltzy bull crap in the way. The Godfather shows the error of immigrants taking the American dream into their own hands. Pulp Fiction proves Los Angeles’ religiously confused culture. Now, The Irishman will join those masterful works for the way it retells what happens when you have nothing.
The three now unrecognizable legends flaunt different types of egos than previous roles, especially Al Pacino, who gives a perfect 10/10 performance that tops even the best of Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpieces. His character stops the show in the way he throws fits at others, seemingly numb to the casual gunfire on the street; it helps that the dynamic framing of the cinematography amplifies his size.
The camerawork does more though: It empties wide shots to frame a series of guns thrown off the bridge after a murder… a provocative moment. It makes prison appear stark, white, empty, bold, hopeless, a list of adjectives that strangely harken back to the men’s car stopping for the wives to take smoke breaks… another provocative moment. It’s amazing how even nearing the age of eighty, Martin Scorsese still can generate effective striking techniques, like moving a dolly down a dim hospital hallway. Among his other impactful creative touches include a clock bell that rings over an assault and freeze-frame text that explains a nonfictional criminal’s death date/cause.
His grounded use of the camera fits the requirements of each scene to mark itself distinct from the others. First, the director of photography utilizes flat lights to bring out the dead brown wood on the wall, second, window sunbeams backlight the hot tension of the conversation at hand. Besides just the imagery, the music and costumes match the era by catching the time’s nostalgic despair; the ladies dress pretty while the men tie their suits down, plus, the fresh 1950s pastel colors flare up a bowling alley. Meanwhile, a keen irresistible soundtrack is mixed into an original score composition so you cannot tell which is which, continually playing until the last thirty minutes hit. When those last thirty minutes hit, boy do they hit, as the rhythm progresses much slower, slow enough for you to reflect on your own time and self-growth.
For myself though, I honestly cared little for the story, it certainly defies my tastes, and at three-and-a-half hours long, it gets to be a bit of a chore for me to sit through. Though I still can appreciate the strong points, despite some of the flaws. What flaws do I mean? Well for one, the other characters outside the three main men lack story arcs, particularly all the women. Also, the facial de-aging effects used to make the old actors look younger at first look very off. It takes a little time to get used to the CGI, but after a couple of scenes the technology turns invisible.
But Robert De Niro really holds this film’s fort down, he goes from a middle-aged dude to a miserable old failure in the course of the grand sweeping runtime. At first, he’s the last person you’d invite to your Friendsgiving, but at the end, he humbly channels himself so you grasp his pain. As the camera closes on his gold ring and watch, important elements later, the way he handles them give you a strong sense of his insecurity. His speech sounds full of existential crisis, even when a monologue of his details the benefit certain guns offer in a given situation. That modern talk about guns proves just how mature this film really is despite its overreliance on genre tropes. The crisp, sharp image helps you to gain a clear glance into his sorrowful eyes, especially when watching his sad final days.
It’s enough to help me consider the promises Jesus gives me, and despite the time that’s passed, He’s still working on the delivery of those promises. For instance, years ago He promised to satisfy my loneliness with friends and a significant other; seeing how I am now in my post-college years, these end up being my real time of self-discovery, where new hobbies of mine are developed, such as painting, cooking, and of course, movie reviewing. So now in His timing, he allowed me to connect strongly with a young woman over the Facebook dating app. All glory goes to the Lord!
Thus, if you are a man watching this movie, you should then carefully plan what your final days should look like, including how you will feel. If you are a woman watching this movie, you should feel appropriately disturbed, and understand the responsibility you carry to love on others, as that alone prevents the tragedy The Irishman truthfully tells.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
“THE IRISHMAN (2019).” History vs Hollywood. CTF Media. Web. <http://www.historyvshollywood.com/reelfaces/irishman/>.
The Irishman. Powster. Web. <https://www.theirishman-movie.com/home/>.
Netflix. “‘The Irishman’ Is Netflix’s Biggest Theatrical Release at Home and Abroad.” Digital image. Variety. Wordpress, 22 Nov 2019. Web. <https://variety.com/2019/film/news/the-irishman-martin-scorsese-netflix-biggest-theatrical-release-despite-controversy-1203412994/>.