8.5/10 My 2nd Most Anticipated Film of 2019, “The Irishman” had a very lengthy post production process (it was on my 2018 Most Anticipated Films List) and has finally arrived as an Oscar contender for Netflix. Overall, this is an incredible piece of film making. I don’t think it is the masterpiece that some are claiming it to be and it isn’t as strong as “Goodfellas” for sure, but it is still a great film worth seeing and appreciating. So many films these days feel like they are mass produced in a factory and check a bunch of boxes that the studio surveyed audiences on what they want to see in a film. Even some well made films that I enjoy suffer from this (most of what Disney puts out). To have Netflix gives Martin Scorsese free reign to make the film he set out to make is incredible and the biggest reason I support Netflix. Even though I think the three and a half hour running time actually hurts the film a little bit (more on that later), the fact that Scorsese was able to put out an epic film with a massive running time should be applauded by all. Due to the internet and other causes, we as a society have had our attention spans dramatically lowered (this is scientifically and statistically backed, not just my opinion). There is even a new streaming service coming out in 2020 called “Quibi” where all of the content will be in 15 minute increments or less. It is unfortunate that many in today’s audiences can’t sit still for longer than that to appreciate art. So to see an epic unfold and take its time is essentially the old guard fighting back against this newer, lesser form of distribution. The production and costume design are Oscar worthy, as is the acting in this film. Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci are generally the hothead tough guys who scream and shout in gangster/Scorsese films but here they are both very subdued and deliberate with their eerie calmness that they’ve mastered control of. It is Al Pacino who has the angry, showy role that he absolutely nails. De Niro and Pacino are acting legends but haven’t put out many memorable performances in many above average films in recent times. When you work for Scorsese, however, you bring your A game, which is exactly what they do and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some acting nominations come the way of all three leads once Oscar time hits. Scorsese knows how to use music but more importantly, how to use silence to wield the audience’s emotions and “The Irishman” is another perfect example of this. This film spans a large chunk of time and gets a lot of information across. The de-aging technology is slightly jarring at first, but once you get used to it, you won’t notice, which is the point and quite impressive. I feel like if you gave de-aging technology just a few more years, it could be perfected. As for the film’s flaws, there are a few minor ones. Besides the de-aging jarring you near the beginning, there was a shot where De Niro’s character Frank roughs up a guy who laid his hands on his daughter. He pushes him through his shop doors and glass breaks. The glass breaking looked pretty fake and the ensuing beat down looked off and rather soft, like Frank was kicking close to him but not actually making contact. The whole thing just felt off. As for the epic running time, the first half hour and last half hour of the film do drag a little bit and make you feel how long this film is. Perhaps trimming even 15 minutes may have benefitted a great deal. “The Wolf of Wall Street” was three hours long but it went by so fast and nothing could have been cut out. “The Irishman” doesn’t quite have that same accomplishment to boast about. Finally, although there is nothing wrong with Rodrigo Prieto’s cinematography, he has done better work with Scorsese in the past, including the recent “Silence”. All that being said, if you have some patience, which I hope you do, this is a great film that is unlike Scorsese’s other mobster films and one that he couldn’t have made before this point in his career. Films like this should be supported so whether you are Irish or not, check this one out, which is now streaming on Netflix.
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