The Irishman ★★★★★

My grandpa was a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. He was a member of Local 285. He was a truck driver for Superior Linen & Towel, & was President of Local 285 in the 1980s, when it merged with Local 51. He retired in 1989. He would always tell me about stories when he worked with the Teamsters. But the one that always stuck out to me was the story he told me about Jimmy Hoffa. He told me that at a Teamsters dinner, Jimmy Hoffa kissed my grandma. I was surprised & shocked about it. My grandpa died 3 years ago. I miss him. He was definitely on my mind during The Irishman.

Jimmy Hoffa was last seen at the Machus Red Fox in Bloomfield Township, Michigan on July 30, 1975. That restaurant, which is now an Andiamo Italian restaurant (my Metro Detroit mutuals here will know what I’m talking about), is only 20 miles away from me. For Metro Detroiters, his disappearance is even more mystifying. Personally, I think he was killed, but you will never find his body. He was probably cremated in one of those funeral homes in Detroit owned by the Bagnascos or the Calcaterras (again, my Metro Detroit mutuals will know what I’m talking about). The local connection was definitely on my mind during The Irishman.

You may be wondering why I’m saying all these things here. I’m saying them because these things were what made The Irishman so emotionally impactful for me. The moments with Jimmy Hoffa reminded me of the stories my grandpa told me about working as a Teamster. Furthermore, it got me thinking a lot about him, & how much I still miss him. The moments involving Hoffa’s disappearance got me thinking about how influential Detroit, my hometown, was when it came to the birth of the labor unions, & how incredible Detroit was when it came to the Mafia.

But another reason why The Irishman was so emotionally impactful for me was the thought that this could be the last movie for so many people here. It could be Martin Scorsese’s last film. It could be the last film where we see Robert De Niro with Al Pacino or Robert De Niro with Joe Pesci. These guys aren’t gonna be around much longer. And it makes you think about all those wonderful partnerships that we’ve seen over the years & how much they’ve impacted cinema.

Everything about this, from the incredible cast (De Niro gives his best performance this century, Pacino has never been better, & Pesci is remarkable), Martin Scorsese’s classically perfect direction, & Steven Zaillian’s brilliant screenplay, to Rodrigo Prieto’s sweeping cinematography, Thelma Schoonmaker’s wondrous editing, the various period elements, & the visual effects, is something to behold. 

All of these aspects, both cinematically & emotionally, are what make The Irishman the best film of 2019.

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