The Irishman

The Irishman ★★★★½

violent men come to violent ends. and no one is the wiser.

i was formally introduced to mr. martin scorsese around this time last year. i knew the name but didn't know the significance behind it or any of the films. it was christmas-ish and i was watching home alone for the millionth time and i looked up joe pesci on a whim. somehow this lead to a picture of scorsese directing something in taxi driver. somehow this lead to me watching taxi driver.

taxi driver is a young man's film. really, pretty much all of scorsese's films, but particularly with de niro, are. they're pulsing, angry, vital. they're alive. they're about men who can do what they want and damn the consequences. they're about men who rise and fall and bemoan how they miss both the rise and the fall at the end. they're about men who hurt others, who blow like a hurricane through the lives of people who care about them, who use their own damage as a weapon.

small wonder that as scorsese and de niro aged, they stopped working together. scorsese found a younger muse and de niro didn't transition gracefully to old man roles. small wonder that with their final reteam, we're left to a survey of regrets and questions. i don't see this so much as a reflection of the insecurities of scorsese's own life as a reflection of his whole body of work. what will jake lamotta and rupert pupkin and travis bickle and ace rothstein leave when they are old? (okay, in travis's case, the old age part is questionable) will they have any remorse when they face the priest? will their hands shake when they close their eyes for a final time and go to meet their maker? will anyone remember them at all?

death is final. death is permanent. death comes for us all, the gangsters and the sinners and the young men and the old. someday, all that will be left behind are the memories we gave to others. someday, even that will fade, and we will be nothing but dust. a legacy is paltry when you're staring at the end of a doctor's report. a legacy is everything when you're out there choosing your own casket.

this is a grace-note to scorsese's career (not the final grace note hopefully). not so much the deconstruction of the gangster genre that i was expecting (the first two and a half hours play it very straight) as a cold, sober reminder that it is what is. anger and destruction and fire and fury cannot stave off what comes to every man.

(also, al had the best performance in this and it ain't even close.)

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