The Irishman

The Irishman ★★★★★

Stray thoughts:

1. It feels like there a lot of self-referential moments in this. I need to watch it again but the one that comes to mind is the opening shot, a long tracking shot through a nursing home that finally curls around De Niro sitting in a wheelchair before the narration begins, which recalls the famous tracking shot in Goodfellas, but with all the dizzy glamor removed. 

2. Unlike Goodfellas or Wolf of Wall Street, The Irishman never makes this lifestyle look enticing. The mafia, for Frank, is literally a union job, and like most jobs, it looks like kind of sucks. Frank sucks up to his bosses, works long hours, and struggles with money. It’s not a fun job. The captions explaining how all the union and mob guys die, most of them violent deaths, push us even further away throughout.

3. Those chili dogs looked delicious. Goodfellas gives us garlic cut with a razor; The Irishman gives us hot dogs steamed in beer.

4. The deaging is only really distracting in a few scenes, and otherwise looks pretty good. In 50 years it will probably look as bad as make up effects in, say, Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, which is to say, it’s a non-issue.  

5. The call between Frank and Jo is the best scene De Niro has had since Raging Bull. The power of his performance is easy to miss beside Pacino’s bombast and Pesci’s quiet menace, but he fully embodies a quiet monster and it’s spectacular. 

6. Regarding Paquin, I’m a little ambivalent. I think there’s real power in her character’s silence and when it finally is broken. This movie is focused on what was and may still be a men’s world. But if there’s one thing this movie is missing it’s a Karen, a Ginger or a Naomi. 

7. Love to see Scorsese and Keitel back together, even though it’s not a big part.

8. I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but the first time I watch a Scorsese, I don’t really notice the more interesting choices he makes with camera movement, etc. What makes Scorsese great is that he’s a dynamic, iconoclastic filmmaker who is also a fantastic storyteller. The storytelling stands out first, and on closer inspection I see the details. 

9. This is a long movie. It feels like a long movie. You feel every moment of it. I looked at the time about an hour in and thought I was halfway through. That’s not a criticism of it. I think that aspect of it is great, but it’s worth acknowledging.

10. Frank weirdly reminded me of my dad. He stumbled over his words, he’s a teamster, he even said “three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead” which is a joke my dad makes all the time. To be clear, my dad has, to my knowledge, never murdered anyone.

Patrick liked this review