josh lewis’s review published on Letterboxd:
third watch (first review). stray notes:
love the structure so much. god thelma, this easily could’ve been made with melodramatic suspense and anguish but her and scorsese instead opt for this slow, matter-of-fact accumulation of detail that results in this heartbreaking rumination on the experience of time and decaying. there's nothing even exciting about the hits, they're shot with a sense of workmanship while frank talks you through the mundane process of his decision-making. they're empty and soulless and final. (which alongside a certain cremation triggers frank's obsession with "finality.") watching someone we actually care about receive that silent, hollow meat grinder is the closest scorsese has ever come to horror, and when you step back from the film you realize all of them should feel that way—"i didn't know the families." on rewatch, even the funny moments are ultimately undercut by the destination; the idea behind the death title cards too. frank didn’t realize how important these moments were historically (he delivers arms for attempted CIA coup!!) or personally (everyone he vaguely cared about is either dead or hates him) until the weight of them is literally sinking him into the dirt and that’s the experience of watching the film too.
the more uncanny aspects of the de-aging (its mostly seamless when all the characters hit 50-60 but before that it is odd) are beginning to feel of a piece with the film. when de niro looks 30 but moves like he's 70 there's a strangely moving quality obviously to our relationship to him as a performer unable even with the latest tech to avoid the realities of aging but also i do subscribe to the argument going around that it also feels like frank recalling his younger self and actions but having them infected by his present.
lots of discussion surrounding peggy being underused (we're once again doing this "lines of dialogue=character" thing, sigh) but i think in many ways she is the key to the film. her silence is both fear and power. she is aware of the violence surrounding her father and suspicious of his and buffalino’s attempts to mask it by appearing friendly/legitimate and that is channeled into solitude. her father asks her to engage with him and russell like kind old father figures but they really aren't so she refuses—which is why its so impactful when that solitude is broken. "why?" she knows what frank is long before he does, amplifying the already upsetting final hour where he catches up with her.
the prison scenes with pesci; the teeth, the juice, my god. two lines: "i picked *us*" and "don't laugh, you'll see." the former is a rationalization for the act they committed sure (it also comes in the middle of a sequence of events like him buying his own casket that makes you ask: "why?" "is this really what we did all this for?""is this what his life was worth?") but it also reads like a plea that he and frank were actually friends and not just employer and employee. just like with everyone else though it's too late; it's clear that frank ultimately saw him as a boss, a guy with power who gave him orders and who shared it with him when he followed them. he did his job and his job asked him destroy the only thing in his life that loved him and was loved. they try to feign friendship after with the bread and wine but it's a meaningless gesture, it has none of the soul of peggy and jimmy interactions or even the last hug he and jimmy share as he abuses his trust to get him in the car. there's nothing more between them. there never was. the latter line echoes frank's own sociopathy, his reaching the end and realizing he feels nothing but knowing that he should. he should be choosing to atone, right? you're supposed to feel something, right? he sees but he still doesn't feel.
that last shot. it didn't occur to me until the 2nd watch that that gesture is meant to mirror the way hoffa sleeps with his door ajar so knowing it was coming this time it just hit me like a ton of bricks. frank can't truly feel guilt or grief (as much as he tries) but there is still a haunting happening here; a realization of the cumulative effect that his own actions have had on his present isolation/emptiness. we've reached the end of a history and the thing that carried the most meaning was wearing pajamas with his homie in a hotel.
anyway, likely more to come on more viewings lol.