The big talking points of Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed return to the gangster genre, The Irishman from 2019, were his reunion after 25 years with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci and the cutting-edge “de-aging” process who allowed this couple and Al Pacino to play their characters over a period of 30 years.
The big talking points for Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed return to the gangster genre, The Irishman in 2019, was his reunion after 25 years with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci and the state-of-the-art “de-aging” process made it possible for the couple and Al Pacino to play their characters over a period of 30 years.
Just as significant as these factors, however, was the new thematic dimension and depth that Scorsese and his collaborators brought to the genre – the perspective of time, the sharpness that comes with the realization that even murderers grow old, regret, suffer under the effects of the life they have destroyed, not least their own.
This pathos, which De Niro played to the full as Sheeran, gives the Irishman an elegiac quality that connects it with another masterful gangster image, Sergio Leones Once Upon a Time in America – as it happens, a film that is conventional Brands used -to the age of De Niro in the opposite direction.
In addition to a new 4K digital master of the film itself, this Criterion release includes a number of snappy extras, many of which add insight and reinforcement to those key elements of the film: the reunion, the theme, and the technology. What really resonates is the impression of a group of filmmakers in their seventies who bring years of experience, expertise and mutual affection to the process.
In the documentary “Making of” Scorsese talks about how De Niro brought him the starting material for the project, Charles Brandt’s book I Heard You Paint Houses, in which the life and times of the Mafia executor and killer Frank Sheeran , including the claim that he killed union leader Jimmy Hoffa becomes the centerpiece of the film. It was De Niro’s passionate response to the character that convinced Scorsese that they had finally found their next collaboration.
“We have a different perception of life [now], especially this world, the milieu that I’ve dealt with several times, from Mean Streets to Goodfellas to the casino,” he says. And with this perception, the Irishman became “a very inner, very intimate film”.
While most of the main characters are among the talking heads, some of the more entertaining and smarter comments come from a newcomer to the troupe, Bobby Cannavale, who plays mob lieutenant Skinny Razor. He recalls that Scorsese trained him for a scene where his character is interrupted by Sheeran at dinner. “Why is he asking about steak?” Asks Scorsese. “Maybe he’s just asking me if I like steak,” suggests Cannavale. “But what does he mean by that ?!” No wonder the dialogue of so many Scorsese scenes has such an advantage.
The CD’s roundtable meeting with Scorsese, De Niro, Pesci and Pacino triggers a profound OMG moment. What a quartet to sit at a restaurant booth – a special coup because of Pesci’s media reluctance. The conversation is relaxed, friendly, and led by Pacino (who enjoys the club he’s joined). It’s more of a pleasure than a revelation. It’s easy to see how the affection at this table would flow into the performances of a love triangle: Sheeran, torn between his mob patron Russell Bufalino (Pesci) and his union friend and benefactor Hoffa (Pacino). Who makes bullish enemies with the wrong people. As De Niro notes, Sheeran’s dilemma makes the film about “loyalty, brotherhood, betrayal – betrayal for a reason he does not understand. “. ”
The actors also talk about the digital de-aging process, which is featured in detail, revealing the extraordinary efforts of the renowned special effects company Industrial Light & Magic in developing a camera system and software that will allow the actors to effectively move in time go back.
While the end results of this process don’t feel entirely successful, the mere effort begs a little indulgence. There are also some notable comments from the special effects team, not least the fact that they wanted to create younger versions of the characters, not the actors; Before we think, “But aren’t they the same?” We are reminded that these actors have always been so chameleoned – even without makeup – that there never was a definitive 30-year-old De Niro or 40-year-old Pacino, that the team can relate to.
Elsewhere, the American critic Farran Smith Assume offers an intelligent video essay in which the style and content of the correspondence between The Irishman and Scorsese’s earlier gangster pictures, especially Goodfellas, is recorded. And Scorsese himself speaks to us through the direction of one of the key sequences of the Irish with typically fascinating details. Finally, there is a meaningful package of archive footage from two of the three most important characters in the film.
In an interview with Brandt, an aging Sheeran wears the same garish, exaggerated watch and ring that De Iros Ire will so proudly wear in the film. When he speaks without irony of his deep friendship with Hoffa, who gave him the watch, the response is positively shocking. Sheeran also gives a very gross reason you never kill someone in a car.
The other archive is on the campaign trail with Hoffa in scenes that Scorsese has reproduced in some way, and gives an extensive interview in which the infamous Teamster boss comes across as tough, aggressive, uncompromising – and the same feeling of Invincibility that makes him such a tragic figure in The Irishman.
The Irishman, Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, Blu-ray Disc
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