Forthcoming: The Irishman

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Toland's Mitchell
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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#301 Post by Toland's Mitchell » Thu Nov 21, 2019 5:24 pm

I saw The Irishman last night. I mostly agree with Nasir007's take. I didn't mind the length, pacing, or lack or plot direction. But when coupled with Sheeran's bland character and lack of drama, it made the movie a bit boring at times. There were exciting sequences too but it could've used some trimming (e.g. the bowling alley scene). Anyway, things didn't come together until after Hoffa's release from prison and the events leading to his death. That hour or so was great. The 30 minute epilogue that came after was unique among Scorsese biopics. For example, in Goodfellas and Wolf of Wall Street, in the epilogues the characters reflect on their lives/choices and pose the question 'Was it all worth it?" And they kind of gloss over it.
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But here in The Irishman, we watch Frank decay over the last 30 minutes, losing his friends, family, and health. The scenes where he failed to reconcile with his daughters in his decrepitude struck a chord, a sad moment that was absent from the ending of Goodfellas. Frank doesn't answer the question 'Was it all worth it?' but it we're led to believe his answer would have been 'no.' But who knows? Frank didn't really explain his motivation for getting into crime. In Goodfellas and Wolf of Wall Street, the main characters pursued crime because they simply wanted money, women, and power. But Frank was bland and less driven. He didn't seem to care that much about the money. His wives were barely in the movie. If he had girlfriends on the side, they were absent from the movie. So maybe he pursued crime only because he was good at it, and he was bored?
Overall, I still think The Irishman was solid. The acting and production value were superb. However I think a more interesting central character and a trimmer runtime would've helped.

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#302 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Nov 21, 2019 5:35 pm

The bowling alley scene is crucial in establishing Sheeran's daughter Peggy as the moral center of the film, as she sniffs out both De Niro and Pesci and retreats despite their surface-level kindness. That they are totally oblivious to this moral sixth sense that most people have is key, and the scene works as a contrast to her warming to Pacino's Hoffa later on, who has morals and empathy, regardless of his own flaws and corruption.

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#303 Post by Toland's Mitchell » Thu Nov 21, 2019 5:55 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 5:35 pm
The bowling alley scene is crucial in establishing Sheeran's daughter Peggy as the moral center of the film, as she sniffs out both De Niro and Pesci and retreats despite their surface-level kindness. That they are totally oblivious to this moral sixth sense that most people have is key, and the scene works as a contrast to her warming to Pacino's Hoffa later on, who has morals and empathy, regardless of his own flaws and corruption.
Agreed the bowling alley was important for Peggy's development. But I recall Frank and Russell talking about nothing for 3-5 minutes before they call Peggy over to sit with them. Those talking minutes could've trimmed.

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#304 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Nov 21, 2019 5:57 pm

I'm more thankful for Thelma Schoonmaker every day, but today I'm particularly grateful

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#305 Post by swo17 » Thu Nov 21, 2019 6:00 pm

Toland's Mitchell wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 5:55 pm
Those talking minutes could've trimmed.
Leading by example

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#306 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Nov 21, 2019 7:20 pm

Toland's Mitchell wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 5:55 pm
therewillbeblus wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 5:35 pm
The bowling alley scene is crucial in establishing Sheeran's daughter Peggy as the moral center of the film, as she sniffs out both De Niro and Pesci and retreats despite their surface-level kindness. That they are totally oblivious to this moral sixth sense that most people have is key, and the scene works as a contrast to her warming to Pacino's Hoffa later on, who has morals and empathy, regardless of his own flaws and corruption.
Agreed the bowling alley was important for Peggy's development. But I recall Frank and Russell talking about nothing for 3-5 minutes before they call Peggy over to sit with them. Those talking minutes could've trimmed.
The insignificance of their conversation is itself significant, and underscores the lack of consciousness to the moral hole each possess, an absence of conscience, by shrugging off this piercing behavior of a fearful child who approaches her own father with trepidation and anxiety. Their ability to go onto business as usual allows that moment with the daughter to stick out, sink in, and become all the more depressing, accentuating the superficial banal business De Niro prioritizes over the deeper emotions he misses, which results in irredeemable consequences.

Even beyond thematic value though, I’m trying to picture a film edited where the slow heart-stopping portrayal of the daughter’s sad, scared behavior is met with De Niro and Pesci looking at one another and shrugging before the scene is cut, and it plays like a Stella skit if they threw in the creative towel.

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#307 Post by Toland's Mitchell » Thu Nov 21, 2019 7:29 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 7:20 pm
Toland's Mitchell wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 5:55 pm
therewillbeblus wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 5:35 pm
The bowling alley scene is crucial in establishing Sheeran's daughter Peggy as the moral center of the film, as she sniffs out both De Niro and Pesci and retreats despite their surface-level kindness. That they are totally oblivious to this moral sixth sense that most people have is key, and the scene works as a contrast to her warming to Pacino's Hoffa later on, who has morals and empathy, regardless of his own flaws and corruption.
Agreed the bowling alley was important for Peggy's development. But I recall Frank and Russell talking about nothing for 3-5 minutes before they call Peggy over to sit with them. Those talking minutes could've trimmed.
The insignificance of their conversation is itself significant, and underscores the lack of consciousness to the moral hole each possess
We got more than enough of this both within this scene and from other scenes in the film.
therewillbeblus wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 5:35 pm
by shrugging off this piercing behavior of a fearful child who approaches her own father with trepidation and anxiety. Their ability to go onto business as usual allows that moment with the daughter to stick out, sink in, and become all the more depressing, accentuating the superficial banal business De Niro prioritizes over the deeper emotions he misses, which results in irredeemable consequences.
I'm still in agreement with you here.

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#308 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Nov 21, 2019 8:46 pm

Why is it that people who want excellent movies cut down to a more digestible length always want the stuff that the movie is about cut out first? It's like saying the cream filling gets in the way of Oreos, or something. "We got more than enough sweetness from the two chocolate cookies."

The film is literally about what therewillbeblus is describing, which is literally what you're suggesting be excised. The film's about decades of a family's and America's history and is already chopped down to 3 and a half hours, out of which you suggest that there's still too much left.

And it's telling that you're not proposing that, say, a hit or a scene of grisly violence be removed, but a complex, quiet human moment. In other words - you're demanding that a film with far higher aims merely entertain you with the "drama" that The Irishman purportedly lacks while keeping its reason for being to itself. That's an unfortunate way to consume a film.

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#309 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Nov 22, 2019 12:02 am

Maybe I’m stretching things a bit, but the scene plays out for me similar to the one in Wolf of Wall Street where we laugh at DiCaprio’s physical comedy exercise on the quaaludes, only for Scorsese to give us a wider shot framing the context of him crawling to the car, and lingers there so long in objectivity that it turns from comedy to horror as we realize the consequences and sadness there (I’ll never forget the roaring laughter slowly quieting to dead uncomfortable silence in my theatre experience). This is a smart, mature filmmaking trick, and something I think Scorsese really developed a flare for more recently with age, reflection, and perspective.

In The Irishman this style plays out even more subtly but is just as profound. While the scene in question doesn’t make such an extreme or obvious jump in moods, what could be a simple ‘family dynamic problem’ retains its power from lingering on these characters who just can’t acknowledge such a problem due to a block in empathy that stunts awareness beyond the self. The objectivity is so layered to the point where at the end we realize it was present the entire film even in scenes that seemed trivial, and in reflection this scene and many more like it are so painfully sad because the camera stays on these people with a moral black hole reinforced by complacency and solipsism. It might appear unnecessary to some to keep in the film because the intention seems to be that it’s unnecessary behavior on the part of the characters. The necessary actions are to be aware, empathetic, question oneself, contemplate change, participate in life beyond a selfish level. Scorsese isn’t trying to disrespectfully manipulate audiences but it is a trick, and the films demands that these ‘unnecessary’ moments be looked at from a different angle, one of judgment, frustration, and eventual empathy, to engage with the events and people on a level that the characters can’t do for themselves. It’s not the material itself that should be cut or altered but the actions these men commit, or refuse to commit, are fair game to meet with a desire to see change, and we must sit with that objective despair that won’t reach them until the final frames when it’s too late.

This scene by itself isn’t going to rock a crowd like the 2013 film but it’s just as clever, and horrific, and sad, just through subtler means. I think the entire film shows a mastery of this skill from that scene in Wolf stretched into a complex epic (by subverting the artificiality of many classic epic tropes, including Scorsese’s own films) and has a cumulative effect that launches it into a space that may make it his wisest, most existential, and potentially best film. But I get that some people want Goodfellas, and probably always will.

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#310 Post by Toland's Mitchell » Fri Nov 22, 2019 2:21 pm

Speaking of stretching things a bit, I like how my parenthetical comment about one scene prompted this conversation, while my macro points praising the film's epilogue/production value and my critique of our central character's lack of energy/motivation (which was my main issue with the film, not the runtime by the way) went ignored. Anyway, I never suggested they should have axed all these characters moments such the bowling alley scene, the ice skates scene, the men bickering scenes, etc. I only proposed they could have made them tighter, because they got repetitive at times. Just make little trims here and there, nothing serious.

As for TWWB's comparison between the Lemmon and bowling scenes, I mostly agree with the assessment.

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#311 Post by hearthesilence » Fri Nov 22, 2019 7:21 pm

Netflix is doing some crazy promotion in Little Italy where they teamed up with 11 local businesses to give away free stuff today and tomorrow. By sheer luck I'm working close by today, but even during a rainy work day, they were running out of stuff fast. Little Italy is really touristy, but they picked good giveaways (Parma half-sandwich was probably the best, also ran out midday) and the fake newspapers on Hoffa's disappearance were a good souvenir.

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#312 Post by nitin » Fri Nov 22, 2019 8:36 pm

Toland's Mitchell wrote:
Fri Nov 22, 2019 2:21 pm
Speaking of stretching things a bit, I like how my parenthetical comment about one scene prompted this conversation, while my macro points praising the film's epilogue/production value and my critique of our central character's lack of energy/motivation (which was my main issue with the film, not the runtime by the way) went ignored. Anyway, I never suggested they should have axed all these characters moments such the bowling alley scene, the ice skates scene, the men bickering scenes, etc. I only proposed they could have made them tighter, because they got repetitive at times. Just make little trims here and there, nothing serious.

As for TWWB's comparison between the Lemmon and bowling scenes, I mostly agree with the assessment.
But the central character’s lack of anything is what the film is built around!

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#313 Post by Toland's Mitchell » Fri Nov 22, 2019 11:26 pm

nitin wrote:
Fri Nov 22, 2019 8:36 pm
But the central character’s lack of anything is what the film is built around!
Yes. We know that. But a few times during The Irishman, that 'lack of anything' didn't make for interesting cinema.
hearthesilence wrote:
Fri Nov 22, 2019 7:21 pm
Netflix is doing some crazy promotion in Little Italy where they teamed up with 11 local businesses to give away free stuff today and tomorrow. By sheer luck I'm working close by today, but even during a rainy work day, they were running out of stuff fast. Little Italy is really touristy, but they picked good giveaways (Parma half-sandwich was probably the best, also ran out midday) and the fake newspapers on Hoffa's disappearance were a good souvenir.
Right on, sounds fun. I would've been there if I lived in NY. But alas, I'm on the opposite side of the country.

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#314 Post by DarkImbecile » Wed Nov 27, 2019 5:23 pm

Finally caught this in a theater last night, and catching up with the conversation here, I'm a bit baffled at some people's reaction to the pacing and lack of 'interesting cinema'; surely you don't think the man who made Wolf of Wall Street just a few years ago was trying to create something more kinetic and vivacious but accidentally made this film instead? And if not, you're just rejecting the thematic and aesthetic reasons he tells this story this particular way because it wasn't jazzy enough for you?

Image

I'm similarly struck by the head-slappingly dense arguments currently taking place elsewhere regarding Scorsese's 'mistreatment' of Anna Paquin's character (not that I'd expect any better from this particular guy, but I'll use him as an example):

Image

Anyway, this is a film that is so dependent on its dialogue with Scorsese's own work and American history that I can't imagine coming to it with insufficient knowledge of either and having a positive reaction to it. Of all the mournful notes in the movie, perhaps the most unexpectedly emotional for me was Scorsese's treatment of the erosion of history and meaning over time, on both a global and personal level. He portrays the momentous, world-changing events that dominated these characters' lifetimes and much of his own work as the ephemeral, half-understood abstractions they are to the vast majority of people alive today; the murder of a president and a near miss with nuclear holocaust are roughly as meaningful to the young adults around Sheeran at the end of the film as the various now-obscure murders and disappearances that are more foregrounded in the narrative. It's not just the choices and actions that made up Sheeran's own immoral, wasted life that have lost any color and meaning they might have once had, but nearly all the once-shared experiences, values, fears, and concerns that are rapidly disappearing from living memory.

To the point that Scorsese's presentation of the gangsters in this film denies them even the vitality and mythology that comes with every other film in the genre's depiction of 'the glory days', I loved that he introduces nearly every side character with a description of their ultimate murder or life-ending prison sentence, undercutting them before they can even attempt to assert any larger significance or value beyond ending up bleeding out in a driveway or blown to pieces in front of a Philly rowhome.

All three of De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci deserve recognition for their work here, and as does Steven Zaillain's dense and intricately constructed script. I'll need to sit with this for a while before fully coming to terms with it, and I hope to watch it again over the long weekend, but it's clearly a major film of this decade and in Scorsese's career as one of the most vital historians of and in American filmmaking.

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#315 Post by Reverend Drewcifer » Wed Nov 27, 2019 9:20 pm

This is a movie made by people with nothing left to prove, which is fortunate, because this barely registers. De Niro, Pacino, Pesci, and Keitel are a murderer's row with no dynamic. Everyone reads lines with an ice cream headache, moves through space like it's an obligation, and it's directed like someone grudgingly paying back a favor. You want your "blam blam," here's your fuckin' "blam blam." You want some energy? Well grow the fuck up, this is a story about old men and blah blah blah energy is kiddy stuff. Puh-lease.

A comprehensive recounting of the "true" story with a LOT of track-laying over its 3.5 hours, this feels strangely unfinished. I guess this could be defended with words like "minor key" and "elegiac," but this is a movie without a point of view. Amoral unfeeling monsters are a fascination for Scorsese, and there is a hint that he has something to say about people who are dead inside. What is it, I'd love to know. This is a 209 extrapolation of De Niro putting on his Goliath Ultras at the end of Casino. "And that's that." Great.

Or maybe I just like opera, and there's none to see here.

Or maybe you had to be there.

Between this and Domino (the movie, not the moderator), I think De Palma has the last word, even though he didn't heed it: directors make their best work in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#316 Post by DarkImbecile » Wed Nov 27, 2019 9:24 pm

Reverend Drewcifer wrote:
Wed Nov 27, 2019 9:20 pm
...but this is a movie without a point of view.
Can we add a “Most Wildly Incorrect Statement” to the annual forum awards?

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#317 Post by Reverend Drewcifer » Wed Nov 27, 2019 9:26 pm

Feel free.

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#318 Post by Glowingwabbit » Wed Nov 27, 2019 9:54 pm

Reverend Drewcifer wrote:
Wed Nov 27, 2019 9:20 pm
directors make their best work in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.
Some. Not all.

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#319 Post by Finch » Wed Nov 27, 2019 10:28 pm

Excellent film if perhaps about 15 mins too long for me. However, up until after Hoffa's death it zips by, and Zailian's script has so much brilliant dialogue that I hope it gets recognised next February. I laughed for much of the running time, particularly the heated exchange between Hoffa and Tony Joe over the latter making Hoffa wait for 15 minutes and showing up in shorts. Based on this first viewing, it's easily much better than Casino and I think I even prefer it to Goodfellas.

Two questions: what was the name of the Hoffa associate again who tasks Sheeran with dumping the cabs into the river and then gives a glowing recommendation of Sheeran to Hoffa? The actor was excellent, as was the entire cast really.

Secondly, there is a haunting melody playing when Sheeran checks out the laundry company that he gets hired to burn down: anyone know if this is a new composition for the film or a licensed track?

edit: I found the piece; it's from the OST of The Barefoot Contessa, "Death of Maria and Finale".

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#320 Post by TwoTecs » Thu Nov 28, 2019 2:27 am

Finch wrote:
Wed Nov 27, 2019 10:28 pm
Excellent film if perhaps about 15 mins too long for me. However, up until after Hoffa's death it zips by, and Zailian's script has so much brilliant dialogue that I hope it gets recognised next February. I laughed for much of the running time, particularly the heated exchange between Hoffa and Tony Joe over the latter making Hoffa wait for 15 minutes and showing up in shorts. Based on this first viewing, it's easily much better than Casino and I think I even prefer it to Goodfellas.

Two questions: what was the name of the Hoffa associate again who tasks Sheeran with dumping the cabs into the river and then gives a glowing recommendation of Sheeran to Hoffa? The actor was excellent, as was the entire cast really.

Secondly, there is a haunting melody playing when Sheeran checks out the laundry company that he gets hired to burn down: anyone know if this is a new composition for the film or a licensed track?

edit: I found the piece; it's from the OST of The Barefoot Contessa, "Death of Maria and Finale".
Cab dumper is Joe Glimco played by Bo Dietl.

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#321 Post by Finch » Thu Nov 28, 2019 2:35 am

Thanks for confirming!

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#322 Post by barryconvex » Thu Nov 28, 2019 6:50 am

I loved this. Which is not the reaction I had to the book when I read it a few months ago in anticipation of the movie. I didn't think Sheeran was much of a character. Those thoughts lingered into the first twenty minutes of the film until it occurred to me that the qualities that made Sheeran so effective as a mob enforcer are exactly the things I thought he lacked as a dramatic vessel. He's quiet and when he does speak is monosyllabic and inexpressive, has no real interests outside of work and family, never expands his circle beyond a handful of people, has no deep conflicts or antagonists. But whatever he lacks is filled in by Pesci and Al Pacino and carried off by DeNiro in a classic performance. He plays Sheeran as a man not just loyal but devoted. He never complains, executes every order faithfully and without fault and seemingly exists to do his superiors' bidding. It's why he ultimately finds himself as Jimmy Hoffa's right hand man.

The tagline on Netflix mentions betrayal but I'm not convinced that's accurate.
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Pesci's character (Russell Buffalino) is the one Sheeran would never cross and he remains true to him until the very end. Hoffa is good to him but it's made clear early on when an order comes from Buffalino it supersedes all else. In one of the movie's best scenes and one of DeNiro's career defining moments his daughter asks him "why"? "Why do you need to call Hoffa's wife two days after his disappearance?" Sheeran reacts like he's never heard the word before in his life, like it's never occurred to him that such a term could exist. He places the call. He stumbles his way through a reassurance that everything will be fine. He hangs up. Sheeran shows he's capable of remorse, he does have feelings and regrets. In his own way, he cares about his wife and children. He has a heart but his soul is blank. Scorsese's covered this territory before but this is not a movie about a man losing himself to a lifestyle the way Henry Hill does in Goodfellas or the self destruction of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. His daughters are terrified of him when they're young but as they mature they see him for what he is: a blunt instrument of a human being. A man who picks out his own coffin and mausoleum slot. The only time he mentions love it's for a Lincoln Continental.
This is an elegy as much as a journey through the past sixty years of America. So much of which is gone forever and it gives the movie a tone I don't think Scorsese has explored previously. He's contemplative and the film has a strong feeling of finality to it. I'd be surprised if he ever revisits this world again, what else is left to say? The Irishman is long like Sheeran's life is long and the closing act, watching these characters grow elderly and infirm is deeply moving. But while the movie might be reflective it's never a drag. And if this is to be the last mob themed work Scorsese produces** how nice it was to spend it with Pesci (who turns in an unbelievable performance) and Paul Herman and Welker White as Hoffa's wife Jo among several other familiar faces.



** understandable but still a shame since it would deprive the world of Scorsese directing Stephen Graham, who was born for these types of roles**

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#323 Post by barryconvex » Thu Nov 28, 2019 7:01 am

..it's directed like someone grudgingly paying back a favor...
Paying back a favor is spending three years and however many hundreds of millions to make a three and a half hour mob movie?

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#324 Post by Aunt Peg » Thu Nov 28, 2019 8:46 am

I'd love to know how many people worldwide watched The Irishman within the first 24 hours after it 'dropped'. A country by country breakup would be nice too but I doubt Netflix will release the information unless they saw some advantage in doing so.

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Re: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

#325 Post by Persona » Thu Nov 28, 2019 10:04 am

What a film. I liked it for the first hour, when the route to Detroit started getting repeated I knew I was probably going to love it, the quiet climax of the film is a wonder of mature storytelling and filmmaking, the extended elegy of the coda is even better, and the final shot drops like a hammer on the genre and context the film inhabits.
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I think of the final shot with the closing door in The Godfather and how this non-closing closing shot inverts that to strip away all mythos and opera, leaving just the truth to sit before you.

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