Thursday, 21 November 2019

FILM REVIEW: The Irishman - Everyman St. John's Cinema, Manchester.

Martin Scorsese’s latest crime biopic epic, The Irishman (on screen title, I Heard You Paint Houses), which teams up Scorsese stalwarts, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci with cinematic legend, Al Pacino, is a return to form for the director, not seen since the likes of Goodfellas and Casino from the early 1990s.

Produced for Netflix after many years in development hell, with a limited theatrical release, The Irishman has been on my to-watch list (and I imagine very many others' too) since I first caught wind that the film was being made, and since seeing those early production stills of Robert De Niro in platform boots. The film is only being shown at The Everyman cinemas in the region, I would take an educated guess and say that it is the same situation nationwide, so if you really want your chance to see it on the big screen then I implore you to find your nearest Everyman and go.

The Irishman tells the story of Frank Sheeran (De Niro), a truck driver-turned-mobster who works for the Bufalino crime family, headed by Russell Bufalino (Pesci), Sheeran soon gets entangled between the mob and infamous trade union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino). Covering a twenty year period with excerpts spanning later years, and dealing with themes of morality and mortality, with the latter being hammered home as De Niro, Pesci and Pacino are digitally de-aged before being practically aged all within a three and a half hour run time.

I know many people shy away and run for the hills when a film’s runtime starts with a 3, however The Irishman does not drag along, as the editing and pacing of the film is exceptional, thank you Thelma Schoonmaker.

This film feels like a natural successor to Goodfellas and Casino, it could easily be the final part of a trilogy. Furthermore it just cements Scorsese’s reputation as a director of crime; the man knows how to make a solid gangster flick. On top of that, his direction of De Niro, Pesci and Pacino, as well as a welcome albeit brief performance from another Scorsese alumnus, Harvey Keitel, was faultless and emphasises his comfort with these actors as well as the genre and topic. To think these giants of the early New Hollywood era were starring in dross like Dirty Grandpa, Jack And Jill and the Direct Line adverts only a few years back and then give it their all in this just proves that the bond between a director and the talent is paramount to making a film successful.

As previously mentioned, the leads are de-aged (I don’t know if Keitel was de-aged, he’s looked the same for the past forty years, so maybe not). I think there was a collective groan when it was first mentioned that they would be using CGI to make De Niro look like a 40 year old etc. However, it looked really good, with the exception of Pacino and De Niro stumbling about on their old man legs whilst looking 40, the effect itself was rather quite flawless. It was put to good use in this film, however my only concern is that it doesn’t set a precedent and we start seeing the likes of Kirk Douglas de-aged for 'Spartacus II: No I’m Spartacus'! The industry itself is balancing on a fine line playing God at the moment with news that they’re bringing back James Dean for some Vietnam War film????????? We already had Peter Cushing somewhat ironically return from the grave for Rogue One, Laurence Olivier in Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow, and who remembers that Bob Monkhouse advert from a decade ago?

However getting back on track, the Everyman in Manchester was the fanciest, swankiest, hip cinema I’ve ever been to. I get the feeling it hasn’t been open long as that new furniture, freshly polished wood and fresh paint smell is quite strong. Nevertheless, it was an experience unto itself, as the screens are rather small, but fitted with rather lovely sofas and armchairs, and on top of that the staff were extremely friendly and helpful. It’s certainly the place to go to watch certain films, I wouldn’t go there to watch the latest blockbusters, but it was certainly appropriate for a film like The Irishman.
I’ll admit to you dear readers, that as a self-proclaimed film buff this was my first Scorsese film that I’ve seen at the cinema. However, to be honest, I’m glad it was.

I would wholeheartedly recommend The Irishman to anyone who is a diehard Scorsese fan (saying that, you’ve probably already seen it) but on a broader spectrum, I’d recommend this film to anyone who is a fan of the gangster genre, a fan of biopics, general fans of cinema etc. The Irishman is a tour-de-force between cast and crew and fingers crossed that this return to form remains.

Reviewer - Daryl Griffin
on - 20/11/19

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