Just Been Watching…(113)

The Irishman (2019)

***Historical events, so spoilers do not apply***

The first thing I am going to say is that this is going to be an exceptionally positive review

I saw this on Netflix, and it is not currently available elsewhere.

Director: Martin Scorsese.
Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran
Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa
Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino
Ray Romano as Bill Bufalino
Bobby Cannavale as Skinny Razor
Anna Paquin as Peggy Sheeran
Lucy Gallina as young Peggy
Stephen Graham as Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano
Harvey Keitel as Angelo Bruno
Steven Van Zandt as Jerry Vale

Look at that cast! And that is just the headliners. Everyone else is great too.

I will start this review with one word, ‘RESTRAINT’.

Joe Pesci is restrained. Older, less hysterical, more composed. And no cackling.
Pacino, known best lately for shouting rather than acting is also less hysterical. Hardly any shouting at all. (Well, a bit)
De Niro is suitably restrained too, and also narrates the story, told in flashback/flash forward. He is ‘The Irishman’.

In fact, everyone is restrained, and the film is all the better for that.

If you liked ‘Casino’, you should like this too.
If you liked ‘Goodfellas’, you should like this too.
If you liked ‘Mean Streets’, you should like this too.
If you liked ‘JFK’, you should like this too.

Alright, what’s it about?

Jimmy Hoffa was the charismatic leader of the Teamsters’ Union in America. (Truck drivers) The union had so much money in contributions and pension funds, that it helped to bankroll the Mafia in the 1950s. Hoffa became a famous personality, and also a famous gangster, due to his Mob associations. He ‘disappeared’ in 1975, and to this day his whereabouts are officially unknown, although he was declared dead in 1982. Irishman Frank Sheehan is a truck driver, and ex-WW2 soldier. One day, he happens to meet a mob figure by chance, when his truck breaks down. That gangster is Russell Buffalino, (Pesci) and he takes a liking to the man, bringing him into the organisation. Petty theft leads to becoming a mob hitman, and then Hoffa’s right-hand man and bodyguard.

Meanwhile, the mob is unhappy with JFK, who has not honoured his pledge to get them back the gambling joints in Cuba, and harassed by his brother Bobby, who is the Attorney General. Nobody trusts anyone, and as time goes on, many leading Mob figures are ‘disappeared’, and Hoffa is getting out of control. When the Mafia chooses Provenzano over Hoffa, events come to a head, and something has to give.

This is conventional gangster fare. Families, wives, girlfriends, divided loyalties, and lots of people ending up dead. Politics, betrayal, and lack of trust.

But this film is just WONDERFUL!

Locations, settings, costumes, music, (even that is by Robbie Robertson, who used to be in The Band) and a flawless feel of time and place.

Before you say it, yes we have seen many similar films before.
And yes, it is long, (three hours and twenty-five minutes) but that length worked for me.

If you didn’t like ‘Goodfellas’, you are not going to like this.
If you don’t like gangster/Mafia films, you are not going to like this.

So if that’s the case, my advice is don’t watch it, then you won’t have to complain later.

For me, it was five stars. With bells on, and an airhorn sounding, as well as a choir in the background.

Can you tell I liked it?

Here’s a trailer.

53 thoughts on “Just Been Watching…(113)

      1. Pete, it wore me out a bit. I have virtually every single Scorsese film – I LOVED some of it, but didn’t see the need for some of the time it took to give texture and nuance…that said, a masterwork as usual from him…and Sebastian Maniscalco, who plays “Crazy Joe” is on my wife’s show today..it will air next week!

        Liked by 1 person

              1. Not at all, Pete…it is the “origin” of the Joker as played out through a very “Fight Club” filter…disaffected young men who rebel against the “system” they feel works against them…while it takes place in Gotham City, it’s the story of a loner who is fed up – it is a DARK film and very disturbing at times…

                Liked by 1 person

                  1. If you liked “Fight Club”, “Taxi Driver” and “The King Of Comedy” – it’s an homage and continuation of the style, tone and themes of those films…and honestly, I can’t remember a more riveting performance by an Actor EVER….it’s really mesmerizing and one of the most consistently intense performances ever

                    Liked by 1 person

  1. Nice review, Pete. I am not quiet as enthusiastic about The Irishman as you are, but I think it is a very good film. I think it is very bold in its focus of the mundane. That is not a criticism in the least. To me it’s like if Bonnie and Clyde was primarily about the two outlaws riding around in a hot, smelly car twelve hours a day, talking, being bored and working crossword puzzles with horrific bursts of violence every now and then. I like that kind of thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. β€˜For me, it was five stars. With bells on, and an airhorn sounding, as well as a choir in the background.’

    I love this haha! Though I disagree with you on the film, your enthusiasm certainly shone through. It does certainly capture a certain time period, but I think much more needs to be done to elevate it. Thanks for the review regardless!


  3. I hope it gets released in the cinema here, Pete, but I’ll be sure to catch it wherever I can. I read about Jimmy Hoffa years back and Mamet wrote a script about him (I have that movie somewhere), so I’m even more interested in it. And I love gangster movies and Scorsese, so, great news! (Also, it was about time Pacino worked with Scorsese, and if anybody can get him under control, it had to be him). Thanks for the recommendation!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review Pete πŸ™‚ I absolutely positively loved this film as well – in fact, I would personally rank it in my top 5 of my favorite Martin Scorsese films πŸ™‚ Not only that, but it may be the most profound of his crime films when you take into account the melancholy way it treats it’s lead character – his later years in a nursing home and that use of that song “In the Still of the Night” can’t help but feel moving in a very subtle way. Some have even implied (in a rather positive way I might add) that The Irishman comes off as a gangster epic as seen from an old man’s (i.e. senior citizen’s) point-of-view. Anyway, keep up the great work as always πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pete, I am going to try and watch this ASAP as I can’t wait to see it…it has been released in some movie theaters in the US in order to qualify for Academy Awards consideration, but it is a NETFLIX film and so it will be seen mostly on that service…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I wouldn’t mind seeing it. I’d have to set aside my feelings about De Niro as a radical political idiot, though, and simply view him as a fairly accomplished actor. Of all the gangster flicks you mention, I’ve only seen “Casino,” and that was when it first appeared in theaters. (I’ve seen a few films that involve gangsters, the least obvious one being the dark comedy “Innocent Blood,” in which Anne Parillaud plays a vampire.)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I see you’ve been busy while I was gone Pete! Saw it over the holiday with my son in law. It is GREAT! Of course being older and remembering lots of the characters makes it even more enjoyable. It was good to see Crazy Joe Gallo again! If you were a Brooklyn boy you knew of Crazy Joe. It was rumored he had a wild cat in his basement!

    Will catch up on my reading. Besties from Florida.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. During the 60’s in Chicago Hoffa and the teamsters was always in the news so I actually recall a few of these events when they happened. Some of those guys who were “offed” in the 80’s I recall hearing about to this day. One in particular, Dorfman, was in my own neighborhood vicinity, in the hotel parking lot I drove by at least once a week. These guys were always blowing away each other and the general public consensus was more along the line.. “As long as they keep blowing away each other who cares.” Up through the 80’s my ex-father-in-law would debate his own membership in the United Steel Worker’s Union.. an affiliation of the Teamsters. He was a union man thru and thru but could never explain why all the leaders ended up screwing with union pension funds. Oddly.. rather a prophetic defense… he would say… “Yeah, they are all crooks but look at all the good they have done for us workers.” That’s the same argument Trumpsters are using to defend him. “Sure, he’s brash, pompous, a bully, and likely does things teetering on illegal.. but look at all the good he’s done for the country”
    The film reminded me of “Casino” as I am sure it was intended to do given the historical overlap. I agree. Good film.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Holy Cow! I’m glad you liked it so much. You read my review so you know what I think. Restraint is elegant and this is an elegant film. I enjoyed much — criticism — could have been shaved and shortened. Since you put such a famous face like Keitel and not give him any lines seems like a mistake. I think if Scorsese had given a few scenes to Peggy and had her say something, that would have balanced out the story. But whatever. It was a male culture, a man’s movie about a time when men killed a lot of people and it’s unfortunate that it’s a part of U.S. History, but there it is. The details were fantastic. I loved that golden ring, the golden watch. All tokens but in the end he sat there alone.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Hi Pete: Our family watched it over Thanksgiving. I am not a great fan of mafia movies but I really enjoyed this movie. The violence was minimal and De Niro gave a tremendous performance of a man who was stoically able to follow orders. His military training came into good stead for him. Pesci was wonderful and so was Pacino. I agree the music was spectacular particularly the last number by Robbie Robertson called Remembrance. My husband thinks the acting was better in this than any of the other Mafia movies that he loved including The Sopranos. I did not watch that but I’ve seen all the other movies and thought they were well done. If you liked that you’d enjoy a series called Goliath – it’s on Prime. Anyway great review and this movie is a must watch for those that want to understand what happened with the Unions in the US in the fifties and the Kennedys. Some have also said this movie is a subtle commentary on what is going on at the head of our government today – that Scorcese was drawing some analogies to Trump thought Hoffa fighting against everyone and thinking everyone was against him and deluded about his own power and support and how quickly things can change!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Felicity. I am a huge fan of The Sopranos, and have the entire series on DVD. But I agree that the historical slant in this film was just perfect.
      (I don’t have Amazon Prime, unfortunately)
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 1 person

All comments welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.