[Spoilers] The Irishman Discussion

This film is a big ask of people (Three and a Half Hours Long), but I really wanted to gauge people’s responses to it. I watched this in one sitting when it came out, and while I was thought it was pretty good on an immediate reaction, it has stuck with me for a few days as I think about the 2nd act and last 30 minutes. Also that Action Bronson cameo. Holy shit.

I enjoy Martin Scorsese’s films. I know that they’re typical ‘dad movies’ and now face the brunt of scrutiny when people point out how dated a lot of them are. I understand that criticism and respect it, but they’re just comfy background films for me now, as weird as that sounds… A lot of MS’s films are bad people doing bad things for 2+ hours, and that can be a lot to ask of people. But there was something about how this movie seemed to be a response to the glorification of mobsters in his own films that really stuck out to me. I know MS can be introspective. His work on Silence really seemed to be a self-analytical introspection of his own faith, as well as the characters in that film. This feels like MS is reflecting on his work in creating some of the most important works in the ‘mob film’ genre. It also feels like a film created by someone who hates Goodfellas.

While Goodfellas treats murder of important characters like a joke, (Joe Persi’s character basically going, ‘Oh fuck.’ before being shot in the back of the head.) Irishman instead takes a whole third of the movie to linger on the murder of Jimmy Hoffa. From the inklings of the idea being passed around at Frank’s party, to the preparation stages, to the actual act itself. The whole affair felt hollow, cold, and gross… because despite the true story of Jimmy Hoffa, you really like Pacino’s take on him. He’s a really likable character.

The last 30 minutes are risky as well. Instead of cutting to Henry Hill standing outside his house in a bathrobe, we spend 30 minutes with a man who’s family hates him, is slowy getting his affairs in order, and who is realizing that all of the friends and colleagues he protected and cared about over the years are dead. My grandmother is going through the final stages of her life, plus how I had to watch my Dad go through getting his affairs in order in his last months with cancer last year, and this last act really stuck with me. Especially the final shot of the open door into his room. It’s a FANTASTIC final shot.

Well, what did you all think?

I really love last forty minutes of this movie, didn’t particularly love the first three-ish hours.

I don’t know much about Jimmy Hoffa but I always assumed there was more to him than just mob shill. Maybe this is my politics here, but didn’t the Teamsters do more than just ripping off steaks? The standard story of Hoffa did a lot to ruin the reputation of unions as mobbed-up and corrupt, which helped create our neoliberal hellworld, so is there anything else to say?

3 Likes

I think a big theme of the film, pointed out by Mark Kermode, is that a LOT of people don’t really remember who Hoffa is besides the fact that he disappeared. You see this in the later scene with the nurse and at the beginning. I thought the steak stuff was just Frank’s introduction into the mob life. It seemed like the majority of the Hoffa plot hinged on his desire to get charge of his union again from the little guy.

As for the corruption, I got the sense that the plot seemed to lean into the idea that Bobby Kennedy had a vendetta out for him, more than any specific focus on his corruption.

If anyone knows of a good documentary or article about Hoffa that is fair, I’d love to read it.

I think the movie does a pretty good job of establishing that, for Hoffa, it probably wasn’t about labor organizing at that point in his life. A lot of this information is new to me as well, but the guy gave half a million to fucking Richard Nixon. That’s a pretty indisputably shit thing to do.

Anyway, I loved this thing. I finished it around 2:30 this morning and almost wanted to immediately start it again. The Irishman is three and a half hours of shitty old men vainly grasping for money and power, until only one of them is left, solitary, in a dark room, alienated from his family and even time and I was totally riveted throughout all of it.

Frank Sheeran’s complete inability to grasp the scope of his life, to face the things he’s done and how he’s mistreated the people who actually love him, even at Death’s door, is heartbreaking and chilling. The guy just cannot wrap his head around the idea that, at best, he’s sacrificed literally everything to be a historical footnote. I mean, Jesus…

3 Likes

One of my favorite elements of the Frank/Peggy relationship is how she is done with him and his people from childhood, and it’s NEVER repaired. There isn’t a moment later in the film where she gives him another chance, there’s no scene where she’s arguing about what a horrible father he is, there’s literally NOTHING. He ruined this relationship by doing Martin Scorsese things at the beginning of the movie, and has done nothing to attempt to fix the damage until he’s old and feeble, and she has no desire to even attempt to fix it.

I think this movie got a lot of criticism for how there aren’t many women voices in the movie. Which is valid criticism, for sure, but I think one of the great things this film does is letting Peggy’s silence speak VOLUMES. And it’s wild how she barely has like 3 or 4 lines in the film… I remember Peggy’s name, but I don’t remember Joe Pesci’s character or Ray Romano’s character’s name.

2 Likes

And when he stumbles through the “I know I wasn’t the Best Dad” speech with one of his daughters, mumbling out absurd excuses about “trying to protect them” and how “they had a sheltered life”, it’s like he’s not even avoiding the truth, he just cannot comprehend it

2 Likes

And her answers are reflected as our responses, “Protect them from what? We never saw your family in danger.”

2 Likes

Yeah there was a lot communicated through silence in this movie, and it worked for me.
Was funny how Joe Pesci played a character who’s just about the opposite of his hotheads in Goodfellas and Casino.

2 Likes

Pesci got done so dirty by hollywood, I’m glad he was able to show off his acting chops in this

3 Likes

I think he retired, but came out of it for the Irishman…

What did we all think of the de-aging stuff?

I thought it was mostly pretty good, De Niro’s face has kind of a weird soft focus sheen at first, but I eventually stopped noticing. His bright blue contacts are the really striking thing.

That part where he’s kicking the grocery store clerk though? Yeah, that broke the illusion a bit.

2 Likes

yeah that one scene in particular maybe needed some better angles on it so you don’t see deniro kinda bumbling forward across the sidewalk. other than that i thought the deaging stuff was good , but you can’t convince me he’s supposed to be in his late 20’s early 30’s in those early scenes even with deaging tech. but about 30 to 40 minutes in it just kinda fades into the background.

1 Like

Hey. Hey, Joe? Damn.

1 Like

One great game to play while watching this is how many ex-Sopranos or ex-Boardwalk Empire characters you can spot. I got Sylvio, Beansie, Charmaine Bucco, Eugene Pontecorvo, G. Rosetti (his first name gets caught by a slur filter), and of course, Al Capone.

1 Like

I went out to see The Irishman when it was released in cinemas the week before last. No way I’m missing a chance to see a Scorsese film on the big screen. No way. I then watched it on Netflix again at the weekend.

I really liked The Irishman. I generally love Martin Scorsese as a director, admittedly I’m more a fan of his movies like Shutter Island or Silence than I am of his Mob epics. But if The Irishman is the final part of his mob’s trilogy, I think it ends with a powerful statement about the result of a life of crime, the regret and isolation. I definitely felt the length of the movie when I saw it at the cinema, it’s the first thing everyone mentions on twitter, but I think it’s kind of the point. Unlike other of Scorsese’s movies which perhaps do glorify bad people - the irishman’s reward for a life of crime and doing very bad things is a long life where he gradually loses contact with everyone, his friends, his family, even the point of everything he did in how no-one really knows who Jimmy Hoffa is anymore.

Netflix is obviously cashing in on the De Niro, Pesci and Pacino factor. I think Pacino is chewing the scenery in certain moments as he is expected to. Aside from Anna Paquin, I think Pesci steals the show with a character who is the complete antithesis of his character in Goodfellas, quietly spoken, subdued, yet formidable. On second watch De Niro’s performance really does get richer. I think it’s the best he’s been in quite a while. It’s the way he is evasive as he speaks or doesn’t know how to use the words to express himself fully. So much of the film is about the words not said between characters. I like how Frank is basically speaking to us throughout the film, we never see who he is actually talking to. Towards the end, when he’s talking about how he wants to be put in a crypt really hit home. The closing shot of the open door just a very obvious but nonetheless poignant mirror to the final shot of The Godfather.

I think some of the de-aging effects are a little ropey. Especially when you see the body, had a little bit of an LA Noire quality. The scene in which De Niro kicks the shit out of the shop owner did look like an old man fighting.

1 Like

Some very interesting takes here - I watched The Irishman last night, and was left a little cold. DeNiro is just this brick wall taking orders surrounded by the wreck of his life by the end. Not sure if I appreciated the fact the subdued nature of the film is very much on purpose.

A moment that made me laugh: once and a while the film will pause and a text obituary will be pasted over a character. Something like, “Jimmy Two-hands. Strangled 1987”
Except for that one random guy, and I’m paraphrasing here: “Well liked by all. Died of natural causes.”

5 Likes

7 Likes

God, that Christmas scene is excruciating to watch, to see an all-powerful Mafioso brought low by a child’s wordless stare. I can practically feel my teeth grinding down, especially when Russell says “she said thank you once, that’s enough” and he’s got that dispirited look in his eyes

2 Likes