Three things you mostly already know about film directors like Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino movies going into them is that they’ll be violent, they’ll be a cut above their contemporaries, and they’ll be really, really long.
Martin Scorsese’s new mobster epic, “The Irishman,” about Jimmy Hoffa and his “fixer” – starring Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci clocks in at a staggering 210 minutes (3.5 hours). That’s his longest film to date.
And the first reviews are in for “The Irishman” and by nearly every single account they’re spectacular.
Martin Scorsese’s new epic “The Irishman” is based on the 2004 memoir “I heard you Paint Houses: Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran and Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa” from a former investigator, Charles Brandt.
The story largely chronicles the life of Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (Robert De Niro) who was an alleged hitman who confesses to various crimes while working for the Bufalino crime family.
Brandt alleges the first words Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) ever spoke to Sheeran were “I heard you paint houses,” which is obviously criminal underground code word for “I heard you’re a hitman,” or basically a fixer. He’ll do whatever Hoffa demands of him.
Principal photography began a little over two years ago in New York City with a reported production budget of $159 million and was by far the most expensive of Scorsese’s career.
One of the controversial reasons why many people thought this film wouldn’t work is because they had to de-age all of the actors in the film. At one point De Niro is supposed to play a 25-year-old. That means post-production costs were likely through the roof taking a 76-year-old actor and taking fifty years off of him in every single shot.
A lot of Hollywood insiders said earlier this year that it looked weird and many didn’t think audiences would respond well to the de-aging graphics.
In fact, critics absolutely loved the film including the performances by De Niro, Pacino and especially Joe Pesci, who hasn’t been in a big movie in an American film since “Love Ranch” in 2010 and really hasn’t put his acting chops on display since “The Good Shepherd” in 2006. In fact, Pesci didn’t do a single project between “Lethal Weapon 4” in 1998 and “The Good Shepherd.”
It’s reassuring that critics responded fantastically to the overlong crime drama because by most accounts they hate when filmmakers don’t trim the fat.
Eric Kohn of IndieWire wrote, “With ‘The Irishman,’ Scorsese proves he’s more alive than ever.”
Matt Zoller Seitz recognizes the hilarity of “The Irishman” in certain moments too.
He wrote, “The Irishman confirms [Scorsese] as one of the greatest living, though still largely unsung, comedy directors, and De Niro as one of the great scene-stealing straight men in movies.”
David Edelstein of New York Magazine and Vulture claimed Pesci was the best actor in the film. He wrote, “I heard all sorts of huzzahs about Pacino – and he is wonderful – but it’s Pesci who thrilled me to the core.”
Jeva Lange of The Week wrote, “The Irishman is every bit as clever, startling, violent, and obsessively purposeful as the colorful metaphor that serves as its alternate title.”
It also could be the last “hurrah” major picture by the four filmmakers considering their age. Gary M. Kramer of Salon noted, “’The Irishman’ isn’t the last word on gangsters, but this long, involving, and extremely well-made epic seems to be an appropriate capstone for Scorsese – as well as De Niro, Pesci, and Pacino – at this late stage in their careers.”
“The Irishman” hits theaters on November 1st but the really good news is that it will also be available for free to stream on Netflix on November 27th because it is the streaming giant’s production.