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Kulture Reviews: As we predicted, ‘The Irishman’ went off at the NYFF

The Irishman had its premiere Friday, September 27, as the opening for the New York Film Festival. Before the premiere in the evening, there was a press screening in the morning, which I was able to attend.

The buzz was clear as the press and industry filed into the beautiful Alice Tully Hall. This was a movie I had been anticipating for years, a mobster flic by the great Martin Scorsese spanning over six decades and starring three of the greatest actors of our time: Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci.

As the talk of the movie increased, so did my interest in it. And it was only elevated when I read the book upon which it was going to be based, I Hear You Paint Houses, by Charles Brandt.

Finally, I was at the theater for this film, and without much introduction, the Netflix logo came and went, and we were off on the adventure of the life of Frank Sheeran, the Irishman.

This movie was incredible, start to finish. It is a portrait of a man’s life and the relationships between him and his two best, most important friends (Buffalino, played by Pesci, and Hoffa, played by Pacino). At the heart of this film are human relationships and moral conflict.


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Thank you, New York. @thenyff

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In a way, the soft-spoken but ruthless Buffalino is the dark side on one shoulder of Sheeran, and the loud yet sweet Hoffa is the angel on the other.

A representative of Sheeran’s conflict between being connected with the mob, and also Hoffa’s best friend and most avid supporter, is Sheeran’s daughter’s stoicism around Buffalino and warming-up around Hoffa.

The Irishman is a different film than the other Scorsese mobster movies. Spanning from the ’50s all the way to the early 2000s, The Irishman deals with real events that affected everyone in the country.

While most people will see the movie and not know who Frank Sheeran and Russell Buffalino are (and sadly the youth won’t know Jimmy Hoffa), the audience will still feel attached to events that took place in the world of our characters.


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There was the JFK assassination, Jimmy Hoffa’s Teamsters battles, and Nixon’s resignation all prevalent in the picture and if it didn’t directly affect us, it sure was in the world of our parents and grandparents.

This movie deals with a lot of the same things Goodfellas does. There are the mob introductions, the brutal slayings at a moment’s notice, and the understanding of the control and power of the mafia in the second half of the 20th century.

Still, this film has a lighter tone.

The dedication to becoming these real-life characters was clear with these three greats. Pacino had headphones in on set, purely listening to Jimmy Hoffa’s voice, his inflections, and his cadence. Joe Pesci reportedly refused to do this movie many times, until finally being convinced his involvement was vital to the picture.

And DeNiro, who is practically in every scene, carries us through the decades and along the fantastic ride in a way no one else could.

There is one scene in particular that will become clear upon viewing, that shows DeNiro has not slowed down in his acting prowess with age, and I legitimately don’t know if another actor could have so delicately mastered the scene.

After the film was a press conference, where Martin Scorsese, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Emma Tillinger, and Jane Rosenthal spoke with NYFF director Kent Jones.

They spoke about how the idea for the film came to fruition, what shooting was like, and the de-aging technology crafted in the editing room. Emma Tillinger, film producer and frequent collaborator with Scorsese said:

“The technology did not slow us down.”

There are so many little reasons to love this movie. There are several celebrities who get small roles designed to produce laughs or point out something in the film. Even Action Bronson had to give thanks for being able to be a part of this legendary movie.


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There is Ray Romano playing a prominent and perfectly-cast role as Teamsters lawyer and cousin to Russell Buffalino. Plus, there are subtleties of actors with only a few lines, such as Anna Paquin, playing Sheeran’s daughter, that elevate this movie to heights that would not be achievable under a different director.

The Irishman felt less dark than other Scorsese movies. As an audience, we are brought into the inner sanctum of the mafia underworld, but there is still a level of detachment present.

Hoffa may have ties to the mob, but they are a means to an end; he does not go so far with his relationship with the mob that he is at their beck and call.

And practically speaking, in the ’50s and ’60s, there was rampant corruption in tons of organizations throughout the country. This is a way of saying that a lot of what we see throughout the bulk of the runtime is not gangster-struggles or ruthless racketeering.

It is Jimmy and Frank’s friendship, what it means to both of them, and how Jimmy, and because of his loyalty to him, Frank too, are well-meaning humans that are genuinely doing great work for families around the country.

Sheeran was introduced to Hoffa by Buffalino and is tied to both men with immense love for each, but eventually thrown into a conflict with which he is forced to make a decision. So heavy of a decision that Scorsese asks us: can one live with themselves after making it, one way or the other? During the press conference, Scorsese said:

“What we wanted to deal with was the nature of who we are as human beings. A love, a betrayal, guilt or no guilt, forgiveness or no forgiveness, all of this.”

Since Pacino, Pesci, and DeNiro are all in their late-70s, the de-aging technology that Scorsese used was highly-talked-about before the release of the film.

Instead of hiring younger actors, Scorsese sought the money that would allow him to make DeNiro, Pacino, and Pesci younger. Netflix came along and allowed this to happen, and smartly, gave ultimate control to Scorsese to make the film in his absolute vision.


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“Throughout our whole careers, we were always up for the same parts.” #AlPacino speaking to @variety. . 📷: @marcogrob

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This is groundbreaking, because it can allow older actors to play parts they couldn’t in the past, and can prolong some of the great actors of our times’ careers.

The Irishman is a different film than other Scorsese greats, even his gangster films. The three and a half-hour runtime was over before I knew it, and I couldn’t help but want more. Ava DuVernay who was in attendance felt the same way.

With this being Pacino and Pesci’s first film together, Scorsese’s first time directing Pacino, and Pesci’s first film of any kind in years, it is hard not to be grateful to be able to witness this great work of art.

These three extraordinary actors collaborating for a possible first-and-only time with the great Martin Scorsese produced a nearly-flawless film that will be studied and revered for years.

No gas: Why Scorsese will wow us with his new flick, ‘The Irishman’

“I hear you paint houses,” is the first thing Jimmy Hoffa said to Frank Sheeran. Painting houses refers to the blood that “paints” the floor or wall after someone is shot.

Jimmy Hoffa was a labor union leader and national celebrity in the mid-1900s, and Frank Sheeran was a labor union organizer, a close friend to Hoffa, and a close friend to Russell Bufalino, a mafia boss.

On Wednesday, July 31, Martin Scorsese, award-winning director and GOAT of mob movies like Goodfellas, Casino, and The Departed, released the trailer for his new film The Irishman.

Yeah, you guessed it, The Irishman centers around Frank Sheeran, played by Robert De Niro, and his ties with Jimmy Hoffa, played by Al Pacino, and Russell Bufalino, played by Joe Pesci.

This amount of actor-mafioso star power is unprecedented. We are going to witness three of the GOATS in acting and the crime genre all share the screen for the first time ever.

We have seen De Niro and Pesci together before, in classics like Raging BullGoodfellas, and Casino (all directed by Scorsese). We have seen De Niro and Pacino together before, in crime dramas like Michael Mann’s Heat.

But never have we seen Pesci and Pacino on screen together, and never these three at once. We are truly in for a real treat.

The Irishman is based off a book by Charles Brandt titled “I Heard You Paint Houses.” In the book, Brandt interviews real-life Frank Sheeran and learns about Sheeran’s life growing up during the Great Depression, fighting in World War 2, becoming acquainted with Bufalino and Hoffa, and the truth behind Hoffa’s disappearance.

This is one of Scorsese’s most audacious films yet, partly because it will cover the span of around 80-years, and also because of the age of the three main actors. De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci are all in their 70s, and with scenes that go as far back as the ’30s.

Plus, instead of using younger actors, Scorsese is used extreme de-aging technology to keep our three main stars in the fold.

As a reader of the book, I can truly say Sheeran’s life and the story is one of the craziest I have ever heard. He was a soldier in World War 2, and there learned what it was like to take a life and how to live in extremely harrowing conditions.

He did favors for major mafioso players in Philadelphia, working his way up the ranks to become the most trusted man of one of the most respected bosses in the U.S. Pointing to a gold-encrusted ring, Bufalino tells Sheeran, “Only three people in the world have one of these. And only one of them is Irish.”

This is a book dripping with suspense, intrigue, and intensity. Every new chapter of Sheeran’s life is complete with a new battle, either within the ranks or outside of them. The movie, under Scorsese’s watch, is sure to be the same.

Frank Sheeran was a 6’4”, sturdy brick of a man that could part crowds like Moses parted the Red Sea, and he called tiny-in-stature Jimmy Hoffa one of the two greatest men he ever met. Al Pacino is perfect for the role of Hoffa, a strong, eccentric, brilliant man who fought to instill labor unions in the workforce and was President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters for 14 years.

It’s early to say, but I would put my betting money on Pacino winning an Oscar for this role. The movie also features Harvey Keitel, a tremendous actor himself. Scorsese has shown his directing prowess for over 50 years now, and he keeps taking on bold projects all the same.

The only worry for this film is if the de-aging technology will look a bit funky. But if Scorsese deserves anything, it’s the trust of his fans. There are ways to use lighting and shadows to make someone look at how they did years ago without a hiccup.

Anyone who saw Kurt Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 can attest. Plus, this movie has been in the editing stage for a while now, so the people involved are taking their time in making it look perfect.

The second half of the 1900s teemed with conspiracies, corruption, and mafia activity. Frank Sheeran had a first-row ticket to most of the action. Hoffa’s disappearance also happens to be the most notorious mystery and disappearance in U.S. History.

“Do you want to be a part of this fight?” Hoffa asks Sheeran. “Do you want to be a part of this history?”