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Old 11-29-2019, 10:57 AM
KarlGauss's Avatar
KarlGauss is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Between pole and tropic
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The Irishman (no spoilers)

I saw it the day it was released on Netflix. Then I watched it again.

I think The Irishman is one of the great movies of all time. It is a film that moves on multiple levels, with intersecting themes that carry it to a profound conclusion.

On one level, you can watch it as Scorsese's homage to the genre (which, to a large extent, is his), or to its stars. DeNiro, Pesci, and Pacino are playing themselves playing characters we already know. Characters whose fate, like that of the actors' themselves, like of all us, is fixed, their first breath signaling the excruciating wait for the inevitable last.

The acting in The Irishmen deserves a thread of its own. These are capstone performances by the best of their generation. Some will quibble that Pacino's Hoffa was not Hoffa. I would answer that he has created the Hoffa we'll remember. The movie is full of tragedies not the least of which is that one of Pacino, Pesci, and DeNiro will not be on stage to accept an Oscar. A smaller tragedy, but tragic nonetheless, is that Harvey Keitel, showing us genius in every second of his minute or two of screen time, will get no more than passing praise. In the company of brilliance, even the brightest can lose some lustre.

The Irishman is about how we become deaf to the pervasive evil and corruption that has been the soundtrack of our lives. About inquiries, obstruction, prevarication, and resignation. Scorsese's use of landmark political events is not simply to provide a chronology. It's to remind us what happened, what happens still, and what will happen next year.

But it's the many other levels that elevate The Irishmen to greatness. It is about the choices we make. The ones we regret and most especially about the ones we never took. It's about loyalty and the fluid morality we create to serve it. It's about sinning, atonement, and forgiveness (even if forgiveness is self-given). It's about family, whether tied together in blood or with blood; about the parents we have, the parents we choose, and the parents who choose us. And it is very much about mortality - that we all have a date with death is hardly a new observation but Scorsese reminds us that with every choice we make, we murder a possibility.

It is a magnificent film.


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