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I like a good, long, juicy movie, so when I heard Martin Scorsese's The Irishman ran three-and-a-half hours, I sure knew it was long. What I didn’t know is whether it was good or juicy. The answer is that it's good—very, very good—but it's not really juicy. You can't just sink into it the way a great epic allows you to sink in and get yourself taken on a transporting journey. Director Martin Scorsese and screenwriter Steven Zaillian cast a cold, analytical eye on the story they tell about the Philadelphia mob, the Teamsters, and the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa even as they re-create the America of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1990s in the most loving and luscious ways. If you could eat art direction, The Irishman would be like dining at Peter Luger's in the old days. Still, the movie's rigorous lack of sentimentality about the wretched characters it offers up for our scrutiny keeps you at a slight distance.
We see the action through the eyes of Frank Sheeran, played by Robert De Niro in a wonderful performance I really doubted he still had in him. Sheeran was both a functionary in the Philadelphia mob and a working-man trucker who ended up in Jimmy Hoffa's inner sanctum in the 1950s just as Hoffa was solidifying his hold on the most powerful and important nongovernmental organization in America. The movie comes to center on Sheeran's claim at the very end of his life that he killed Hoffa, by now so thoroughly debunked (the latest and most definitive debunking is by Jack Goldsmith in the New York Review of Books) that it's kind of amazing how the movie treats it as the gospel truth.
Review - Irishman
Review: ‘The Irishman'
Al Pacino is Hoffa, and he's glorious here. It's become a standard cliché that Pacino...
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