The Irishman – the glowing critiques for Martin Scorsese's 'beautiful' new gangster flick

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The film currently holds a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes

By Alex Nelson

Monday, 14th October 2019, 16:29 pm

About Irishman:

The Irishman: the glowing reviews for Martin Scorsese's 'exquisite' new gangster flick

About glowing
Phosphorescence is a type of photoluminescence related to fluorescence. Unlike fluorescence, a phosphorescent material does not immediately re-emit the radiation it absorbs. The slower time scales of the re-emission are associated with “forbidden” energy state transitions in quantum mechanics. As these transitions occur very slowly in certain materials, absorbed radiation is re-emitted at a lower intensity for up to several hours after the original excitation.
Everyday examples of phosphorescent materials are the glow-in-the-dark toys, stickers, paint, wristwatch and clock dials that glow after being charged with a bright light such as in any normal reading or room light. Typically, the glow slowly fades out, sometimes within a few minutes or up to a few hours in a dark room.Around 1604, Vincenzo Casciarolo discovered a “lapis solaris” near Bologna, Italy. Once heated in an oxygen-rich furnace, it thereafter absorbed sunlight and glowed in the dark. The study of phosphorescent materials led to the discovery of radioactivity in 1896.

Updated Monday, 14th October 2019, 17:04 pm

(Photo: Netflix)

The Irishman: the glowing reviews for Martin Scorsese's 'exquisite' new gangster flick

Ever since it was first announced, Martin Scorsese’s Jimmy Hoffa movie has been causing quite a stir.

The Irishman, which lasts for well over three hours, was backed by Netflix and can be watched at home from 27 November. However, it’s also being given a cinema release and is much better seen on the big screen, as Scorsese originally intended.

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De Niro plays the “Irishman,” Frank Sheeran, an Irish Catholic ex infantryman who becomes a mob enforcer. He has very close ties to Teamsters union boss Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), who mysteriously disappeared in 1975.

Sheeran was famous for “painting houses” and then doing the carpentry work afterwards. In mob slang, that meant he killed people and then disposed of their bodies.

The film currently holds a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, who call it “an epic gangster drama that earns its extended runtime.”

That 100% means that all of the (at the time of writing) 64 reviews the site has collated have been positive ones, and RT say The Irishman “finds Martin Scorsese revisiting familiar themes to poignant, funny, and profound effect.”

‘An exquisitely made, decades-spanning passion project’ – Benjamin Lee, The Guardian

So how does the sometimes creepy visual affect fare in The Irishman?

“There’s something undeniably jarring about its use,” says The Guardian’s Benjamin Lee, “both in how at times it really works and how at times, it really doesn’t.

“The film’s biggest, creepiest problem lies behind De Niro’s fortysomething eyes,” he says, “or rather the film’s biggest, creepiest problem is that nothing lies behind them.”

But while it “distracts at first”, the surrounding film “is so vastly impressive that I found myself otherwise immersed.”

‘All the gangster gab a Scorsese fan could want’ – Joshua Rothkop, Time Out

Despite giving the film four out of five stars, Joshua Rothkop’s review for Time Out is quite hard on Scorsese’s new epic.

“Nothing this misshapen ever flies,” he says, calling the film “overstuffed” though “frequently electrifying”.

The director’s latest is “strongest in its quieter passages, when self-reproach takes its toll,” and yet “his all-over-the-place enthusiasm plays well against the material’s death stench.”

“What The Irishman does become, in its final hour, is something better: a film about broken trust, to family and God. De Niro’s Sheeran, wrecked by spiritual compromise, can’t express his own pain.

“This may not be why the average fan goes to a Marty movie, but it’s the statement that this director, now 76, feels like making.”

(Photo: Netflix)

‘Not as groundbreaking as Mean Streets or Taxi Driver, but what is?’ – Caryn James, BBC

“Martin Scorsese’s exciting, epic-length new crime film, isn’t Goodfellas Light or Goodfellas 2, it is more an inverse Goodfellas,” says Caryn James in her review for the BBC.

“The protagonist of that 1990 film revelled in the money and camaraderie of a Mafia life until it caught up with him in the end,” she says. “But the deep, resonant, and even witty, Irishman depicts the sociopathic underpinnings and damage of that life from the start.”

The film at three hours and 19 minutes – “never flags”, and though James says The Irishman “may not be as groundbreaking as Mean Streets or Taxi Driver,” she adds, “but then again, what is?”

“Try to ignore the de-aging process that immobilises [De Niro’s] face for much of the film, and is actively annoying in the scenes where he is youngest.

“It may have been achieved using special effects, but it makes him look like someone who has had way too much Botox.”

‘An incredibly thoughtful gangster movie’ – Matt Dougherty, IGN

Matt Dougherty of IGN calls Martin Scorsese’s latest a “revisionist take on the gangster genre he helped define”, and says it’s “a story of epic proportions that benefits from subtly brilliant special effects and three knock-out performances from Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino.”

“The master filmmaker has made an introspective, thoughtful, even sombre film that manages to be just as entertaining as his classics,” he adds, “even while diving deep into the darkest souls and finding some semblance of a heart.”

It is a long ol’ slog though, and although The Irishman “is a balancing act only a master like Scorsese can make look easy,” it doesn’t stay easy according to the reviewer.

“Though it’s always entertaining, the film really only comes together in the sublime final 30 minutes.”

(Photo: Netflix)

“Scorsese’s de-aging of the actors is more than a stunt,” says Richard Brody in his write-up for the New Yorker, “it’s the movie’s moral spine.”

“Time, generations, and age are central to The Irishman,” he says, “it’s the story of its characters but also the story of an era, and it’s crucial to the movie’s affect that its protagonists are played by people who were formed by those times, both culturally and unconsciously.”

The actors “aren’t merely powerful and subtle”, and Brody says “the Academy will have its hands full with De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci.”

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