“You charge a guy, always charge a guy with a gun. With a knife, you run away. Run away from a knife. So you charge with a gun, with a knife, you run.”
Well we are kicking off a whole fortnight of 21st Century gangster flix inspired art with the 2019 The Irishman. For the next two weeks we will be releasing and blogging about some of the very best of the genre released since 2000.....
In the 1950s, truck driver Frank Sheeran gets involved with Russell Bufalino and his Pennsylvania crime family. As Sheeran climbs the ranks to become a top hit man, he also goes to work for Jimmy Hoffa -- a powerful Teamster tied to organised crime.
In 2014 it was announced that Martin Scorsese was to direct The Irishman, a film he had spent years trying to get made (originally in the 80s and then the idea really picked up in 2004, with the release of the book I heard you paint houses). De Niro, who also served as producer, and Pacino were confirmed within a month, as was Pesci, who came out of his unofficial retirement to star after numerous requests.
Why with these three icons of cinema did it take so long to get made? No one was making films like this anymore for the budget he needed to make it work. It wasn't a superhero movie, there was no franchise, it was a gangster movie set in the 50s with a run time of 209 minutes and needed a huge budget to cover the cost of de-aging the then 76 years old De Niro and Pacino.
Streaming giant Netflix ended up picking up the film rights as no other film studio would cover the now ballooning budget which may have ended up as high as $200 million.
Released at the beginning of 2019 to cinemas for a limited number of cinemas before it was dropped on to Netflix at the end of the month. It was generally well received and praised by critics and audiences and gave Netflix the gravatas is wanted as a serious movie studio.
The Irishman is not Goodfellas or Casino and it isn't trying to be, it's a sombre, regretful story that is the mirror opposite of Scorsese’s earlier gangster films. The first hour is a little bit jarring with the special effects, although impressive in some places don't always work at all, a scene when De Niro starts kicking and beating a store owner still looks like an older man and takes you out of the movie somewhat. Things really start to get going when Jimmy Hoffa appears and Al Pacino gives his best performances in decades.
The main question of the film is about the repercussions of your actions which Frank (De Niro) and Russell (Pesci) deal with after murdering a friend.
How it comes back to haunt them later in life in the loneliness experienced through the estrangement of family, growing old in prison and no matter how powerful you think you are we all become frail and eventually die.
It closes the book on a whole chapter of cinematic history. It's a privilege spending time in the company of De Niro, Pacino and Pesci who all turn back the clock to give us fantastic performances in what surely must be the last time we will see a film like this. It seems like a good way for Scorsese to say goodbye to this type of gangster genre that he helped define.
They don't make them like this anymore, I guess it is what it is.
Now streaming on Netflix.
Our tee's is a tribute to the end of an era classic movie released in 2019, grab yours here
Featured image: Netflix/Ringer illustration
Photograph: Allstar/Netflix/Niko Tavernise