Cinema Review: The Irishman | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Friday, January 27th, 2023  

The Irishman

Studio: The Criterion Collection

Dec 01, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

When veteran director Martin Scorsese and streaming service Netflix announced that they’d be releasing his newest film, The Irishman, together in 2017, both the film community and the world were shocked. As an emerging studio at the time, Netflix gaining the production rights to a big-time film like The Irishman seemed like an impossibility, but quickly made sense given how hefty, and still growing, the film’s budget was. The primarily streaming release turned out to be the right move – the film’s ease of accessibility brought many new users and subscribers to the site, and the film has since turned into one of the studio’s most popular titles. Just one year later, the physical release of the film, aided by a new 4K master from The Criterion Collection, gives the film a new edge, using tons of hearty bonus content to explain how Scorese, the actors, and Netflix were able to bring The Irishman’s twisted and complex story to life.

At a shattering three-and-a-half hours, the latest picture from the veteran director tells the true story of Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), focusing on his rise and downfall as a prominent mobster in 20th Century America. While the film does cover almost every aspect of Sheeran’s life and role in the mob, it centers mainly around the relationship between Sheeran and Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), a prominent labor union leader with strong ties to the Bufalino crime family anchored by Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci). The film, while a mob movie at heart, provides a heartbreaking and emotional look at how one man’s hubris affected everything and everyone around him, destroying relationships for years – and lifetimes – to come. The film was the Opening Night Premiere at the 2019 New York Film Festival, and went on to compete in almost all of the major awards shows – including 10 nominations at the 2020 Academy Awards (but zero wins).

Evident in its structure, characters and themes – The Irishman is deeply human and profound. The film explores complex and universal ideas like death, aging and the consequences of our actions through a figure who has lived a life like none other. This becomes of importance especially in the film’s harrowing final act, where characters begin to realize that death isn’t something that you can run away from – whether it arrives attached to a bullet or as a natural process. Moreover, the film is simply cathartic – especially for the central quartet. Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino and Pesci have spent years making film after film, both together and separately, while crafting a legacy that will live on in cinema forever. The Irishman is an ultimate offering, and a beautiful one at that.

While The Irishman’s recency and its availability on Netflix might make some viewers skeptical of the film’s quick physical release, The Criterion Collection makes it worth the viewer’s dollar with an almost overwhelming amount of extra features, and the film’s slightly higher quality. Among the most memorable highlights are a fascinating conversation between Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci about the making of the film, a featurette on the de-aging technology, and a featurette where Scorsese analyzes and explains the methods behind a scene in the film. For fans of the actors, Scorsese, or just general buyers of The Criterion Collection – The Irishman in physical format definitely gives a lot of bang for your buck.



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