Eppler: "Irishman" reckons with a life of crime and other mob mo

Eppler: 'Irishman' reckons with a life of crime and other mob movies

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"The Irishman" feels exactly like the movie director Martin Scorsese and this team of legendary actors should be making at this point in their. There's no fond sentimentality, no glitz and glamour of a life of crime like in "Goodfellas" or "Casino." The party's over. It's time for a reckoning. "The Irishman" is a movie about consequences.
 
We meet Robert De Niro as Frank Sheerhan, a former mob hitman in the final hours of his miserable existence looking back on a life of violence filled with numbness. He "paints houses," which is code for splattering victims' brains on walls. 
 
It's a very De Niro-type of character, but Joe Pesci does something different coming out of retirement for this movie: instead of the loud-mouth grand-stander he played in previous Scorsese movies, here he's cold, quiet and fearsome. It's a chilling, career-crowning performance. 
 
Like De Niro, Al Pacino is doing more what we'd expect of him as boisterous and reckless teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa whose arrogance aggravates the wrong people. 
 
The sprawling story with Steven Zaillian's nimble script jumping time periods through decades requires these actors in their 70s to play their characters at various ages. That's made possible through CGI effects de-aging the faces. It's jarring to the eye at first, but it became less distracting as I got lost in the movie. But there are times where certain shots bring attention to the smoothing around De Niro's eyes, for example, that look doll-like. 
 
"The Irishman" is a long three-and-a-half hours, sags a bit in places, but it's often such a pleasure to watch. Scorsese can build tension over a table meeting, and there are scenes where he is clearly commenting on his previous movies set in this world. As for the actors, they are legends that no amount of CGI trickery can stifle. It's a contemplative, poignant movie made by masters of their crafts.
 
Perfect? No. Skippable? Forgetaboutit.
 
Available on Netflix starting November 26
 
EPPLER'S RATING: * * * 1/2
 

RATING SCALE

* * * * * Incredible - One of the best of the year
* * * * Excellent - Touches greatness with only minor quibbles
* * * Good - Plenty to like, definitely worth seeing
* * Mediocre - You can do better
* Awful - The worst, an insult to movies

 
 
 
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