One of the buzziest properties headed into the fall of 2019 is Martin Scorsese’s epic crime drama The Irishman starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci.
The trailer alone feels epic, spanning decades as it provides audiences with small pieces of the puzzle that will be Scorsese’s The Irishman.
De Niro plays Frank Sheeran, a WWII Vet who became a mob hitman and played a crucial role in Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance. Pacino is starring as the notorious union boss Hoffa. The supporting cast includes heavy hitters like Harvey Keitel and Anna Paquin, but also Scorsese’s as-usual out of left field supporting choices, like Ray Romano (remember when he put JoAnna Lumley in a small but crucial role in The Wolf of Wall Street – Scorsese has a penchant for giving pop culture junkies plenty of gleeful Easter eggs in his casting.) Every one of these players are featured in the two-minute-twenty-second trailer released by Netflix (yes, Netflix – more on that later) yesterday.
Based on Charles Brandt’s book I Heard You Paint Houses – uttered in the opening moments of the trailer by Al Pacino (who surprisingly enough has never worked with Scorsese until now) the film marks Scorsese’s long awaited return to the Gangster genre (which many feel he all but perfected with films like Mean Streets, Casino, & the all-time great Goodfellas,) after over a decade of forays into projects as varied as Hugo, Shutter Island, The Wolf of Wall Street, & Silence.
The two biggest stories surrounding The Irishman concern Scorsese’s choice to use CGI FX to de-age his actors (Upon seeing the trailer, this viewer did a double take. “There’s not enough Vaseline in the entire World” I said out loud) and Scorsese’s much surprising and much opined decision to distribute the film with Netflix streaming service rather than through a traditional cinema distributor route. As for the former. Yes, I must admit, seeing Robert De Niro go from youth to middle age within a span of a few seconds in the trailer is jarring to say the least.
Ultimately, this new VFX technology helps the actor remain consistent in the role. While we may lean in when the trailer lingers over a seemingly younger De Niro’s face, rest-assured Scorsese is aware of this, and he has stated that he will be working on perfecting the film’s “De-aging” special effects right up until the movie’s fall release.
Scorsese’s decision to release his film through Netflix is a big deal – one that is worthy of everything that has been written about it in the past few days. At a time when film festivals are turning their backs on streaming services, Hollywood VPs are crying foul, and the Academy awards are demanding their films secure a theatre release to be eligible, the fact that Scorsese wants to take a $175 million film starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci to Netflix, is, as one journalist for NBC News wrote, “absolutely remarkable.” Is Scorsese’s decision to partner with Netflix a show of solidarity with an Underdog distributor that has been largely ignored the same way he had been in his early days? Or is it a numbers game?
One has to take into consideration that even the films that would most certainly skank up the box office can come out on top when placed on streaming services where they are easy “hit play” offerings for bored homebodies. Not to say that Netflix at all feels like a place for B grade movies – quite the opposite is turning out to be true in fact, but when a shitty made for Netflix rom com can get 30 to 40 million views, Scorsese knows exactly what he’s doing here.
The Irishman will begin streaming on Netflix and showing in select theatres later this fall.
Ryan is a Film and Pop Culture/Content Contributor at Kowala Media. A free thinker and free-wheeler born and raised in the dirrrty south. Ryan has received his undergraduate degree from the University of Memphis. He currently works as a free-lance performer, educator, speaker, & singer in addition to teaching classes on Acting, Lyric Interpretation, Modern European History, Southern Writers, Contemporary American Literature, & American progressivism. When he's not acting or teaching or writing, he's usually trying to remember why he went into the Kitchen - or doing everything in his power to keep up with his 4 and 7 year old daughters.