‘The Irishman’ is Martin Scorsese’s best reviewed movie since ‘Goodfellas’

Martin Scorsese’s epic crime drama “The Irishman” could go one step further than Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” did last year and be the first Best Picture winner for Netflix. The reviews for this new film surpass the raves for Cuaron’s auteurist picture. This true story stars Robert DeNiro as mob hitman Frank Sheeran, Joe Pesci as mafioso Russell Bufalino and Al Pacino as the doomed union organizer Jimmy Hoffa. The film opens in theaters for four weeks on November 1, before streaming on Netflix. The movie currently has a 94 rating on Metacritic, an 8.6 on IMDB, and a 100% fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes, making it one of Scorsese’s best-reviewed films ever.

Greg Wetherall (NMA) calls the film a “perfect final fling for cinema’s great pals.” He writes that “none of the megawatt, all-star cast disappoint. Pesci shows no signs of rustiness after returning from retirement; Harvey Keitel appears in a Scorsese project for the first time in over 30 years, and Pacino is directed by him for the first time ever. The latter is a hoot as the volatile, profane Hoffa, particularly so when clashing with Stephen Graham’s wonderfully antagonistic New Jersey gangster Tony Pro.” Wetherall says that the de-aging technology is a seamless triumph, “barely perceptible in the actors’ youngest forms before becoming pretty much undetectable thereafter.” He concludes that, “if this is to be Pesci, De Niro, and Scorsese’s final fling together, then they couldn’t wish to end on a better note. The director’s 26th feature film is a meditative and classy offering. Hollywood’s old cronies are still the real deal – magnetic, riveting and unique. Let’s hope we see them again soon.”

Matt Zoller Seitz (Roger Ebert) observes that ” you feel every one of De Niro’s years in his haunting performance, as well as those of Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel, who are “de-aged” for flashbacks via computer-generated imagery as well as analog makeup and hairpieces… And you feel them in Scorsese’s direction, which is more contemplative than his gangster movie norm (at times as meditative as his religious pictures), and which deftly shifts between eras, using dialogue and voice-over to make the time-jumps seamless.” He also praises Zaillian’s script, which he says is “bursting with quotable lines,” while he notes that “every few minutes you get a marvelous bit of character-based comedy acting.” He concludes that “more so than any other Scorsese crime picture—and this is saying a lot—“The Irishman” confirms him as one of the greatest living comedy directors who isn’t usually described as such, and De Niro as one of the great scene-stealing straight men. His byplay with Pacino, Pesci, Keitel and all the rest is masterfully acted and edited by Thelma Schoonmaker.”

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Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian) declares, “Martin Scorsese returns with his best picture since ‘GoodFellas’ and one of his best films ever. It’s a superbly acted, thrillingly shot epic mob procedural.” He calls it “another massive achievement for Scorsese,” writing that “no-one but Scorsese and this glorious cast could have made this movie live as richly and compellingly as it does, and persuade us that its tropes and images are still vital.” Of the performances, he says the portrayal of Jimmy Hoffa is “a glorious performance from Al Pacino,” and that “Joe Pesci is a marvel in the role.” He sums up that “Scorsese has assembled a trio of galacticos, a superstar repertory of players giving him (and us) performances of wintry brilliance, ebullience, and regret.”

Ian Freer (Empire) finds “while it delivers all the Scorsese-ness you want, this is Marty in mature mode, a compelling meditation on time, aging, connections and guilt that reaches the parts other gangster films only dream of.” Freer states that “Pesci’s Bufalino is a fantastic creation, a polar opposite of the livewires he has previously played for Scorsese. Pesci imbues him with a quiet frightening quality. Pesci remains precise and measured. His scenes with Robert De Niro crackle with chemistry but also go off into some unexpected places.” Freer believes that this is De Niro’s best work in years, while Scorsese and Pacino “couldn’t have found a better fit” for their first time working together.” He says, “a huge colorful character, Hoffa lets Pacino organically let rip, the histrionic outbursts that have become part of his acting persona — whatever the role — feel right and just here.” Free sums up that “Scorsese delivers a stunning, gangster flick but The Irishman is so much more, a melancholy eulogy for growing old and losing your humanity. Savor every one of its 209 minutes, you won’t regret it.”

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Owen Gleiberman (Variety) calls the film “a coldly enthralling, long-form knockout — a majestic mob epic with ice in its veins. Scorsese is working here at full power — the jittery sweep of his voice, the intuitive music of his camera movement, the classic volcanic eruptions of male rage. Edited, with flowing contrapuntal brilliance, by Thelma Schoonmaker, it unfolds with an ominous momentum that’s heady and engrossing.” Of the de-aging tech, Gleiberman says, “who knows where this technology will lead, but in “The Irishman” the de-aging turns out to be a mesmerizing experiment, even if it’s more of a device than a time-machine miracle.” He singles out Pacino: “This is the finest acting he has done in years. He invests the fabled labor leader with a full-throttle Loud Voice Al energy — but though we may, at moments, laugh at the classic Pacino bluster, make no mistake. This is a deadly serious performance as a man of vast influence and complex loyalty. Pacino invests Hoffa’s union speeches with a fervor that’s rooted enough to be real… As the movie goes on, you see the shades of Pacino’s acting ­— his Hoffa is an egomaniac who is also a brilliant tactician, who has made himself into a union cult leader.”

Be sure to make your Oscar nominee predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominees are announced on January 13. And join in the fun debate over the 2020 Academy Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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