Film Review: THE IRISHMAN (USA 2019) ****

The Irishman Poster
Trailer

A mob hitman recalls his possible involvement with the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa.

Director:

Martin Scorsese

Writers:

Charles Brandt (book), Steven Zaillian (screenplay)

Arguably the most powerhouse of all films made this year, THE IRISHMAN features the film industry’s biggest names that include multiple Academy Award Winners in its cast and crew.  Director Martin Scorsese directs high profile stars seldom or never seen together in the same frame in a movie.  Robert De Niro stars alongside Al Pacino (both of whom shot to fame after Francis Ford Coppola’s THE GODFATHER II films) with Joe Pesci, Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin and Harvey Keitel.  

But the full title of the film, as seen in the opening and closing credits is THE IRISHMAN, I HEARD YOU PAINT HOUSES, based on the book of that name by Charles Brandt.  The main protagonist of the film is the Irishman of the film title, Frank Sheeran played by De Niro who is obviously Irish by blood.  When the film opens he and pal, Russell Bufalino (Pesci) are having a road trip with their wives on way to attend a wedding.  As they stop their car for their wives to have s smoke, Frank realizes that it is the same spot he and Russ had first met. Through flashbacks it is revealed that the wedding is a disguise for them performing  a peace mission that ends up as a vicious killing.  How and why the situation had come to reach this stage is the film’s story.  And it is not a pretty story.

The Irishman is an epic saga of organized crime in postwar America told through the eyes of World War II veteran Frank Sheeran, a hitman who worked alongside some of the most notorious underworld figures of the 20th century.  Spanning decades, the film chronicles the disappearance of legendary union boss Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino) — which remains unsolved to this day — and journeys through the hidden corridors of organized crime: its inner workings, rivalries, and connections to mainstream politics.

THE IRISHMAN clocks in 3 and a half hours.  Director Scorcese remarked that when he Scorcese has been quoted to say that the people at Netflix are excellent.  The rest is a film that Scorcese can indulge in.  Though the film is a long haul, Scorcese gets to tell the story his way, his style.  When one analyzes many of his set-ups, one can see his attention to detail and the brilliance of Scorcese’s craft.  He tells a story while impacting emotions in the larger realm of things, and told with dead pan humour with the added bonus of a great soundtrack, put together by Robbie Robertson.  Never mind that the film turns a bit difficult to follow at times – Scorcese doesn’t care, but continues his passion of telling his story.  The result is a crime story told from one person’s point of view – Frank Sheeran’s and one very effective one at that.  The effect of the man on his family particularly on his daughters notably Peggy (Paquin) who refuses to talk or see him is devastating and the only thing that makes him regret his life.  The final scenes showing him speaking candidly to a priest (shades of Scorcese’s SILENCE) trying to extol himself from the sins committed in his life.

Th film uses CGI to ‘youthify’ De Niro, Pesci and Pacino for their character in their younger days.  This de-ageing process looks effective enough to enable the 75 year-old actors to play their younger years.

De Niro and Pacino are superb playing off each other.  Pacino’s Hoffa is volatile, loud, insulting and gregarious compared as compared to De Niro’s Frank who is smart, cunning, silent but deadly.  It is pure pleasure to see both De Niro and Pacino together in a single scene and there are quite a few of these in the film.

THE IRISHMAN is a must-see crime drama, not because it is true or could be true, but for Scorcese’s craft with the Master is still at his peak.

THE IRISHMAN opens for a limited engagement at the TIFFBel Lightbox before streaming on Netflix.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHXxVmeGQUc

1997 Movie Review: THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, 1997

THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, 1997
Movie Reviews

Directed by Taylor Hackford

Cast: Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron, Connie Nielson, Jeffrey Jones, Craig T. Nelson,
Review by Surinder Singh

SYNOPSIS:

Hotshot lawyer Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) accepts an invitation to join a prestigious New York law firm notorious for it’s track record of getting its guilty clients cleared of all charges. Lomax is drawn in by the money and power that comes with the job; a seduction cleverly orchestrated by the firm’s boss John Milton (Al Pacino). But as Lomax delves deeper into the firm’s legal dealings he discovers there’s more to Mr. Milton’s success than meets the eye…

REVIEW:

It’s fair to say that Pacino did his share of mentoring during the nineties. As well as winning his Oscar and churning out some great central performances, he also played a number of supporting roles aside the new generation of leading men. In Donnie Brasco (1997) he supported Johnny Depp and with Any Given Sunday (1999) he did the same for Jamie Foxx. It’s always important for a screen-acting veteran to take stock in the new generation because it gives them the chance to see how good they really are! Perhaps one of the greatest tests for any upcoming actor is: “can I hold my own against Al Pacino on screen?”

As Kevin Lomax, Keanu Reeves was offered the challenge! Reeves arrives on screen looking suitably sharp and suave, he oozes confidence as soon as he enters the courtroom. We are shown someone so ambitious that he’ll happily tear up a poor young girl on the witness stand to win his case. It’s not long until he attracts interest from like-minded people in his field. As the film’s title suggests we’re witnessing someone on a moral journey in a job that continuously puts morality up for question. Reeves plays Lomax brilliantly as a man who is quite comfortable with drawing a line of professionalism between himself and the case. At this point in his journey it’s not important whether his client is guilty or not, only that he wins!

The film really gets going once Lomax is in New York and poised to begin his case with the new law firm. Enter Al Pacino: in a wonderful scene on top of the huge sky-rise looking down at the world below, Milton acquaints himself with his new employee Lomax. Director Taylor Hackford does a great job of balancing a realistic drama set against a modern day New York with the supernatural and mythic elements at play. The scene is totally plausible but at the same time positions Pacino’s Milton as the Master of the Universe. He’s more than just a successful man; his power clearly reaches further than Lomax is presently aware of.

Many actors in the past have played the Prince of Darkness: Jack Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick (1987), Robert De Niro in Angel Heart (1987) and of course Tim Curry in Legend (1985). By default, any actor who takes on such a notorious character will be compared to the previous incarnations. Pacino is charismatic and carries his character with a sense of cool that draws you in from the moment you meet him. Pacino may be a small guy but in The Devil’s Advocate he owns every space he walks into and everyone in it! Pacino’s Milton is by far the most contemporary and convincing incarnation of Satan for many years.

Like he did in Donnie Brasco, Pacino plays a mentor and takes Keanu Reeves’ Lomax under his wing. Milton explains his philosophy leaving his new apprentice in awe: “Look at me! Underestimated from day one. You’d never think I was a master of the universe, now would ya?” Rather than exert superhuman physical powers, Milton is the puppet master who prefers discretion: “I’m the hand up Mona Lisa’s skirt. I’m a surprise, Kevin. They don’t see me coming!” Lomax sees this simply as advice to help him progress as a lawyer. All the while his new mentor who is ten steps ahead is manipulating him!

The movie is full of devilishly splendid set pieces. Lomax is advised to seek out a man named Moyez (Delroy Lindo) a witchdoctor who’s on trial for the ritualistic butchering of animals. Moyez offers Lomax a helping hand (via a strange ritual with a decapitated tongue) and sure enough the prosecution cannot get a word out in the following trial. The scene gives supernatural depth to the power of Milton and his associates, showing the unsettled Lomax the extent to which his “unfaltering success” is being secured. Perhaps the greatest set piece is the killing of Eddie Barzoon (Jeffery Jones). As he jogs through Central Park we hear Pacino’s piercing voice off-screen, the feeling of an impending doom takes over until we see the poor Barzoon fall to his bloody fate.

Like most films about the Spirit of Evil (walking amongst us in modern times) The Devil’s Advocate is essentially a story about someone saving their soul from Evil. The idea that through all Evil’s temptations we eventually choose the path to light and salvation. On reflection this movie is unlike the others in the way it delivers the age-old story to you in a fresh, contemporary and engaging manner. The performances are strong and Pacino’s performance completely convinces you he’s the modern incarnation of the Prince of Darkness. Plus, on purely popcorn terms this movie is a solid thriller that doesn’t rest too heavily on religious fact and while the symbols of Christianity are ripe throughout they do not alienate the audience.

The Devil’s Advocate is a great movie to watch over and over. Not exactly ‘light-entertainment’ but a strong contemporary thriller that will satisfy. It also contains arguably the best portrayal of Satan on film…yet another testament to the awesome acting talent of Al Pacino!

 the devils advocate

Happy Birthday: Al Pacino

alpacinoHappy Birthday actor Al Pacino

Born: Alfredo James Pacino
April 25, 1940 in New York City, New York, USA

Read reviews of the best of the actor:

PulpFictionThe Panic in Needle Park
1971
dir. by Jerry Schatzberg
starring
Pacino

SleuthThe Godfather
1972
dir. by Francis Ford Coppola
starring
Marlon Brando
Pacino

SCARECROWScarecrow
1973
dir. Jerry Schatzberg
Cast
Pacino
Gene Hackman

SERPICOSerpico
1973
dir. Sidney Lumet
Starring
Pacino
John Randolph

THE GODFATHER PART IIThe Godfather Part II
1974
dir. Francis Ford Coppola
Starring
Pacino
Robert De Niro

DOG DAY AFTERNOONDog Day Afternoon
1975
dir. Sidney Lumet
Starring
Pacino
John Cazale

ALL JUSTICE FOR ALL…And Justice for All
1979
dir. Norman Jewison
Cast
Al Pacino
Jack Warden

SCARFACEScarface
1983
dir. Brian De Palma
Starring
Pacino
Steven Bauer
Michelle Pfeiffer

MOVIE POSTER JACK AND JILL
dir. Dennis Dugan
Stars:
Adam Sandler
Katie Holmes

SEA OF LOVESea of Love
1989
dir. Harold Becker
Cast
Pacino
Ellen Barkin

THE GODFATHER PART IIIThe Godfather Part III
1990
dir. Ford Coppola
Starring
Pacino
Diane Keaton

Dick TracyDick Tracy
1990
dir. by Warren Beatty
starring
Warren Beatty
Madonna
Pacino

Glengarry Glen RossGlengarry Glen Ross
1992
dir. James Foley
Starring
Pacino
Jack Lemmon

SCENT OF A WOMANScent of a Woman
1992
dir. Martin Brest
Starring
Pacino
Chris O’Donnell

CARLITO'S WAYCarlito’s Way
1993
dir. Brian DePalma
Starring
Al Pacino
Sean Penn

MOVIETWO FOR THE MONEY
2005
dir. D.J. Caruso
Starring:
Matthew McConaughey
Al Pacino

HeatHeat
1995
dir. by Michael Mann
Starring
Robert DeNiro
Pacino

THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATEThe Devil’s Advocate
1997
dir. Taylor Hackford
Cast
Al Pacino
Keanu Reeves

INSOMNIAInsomnia
2002
dir. Christopher Nolan
Starring
Pacino
Robin Williams
Hilary Swank

OCEAN'S THIRTEENOcean’s Thirteen
2007
dir. Steven Soderbergh
Starring
George Clooney
Brad Pitt
Matt Damon

88 Minutes
2008
Directed by Jon Avnet
Starring
Al Pacino
Alicia Witt

Righteous KillRighteous Kill
2008
dir. Jon Avnet
Starring
Robert DeNiro
Pacino

MOVIE POSTERSTAND UP GUYS
2013
dir. Fisher Stevens
Stars:
Al Pacino
Alan Arkin

ANY GIVEN SUNDAYAny Given Sunday
1999
dir. Oliver Stone
starring
Jamie Foxx
Pacino

THE INSIDERThe Insider
1999
dir. Mann
starring
Russell Crowe
Pacino

MOVIELOOKING FOR RICHARD
1996
dir. Al Pacino
Starring:
Al Pacino
Alec Baldwin

MOVIE POSTERDESPICABLE ME 2
2013
dir. Pierre Coffin
Chris Renaud
Stars: Steve Carell
Al Pacino

SEE TOP 100 AL PACINO PHOTOS

1970s
2011
2012
and Adam Sandler
and Andy Garcia
and Beverly D’Angelo
and Cameron Diaz
and Carla Gugino
and Diane Keaton
and Ellen Barkin
and Family
and Francis Ford Coppola
and Helen Mirren
and Hilary Swank
and Jack Nicholson
and Jamie Foxx
and Jessica Chastain
and John Cazale
and Johnny Depp
and Keanue Reeves
and Kevin Spacey
and Lucila Sola
and Lyndell Hobbs
and Madonna
and Marlon Brando
and Marthe Keller
and Matthew McConaughey
and Meryl Streep
and Michelle Pfeiffer
and Penelope Ann Miller
and Roberto DeNiro
and Robin Williams
and Sean Penn
and Sidney Lumet
and Twins
and Wife
and Winona Ryder
as a Cop
as Big Boy Caprice
as Blind Man
as Football Coach
as Jack Kevorkian
as Left
as Michael Corleone
as Phil Spector
as Salvador Dali
as Serpico
as Shylock
as The Devil

as Tony Montana
Autograph
Beard
Before and After
Black and White
Coffee Ad
Drawing
Eyes
Face
Funny
in 88 Minutes
in American Buffalo
in And Justice For All
in Any Given Sunday
in Carlito’s Way
in Cruising
in Devil’s Advocate
in Dick Tracy
in Dog Day Afternoon
in Donnie Brasco
in Frankie and Johnny
in Glengarry Glen Ross
in Godfather
in Godfather 2
in Godfather 3
in Gotti
in Heat
in Insomnia
in Jack and Jill
in Ocean’s 13
in Panic in Needle Park
in Richard III
in Righteous Kill
in Scarface
in Scent of a Woman
in Sea of Love
in Serpico
in Simone
in The Insider
in Wilde Salome
Mug Shot
Old
On Set
Oscar
Portrait
Smoking
Suit
Tattoo
Wallpaper
With Gun
Young