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The Irishman [CRITERION COLLECTION] (DVD) [2020]

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And then there are the de-aging effects. Much has been written about the controversial choice to use the digital technique to allow De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci to portray younger versions of their characters and thus appear continually throughout the film. Though the technology seamlessly shaves years off the actors, its implementation occasionally takes us out of the story as we marvel at the results and look for betraying chinks in the armor. (I couldn't final any.) Pacino and Pesci fare the best because Hoffa and Bufalino are well into middle age when we meet them. Sheeran, though, is supposed to be just 35 in his earliest scenes (although the film never gets that specific), and De Niro doesn't look anywhere near that young. Newly edited roundtable conversation among Scorsese and actors Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, originally recorded in 2019

The Irishman - Criterion Collection - High Def Digest The Irishman - Criterion Collection - High Def Digest

New documentary about the making of the film featuring Scorsese; the lead actors; producers Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Jane Rosenthal, and Irwin Winkler; director of photography Rodrigo Prieto; and others from the cast and crew On the flip side, Pesci plays a diminutive man who tries to remain invisible, and he easily steals the film with an understated, wonderfully nuanced, utterly revelatory performance that's the antithesis of his loudmouth, fast-talking, over-the-top work in both GoodFellas and Casino. Reportedly, Pesci turned down the part of Russell Bufalino more than 50 times before Scorsese and De Niro finally coaxed him out of retirement. He never raises his voice, recites his lines with uncharacteristic deliberation, and proves silence is golden with an array of vivid reaction shots that speak volumes about Bufalino's ruthless nature and grasping, manipulative personality. It's a riveting turn that engenders renewed respect for the venerable Pesci and justly earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. (Pacino got one, too, by the way.) Criterion also includes a 19-minute discussion between Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, the four sitting around a table (used in the film I believe) to discuss the film. At first I thought this would be the same as the In Conversation featurette that is available on Netflix, and while this uses a lot of the same material, it’s a different edit with some alternate material as well (and it runs a few minutes shorter). Nothing mind-blowing is said but it is a bit of blast to see the four just talk about the film and the experience of them all working together for what is probably one last time. It’s also fun listening to them recall what they were expecting from one another, like how Pesci was expecting Pacino to really go off the rails, as he can do, in a few scenes (“blowup” as Pesci puts it) and planning how he was going to work around that. There’s also some discussion around working with the de-aging technology.A nice touch, though, is the addition of archival footage featuring Frank Sheeran and Jimmy Hoffa and apparently used as references for the film. Sheeran’s footage (running 6-minutes) comes from recordings author Charles Brandt made for his novel, “I Heard You Paint Houses.” The excerpts showcase Sheeran talking about his alleged involvement in the Hoffa disappearance along with his general methodology behind hits (or “painting houses”). He also shows off his watch (from Hoffa) and his ring (from Russell Bufalino). Expanding on that latter topic is The Evolution of Digital De-Aging, a short 13-minute featurette created by Netflix. Though not all that long I will say it does a decent job getting into how the technology works (starting with these special cameras that also get mentioned a lot in the previous two supplements) and then how they had to properly capture a variety of expressions from the actors to make sure they could replicate their performances as exact as they could. Though I could look past a lot of them there are issues around the effects in the end product, yet despite that I still found it a fascinating look into not only the technology but the art that went behind it. In all the material is decent, but I guess I was expecting more for such a big title, with maybe more new material from Criterion, and I’m especially surprised there wasn’t anything about the questionable details behind Sheeran’s account of what happened to Hoffa, or anything else he confessed to. Closing

The Irishman | Netflix Official Site Watch The Irishman | Netflix Official Site

The ultimate tragedy of The Irishman is that Sheeran is incapable of singing his song of self with the kind of unblinking honesty that might lead him through regret and toward redemption. Near the end of the film, Sheeran asks that his door be left slightly ajar, a mirror of something that occurs in an earlier scene between him and Hoffa. The way Scorsese photographs Sheeran through the opening reveals a man drained of all his perceived power, and distressingly content with the unholy mess he’s left behind. Image/Sound In reality, Sheeran told his life story to author and former investigator Charles Brandt for the 2004 memoir I Heard You Paint Houses, which is the basis for the film’s screenplay by Steven Zaillian. (The book’s title is mob code for blood splattering the walls during a contract killing.) In The Irishman, which spans the mid-1940s to the early aughts, Sheeran is effectively chatting with the audience about his rise from a low-level hood to the right-hand man to labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), who he also claims to have killed in 1975. Yet the degree to which Sheeran is an unreliable narrator, perhaps even to himself, is always debatable in the film, and not just because the Hoffa case has never been officially closed.The presentation may not offer the clear upgrade over streaming one would hope and the special features leave room for improvement, but it’s still a handsome looking edition that Scorsese fans will be happy to snatch up. Scorsese has called The Irishman a chamber piece. It is mainly about its three main characters and only De Niro, Pesci and Pacino go through the digital de-aging process. They are made to look in their late 30s/40s for the early part of the film.

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