‘The Irishman’ on Netflix
After years of fan anticipation, Marty Scorsese’s “The Irishman” is finally available on Netflix and features an Avengers-like cast of all-time greats including Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino.
The film received a limited theatrical release on November 1 with shows getting sold out all over the country. Well, now, you don’t have to worry about getting online early to score some tickets and can simply turn on your Netflix and load up this nearly four-hour epic.
The Supporting Cast
I had the pleasure of screening the film at a local New Jersey theater and I noticed a lot of notable appearances from actors who weren’t promoted as much as the guys mentioned above including Ray Romano, comedian Sebastian Maniscalco, Jesse Plemons a.k.a. Meth Damon of “Breaking Bad” fame, and Harvey Keitel.
Robert Funaro, known for playing Eugene Pontecorvo on “The Sopranos” and Domenick Lombardozzi, who’s had roles in various cables series including “The Wire”, “Entourage”, and more recently “Ray Donovan,” also make appearances in “The Irishman.”
This is Not ‘Goodfellas’
If you’re looking for a revisiting of the flashy, richly musically backed mafia masterpiece “Goodfellas,” or gore and gaudiness of “Casino,” you might be in for a rude awakening. “The Irishman” is a bleak, sober view of what it’s like to be connected to the mafia and how growing old in that world affects the people around you.
Jimmy Hoffa and President Kennedy Murders Solved?
“The Irishman” also tackles various conspiracy theories about the deaths of President John F. Kennedy and James Hoffa, magnificently played by Al Pacino in the film. The movie boldly attempts to solve the decades-old Hoffa mystery-murder, while providing other clues as to what happened with Kennedy and his brother Robert. One viewing of the film will spark a plethora of Google searches about these three murders and probably spawn a gang of YouTube videos covering the topics.
Scorsese Doesn’t Care If It’s True
And despite some news outlets highlighting challenges to the validity of these accounts used in the “The Irishman”, Scorsese doesn’t feel like it matters if the film’s claims are true or not.
Experts Weigh in on ‘The Irishman’s’ Claims
“The Irishman” is based on the book “I Heard You Paint Houses” by Charles Brandt.
The stories in the book which were collected from the Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran on his deathbed have been challenged by various mafia historians and experts. Dan Moldea, who’s been investigating the Hoffa murder since the 1970s, believes that Sheeran and Brandt fabricated the their account in order to drive up the price for the book.
Scorsese responded to claims like this during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel last month.
“I don’t know if it’s necessary to believe that [these stories] actually happened that way,” said Scorsese. “I was interested in how it affects the people involved. Especially when they’re in their 80s and they’re alone ultimately and they think back on their lives. The choices you make in life. The consequences of a life. So therefore if some of the facts aren’t quite right, then it really is more about the characters up front in a way. The rest is just a backdrop.”
De Niro Brought the Story to Scorsese
During the conversation with Kimmel, the acclaimed director also revealed that “The Irishman” was the brainchild of himself and Robert De Niro. The two had not worked together since “Casino” in 1995, and started toying with the idea of making a film about “an aging hitman.” They encountered some creative blocks, and the idea didn’t really takeoff until De Niro presented him with Frank Sheeran’s story and sold “The Irishman” in an emotional pitch.
“As he was talking about the character he became rather emotional about it and I said ahh that’s something,” said Scorsese.
Joe Pesci Didn’t Want to Work on the Film
He also explained how Joe Pesci was reluctant to take on the role of Russel Bufalino in the film fearing that it might be too similar to their work in “Goodfellas” and “Casino.” After various phone calls and a rehearsal with De Niro, Pesci finally dived into the role.
De Niro Brought in Al Pacino
The process to get Al Pacino to play Jimmy Hoffa seemed a lot more simple. Scorsese said De Niro brought his “Godfather II” co-star on board and hilariously promised the director that he’d be perfect as the Teamsters’ president.
“I asked Bob [De Niro] what’s it like to work with [Pacino] and Bob gave me [such a] concise and [such an] enlightening reaction. He said ‘he’s great’,” explained Scorsese. “‘It’s Al. He’ll be fine.’”
The Cost of CGI Scared Major Studios
And even with the all-star cast, the film still had an extremely hard time getting a studio to back it. Due to an expensive de-aging CGI process needed for telling the story of the film over the span of several decades, many studios steered clear of it. Netflix finally stepped in and gave Scorsese the budget he needed to complete the film.