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  • Fiona Prior

The Irishman

Updated: May 2, 2020

The Irishman

Director: Martin Scorsese

It really came down to a choice between the latest ‘Charlie’s Angels’ movie or Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’. A trashy fictional film about glamorous girls and guns … or pseudo historical movie by a grand master of film, capturing the height of gangster culture in the US – a Scorsese ‘special topic’ (think ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘Casino’).

A hard decision, but ‘The Irishman’ won out, all three and a half hours of it! I have now learnt much about a period of American culture that goes way beyond the ‘The Godfather’ franchise. I have an insight into the infamous American union boss Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) who disappeared in 1975; Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci), boss of the Northeastern Pennsylvania crime family and significant player in Cosa Nostra; and the Irishman himself, Frank Sheeran (played by Robert De Niro). As the central character of 'The Irishman', De Niro's Sheeran rose from small-time grifter to influential (Irish) member of the Italian Mafia in America ... The film-making and acting are top-notch as you can imagine, given the above cast.

Fascinatingly, ‘The Irishman’s’ detailed wallpaper is as compelling as the main narrative. The Kennedy assassination(s), the Cuban crisis, Watergate … all are played out on television screens or newspaper headlines within the film, giving us an insight into the endemic corruption in this tit-for-tat transactional culture.

Did X-Cuban and American paratroopers get support from the CIA and the mafia in an unsuccessful attempt to destabilise Cuba and be rid of Castro? Did the senior Kennedy (Joe) really get support from the mafia to get his son elected (and did his inconvenient stroke leave the mafia stranded regarding payback)? And the majority of The Irishman’s characters; were they really as muscularly retarded as Scorsese implies? Of course they were. They killed people. And they are superbly portrayed by another slew of great actors including Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, Jack Huston, Bobby Cannavale and more.

Brought to life by Scorsese is the whole mafia romance with ‘honour’ in violence, a chapter of American history played out by a group of thugs.

Maybe ‘Charlie’s Angels’ next week.

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