Now that the masses have been privileged with seeing Martin Scorsese’s cinematic farewell, I HEARD YOU PAINT HOUSES (THE IRISHMAN), of course, there is going to be an onslaught of hyperbolic praise and unnecessary smiting of the digital de-aging process, old men bodies with younger heads, and how SLOW the picture moves. How this is an amalgam of GOODFELLAS and CASINO and how this is the last stand at Saber River of the gangster genre.
All of that is bullshit.
The film is a farewell from Martin Scorsese, Thelma Schoonmaker, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel. Sure, they’ll go on to do more work until they pass, but I HEARD YOU PAINT HOUSES is it. It is LET IT BE, it is ALL THAT JAZZ, it is all over after this. And while the picture is an excellent companion piece to ONCE UPON A TIME IN…HOLLYWOOD – there is nothing cathartic, endearing, or born-again about the ending of this film. I HEARD YOU PAINT HOUSES ends on an underplayed note of sorrow, regret, and the denial of all roads leading to not just becoming obsolete but dying alone.
Martin Scorsese, and with all the credit due to Netflix, releases a three and a half-hour film that is underplayed beat by beat. Rolling Stones do not show up, there are not any slow motion kill shots, De Niro is not chain-smoking cigarettes, and Joe Pesci is not popping people’s eyeballs out by putting their head in a vice; the only showy part of the film is Pacino’s hammy turn as James Hoffa, which was well worth the wait of Scorsese and Pacino finally working together.
Mind you, this film comes out at a time where our culture has de-evolved. What was once a terrible addiction of constantly swiping through dating apps or scrolling through newsfeeds has become a habit, and where we not only two-screen life (phone and television) but also three-screen it (phone, laptop/tablet, television); there is no doubt that the meaty runtime is lost upon a large amount of people who get separation anxiety from their electronic devices while watching a very slow and underplayed film where people aren’t jumping from exploding buildings, flying spaceships, or fighting with laser swords while the filmmaker or studio behind the movie is trying to make some half-assed topical statement to stay one step ahead of other films in our woke culture. This very much underscores Scorsese’s very nice comments regarding the state of cinema and the MCU.
Bagging on the digital de-aging is a lazy argument to a shit opinion. If Scorsese did not digitally de-age the actors, he then had two options. One would be to cast younger actors to play a younger De Niro, Pesci, and Pacino or just not make the film. Neither of those options were realistic, so he did what he always does, challenge cinema and viewers simultaneously. While it is a bit jarring at first to see the actors with younger faces, it does become seamless and works perfectly. And while De Niro’s frame is much different now than it was in Goodfellas or Casino, he is also playing a much different character. There is nothing flashy or showy or glamourized by his character. He’s a regular, blue-collar guy. Not some iconic fictional character – he’s real.
If a viewer cannot sit through a three and a half-hour film; they have no business watching it in the first place. It is almost as if this film is a test pilot for what is to come of the future of cinema. Can an audience endure not just the runtime, but something so ominous; watching five cinematic titans saying goodbye with the viewer knowing in ten years we would be remarkably lucky to have at least one of them still living? Is the future of cinema pure escapism that is catered to an audience that needs constant visual stimulation to keep their attention span from wondering if they’ve received a match on their dating app, or what their ex posted on Facebook, or if they missed a deal on Amazon? Or a populous that has been reconditioned with marking off how many white actors are in the film, or how many lines of dialogue the women have within the film, or why there is not a representation of gender-fluid characters in the picture, because that’s how life is, according to clickbait on social media?
What we are witnessing is a deconstruction of our culture that is perpetuated by constant need of affirmation that is perpetuated with self-righteousness from those who either hold the same opinions or the opinions that we think we should have all the while, woke outlets are still making a shit pot full of money because we live in a capitalist society and always will. It is the snake eating its tail.
As someone who somehow accidentally carved out my own place in film journalism and has been paid for my words, and can be lazy when it comes to grammar, focus, and discipline; I am fortunate to have met those I have met, interviewed personal heroes and people who are vapid and shallow; I cannot stress enough the importance of not expressing this enough; opinions can be wrong and oftentimes misguided. And we placate to whatever cult we are apart of that worships some false idol that often ends with a quid pro quo of social media reacts. When you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the source you are critiquing, you are responsible for an echo chamber of bullshit that turns into the song that never ends from the Lambchop PBS show. Be better than that and please stop liking and disliking things the wrong way.