Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) and Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) debate Hoffa’s next move in “The Irishman” (Photo Credit: Netflix US, LLC).
Return of Gangsterism
Do you remember the golden ages of gangster movies?
I said ages because I cannot just pick one.
The early 1970s gave us “The Godfather” and “The Godfather: Part Two.”
The 1990s, gave us “Goodfellas.”
And the 2000s gave us “American Gangster.”
But for a while, gangster movies might have gotten too new school and away from the true Mafioso feel of gangster flicks of the past.
All of that changes in approximately three and a half hours thanks to “The Irishman,” which hits River Oaks Theater in Houston today, before heading to its permanent home on Netflix.
Thanks to its old school feel, “The Irishman” vaults to the top of the charts as the best gangster film in the last few years.
In “The Irishman,” it becomes obvious from the beginning that Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) has more to offer the world than delivering beef.
Sure, he has a stable job and a great family at home, but he has yet to make his mark in the world as a family man.
He fought valiantly for America in the war, but the war changed him and not necessarily for the better.
The war made Frank a little cold, callous and heartless even though he tries to hide the more evil side of his personality from those close to him.
Nevertheless, that sinister side does not stay invisible for those who share that same character trait.
The first to take a shining to him, as Frank calls it, might be Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) who helps Frank fix his broken down delivery truck when it gives him problems on the road.
Although Frank gives Russell his name, the emergency roadside mechanic never gives Frank his name in return.
In spite of the apparent slight, Frank takes no offense and continues on with his job of delivering beef to supermarkets and restaurants.
On a night out with friends, another person takes a shining to Frank.
Felix “Skinny Razor” DiTullio (Bobby Cannavale) begins a friendship with Frank when the delivery driver lets “Skinny Razor” know that he can make special deliveries of steak just for him.
But Frank’s arrangement with “Skinny Razor” produces skinnier profits for his delivery company when some of the planned deliveries go missing.
Although the company wants to hold Frank liable for the missing beef, he is a member of the Teamsters union and his employer can only fire him for certain offenses.
And when Frank refuses to snitch on possible co-conspirators, the delivery company has no case against him.
But his standup personality makes a case for members of the underworld to bring Frank into the fold of their organization.
After his reputation of being honorable spreads among the bosses, Frank meets Russell again and he takes Frank under his wings, earning the respect of all of the bosses of the underworld.
Frank has a reputation of painting houses.
And when a house needs painting, only one person can do the job.
Because if more than one person paints a house it might lead to creative differences.
Furthermore, those creative differences might find its way to the ears of those who do not need to hear of such paint jobs.
Somehow, the only paint usually used is blood red.
And when a house needs painting (no matter who, where, when or why) the painter has to go work with no questions asked.
Frank has no problems taking orders from Russell because of his military background and his respect and admiration for his new boss.
The former deliveryman’s career in the organization takes another step forward when Russell gives him the assignment of protecting Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).
Hoffa has moved up the ranks in the biggest union in America as he has become almost as powerful as the President of the United States.
But with that type of power and with his strong-arm tactics, Hoffa has made enemies from the White House to the outhouse.
Unfortunately, when friendships develop with various controversial figures, one’s loyalties become compromised and friends sometimes become foes.
Let’s get this out of the way early in case you have not heard the breaking news yet.
Let’s just say that “The Irishman” is a patient movie.
That is a nice way of saying “The Irishman” is long as hell.
“The Irishman” is so patient that it makes “Malcolm X” and “The Titanic” seem like a Vine or Snapchat video.
Maybe that’s hyperbole.
But as one moviegoer said at the prescreening at Houston’s River Oaks Theater on Monday, “The Irishman” was the longest movie he ever saw.
But if you know that the movie is well over three hours before sitting down at a theater, “The Irishman” will fly by and seem more like two hours than over three hours.
If you are planning on watching “The Irishman” in true Netflix and chill fashion, make sure you have enough time to truly chill out because you and your mate will be on that couch for a minute.
But as I overheard one Houston critic say last week, no good movie is ever too long and no bad movie is ever too short.
Thankfully, “The Irishman” is that good and how could it not be?
“The Irishman” has De Niro, Pesci and Pacino.
How could magic not happen when De Niro and Pacino share a screen as in “The Godfather: Part Two” and “Heat?”
“The Irishman” has the legendary and nefarious story of Hoffa’s rise to fame and mysterious disappearance.
And to add icing on the cake, “The Irishman” has Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano and Anna Paquin.
That is the recipe for movie gold and “The Irishman” is pure gold.
Unfortunately, the run time of “The Irishman” will turn some off.
Honestly, some of the scenes in “The Irishman” could have gotten edited on the cutting room floor.
But rushing through “The Irishman” would not be gangster.
On the song “Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta,” Scarface of the Geto Boys said real gangstas don’t run fast.
And “The Irishman” represents true gangsterism to quote another Geto Boys classic, and is reminiscent of some of the best films of the gangster movie genre.