Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has taken to Twitter to offer the latest installment in his unofficial tweet-thread series, which offer thoughtful cinematic musings in exactly 13 tweets. This one is on Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” which premiered at the New York Film Festival last week, and del Toro’s thread is filled with comparisons to other films, poetic metaphors about death and myth, and biblical references. In short, the filmmaker absolutely loved the 209-minute crime epic, calling it the “fastest three hours in a cinema.”
Based on Charles Brandt’s nonfiction book “I Heard You Paint Houses,” the decades-spanning film stars Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran, a World War II veteran who allegedly became a mob hitman and played a role in union boss Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance. Al Pacino stars as the notorious mob-connected Teamsters president. Joe Pesci also stars as mob boss Russell Bufalino.
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Some were skeptical about Scorsese’s latest after producer Jane Rosenthal, before the film’s premiere, said the film was less visually intense, more introspective, and slower than the master filmmaker’s previous work. But the movie debuted to universal acclaim on Twitter and in reviews, with IndieWire chief critic Eric Kohn in his “A” review calling it Scorsese’s best crime movie since “Goodfellas” and a “a pure, unbridled illustration of what has made his filmmaking voice so distinctive for nearly 50 years.”
Del Toro appreciated this version of Scorsese, whose film he said “transmogrified all the gangster myths into regret.” “I never thought I would see a film in which I’d root hard for Jimmy Hoffa —but I did — perhaps because, in the end, he, much like the Kennedys, represented also the end of a majestic post-war stature in America,” the “Shape of Water” Oscar winner wrote.
He called Pesci “supremely minimalistic” and “masterful.” “He is like a black hole — an attractor of planets — dark matter,” he wrote. As for De Niro, del Toro recalled the actor’s role in Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown,” where he played a quiet, dim-witted, but still dangerous ex-con — a far cry from his character in Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver.” “De Niro has always fascinated me when he plays character that are punching above their true weight — or intelligence — that’s why I love him so much in ‘Jackie Brown,'” he tweeted.
Del Toro also took the time to examine the two actors’ on-screen chemistry. “An interesting transfer between these characters: Pesci — who has played the Machiavellian monster, regains a senile innocence, a benign oblivion and De Niro’s character — who has operated in a moral blank — gains enough awareness — to feel bitter loneliness,” he wrote. “I believe that much is gained if we cross-reference our transgressions with how we will feel in the last three minutes of our life — when it all becomes clear: or betrayals, our saving graces and our ultimate insignificance. This film gave me that feeling.”
Other feelings the movie gave del Toro — the inexorable feeling of crucifixion “from the point of view of Judas,” he wrote. “Every station of the cross permeated by humor and a sense of banality — futility — characters are introduced with their pop-up epitaphs superimposed on screen: ‘This is how they die.'”
His advice to audiences: Process the film as one would when mourning, allow it to sink in, and see it in a theater. Netflix is releasing the movie in select theaters November 1 before making it available to stream November 27. Check out del Toro’s thread below.
1/13: 13 Tweets about Scorsese's The Irishman: First- the film connects with the epitaph-like nature of Barry Lyndon. It is about lives that came and went, with all their turmoil, all their drama and violence and noise and loss… and how they invariably fade, like we all do…
— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) September 30, 2019