The Irishman


Viewed – 28 November 2019. Netflix

There’s a moment early on in Martin Scorsese‘s 3hr + epic when Robert DeNiro meets with Joe Pesci‘s mobster. Could I hear The Godfather theme playing gently in the background? If so, nice nod to a genre you helped immortalise Scorsese.

I was hyped for this. A crime drama with some of the biggest names in crime dramas reuniting for the first time in years? Where do I sign? Based on true events, DeNiro plays Frank Sheeran, a mob hitman who gradually rises up the ladder, going from blue collar worker to petty thief to mob enforcer to right hand man of infamous politician Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). At the same time his story is told by an elderly Frank in a nursing home. One of the much talked about things with this movie was the ageing and especially de-ageing technology used to showcase various characters during different timelines. It’s clever stuff if not entirely successful and did take a bit of getting used to – especially when a (I’m guessing) 40-something Frank still carries himself like an awkward older guy at times, lacking the stature of the same actor in say Heat or Goodfellas. It’s a technology that I’m afraid struggles to hide the fact this movie should probably have been made years ago.

DeNiro is still great though and goes through a plethora of emotions to portray Frank, someone who’s not your everyday mob villain but a family man and a human being. In the closing scenes especially, portraying an elderly man with lots of memories and regrets, I’ll admit I came close to shedding a tear. It’s the ending that elevates this into the realms of potential ‘classic’ even if some sections in the middle revolving around Hoffa’s political dealings dragged and well, got a bit boring. Al Pacino is far from disappointing though, but I can’t say I was all that taken by the man he was portraying. On the other hand, Joe Pesci’s mobster is great and made me wish this guy still made movies and proved much more layered than the usual psycho routine he’s famous for.

It’s also a bit too long. The Jimmy Hoffa stuff, admittedly important to the story could have been trimmed down, and some scenes are drawn out. However this isn’t a zippy, snappy gangster movie but a thoughtful story of one man’s life, and for that it mostly succeeds. Martin Scorsese gives the movie a classy feel, with eye catching camera work, his trusted great choices in music and a great attention to detail. Overall, a must for fans of crime movies and for anyone wanting to see these screen legends deliver the goods one more time.

Verdict: 4 /5

Bad Lieutenant


Viewed – 09 April 2011  Blu-ray

Port Of Call: New Orleans

With a title like that you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a cheap rushed to DVD sequel to the classic Abel Ferrara movie of the same name, then starring Harvey Keitel as the drug taking, corrupt Cop investigating the rape of a Nun.  This however see’s Nicholas Cage as a similar drug-taking Cop with seriously controversial methods of law enforcement investigating the murder of a family in the slums of New Orleans, six months after Hurricane Katrina. 

Yet this is no cheap cash in, and with a back-on-form Cage making a return to the crazy-method actor genius he showed in the likes of Wild At Heart and Leaving Las Vegas, this is anything but a straight sequel neither.  You could call it a remake, but it doesn’t exactly delve into the dirty grimy territory of its namesake but for a couple of moments, and mostly its a vehicle for Cage to show everyone he’s still got it.  Directed by seasoned veteran Werner Herzog, this accomplished drama also offers up some commendable acting from the likes of Eva Mendes as Cage’s prostitute girlfriend and rapper Xzibit as a wealthy gang boss, as well as a script, that although offering nothing that gripping as far as plot goes, is sprinkled with dark humour, surrealism and great dialogue.   It felt a touch overlong, and I think it would have benefited from some tighter editing, but as it stands and as a Cage fan, I can’t help but give this a high recommendation.

Verdict:  4 /5

Reservoir Dogs


Viewed – 07 Mar 2009  Blu-ray

Limited Collector’s Edition

You have to admit, thats a killer title.  There’s plenty of urban legends about how it came about, but for now lets just basque in what this film did for cinema in the early nineties – turning a tired crime genre on its head and introduced us to snappy dialogue, cool black suited gangsters and a new indie wonder kid by the name of Quentin Tarantino, who even today still makes a big impact with every new film he comes up with, regardless if like me you feel he hasn’t hit gold since Pulp Fiction, this film’s grand follow up, that cemented him as a real talent.

Four crooks sit in a coffee shop discussing everything from the real meaning of Like A Virgin to why Mr Pink (Steve Buscemi) wont tip waitresses.  This plays out minutes before a diamond heist that we never see and goes terribly wrong, and the surviving crooks (Mr White – Harvey Keitel, a bloody and wounded Mr Orange – Tim Roth, Mr Pink (Steve Buscemi) and the psychotic Mr Blonde – Michael Madsen) all try and figure out what went wrong.  A very simple premise is given much credence by a narrative that jumps all over the place very much like Pulp did but in a slightly more explained way (mostly in flashbacks as the protagonists discuss events), and with most of the film set in an abandoned warehouse – this could so easily have been boring – but in Tarantino’s hands its riveting.  Mostly because the cast is brilliantly put together.  Roth over-acts, granted but makes the opening ten minutes kick ass.  Then of course we have Madsen in a scene that has become something of cinematic legend (the ear cutting played out perversely to Steeler’s Wheel’s ‘Stuck In The Middle’).

For a debut film from a new director, this is exceptional work, and as a crime movie in its own right, it is clever and different enough to warrant repeated viewings.  Some may dislike the simplicity, but I say look beyond what you have been accustomed to and enjoy it for what it is, one of the most ballsy crime movies ever made.

This collector’s edition, housed wonderfully in a mock up petrol can, has a very nice (but not astonishing) picture and the sound in both DTS Master Audio and Dolby Digital EX has plenty of wallop, especially when the excellent soundtrack kicks in.  Most impressive though is the wealth of extras, including a round-the-table commentary, behind the scenes footage, interviews, character profiles of the Reservoir Dogs, a pop-up trivia track and plenty more.  A brilliant package for fans and newcomers alike.

Verdict:  4 /5