Sunday, July 7, 2024

Water Under The Dam

My mother never saw THE IRISHMAN. Somehow this seems important. It wasn’t that she couldn’t have, it was right there on Netflix. And she had already seen numerous Martin Scorsese films over the decades which, of course, is what you did in New York. She’s the one who took me to see AFTER HOURS, my very first Scorsese in a theater. This is a memory that matters. Years later we saw GANGS OF NEW YORK at the Chinese during one of her holiday visits out to L.A. and of course she also loved GOODFELLAS as everyone did even if as time went on she only remembered the funny stuff, but that’s normal. She even expressed interest when the film was released in late 2019 but her health at the time made me think that she might not want to be reminded of certain things, since so much of the film is about The End and being close to it, and I didn’t try pushing it on her. So when she passed late on Thanksgiving night, 2022 as far as I know she had still never seen THE IRISHMAN. It doesn’t really matter. If a film means something to you, it might be for your own reasons more than anything that’s actually in the film so whatever the reasons might be THE IRISHMAN has grown to mean a lot to me over the past few years. It makes me think about events in my own life from long ago and what they really meant, it makes me wonder about a future I still have to find my way into and hopefully somehow will. It’s a film about the past leading to a future that is a long, slow, inevitable end which the main character refuses to acknowledge, even after he’s done so much that he can never atone for. Can any of us move past what we’ve done? Can any of us move past whatever our parents were, what they were to us? I suppose we have to, since the alternative isn’t worth facing. THE IRISHMAN is not about my mother, this is obvious. But maybe certain feelings get mixed in there, maybe also some feelings about my father who incidentally may have preferred CASINO to GOODFELLAS, along with other things I don’t want to think about. At the very least, it’s a film about things that happened which we maybe don’t want to remember as well as something we’re all going to face eventually, however long it takes.
THE IRISHMAN is also about America, just as many Martin Scorsese pictures are. The mid-70s horror of TAXI DRIVER, the stylized post-war of NEW YORK, NEW YORK, the media future of THE KING OF COMEDY, the financial orgy of THE WOLF OF WALL STREET and this is just for starters. THE IRISHMAN is easily the most sprawling of them, taking us from a version of America that used to exist back in the twentieth century, when the adults were seemingly in charge and we thought they knew what was best. It was an America of unions and storefronts and music by Jackie Gleason and glossy hotel ballrooms and a glorious future that seemed to go as far as the eye could see. This is a country that once had Howard Johnson’s, after all. We used to have Roger Mudd on TV every night. Through all this it’s asking how the events of the twentieth century created people and how did they in turn go on to shape the rest of it, whether anyone knew or not. This glorious world of mid-century America is basically the same as the world of crime it depicts so if one dies then the other dies, I suppose, or it all just turns into the present we’re living in right now. To bring up another film starring the same two leads, if THE GODFATHER PART II is about the dual journey of a parent and child through twentieth-century America showing what all that leads to, then THE IRISHMAN feels like it’s more interested in peering silently backward at the lives our parents once lead, the world they were a part of, the damage it all caused when they thought things were so much better and where they live now in our minds, like it or not.
For whatever reason THE IRISHMAN is also only partly THE IRISHMAN since it also goes by I HEARD YOU PAINT HOUSES, the name of the book by Charles Brandt it’s based on which is how the movie defiantly begins; both titles appear in the end credits. Maybe they could have come up with something better but, of course, Robert De Niro had already starred in a film called ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA. Whatever the name, it’s the story of Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), talking to no one, talking to us, about working as a truck driver long ago and his chance encounter with mobster Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) which led to a life as a hitman for the mob aka ‘painting houses’. This new path took him up the ladder to the top of where unions and organized crime merged, becoming a close friend and advisor to none other than famed labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) and what Frank’s involvement with trying to mediate some sort of peace between the two sides eventually led to.
There’s something about the special feeling of sitting in a theater waiting to see the new Martin Scorsese film. That feeling of anticipation which grows undeniably stronger each time leading to this point where we have to be honest and admit we can no longer be sure just how many more times this is going to happen. Then from this comes the initial discovery on first viewing of what each film really is beyond any expectations, beginning from that first rush of pure exhilarating cinema before deepening into whatever it really is and how we can accept that. It’s a feeling which keeps so many of them rewatchable as we return to get that contact high followed by the cold water of reality right before the credits roll. Not even five years since its release, THE IRISHMAN has already become one of those for me even if it does that without ever achieving the rush of exhilaration we might have expected, cinematic or otherwise. It’s not that kind of film and doesn’t want to be, instead showing in minute detail the steady pace of becoming part of this life in a way that feels addictively meditative, allowing me to continually focus on what happens from one moment to the next. I’ve already lost count of how many viewings there have been for me so far, from the one time I got to see it in a theater all the way through the comfort viewings circa Covid lockdown and then continuing past my mother’s death which brought an undeniable extra layer to it all. The reflection brought out in it feels like this is meant to be the ultimate statement on the guys the director has been making movies about for decades by now, starring people whose very presence adds immeasurably to how much this means. It’s a film that shows reaching the top of the mountain, a mountain the guys in MEAN STREETS never had a shot of climbing, but that film is part of a scrappier, younger man’s aesthetic, not fully aware of the gravity of it all just yet. This film feels like it’s meant to be the summation, the final word, a film about the end even if we already know it isn’t really that for the director. Ahead of release much of what anyone knew about it was the gangster movie aspect and the de-aging digital effects that some people spend too much time harping on. Now it’s five years later and some of those things matter, some of them really don’t at all anymore.
Frank Sheeran’s life is long and the film is long. Maybe it doesn’t have to be as long as it is but nothing has to be anything and there is so much pleasure in each of the side trips taken by the film, each new viewing revealing another detail which makes it that much richer. What stood out to me recently were all the silences as someone, often De Niro, keeps glaring silently, beats where the film held on shots as if wanting us to remember these places where things happen, forcing us to remember such moments as everything changes. If the film wasn’t so long those moments wouldn’t matter as much, the way time proceeds forward until we can barely tell anymore how far it’s gone. The narrative as laid out in the screenplay by Steven Zaillian is careful and methodical, with a beautiful clarity to the dual framing device that breaks things down, the map of the trip being taken and the way Frank Sheeran’s own life becomes mapped out, each leading to the exact same destination. Like the drive, the film doesn’t need to rush. The seemingly unimportant stops are there for a reason so the metronome pacing carefully laid out by Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker brings a focus to every single moment that keeps it going, a ticking in Frank’s head he ignores but it’s always there. It begins to feel like a movie about the feeling that comes within those cuts, pacing that allows each moment to get deep inside us as it just keeps going and going. CASINO and THE WOLF OF WALL STREET are both a shade under three hours which seems contractually deliberate i.e. “don’t go one second over a 180 minute runtime” while THE IRISHMAN gets even more breathing room at three-and-a-half, more time to focus on all the wrong choices being made and all the silent realizations that come when it’s too late, although you can cut that down by about ten minutes if you don’t want to count the credits. And through all that is the Robbie Robertson theme with the low notes of that cello which cut down into the soul, pressing on and on.
The widescreen approach that Scorsese has largely used over the past few decades is here eschewed in favor of something more visually hemmed in, focused more on the simple act of people dealing with each other up close with so much going on around them, whether because this was made for Netflix or a byproduct of the complicated effects work (incidentally, the only other film of his in recent years not in some form of widescreen was HUGO) is unclear but there is what feels like the gleaming, perfect look often found at the streaming site which is still evident on the Criterion Blu-ray. Either way, the look brought to it by cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (now best known for shooting both BARBIE and KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON which came out a few months apart from each other) is impeccable and he brings such emotional life to each of those closeups. Those shots are an integral part of the visual effects concept to the whole film and even after multiple viewings it still works better at certain points more than others with the overall smoothing out nature of the appearances almost always unavoidable. Even if it’s a miracle of technology it’s maybe a flawed miracle and whether it’s one that serves any real purpose here or in any other film is still open to debate. But the very existence of the effects becomes so much a part of the very subtext of the film anyway that how perfect they might be only seems to matter up to a certain point. Besides, these are men who were always old to begin with so it wouldn’t work as well with younger guys in the roles anyway, no matter what age they were playing, so the way that genuine advanced age is always felt makes total sense and with each revisit any nitpicking over it all seems to matter less and less.
“I met what was gonna turn out to be the rest of my life,” Frank tells us after being formally introduced to Russell Bufalino which serves as this film’s version of Henry Hill recalling “It was when I met the world,” about the first moment Jimmy Conway entered his life in GOODFELLAS. For Henry it really does feel like the start of something but for Frank, even at the beginning, it’s like it was already over for him with everything decided thanks to the war that essentially created him, the ‘good war’, which gave him the ‘whatever happens, happens’ philosophy he chose to live his life by. To break the narrative up into pieces it’s Frank’s arrival into this world, his ascension and the falling to Earth after the death at his own hands of the most important person he’ll ever meet. It’s framed by the journey to this event which is doubly framed by him looking back at all this as he tells his story, maybe to us, maybe to no one at all, simply trying to convince himself that it all had some sort of purpose. He somehow becomes a close confidant of Hoffa almost unnervingly fast and they become like an old married couple in their pajamas almost instantly, which pleasingly gives us a De Niro/Pacino friendship we’ve really never had onscreen before (let’s forget about RIGHTEOUS KILL), just as everything that happens in Frank’s ascension from mere truck driver almost seems a little too good to be true to have really taken place, no matter how willing he was to ‘paint houses’ but even that portrayal of the American dream feels like part of the dark humor which is there and has to be there, as undeniable a part of that world, just as it’s an undeniable part of a Martin Scorsese film, as it is.
People used to seem older. Or maybe I was just younger. Either way, they were adults then and it makes sense that everyone in this film always seems older than the age they likely really are. In Frank’s mind, he always was old so when Bufalino calls him ‘kid’ the first time they meet it seems a little crazy, digital de-aging technology or not. The chronology of the film could be looked up to break it all down to exact dates and as much as it may be common knowledge when certain events took place, it still all feels like it takes place in a general sort of past. Scorsese likely remembers dates by when certain films came out anyway so when a key arrest is made Don Siegel’s THE SHOOTIST is playing across the street, because of course it is and it feels like the end of the road that began all the way back when Harvey Keitel went to see RIO BRAVO in Scorsese’s first feature WHO’S THAT KNOCKING AT MY DOOR. This matters too, the feeling that we’re traveling through the past of various Scorsese films we’ve already lived over and over making references to both American history and his own cinematic history, whether the Copacabana or Don Rickles, trying to remember what happened in Columbus Circle whether in films or reality, plus one historical point that even briefly involves David Ferrie, previously played by Joe Pesci in Olver Stone’s JFK. Brushing up against another film, brushing up against some form of actual history. Even the details involving the Joe Gallo hit manage to cross over with the recent making-of-THE GODFATHER miniseries THE OFFER (sort of enjoyable in a Chinese takeout way but not much more than that, RIP Al Ruddy) and without getting into what’s true or not I’m more open to believing the version this film presents than the idea that Joe Gallo being killed allowed Francis Ford Coppola to film on location in Sicily. Even the use of scores from older films, such as a lyrical track from THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA under one sequence, are a key part of this approach and it’s something Scorsese has done before, most notably the way CASINO utilized Georges Delerue’s theme from CONTEMPT to underscore its own portrayal of marital agony. There’s of course a certain similarity to the way Tarantino has utilized scores from other films over the years as a sort of meta-commentary through his own versions of history and since this never happened before 1997’s JACKIE BROWN it’s hard not to wonder if he was at all inspired when CASINO was released a few years earlier. The specific choices come from different eras just as the two men do but when used they feel equally personal, additional pieces of the past somehow trying to be heard and remembered, no matter how distant they may be.
That undeniable feeling of The End is made clear right from the beginning in the prolonged opening shot where we eventually find Frank in that nursing home, all by himself and seemingly ready to talk. It’s also the way people are introduced alongside a title card describing their eventual, often violent, deaths which becomes this film’s version of the BARRY LYNDON epilogue showing how the only thing that defines them is a very specific kind of end that makes them all equal. Nothing that happened when they were alive will be remembered except for the fate of the one guy ‘liked by all’ which provides one of the biggest laughs of all. Aside from him, only Frank somehow makes it all the way through, past the point where anyone will remember. For a film where it feels like that main character takes absolutely no pleasure in anything, so much attention is paid to the way time is spent enjoying those tiny pleasures in our lives, often food, the ones we barely even think about as they happen, all of it seems like it’s part of a world that doesn’t really exist anymore. The steak, the ice cream sundaes Jimmy likes not to mention the ginger ale, the hot dogs at Lum’s that are steamed in beer, the choice Frank is given of having corn flakes or Total for breakfast, the cigarette breaks the wives insist on during their drive. There’s a sense in the film of wanting to hold onto the past, whatever it was, hold onto those pleasures and the way things were, no matter how horrible what was going on was. The way Scorsese alums like Don Rickles and Jerry Vale turn up here as played by Jim Norton and Steven Van Zandt as if makes total sense for them to be here and even if they’re gone it’s still going to happen, he way he’s just as insistent on De Niro, Pacino and Pesci still playing characters much younger than they really were at the time so the film wouldn’t have any meaning otherwise. The way we can’t move on from what we’ve done and the things that were done to us. “They wouldn’t dare!” Hoffa chokes out when the anvil is coming down and there’s nothing he can do about it. There was nothing we could ever do to change things.
Frank stays quiet so much of the time, saying nothing to silent orders he’s given but never really saying much of anything at all and it’s almost a surprise when he willingly speaks so it’s even more of a shock when he actually makes a joke, like suggesting ‘twelve and a half minutes’ as the middle ground for how late it’s acceptable to arrive at a meeting. Maybe his most likable moment in the whole film is early on when he says he doesn’t mind the cold, feeling relatable for a brief moment even amid the drudgery of a workday. His silence is the perfect opposite to Hoffa’s bluster, even when no matter how close they are Hoffa doesn’t notice him standing a few feet away during one of his screaming fits. It takes time for the film to get to Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa but when he turns up and, forgetting whatever the real Hoffa was like, the effect he gives off is a bolt of lightning in how alive and energetic he seems, human in a way that no one else in the movie is with all the foibles and passion that come with it. He’s not a man who gingerly dips his break into some wine, he wants to enjoy his hot fudge sundae and have a good time while doing it while making sure that know one messes with that enjoyment to bring out his temper, that glare of resentment as he chews his steak. After all, some of us spend our lives getting annoyed by the people who wear shorts and show up late and Hoffa just seems to know that sometimes all you can do is make sure the fight doesn’t end until you say so. But as Frank learns, when the most important person in your life is gone, nothing else is going to matter and things fall apart anyway. Frank does all these things never questioning what he’s supposed to do, the way Lee Marvin as Walker in John Boorman’s POINT BLANK barely seems to know or remember why he cares so much about the money he’s owed by the mob, just as Frank has no answer for why he blindly follows these orders. An abrupt edit placed when Frank calls Jo Hoffa on the phone even feels as if he’s trying to slice the particular memory of this one solitary moment out of his brain to somehow avoid remembering but in the end has no choice but to forever live by himself with the only thing he feels any guilt over.
This is set in an east coast that always feels like what the past is to me, even if this is centered more in Philly than any New York that I knew, but I still connect it to those distant memories of restaurants in Queens or Long Island that I was taken to as a kid. And that’s the mood it has more than shots. Trying to one-up the GOODFELLAS Copacabana shot wouldn’t be right. The closest to the expected virtuoso Steadicam shots coming during one hit with bouncy Percy Faith music on the soundtrack that ends as the camera moves in on a peaceful arrangement of flowers, whether appropriate for a funeral or a scene in VERTIGO and the much later scene depicting the hit at Umbertos Clam House which almost feels dreamlike, Frank floating through the orders he’s silently been given. More than the cinematic rush we get from such great shots it’s about the mood, the looks between the actors, the rhythms of those cuts placed into a montage running over the entire film.
So much is revealed in the greatness of the testimonial dinner sequence and the way it presents how these guys deal with each other individually and what their own loyalty really is as the weight of it all begins to come crushing down. The sequence is highlighted by The Golddiggers singing “The Time is Now” in the background with that refrain of “Yesterday is Over” heard under conversation as if there’s really going to be a future for any of them. It already feels like an underrated musical selection by Scorsese and the choice is so completely shallow in its period hollowness, so perfectly plastic in its pastiche style it feels even more perfect that it barely even seems like a real song with lyrics that seems to ask how much the past even matters, how much anything we do matters and doesn’t it seem like it’s mattering less and less all the time. Maybe it never mattered anyway, considering where things ended up. The life of Frank Sheeran as presented comes off as a Forrest Gump of mob killings but that alone still makes him important in American history, one that’s more aware of the suffering around him but I’m still not even thinking about if a word the main character says in his narration is even true, just that the film is choosing to print the legend, to take a line from a John Ford film that seems pertinent here, whatever legend Frank has chosen to justify to himself. Someone I know and shall go unnamed here has a family connection to Russell Bufalino and was angered by the film, telling me he was nothing like the way he’s portrayed here. Does even this matter? Does anything we’ve ever known about our parents or our past really matter?
Whatever Peggy knows about her father, it’s clear she knows what’s going on. Maybe she doesn’t know what she knows, but she does know and from a very young age, the payoff to all those shots in earlier Scorsese films of kids silently watching the goings-on between their parents and forever marking them. In his own silence to her, Frank doesn’t even deny it while “Pretend You Don’t See Her” plays as she dances with Hoffa which both recalls when it was heard long ago in GOODFELLAS as well as serving as a message to Frank telling what he needs to do, to pretend he doesn’t see her. Or hear her. Or speak to her. And he never even thinks about it. What he would do is never even a question. Played by Lucy Galina as a child and Anna Paquin as an adult, the role is the lynchpin in everything that Frank ignored, Paquin almost completely silent in the role and if she’d gotten a nomination simply for the way she asks “Why?” as part of her one real line of dialogue it still would have been deserved. In the end, that silence he caused is all he gets and when he does find one of his daughters willing to talk, anything he does has to say is far too late. I’m not sure if there’s an actual reconciliation that really lasts in Scorsese’s entire filmography. When something is over, it’s over. Those who judge you do so by their silence, to use the title of another film. “It was no more complicated than that,” he says about what happened to Hoffa and it becomes harder to shake the film’s final glimpse of him the more time goes on. The film is about those moments in our childhood when our parents didn’t speak but we knew something was going on. It’s asking what you have done in your life, what do you have at the end because of that and what really mattered. Whether or not this is the truth about Jimmy Hoffa doesn’t really matter. We all fall short in the end, but it’s up to us how far.
But it also wouldn’t be a Scorsese film about these things if it all wasn’t as funny as it is so much of the time, those moments where someone gets a little too annoyed by nothing at all even if it’s more gallows humor than ever before, the laughs cutting deep until you bleed and choke on them before the sound can come out. Those tiny pleasures are all through the film, the horrible laughs are there depicting the danger of sitting in a car’s front seat with someone behind you. The tone feels a little like the way we imagine Scorsese laughing incessantly, the way he does at Fran Lebowitz, but this drops away more and more until he’s silently remembering everything he never wants to think about. It’s none of our business. It’s easy to get lost in all that Teamster infighting and bickering of the middle section but the big showdown with Stephen Graham’s Tony Pro over traffic and how late you’re allowed to be to a meeting gets funnier every single time then from the testimonial dinner for Frank on the film is never less than masterful, the big event held up by the curious delivery of a frozen fish—another one of those pleasures in life that Frank will never know— that never gets fully explained and even that joke is diffused by the tension brought to it by Frank. The last thing we hear Russell say as he’s being taken to church is, “Don’t laugh, you’ll see,” which could be a warning given at the start of any number of Scorsese films and the last 45 minutes are devastatingly brutal, nothing left to laugh over or get any pleasure in. In the blink of an eye it’s the twenty-first century and he stays alive past the point where he literally can’t stand up anymore. Something similar happened to my mother this way and after that night she never got to go back to her home again which is what I’m always thinking of when this happens. Like the narrative span of so many other Scorsese films, it’s funny until it’s not. It’s funny until two people are in a room together too long, no more patience for any of those jokes. It’s funny until somebody refuses to realize how unfunny they really are. It’s funny until there’s a dead body left behind as you leave the room. This is what you are to some people and where you wind up, like it or not. It’s what it is.
In the end, Frank is alone with nothing that ever mattered to him but that gaudy ring on his finger that will probably still be there when he dies, no one left to care that he was one of a few to ever be given it and a few photos of the past, whatever that past ever really meant including one of his wife, the one he ended his first marriage to be with, who we never learned much about beyond that she smoked. Maybe he never learned much more either and he’s not even going to be buried next to her. So maybe his ‘whatever happens, happens’ philosophy was never enough. Fuck it, Bufalino basically says at both the beginning and the end. Frank doesn’t seem so sure about that anymore but it’s still how he always lived, he just hasn’t put it into words. He hasn’t really said anything and now he’s left trying to justify it all, whatever the truth really is. The one moment that haunts him years later isn’t even one where he actually killed someone but what he did after. Eventually all he has left is the crypt he buys and the green coffin which is probably the snazziest purchase he’s ever made in his life and maybe the most individual choice he’s ever made, while still ignoring everything that the very idea of burning up in cremation symbolizes. “In the Still of the Night” is played at the start and it returns later as a sign of doom that can’t be turned away from and we remember it, taking us to the end, long after the music has stopped as they always do when the fun stops in Scorsese films and the world feels completely dead. It feels like a fair question to ask if there’s anything to the memory of a life at all if it doesn’t come with any guilt. And Frank doesn’t have the answer. Of course, it’s the end of THE SEARCHERS being recalled when Frank is seen in the final shot, having long since made the choice to stay on the other side of that door. Only in this case it’s a door not completely closed, as if waiting for Hoffa to reappear, waiting for Peggy, waiting for anyone, but also a refusal to commit just like Frank spent his life doing but more than that he’s alone at the end just as any number of other Scorsese protagonists have been through the years. But Travis Bickle still had his cab, Jimmy Doyle had his nightclub, Jake LaMotta had his nightclub act, Paul Hackett had his job, Henry Hill had his exile, Ace Rothstein had his ability to pick winners, Howard Hughes had his madness. All Frank Sheeran has is the inevitable, even as he’s hoping for something more, desperately bargaining for a way out.
So much of this feeling is found in the sheer sense of focus coming from Robert De Niro in every scene and the result is at times overwhelming, very likely one of his most underrated performances with every ounce of that silent power exploding from the very stoniness of his expression and how his eyes are registering it all, whether saying anything or not with each movement carrying so much weight, especially that little nod he gives to Pacino at a crucial moment to get him into a car. He’s essentially playing a walking, talking brick wall and how much his eyes alone tell the story of what he’s doing, playing somebody who did all the wrong things for the wrong reasons and only realizing this at the end, not even understanding reasons why or why he should ever feel any different. He’s a thug, nothing more than that, but it’s balanced out by the ultra-dry humor that comes through more often than you’d think with his narration of the line “They steam them in beer” about the hot dogs from Lum’s that is maybe one of the best line readings Robert De Niro ever given and now all I want is one of those hot dogs. As De Niro remains constantly still, Al Pacino is all about movement and he delivers a gloriously huge performance in a portrayal of someone, however accurate it is to the real person, who despite what he does and knows makes him seem to represent all that is good in the world and what could possibly be. He barrels through and it’s a thrill to see him do this especially when he’s playing off Joe Pesci in their big scene together is one of the true underdiscussed pleasures of the film, one actor so angry, one staying so calm, so quiet, the way he repeats ‘some people’ multiple times. You can’t say that Joe Pesci steals the movie, it’s not that kind of performance, but the way he seems to choose each word, each syllable, each gesture, very carefully, causes you to lean forward to catch every single word he says and the impeccably quiet nature of it is unforgettable. No surprise, there are too many others to mention. Harvey Keitel for the way he explains what saying, “I do” means when offering up an answer to a question he posed, Ray Romano as Bill Bufalino, Stephen Graham as Tony Pro, Kathrine Narducci as Carrie Bufalino, Jessie Plemons as Chuckie, Welker White as Jo Hoffa (particularly for the way she turns down a Lum’s hot dog), Louis Cancelmi as Sally Bugs (particularly for the way he grills Chuckie about the fish), Marin Ireland as Frank’s other daughter Dolores, Action Bronson as the casket salesman, Dascha Polanco as the nurse who’s never heard of Jimmy Hoffa and doesn’t need to hear Frank musing about how fast time goes.
“The most personal is the most creative,” was what Bong Joon-ho said in quoting Scorsese about making a film when accepting his Oscar for Best Director at the Oscars the same year THE IRISHMAN home empty handed, clearly the most emotional moment of that night. And the best films do feel personal for the one who’s making it, just as personal for the person seeing the film, seeing it again, returning to it again and again for the hit or to be reminded of that feeling. Just as personal for the person writing about the film, trying to understand, trying to remember, trying to accept the past and how awful it may have been at times because otherwise how will we ever remember when it was good. I remember these things just as I watch certain Martin Scorsese films over and over. You can probably guess a few of them and THE IRISHMAN has become one by now as well. On each new viewing I feel some guilt myself, but that’s my own business. The film ends and I want to start it again but instead I wait a little, keeping that Criterion Blu-ray close by which means it may get rewatched almost to the point of obsession anyway. But it does mean that Netflix has accomplished at least one good thing while it’s been around, much as we may hate to admit it. Of course, several other Scorsese films already became this for me long ago. You can probably guess a few of the titles. I remember those films just as I remember the world of my mother, the world of both my parents, which is no more. There were things she said to me about memories she had, wanting me to know how she felt long ago. I remembered other things, but I didn’t say that. But it still makes me think about where they came from and where I wound up. How much time we have left to remember things. And if any of that really matters.


Unknown said...

This was fantastic.

Mr. Peel aka Peter Avellino said...

Thank you so much, whoever this is.