A line up of Italian-American megastars visited London on Sunday for the closing night gala of this year’s BFI London Film Festival, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. The film reunites Scorsese with Robert De Niro for the first time since Casino, 25 years ago, and is the best work by either of them since then, the 3½ hour epic true story of union leader Jimmy Hoffa, who disappeared in 1975, played by Al Pacino, also at his phenomenal best and appearing for the first time in a Scorsese movie.
De Niro plays a hitman and Hoffa’s henchman with brooding malevolence, with an equally terrific supporting cast including Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel and Anna Paquin. As well as being a classic mobster masterpiece that convincingly solves the Hoffa mystery, The Irishman is also a thrilling historical fresco of the United States in the 1960s and 70s.
The film is released in cinemas here on November 8 and then on Netflix on November 27.
Speaking to the press in London, Scorsese said the massive success of streaming giants such as Netflix have revolutionised cinema and supported the gigantic budget of the film. He added that long-form drama series are not cinema, however, and repeated his controversial claim that neither are superhero movies, likening them to theme parks.
De Niro discovered the Irishman’s story a decade ago and talked of his efforts to bring it to the screen, as well as his character’s divided loyalties that give the film its enormous emotional power. The film uses the latest CGI technology to make its septuagenarian stars look younger, but the results are subtle and effective. Al Pacino, looking quite the ancient rocker, cheerfully admitted that while the technology could make him look like a 40-year-old, it didn’t help him move like one.
What did keep the old troupers going was the colossal creative and logistical expertise of the two women who completed the press conference panel, producers Emma Tillinger Koskoff and Jane Rosenthal, who talked of their indispensable and tireless support for the project over the years it took to complete, and their confidence in what will be its richly deserved success, the crowning achievement of several legendary careers.
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