I don’t get it.
Film and TV still have not learned the lesson that the customer is in control. The record labels fought the public and then gave in. It was a tortuous experience, it took almost a decade, but now you can get all the music for ten bucks a month, advance hype is at a minimum, sure there are shenanigans on the “Billboard” chart, but the public doesn’t care about that, the Spotify Top 50 suits people just fine.
We’ve been reading about “The Irishman” for months. It played film festivals. It opened in theatres to satiate the film industry…the same one that says what premieres on TV doesn’t qualify for the Oscars, even though what the studios make doesn’t qualify either. Come on, superhero flicks the best movies of the year? I’m with Scorsese on this.
But I’m not with Scorsese on this film.
“The Irishman” hit Netflix on Wednesday. Feel the buzz? Of course not, because there is none! It was all expended before the majority of the public could partake, hell, the flick didn’t even play in the hinterlands, the supposed flyover country, that the Hollywood elite still believe exists, but the truth is they’ve got the same broadband and the same streaming services as they do on the coast, no one is left behind today, and we’re all on the same page, at least conceptually.
It’s nearly impossible to get the word out. Oh, you can try, but it just doesn’t spread. Popsters figured out it’s best to feature a rapper. And name rappers drop in on wannabes’ records. And even other genres remix, Lil Nas X with Billy Ray Cyrus, because they want the attention.
And the attention rarely takes place in the newspaper, all the traditional outlets Hollywood still plays to. That’s right, Hollywood hates Rotten Tomatoes, but that’s where I go first! I mean in a time-challenged world, why waste hours?
So Apple TV+ is dribbling out the stiff on arrival “Morning Show.” Everybody in Cupertino is clueless. They know nothing about the entertainment industry. Everyone knows it’s hard to predict a hit, everyone knows the William Goldman quote, why did Apple think it was any different? You’ve got to overwhelm the public with product, so it has a choice, so something hits. This is another thing record companies have realized, however in this era of opportunity cost, they’re leaving complete genres on the sidelines, to their detriment.
But I watched “The Irishman.” I was eager.
I was disappointed, I’m thinking you will be too.
It’s Scorsese, he’s bad with arc. He gets the image, the feeling right, it’s just when it comes down to story… “The Irishman” is so linear as to look like a chart. Francis Ford Coppola inserted relationships in “The Godfather,” to make it more lifelike. In “Godfather II,” he went back and forth in time, to make sense of the family history. Sure, Coppola failed more than he succeeded thereafter, but he had big dreams, he tried.
Scorsese keeps making the same damn film over and over again. Oh, to be honest, I haven’t seen them all later ones. They just don’t feel like novels, with multiple acts, reaching to an unforeseen conclusion. They’re absent the drama of real life.
So what you get in “The Irishman” is history. Literally. In cars, outfits, everything is done exquisitely but the story.
And Frank Sheeran… Scorsese doesn’t even do a good job of demonstrating why Frank/DeNiro goes to the dark side.
DeNiro is good.
But Joe Pesci is phenomenal.
And after years of chewing too much scenery, Al Pacino’s performance is worthy of an Oscar, you truly believe he’s Jimmy Hoffa, not the actor underneath.
As far as the women? Two-dimensional characters at best. We never see the reaction of the wife Frank divorces, his adult daughter Peggy doesn’t even speak.
So Frank paints houses. Is he still working when he becomes head of the local?
And Harvey Keitel could be used more. He’s got that sinister look, like a true gangster, who will never be crossed.
So there’s endless hits, and a bit of Mafia politics. And you can see where the film is gonna end up, even though you can’t figure out why it’s going to take three and a half hours to get there.
Once again, Scorsese/Hollywood is not thinking of the audience. “The Irishman” should have been a miniseries. I mean what man over fifty can sit for this long in a theatre?
And sure, one might still binge the miniseries, but it’s the viewer’s choice. Instead, there’s this interminable film, you’re left waiting for payoff.
Maybe it’s because I watched it during the day.
Then again, I’ve watched “Ozark” during the day and been riveted. Hell, I could watch “Ozark” EVERY day!
Even the first season of “Mindhunter”. Although it too suffers a crisis of arc.
First and foremost, films, visual media, are emotional. If you don’t strike that chord, you’ve got nothing. Sure, I was scared the first couple of times Frank offed somebody, but it got to the point where it didn’t even bug me.
And the cars didn’t change perfectly with the times. Assuming you know cars.
But maybe that’s the point here, that it’s all ancient history, water under the bridge, the Mafia is a thing of the past.
Then again, whoever writes history controls it. Now viewers will be convinced the Mafia killed Hoffa, and that Kennedy was beholden to the Mob, and the truth is much more murky than that.
But at least Netflix gave Scorsese all that money. The studios were too afraid to pony up in a superhero/blockbuster world.
But Netflix’s business model is different. They just need people to keep paying every month, whether they watch or not. “The Irishman” enhances the brand. Meanwhile, Disney punts on this front. They make a “Star Wars” show for the brain-dead and for those wanting to chomp on something more…there’s nothing on Disney+, at least nothing new.
So, “The Irishman” should have been the story of the weekend. Believe me, if there was no theatrical run, it would have been the centerpiece of conversation on Turkey Day. And I don’t know about you, the last thing I want to do this weekend is go to the theatre/mall/look for parking. I want to stay home, and I did.
But to tell you the truth, “Atypical” hits more emotional notes than “The Irishman.”
But that’s another story.