I am mesmerized to the directional greatness of Martin Scorsese whose crime drama detailing lost not an inch of fascination. The Irishman is remarkably constructed in the very same crime tone as Scorsese’s previous unforgettable crime works like Mean Streets, Goodfellas, Casino, etc. I am impressed by how can any director maintain the same aura of directional artistry for more than 5 decades. The Irishman is a ridiculously superior crime saga of around 3 hours and 29 minutes.
It is not the hype of this hugely awaited film for which I am excited, it is the brilliance of the filmmaking, narration, production designing blended with rich performances by the stellar casting and spectacular action sequences which have impressed me.
Another aspect worth mentioning is Scorsese’s careful use of onscreen chemistries. I am talking about two of the most talking pairs of the film; Robert de Niro with Joe Pesci and with Al Pacino. Sad to see Joe Pesci gone slow and less angry due to old age but each of his screentime was worth and displayed a memorable performance.
But with de Niro’s splendid performance in years, I will say it was Al Pacino’s magnificent supporting role equating with de Niro’s leading character. Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa was a talking point in the entire middle part of the film. Scorsese fixed them together in the most suitable screen minutes and heavy dramatic moments of the final hour. Every sensible viewer will enjoy their chemistry, especially in the final hour.
Hoffa’s political adversity highlighted some political tensions between Kennedy and Nixon eras. Some of the most notorious crime families were also depicted like Genovese, Philly, Gambino, and Colombo.
The Irishman is a phenomenal film. The final 30 minutes will drop you, break you and wreck you. There is no aspect that doesn’t impress you. In my opinion, the film deserves the Oscar nominations for the best picture, director, actor (de Niro), supporting actor (Pacino), editing, production design, and cinematography at least. Maybe also for the adapted screenplay which I have read to be very precise, for a few I have doubts which I don’t like to ponder here.
Overall, The Irishman is one of Martin Scorsese’s finest works, easily one of the greatest crime films, one of de Niro and Pacino’s most memorable roles of their careers.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock (10428524co)
Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel. Actor Joe Pesci, left, actor Al Pacino, director Martin Scorsese, actor Robert De Niro and actor Harvey Keitel pose together at the world premiere of “The Irishman” at Alice Tully Hall during the opening night of the 57th New York Film Festival, in New York
2019 NYFF – “The Irishman” World Premiere, New York, USA – 27 Sep 2019
A big NO. The real event propels you that Hugh Glass, the leading character of the movie played by Leonardo DiCaprio, was attacked by a female bear.
Now why did I begin my review this way??? Because many of us were actually concerned that we will watch sex-scene between Baloo and Mowgli but the rumor was awful.
Now what makes the movie special? I would rather replace the word ‘special’ with superior. The answer is EVERYTHING!!! Consider DiCaprio/Hardy performances, AGI’s direction, fighting sequences, cinematography, costume designing, bear attack, Frontiers vs Native Americans and many more. The movie is superlative.
The only concern pushing towards minus is its accuracy, the accuracy of Hugh Glass’ legacy, the accuracy of bear attack, the accuracy of Glass’ survival, the accuracy of attack by Native Americans on the expeditions team. There has been a lot of confusion over the legacy of the story. There are not a lot of authentic sources to prove what part of story is true or false. Most specifically the tragic bear attack which was witnessed by no buddy but the victim himself.
Let me reflect and justify my very first line of this review. A huge focus in the movie has been on antagonist John Fitzgerald played by Tom Hardy killing Hugh Glass’ son Hawk, which leads him to revenge upon survival attempt. The whole movie grows on his miracle survival from a likely death so that he finishes him. Sadly the core of the story is pure fiction. Forget Fitz killing his son, there is no proof that Hugh Glass had any child. Hawk being of mixed-race is an invalid question or typing error. Glass’ marriage with Native-American woman also has doubts because historic details are still unsure if Hugh Glass really was once captured by Pawnees where he found her, loved and married.
So if there is no evidence of Hawk being Hugh Glass’ son then with simple understanding there is no revenge on Fitz for killing his son. In fact the legacy is that when Glass received mortal wounds after bear attacks, expedition leader Captain Andrew Henry, played by Domhnall Gleeson in movie, pays two men to stay behind the soon-to-be-dead body of Hugh Glass until his death to give him a Christian burial. To add the spice, movie further shows Hawk volunteering the payee leading to his murder by agitated Fitz.
Hugh Glass was indeed dropped behind to die by the two men, Fitz and young Jim Bridger, played by Will Poulter due to the harsh fact that he wasn’t breathing his last for several days. Further confirmation is that both guys placed him in a grave, collected his weapons and off they go.
Further diggings confirm that the Native Americans depicted in the movie are the tribe of North Dakota, Arikara who suffered a high rate of fatalities from smallpox epidemics resulting in drastic fall in their population back in 18th century. Years later they moved between South and North of Dakota.
Enough of history!!! Now let me strive to focus on the movie….
What makes Hollywood cinematic industry so special than the others??? No not that Hollywood belongs to the United States. Actually, Hollywood introduces you to people from different diversities and backgrounds that cook and bring their ingredients in their kitchens to display a delicious food and bring a change in taste for the consumers. Now ‘The Revenant’ shows United States of the early 19th century and the story is based on a frontier legend who met his sorry fate after attack launched by Native Americans. And this movie is directed by a guy who has lived all his life in Mexico. Some great minds present great movies in great ways.
AGI had a splendid vision to present The Revenant and is obvious in his powerful direction. Many scenes are eye-opener like I am repeatedly mentioning attack on the expeditions team by Native Americans and Hugh Glass many phases of survival. But the best among all is the bear attack which will easily shut you up. This scene is built on your nerves. The human abuse is shot in a way that you would feel if the beast is skinning you.
I must say the VFX team has done magnificent choreography of this attack. It is not only that the viewer has a look at this brutal beating; the whole animal behavior is carefully read. Watch step by step, the way cubs are made feel unprotected, the way momma bear responds and attacks the gunman, the way the beatings begin i.e., stepping over and throwing all mighty weight on Glass, grabbing by mouth and swinging, then throwing on ground and gashing him. This shows the bear-behavior was carefully studied by all the involved makers.
The ‘sympathy’ factor for both human and animal is challenged because the attack scene has two consecutive parts connected in one-shot frame. First the mother bear attacks with understanding that gunman will kill the cubs and leaves later. But then the gunman tries to survive by shooting at mother bear and turning the other face of coin with sympathy where mother bear and gunman becomes villainous in their ways concluding with animal killing while trying to save her cubs. One of the best dramatic scenes I have watched in recent years!!!
One of the most remarkable aspects of the movie is that the whole movie is shot in natural light without the use of CGI which made the life of working crew worse than hell as some parts of shooting in Canada met unexpected fall in temperature to -25C. During the times when Canada met shortage of snow, the whole shooting was in fact shifted to Argentina. This showed life-and-death commitment to present ‘REALISM’ in the picture for which they crossed most of the limits.
The director himself stated in one interview to prefer natural light over CGI this way, “Everybody was frozen, the equipment was breaking; to get the camera from one place to another was a nightmare. If we ended up in green screen with coffee and everybody having a good time, everybody will be happy, but most likely the film would be a piece of shit.”
There is no dispute after hard sacrifice in the beauty of making this movie. When the viewers watch this in one frame, the presentation is natural and folking brilliant. Like Birdman, we will again watch some spectacular lengthy one-shot scenes confirming AGI directional class.
Besides deserving award-winning direction, the whole movie is also build on two powerful performances. Tom Hardy’s character of Fitzgerald is foxy and full of rage who opposes Glass’ advice to abandon the vessel and march on foot after Native Americans’ attack. He digs reasons to oppose him and watch for a better moment to kill him. I would say Glass/Fitz are the bestest combination of plus and minus whose characters are made to oppose each other. Despite many inaccuracies in the movie, Hardy’s character gives reasons of bringing balance between the two. Being in limelight of his career, Tom Hardy has another well-reputed performance in his CV. Due to much change in locations and shooting dates, Tom Hardy left a well-fitted Suicide Squad role of Rick Flag character to complete The Revenant without delay.
Keeping his whole acting career under scrutiny, it is easy to pick this role as the toughest of all the roles he has done in the past. The portrayal is highly physical than his dialogues. All judgment is based on his survival mode where he drops himself into icy water, eating raw bison liver (LDC is vegetarian btw) and sleeping in horse carcass. He even wore that bear skin in most of the scenes which was real and brought from a park department in Canada. More to a misery, the skin weighted over 100 pounds. And while attempting all such dares, he maintained his acting stance. Full marks to his performance.
The Revenant is the answer to the finest filmmaking. Decades later, critics will easily pick this movie among the best things happened in cinematic industry. I would like to congrats the whole crew for the perfect and deserving outcome. Also I would like to pay my special thanks to the readers who reached here reading a whole lengthy review till the conclusion. Perhaps some special movies deserve a lot of writing.
While I was hanging on Facebook and trying to put my effort on jumping towards the conclusions of the year 2013 and pickings from different aspects of film making, up comes the idea from my subconscious mind that why don’t I blog my choices? Sounds a great idea!!!
It is good to see that readers from many parts of the world get connect with the WordPress and by chance read my blogs. Academy Awards function will take place on March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles. I was terribly waiting for most of English-language movies of 2013 to watch in good print. Downloaded the movies I needed to watch (mostly Academy Awards nominated) at minimum 720p. I have watched them in last couple of months and I sincerely am thankful to my readers and friends on Facebook recommending me the movies of last year.
So here is my pick from 2013 English-language movies whether nominated in Academy or not:
Best Production Design:
The Great Gatsby
We know what Baz Luhrmann is capable of. He is well-know for making stylish and very fashionable movies like Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Moulin Rouge! (2001). Here he does the same as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby always demanded a ravishing look into the lifestyles of the Buchanan’s and parties of the Gatsby. Baz left me no option to look elsewhere.
Best Costume Design: The Great Gatsby
So I forgot to propel you that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby not only demanded a ravishing look into the lifestyles of the Buchanan’s and parties of the Gatsby, but the novel also raises the significance of the dresses, the uniforms, the wardrobes to be used as per fashion and hugely fitting into a high-society urbanized life to convince and portray how the novel grows the writings on you. Catherine Martin was the lady hugely responsible for Moulin Rouge’s success as she went on to win 2 Academy Awards for Art Direction and Costume Designing for that movie. And once again she is just beyond the class in costume designing for The Great Gatsby. Bravo!
Best Sound Mixing: Gravity
Although I didn’t like this space movie but few elements were inviting. One of them was the sound blowing in your ears. The volume at space the movie spoke produce hysteria. By listening Sandra Bullock in her misery and trying to connect with the team, you are rubbing your ears as if you are trying to connect with them. Plays a vital role and that is where Gravity convince me.
Best Sound Editing: Rush
Vrrrrrroooooooooooooommmm, gear shifting, breaks, pressing accelerator hard. An epic F1 race between two great racers need that sound. Viewers need to feel the beat. Sound engineering has been a lusty ear therapy and it grows more in your eardrums with the intensity of battle on track between the two.
Best Music, Original Score: About Time
When it comes to writing music score for the movie, then it is supposed to be musical enough to make the screenplay and scenes of the movie catchy. That is the quality the musicians like Vangelis, Gabriel Yared, Hans Zimmer and Gustavo Santaolalla have, their scores flow and grow in the movie. Chariots of Fire, The English Patient, Dark Knight trilogy and Babel are such great examples.
About Time is a British movie directed by Richard Curtis, and with a disciplined film-making as the screenplay appealed, music score needed a heavy influence. Nick Laird-Clowes satisfies my ears from act 1 scene 1, when narration and intro begins. I must mention that Gravity and Rush are the other two which impressed me in this department but About Time is my pick.
Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay: The Wolf of Wall Street
But when it comes to original screenplay, then I find strong competition between Ron Howard’s “Rush”, Spike Jonze’s “Her” and Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska”. Rush is sports drama film based on true events while Her is sci-fi romantic comedy film not close to reality. But Nebraska is a pure leather from alligator. Making the movie in black-and-white presents a poetic theme + an amazing father-son chemistry produces a gem. Screenwriter Bob Nelson did a timeless and terrific story writing and this was his debut in movie as screenplay writer.
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle
She didn’t impress me in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ also directed by David O. Russell. But this movie is the real platform. JL is Rosalyn, wife of Irving played by Christian Bale. She is a mad lady who suddenly loses her temper. Mad in love with hubby will never file a divorce. Her role is shorter than the rest of all major characters in the movie but it is about influence and demand of her character developing in the script in the next half. Body language, facial variations, voice tone flexibility are just close to perfection. She richly deserves ‘Best Supporting Actress’ award on 2nd of March.
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
Although I am not a lot in Jared Leto movies but by chance I watched him in Jean-Marc Vallée’s Dallas Buyers Club. This was one of the best roles played in 2013. Jared Leto plays Rayon, a transgender woman, who suffers with HIV, joins fellow HIV fellow Ron Woodroof played by Matthew McConaughey as his business partner who will bring more HIV patients to Ron to join the Dallas Buyers Club. The role of Rayon was fictional and didn’t exist in reality but there are two most important aspects in this role. First thing is body transformation, he lost 30 pounds (14 kg) for the role. Secondly, the role itself. You won’t find Jared Leto in the role, he/she played an incredible role.
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
How could I not pick Cate Blanchett for this category? This Woody Allen movie is not at all about his direction, it is first about her and perhaps has played her finest performance of career so far. Jasmine is an elite Manhattan socialite who is married to 9 years elder wealthy business magnate Hal played by Alec Baldwin. Things go against her and lose a huge fortune. She is mentally broken and financial status is badly wrecked.
It is almost impossible to read or measure her mental capacity when it comes to play a character in tantrum. She beautifully manage her character when she is normal, when she is about to burst out, when she is talking to herself or when she gets angry. So many times, viewers including me won’t understand her timing, we simply are not able to analyze the whole temperament. I will be surprised if she didn’t bag AcademyAward for BestActress on 2nd of March.
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
Well to be honest it was a very hard decision. I was stuck between him, Chiwetel Ejiofor for “12 Years A Slave”, Bruce Dern for “Nebraska” and Robert Redford for “All is Lost”. Besides Robert Redford, all are nominated for ‘Best Actor’ this Academy Award, so whoever wins between the three are deserving for me. I made my mind and picked McConaughey above them.
He is Ron Woodroof, who suffers HIV and the doctor has marked his death in maximum 30 days (but actually dies in 6 years). Like Jared Leto, he has transformed his body by losing 47 pounds (21 kg) for the role. Secondly, the aggression, the accent, the body language will take you to some other heights. In short, McConaughey has produced one gem of a performance which perhaps will remain highlight of his career.
Best Director: Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street
Need no introduction, but he produce a gem in almost every movie he directs. This time it is The Wolf of Wall Street. It is Jordan Belfort’s memoir which he adapted. It is 180-minute movie with 569 eff-words, the length you don’t expect to see in English movies but the quality is it will not bore you. The Belfort story will slowly slowly grow on you, things will be presented in such a way that you will ignite in their environment. Money, drug, sex are Scorsese’s favorite elements and will satisfy and propel you. With a critical subject, Scorsese has directed far better than other directors in my view.
Best Picture: Nebraska
And now my final say. Apparently the most understood movies, which I believe were the finest products of the year 2013 were Nebraska, Dallas Buyers Club, The Wolf of Wall Street, Her and Rush. I am very surprised Ron Howard’s “Rush” is nominated nowhere in Academy Awards categories. Anyhow, out of these 5 pictures, my pick is Nebraska. It is a story entirely different from the other four.
Nebraska is a case study of father-son chemistry on a simple plot. The old man is alone and he foolishly thinks he really won a million-dollar lottery. No one at his home trusts him but he is stubborn. His young son finally makes his mind to take him to Nebraska where he is supposed to collect his prize. It is a tale of a lifetime, a moment for old man to cherish once. The black and white concept of the movie produce a poetic nature. Every scene is like a hidden message. Truly the best picture of 2013…