The Irishman Review: Amazing De-Aging Effects in a Long Film.

3 and a half stars
Martin Scorsese has had a long career of fantastic crime dramas from Goodfellas, to Casino, to The Departed, to many more.
As such, coming into The Irishman, I felt like I was going to see another riveting film on par with many of his prior movies.
Honestly, though, this expectation may have been a bit naive.
That is not to say that The Irishman is bad because it is certainly a good film, but there was nothing about it that made it feel like I was seeing something new.
The most impressive thing about the film is its fantastic de-aging effects, which allows the characters played by Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci to age across the decades that the film depicts.
The only problem I had with the effects was that sometimes the actors’ eyes looked a little off but, Aside from this, it was flawless.

aging effects
The de-aging effects of The Irishman are so good that I cannot tell you at what time De Niro has no effects done to his face.

The Irishman follows the crime fueled life of Frank Sheeran (De Niro), a man who “paints houses”, a euphemism for murder in the criminal underworld.
Under orders from his friend Russel Bufalino (Pesci), Frank eventually comes to know and befriend the leader of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino).
The film then follows these three characters through Frank’s experiences in the criminal underworld and the fatal effects these experiences have.
For starters, the three actors all do a really good job with their characters, especially De Niro and Pacino because I could really feel the bond that their characters had.
The friendship between Sheeran and Hoffa, and what it ultimately culminates in, is the most interesting part of the movie for me; even if the outcome may not be true to life because no one really knows how these events really unfolded.

de niro and pacino
While probably not true, the way Sheeran and Hoffa’s friendship pans out in the film is tragic.

Another impressive thing about The Irishman is how it goes about portraying Sheeran’s supposed murders, with them often being quick and realistic, lacking an over dramatic feel, although this works in the film’s favor.
However, despite these good things, I still cannot say The Irishman is anything spectacular.
For one thing, the film is way too long, coming in at 209 minutes.
The over three hour runtime was not exactly warranted and I felt quite a few scenes could have been condescend or cut.
Also, as I said, The Irishman does not really add anything all that new to the crime drama genre.
I felt like I was watching just a typical crime film rather than one directed by Scorsese.
Still, the film is enjoyable and I would recommend it based off the great performances and amazing de-aging effects.
If you don’t mind the over three hour runtime then you should give it a watch.

 

Joker Review: Amazing Film, Annoying Controversy.

5 stars
When I first heard that there would be a Joker origin film, I was pretty concerned.
The Joker is usually depicted as a character with an unclear and self described “multiple choice” backstory, so I felt it would be weird to give him a clear one.
And then I saw the trailers, which absolutely floored me.
Everything about the movie looked great in those trailers, from Joaquin Phoenix’s performance, to the story, to the cinematography.
However, I still went into the film with a touch of hesitation because I have seen plenty of movies with amazing trailer that turned out to not be very good (I am looking at you Godzilla: King of the Monsters).
But, you know what?
The trailers were accurate.
Joker is an absolutely incredible movie and Phoenix and director Todd Phillips deserve all the praise for it.
The film tells the story of Arthur Fleck, an impoverished man who lives with his mentally unwell mother (Frances Conroy), and has a disorder that causes him to laugh uncontrollably when he is nervous.

poor arthur
Arthur’s laughing disorder was a stroke of genius, with it being painfully evident how much is hurts him both socially and physically.

As Arthur get beaten down by society again and again, he begins to hit back in increasingly violent ways, eventually leading to him becoming the infamous Joker.
First of all, I have to praise Phoenix for his amazing performance here.
He definitely deserves to get nominated for an Oscar, at the very least.
I was equal parts terrified of him and sympathetic towards him throughout the course of the film.

Arthur Fleck.jpg
Phoenix’s portrayal of the Joker is right up there with Heath Ledger and Mark Hamill in levels of greatness.

And, (I shouldn’t have to say this but I have to) no, Arthur being sympathetic does not glorify the violence he commits.
There is so much controversy surrounding Joker that I feel it has hit the height of absurdity.
At no time does it feel like the film is condoning Arthur’s horrific and evil actions, rather it portrays them in a tragic light with his slow descent into madness.
Arthur may think his life is a comedy by the film’s end but it is definitely a tragedy in my eyes, with the film commenting on the role society, as a whole, has to play in what he becomes.
The film does not encourage violent people to strike out against society, rather it shows society the consequences of not getting help for these people, serving as a cautionary tale.
And, with that, my rant about the ridiculous controversy is over and I can get on with the rest of the review.
Along with Phoenix’s performance, there are many other brilliant things about the film.
The story takes many interesting twists and turns, with other actors Robert De Niro and Zazie Beetz doing great jobs.
Along with this, the film is supported by the amazing cinematography and soundtrack, which are both also Oscar worthy as well.

cinematography 1.jpg
The way the cinematography frames Arthur as he slowly begins to transform into the Joker across the film is brilliantly handled.

Hildur Guðnadóttir, who also composed the Chernobyl miniseries soundtrack, wrote the soundtrack for Joker and it is absolutely flawless.
It was not something I was expecting to be so entranced by going in so it was a very pleasant surprise.
If I had to give any criticisms to the film it would be the ending, specifically the final scene.
I distinctly remember sitting in the theater, being absolutely enthralled by the second to last scene and thinking, “if it ends here then this movie will be a masterpiece.”
However, the movie does not end there because there is an additional scene that, at first, I did not really appreciate.
After looking up some info about the ending, though, I do see what Phillips was trying to convey with it.
I still think the movie should have ended with that second to last scene because it really helped to emphasize the tragedy of Arthur Fleck.
That said, though, I cannot say that the final scene was bad or that it did not work within the context of the film, so I won’t be deducting any points from it.
Overall, Joker is my favourite film of the year so far.
It is dark, twisted, and deeply uncomfortable, but in all the right ways.