Richard joins CP24 to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including John Cena’s goofy comedy for kids “Playing with Fire,” Martin Scorsese’s tour de force “The Irishman,” and “Doctor Sleep,” the direct sequel to “The Shining.”
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with news anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the epic gangster story “The Irishman,” the broad comedy for kids “Playing with Fire” and “Doctor Sleep,” the long-awaited sequel to “The Shining.”
A weekly feature from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest and most interesting movies! This week Richard looks at the ninth collaboration of Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman,” the action-comedy for children “Playing with Fire” and “Doctor Sleep,” the long-anticipated sequel to “The Shining.”
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including John Cena’s goofy comedy for kids “Playing with Fire,” Martin Scorsese’s tour de force “The Irishman,” and “Doctor Sleep,” the direct sequel to “The Shining” with CFRA morning show host Bill Carroll.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the epic gangster story “The Irishman,” the broad comedy for kids “Playing with Fire” and “Doctor Sleep,” the long-awaited sequel to “The Shining.”
“The Irishman,” starring septuagenarian powerhouses Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, is based on “I Heard You Paint Houses” Charles Brandt’s book about a man who claims to have offed mobster Crazy Joe Gallo and Teamster Jimmy Hoffa. It’s familiar territory for the trio of stars, all of whom have made a career out of playing wiseguys, and for director Martin Scorsese, but it feels different. The heady, rambunctious filmmaking of “Goodfellas” and “Casino” is gone, replaced by the richly, contemplative tone of a man at the end of his life wondering if he did the right thing.
De Niro is Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, an 82-year-old World War II veteran, truck driver, union leader and hitman. He developed his deadly skills as a combat veteran in Italy, talents he put to use as an associate of Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci), head of a notorious crime family.
Now wheelchair bound in a retirement home Frank recounts, in flashback, how he rose from smuggler to hitman to Bufalino’s inner circle. “It was like the army,” he says. “You followed orders.” It’s a wild story that reads like it was torn out of the pages of a colorful twentieth century history book. In Frank’s tale crime and politics are bedmates, bound together by power struggles between the underworld and Washington, involvement in elections and even the Bay of Pigs fiasco.
Frank rise is accelerated when Bufalino gives him the job of overseeing Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino). Hoffa ushers Frank through the corridors of power and becomes a family friend but when the Teamster’s actions threaten to expose his mafia co-conspirators Frank is pressed to choose between his loyalty to Hoffa and Bufalino.
Much has been written about “The Irishman’s” three-and-a-half-hour running time and the movie hocus pocus that de-ages the leads, allowing them to play their characters from cradle to grave. Don’t buy into the distractions. Scorsese wrestles the story and technology into shape, making a film that plays like a requiem for the kind of characters that made him famous. Unlike the cocky “Goodfellas,” which is all about the rush, “The Irishman” is ripe with themes of loss and legacy, regret and mortality. It’s about the consequences of the life Frank chose for himself and is a devastating portrait of a forgotten man who did terrible things out of a sense of duty.
Lead by the trio of marquee actors, the cast is uniformly fine. Anna Paquin as Frank’s daughter takes a role made up of sideways glances and terse dialogue and turns it into a damning condemnation of Frank’s work. She conveys depths with just a turn of her head. Bobby Cannavale as the colourfully named Felix “Skinny Razor” DiTullio and Ray Romano as a mob lawyer add interesting hues to an already colorful story.
The holy trinity, De Niro, Pesci and Pacino, hand in late career work that feels like the culmination of a lifetime of character studies. This is an examination of men who live by a brutal code that leaves little wiggle room for mistakes and disrespect but each actor find ways to humanize their characters. Rich in detail, these actors riff off one another, finding internal rhythms in the repetitious way they speak to one another.
Pesci lets go of his famous “Like I’m a clown? I amuse you?” film persona to present understated work that is equal parts loyalty and menace. Pacino plays an over-the-top character with an unhinged gusto that breathes life into someone who is now a name from the history books but was once, as is said in the film, as popular as Elvis with the working man.
Strong work abounds but De Niro has the resonate moments. The look on his face as (MILD SPOILER ALERT) he makes the grim trip to Detroit to kill his friend is stoic but pained. Placed in an unthinkable position he grims up but you can sense the wheels turning in his head. He fuels a remarkably tense thirty-minute lead up to a senseless act of violence that will have you leaning forward in your seat.
It’s in the film’s elegiac final moments that De Niro brings all of Franks humanity to the fore. “You don’t know how fast it goes until you get there,” he says. It’s a quiet, unhurried analysis of a man’s final days as he looks back that erases the memory of De Niro in movies like “Dirty Grandpa,” reminding us why he was thought of as the best actor of his generation.
“The Irishman” is an event, a movie that feels like the obvious conclusion to the gangster stories the director and cast have been telling for decades.
For many film fans the chance to see Robert De Niro reteamed with “Taxi Driver” co-star Harvey Keitel or his “Midnight Run” buddy Charles Grodin would be irresistible. The kind of magic created in those pair ups is the stuff of legend. “The Comedian,” a new film directed by Taylor Hackford, mixes and matches De Niro with his former co-stars but fails to recapture old glories.
De Niro is Jackie Burke, a comedian whose stand up career is in a downward spiral. Once a beloved sitcom star, the dirty-mouthed comic earns bad press when he punches a heckler at a TV Nostalgia Night gig and gets thrown in jail. After serving thirty days he’s sentenced to community service, working at a homeless shelter. There he meets the unpredictable Harmony (Leslie Mann), daughter of a mob boss (Keitel) doing time there for punching her ex-husband. They hit it off, spending time together as Jackie tries to rebuild his career. When he’s not insulting folks at comedy clubs he’s borrowing money from his brother (Danny DeVito) and making his manager’s (Edie Falco) life difficult.
“The Comedian” promises much. Keitel, Grodin, Mann and Falco are a dream team and De Niro’s turn in “The King of Comedy” suggests he might do something interesting with the Jackie character. Unfortunately “The Comedian” has more in common with “Dirty Grandpa” than “The King of Comedy.” Any movie that features a take off on “Makin’ Whoopee” retitled “Makin’ Poopy” isn’t aiming that high.
De Niro never convinces as a stand up comic. Jackie may be desperate to kick-start his career but apparently he’s not desperate enough to come up with material that might actually make someone laugh. Part of it is De Niro’s cue card delivery, part is the generally disagreeable nature of the character. Jackie humour comes from anger but instead of channelling that rage into an interesting storyline, he simply punches a heckler or unleashes invective on those around him. In short, he’s an a-hole, an a-hole who is in virtually every frame of the film.
“The Comedian” promises much but doesn’t deliver and in comedy delivery is everything.
Richard’s “Canada AM” reviews for the new releases “In the Heart of the Sea” with Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in “Carol,” Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl” and “Youth” with Michael Caine!