Director Guillermo del Toro loved Martin Scorsese's new film The Irishman that he wrote an entire essay raving about it - on Twitter. Based on the memoir I Heard You Paint Houses, The Irishman is told from the perspective of army veteran and mob hitman Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran (played by Robert De Niro), and recounts his experiences working for the Bufalino crime family (led by Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino), and his involvement in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa (played by Al Pacino).
Known for making movies about ghosts, monsters, and other strange creatures, del Toro won two Oscars for his 2017 film The Shape of Water: Best Picture and Best Achievement in Directing. While he already had plenty of love among genre film fans, having a couple of Academy Awards tends to lend filmmakers a little extra clout, and this week del Toro used that clout to wholeheartedly endorse The Irishman.
On his Twitter page, del Toro posted an eloquent 13-tweet thread about his love of The Irishman and his interpretation of the movie, before finally advising film fans to see it in theaters rather than simply watching it on Netflix. Here's del Toro's Twitter thread in full, compiled for easy reading.
First- the film connects with the epitaph-like nature of Barry Lyndon. It is about lives that came and went, with all their turmoil, all their drama and violence and noise and loss… and how they invariably fade, like we all do… “It was in the reign of George III that the aforesaid personages lived and quarrelled; good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, they are all equal now." We will all be betrayed and revealed by time, humbled by our bodies, stripped off our pride.
The film is a mausoleum of myths: a Funereal monument that stands to crush the bones beneath it. Granite is meant to last but we still turn to dust inside it. It’s the anti”My Way” (played in every gangster wedding in the world). Regrets they had more than few. The road cannot be undone and we all face the balance at the end. Even the voice over recourse has DeNiro trailing off into mumbled nonsense.
I remember, in a documentary about Rick Rubin- he explained how Johnny Cash singing “Hurt” (having lived and lost and gone to hell and back) gave it a dimension it could not have in the voice of a -then- young Trent Reznor (even if he composed it). This film is like that. Scorsese started hand-in-hand with Schrader, as young men, looking for Bresson. This movie transmogrified all the gangster myths into regret. You live this movie. It never goes for the sexy of violence. Never for the spectacle. And yet it is spectacularly cinematic.
Del Toro continues:
Film has the inexorabie feeling of a crucifixion- from the point of view of Judas. Every Station of the cross permeated by humor and a sense of banality- futility- characters are introduced with their pop-up epitaphs superimposed on screen: “This is how they die." I never thought I would see a film in which I’d root hard for Jimmy Hoffa- but I did- perhaps because, in the end, he, much like the Kennedys, represented also the end of a majestic post-war stature in America.
Pesci supremely minimalistic. Masterful. He is like a black hole- an attractor of planets- dark matter. DeNiro has always fascinated me when he plays characters that are punching above their true weight - or intelligence- That’s why I love him in so much Jackie Brown. An interesting transfer between these characters: Pesci- who has played the Machiavellian monster, regains a senile innocence, a benign oblivion and De Niro’s character - who has operated in a moral blank- gains enough awareness - to feel bitter loneliness.
I believe that much is gained if we cross-reference our transgressions with how we will feel in the last three minutes of our life- when it all becomes clear: or betrayals, our saving graces and our ultimate insignificance. This film gave me that feeling. This film needs time- however- it has to be processed like a real mourning. It will come up in stages… I believe most of its power will sink in, in time, and provoke a true realization. A masterpiece. The perfect corollary [to] Goodfellas and Casino.
Del Toro concludes his thread with the message, "See it. In a theatre. This movie languished in development in studio vaults for so long… having it here, now, is a miracle. And, btw- fastest 3 hours in a cinema. Do not miss it." The Irishman arrives in theaters on November 1st, almost a full month ahead of its Netflix release on November 27th, and fans of Scorsese's work will definitely want to experience it on a big screen. As del Toro mentions, The Irishman has a runtime of almost three hours, but sometimes the longest movies are the best.
The Irishman has had a very long road to the screen, first going into development more than a decade ago. Netflix releases a lot of original movies every year and very few of them get a theatrical rollout, but it's easy to see why The Irishman is one of the exceptions. Hopefully when general audiences finally get to see it in November, it will live up to the hype.
- The Irishman (2019) release date: Nov 27, 2019