To De age or not to De age. Its not a question. No it is certainly not on indeed.  More a statement of how to address the film THE IRISHMAN if a film critic. Martin Scorsese Netflix backed venture is only this in the mind of the bums on seats. I hated that the focus was all this but yet it made sense for marketers and finance backers to focus on this as the main selling point. Criterion have done this (and a lot more), in order to get across the work and the significance of the film in a modern context.

Frank Sheeran (Robert DeNiro) gazes in his nursing home. He remembers his life and the faces and names. They were organized crime. He was a hired gun. Philadelphia mob boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) used him. Teamsters union head Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) worked with him. But when he was called, a gun was drawn and a bullet was levelled at the head of an assignment. The dead don’t die, they just belly flop. Frank knows a lot more than he lets on and we might not like what we find out.

The Irishman is based on the real-life Frank Sheeran confessions, as told to writer Charles Brandt for his book I Heard You Paint Houses. This code for, I hear you whack people. Scorsese crafts an intelligent but over long epic of the ways and political means of power. He also allows us to ascribe the piece of power that are fragile and those that are strong. Time and tide are important here. Hoffa is an American icon. The tales of his death are vast. Reason and season abide. THE IRISHMAN puts a lot to bed but leaves a lot unsaid or left out of history.


Netflix ran this in a HD version. The 4K release does some good things. Clearing the soft focus noise, balancing the light and makes the De age more subtle. However it also makes some of the CGI stuff appear frankly unreal. It drew me out but my wife was less perturbed.


The best piece? The roundtable and no mistake. Firing comments, friendly banter, slips of notes and of course the reflection on the piece and its history. Scorsese makes it easy and so does the new edit. Farran Smith Nehme essay is too short and deserves expansion. Dealing with the body of Scorsese and what that means for the how we consume and analyse is exceptionally clear and often profound.



  • New 4K digital master, approved by director Martin Scorsese, with Dolby Atmos soundtrack
  • Newly edited roundtable conversation among Scorsese and actors Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, originally recorded in 2019
  • New documentary about the making of the film featuring Scorsese; the lead actors; producers Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Jane Rosenthal, and Irwin Winkler; director of photography Rodrigo Prieto; and others from the cast and crew
  • New video essay written and narrated by film critic Farran Smith Nehme about The Irishman’s synthesis of Scorsese’s singular formal style
  • The Evolution of Digital De-aging, a 2019 programme on the visual effects created for the film
  • Archival interview excerpts with Frank “the Irishman” Sheeran and International Brotherhood of Teamsters trade union leader Jimmy Hoffa
  • Trailer and teaser
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien

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