‘The Irishman’ Is What an Irishman Does

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CREDIT: Netflix

I would venture to say that the most essential moment of The Irishman is when Frank Sheeran is trying to tell Jimmy Hoffa that it has been decided it’s high time for his ambitions to come to an end, and their conversation consists almost entirely of tautologies like “It is what it is.” If you don’t know the context, this discussion is essentially meaningless. If you do know the context, the implications are clear, but it is still striking how much these guys are slaves to a thick, suffocating tangle of codes. That point is made abundantly clear in those few minutes. In just a few seconds, even. So does The Irishman, then, really need to be three and a half hours long? Well, other points are made throughout, but that length also underscores this major point. The guys who paint houses and their associates are imprisoned in a ceaselessly brutish life that can feel mightily oppressive, and we start to feel that, too. So I enjoyed The Irishman in much the same contemplative way I enjoyed Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I’m not so excited that I’m screaming about it, but I can imagine that it’ll stick with me in the ceaseless time to come.

I give The Irishman My Radical Empathy.

This Is a Movie Review: Silence

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silence-issey-ogata

Does Silence need to drag on so portentously throughout its middle third? Probably, at least to achieve its goal of being as tortuous as what its protagonists undergo. Not exactly as torturous, obviously, but that is the tone it is going for. It may not be pleasant, but that is the goal. Perhaps it could have been both painful AND exciting if Liam Neeson had returned earlier. His scenes really get the film cooking. They are, after all, when Silence really grapples with its essential question of how best to sacrifice oneself to be a good Catholic, or a good leader, or a good person, and if those overlap.

I give Silence 20 Minutes out of 161 of Unexpected Humor.