Irishman, The

Featured In Issue 253, January/February 2021

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
The Criterion Collection
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Martin Scorsese
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"The Irishman" is a sweeping crime saga. Left behind by the world, former hit man and union truck driver Frank Sheeran (De Niro) looks back from a nursing home on his life's journey through the ranks of organized crime: from his involvement with Philadelphia mob boss Russell Bufalino (Pesci) to his association with Teamsters union head Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino) to the rift that forced him to choose between the two. The Irishman is based on the real-life Sheeran's confessions, as told to writer Charles Brandt for the book "I Heard You Paint Houses."

Special features include a newly edited roundtable conversation among Director Martin Scorsese and Actors Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, originally recorded in 2019 (HD 18:59); a making-of featurette (HD 36:10), the featurettes "Gangsters' Requiem" (HD 21:27), "Anatomy Of A Scene" (HD 05:05) and "The Evolution Of Digital De-aging" (HD 12:55); excerpted interviews with Frank "the Irishman" Sheeran and Teamsters trade-union leader Jimmy Hoffa from 1999 and 1963 (SD 05:48); a trailer and a teaser; plus a 24-page booklet and essay by Geoffrey O'Brien.

The 1.85:1 1080p AVC picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, upconverted to 2160p with greater resolution and luminance, was photographed digitally and on 35 mm Kodak Vision3 film stock using the Arri Alexa Mini, Arricam LT, Arricam ST and Red Helium camera systems and sourced from a 4K master Digital Intermediate format. Color fidelity is excellent with natural hues that range from rich and remarkably balanced to soft and gently subdued, providing different period scenes with unique identities. Throughout fleshtones appear naturally hued. Contrast is dynamic with natural black levels and shadow delineation. Lighting provides diverse imaging. Resolution is reveling of fine detail in clothing, object texture and facial features, although at times a bit soft. This is a quite complicated story to present, shifting back and forth between time periods, but Scorsese has mastered the task for a very compelling and realistic visual experience. (Gary Reber)

The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack is for the most part dialogue focused and monaural. Occasional sequences of surround envelopment that extends to the height layer are heard, such as a union hall gathering, a scene of yellow cabs pushed into the river, some background situations, a dinner for Frank, and at times the orchestral music is prominent. Dynamic intensity can vary, but this is how the original soundtrack was put together. The dialogue is intelligible throughout and nicely integrated spatially. This is a well-crafted soundtrack that nicely complements the involved storytelling. (Gary Reber)