‘The Irishman’ is Proving to Become Scorsese’s Opus Because Storytelling Matters

While the Academy’s Best Actor statue is going to become a victim in a brutal game of Tug-of-War among a few guys named Hanks, De Niro, Pacino, Bale, Damon, and oh yeah, Phoenix, it seems the Best Director is on lock for Mr. Martin Scorsese.

We have already experienced the arduous task of ranking his films, but to put this latest undertaking of his on top of that hallowed ground seems almost elementary if you read the latest hoopla over his November release on Netflix The Irishman. 

the irishman boxLast weekend, at the time of this posting, The Irishman premiered at — where else — the New York Film Festival and the response has been nothing short of extraordinary (or ordinary considering the source).

If you search Twitter, you will see raving reviews over the acting, the cinematography, the characterization, the storytelling, and all the CGI technology to “de-age” De Niro, Pesci, and Pacino.

Everyone is clamoring about this movie. Everyone is standing up and applauding for Scorsese’s triumph. And it seems everyone should because of one simple thing.

The “going back to the same character well” argument is old. The “movies are too damn long” argument is old too. When Scorsese brings his A-game, everyone takes notice. Again, only one reason why.

Despite what you think about Netflix. Regardless of how you may romanticize the making of film. And who cares your particular slant over big screen versus small screen, we are seeing right now what movies are meant to be — stellar storytelling. 

Time to Go Back to the Basics

the irishman
Source: STX Entertainment/Sikelia Productions

I once read a fantastic blog post about storytelling that reached me as a writer and a movie fan. One quote in particular:

The value storytelling holds as a source of inspiration and as a teaching tool makes it the most important tradition mankind possesses.

Here. Here. 

Since the annals of time, storytelling is what has connected the generations. “Papa, how do you kill dinosaurs? Well, lemme tell you a story,” From religion to family to war to peace, the one constant throughout every century is the sharing of stories so we don’t lose track of who we are and the unfathomable journey it took to get there.

When we come across a good movie, it’s because of the VFX, CGI, and a bunch of other acronyms you learn in film school. When we encounter a great film, it’s because of the basics: the visual appeal, the emotive study, the way a story envelops you as you park in a seat clutching a Coke and barely surmising enough strength for the smile.

That’s what a story does. That is what why we applaud and come back for more. (Most of the time…still trying to figure out the “why” behind Avatar.)

Among the many reviews of The Irishman that celebrate the trek back to storytelling was Chris Evanglista’s:

When you have crime and pals, you have a really good movie most of the time. Add the raw emotion and “melancholy,” and you get to great and potentially Oscar-winning. That is not because of seamless de-aging technology. (Just ask Gemini Man if that helps that movie at the box office.)

This is because of the story and the master storyteller behind it. Again, simple. 

And if you don’t believe me, have you seen what Guillermo del Toro did on Twitter? An illustrious 13-tweet rant extolling the absolute greatness and moviemaking splendor of this film.  Really! 

Behold: That is the power of true storytelling.

Only something that moves us to our core could force us to write without thinking and speak without listening. You just have to get it out of your system — a mental and emotional symbiotic regurgitation of experience. And that is the result. Only stories can do that to a cinephile. Only stories ever could.

The Irishman opens in select theaters from November 1 and on Netflix November 27. That’s three weeks to do what you should do — enjoy the story as it was meant to be appreciated and then see what you do on Twitter.

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