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I Heard You Paint Houses|
Review by Rich Cline | MUST SEE
dir Martin Scorsese
scr Steven Zaillian
prd Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Irwin Winkler, Jane Rosenthal
with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Stephen Graham, Anna Paquin, Bobby Cannavale, Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Kathrine Narducci, Jesse Plemons, Jack Huston
release US 1.Nov.19,
19/US Netflix 3h29
A thumping cinematic epic, this film deserves to be seen on the biggest screen available as it recounts a staggering true story that stretches over half a century. In addition to the expert writing, direction and acting, this is a pungent look at how American culture and politics have become so thoroughly enmeshed with criminality. This isn't shouted loudly, but it's impossible to miss within the story's singular, personal perspective.
In late-40s Philadelphia, war veteran Frank (De Niro) begins skimming sides of beef from his delivery trucks for local monster Felix (Cannavale), then connects with top mafia boss Russell (Pesci). As the Irish Frank becomes a loyal hatchet man, Russell introduces him to union organiser Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino), who is loaning money to the mob. They all get involved in electing Kennedy, who fails to reopen Cuba to mob business then goes after them legally. Over the next decade, Jimmy arrogantly alienates one mafioso after another, while Frank tries to smooth ruffled feathers.
Zaillian's intricately structured script begins with Frank narrating as a lonely old man in a nursing home, then frames events around a 1975 road trip Frank and Russell take with their chain-smoking wives (Kurtzuba and Narducci) for their lawyer's (Romano) daughter's wedding in Detroit. This is when Hoffa notoriously went missing, and the truth is unblinkingly depicted on-screen. Scorsese and Zaillian take Frank's straightforward approach in their storytelling, also layering in plenty of earthy humour to bring the characters to vivid life.
Aged with digital makeup, the cast can effortlessly carry the audience through the sprawling time scale. De Niro expertly plays Frank with quiet confidence and a no-nonsense approach to confrontation. His scenes with Pesci and Pacino are a joy to watch, as they create distinct chemistry in their friendships. Pesci is fatherly and endearing, shining especially in a final sequence. Pacino has a lot of fun with Jimmy, a stubborn man with a very quick wit. Each of these men are loyal to a fault.
Side roles are also strong, with memorable turns for Graham (as a combative union boss) and an almost wordless Paquin (as Frank's observant daughter). This film is packed with lively figures, many who are given captions explaining how they will die in years to come. Yes, this is a movie about a very violent segment of US society that is fully ingrained, despite official denials. It's also massively entertaining: funny, emotional, shocking, intense and unnervingly true.
R E A D E R R E V I E W SStill waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2019 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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