Netflix's 'The Irishman,' directed by Martin Scorsese, is about much more than Jimmy Hoffa

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  4 months ago  •  22 comments

Netflix's 'The Irishman,' directed by Martin Scorsese, is about much more than Jimmy Hoffa
When names like Scorsese and Pacino are going to Netflix, who is going to be the brave industry soul that blocks their awards-show entrance?

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

By   Ani Bundel

September traditionally marks the beginning of a parade of films looking to garner award nominations. Though there have been a few early contenders so far, like “ Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood” and “ Rocketman ,” most of the films vying for Oscars won’t be in theaters for months. Which is why seeing   the trailer for “The Irishman ” arrive on the final day of July was such a shock. One of the first trailers for an obvious awards-bait film, the movie is a biopic (of sorts) about the man suspected of killing Jimmy Hoffa, the labor union leader who was famous for running a massive organized crime syndicate out of Detroit. Twelve-time Oscar nominee Martin Scorsese is directing a murderer’s row of stars, including Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci.

And it’s coming to Netflix.

At this point, it should not be so much of a shock that a film of this apparent caliber is a Netflix production. The streaming service has gone hog-wild on the original content front, desperately stuffing its coffers with shows it either produces itself or puts enough money behind to be able to call a “Netflix Original Production.” In 2018, the service spent   around $12 billion   (no, that’s not a typo) on a variety of TV series and movies. In 2019, that number is expected to reach $15 billion.

And yet, the film industry has so far fought the idea of Netflix as a destination for high-profile movies — mostly successfully. The list of A-list   directors   and   actors   that have   poo-pooed the idea   of   watching a movie on one’s phone or iPad   is extensive. The   recent changes made by film festivals   like Cannes have been pointedly done to prevent Netflix from competing or even showing films at what are often considered the gatekeepers for serious award contenders. Those who do host Netflix films, like the Venice Film Festival,   face fierce opposition .

Moreover, unions like   the Directors Guild   of America have changed their rules to force Netflix to release their films in theaters weeks before streaming them if they want the films to be deemed eligible for nominations. “The Irishman” is coming to “select theaters” as   the press release terms it . But that’s just a polite way of admitting it will open only in major cities like New York and Los Angeles. Those in smaller urban areas, like Detroit, where the film is set, will most likely only ever see it on Netflix.

In light of this, having Scorsese, one of the biggest directors in movie history, bring a film like this to the streaming service is remarkable. The question is, why?

Romcoms like “ The Perfect Date ” and “ Always Be My Maybe ” are landing 30 million to 40 million views, according to the service, numbers that simply don’t happen for the genre in the movie houses. Ava Duvernay’s “ When They See Us ” became one of the most watched documentaries in Netflix’s history. Even dreck like “ Murder Mystery ” and “ Triple Frontier ” — films that would most likely stink up the box office — come out on top when they are easy “hit play” offerings for users bored at home.

And then there’s the changing landscape of Hollywood, and the now cartoonish monopoly held by Disney in the wake of its merger with 20th Century Fox. It was only this week that Disney broke its own record for annual box office earnings. The previous record, which it set in 2016, was $7.61 billion. The new record is   $7.67 billion   — which it hit in July. Add in   everything the House of Mouse still has coming, from September’s “Ad Astra” to October’s “Maleficent 2,” not to mention guaranteed box office smashes like November’s “Frozen” sequel and December’s “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” and Disney’s sheer domination is not only overwhelming, but terrifying.

This has resulted in an ugly situation, one that events like Cannes attempt to overlook. But movie makers in America cannot miss the writing on the wall, especially now that Disney has absorbed Fox’s upcoming release slate. Netflix no longer feels like a place for B-list movies; old veterans like Scorsese and De Niro are fleeing there, too.

After a while, the glamour of insisting one’s films must be seen in 70mm or 35mm to be fully appreciated — as   Christopher Nolan did with “Dunkirk , or   Quentin Tarantino is doing with “Once Upon Time … In Hollywood”   — or IMAX just becomes silly, when the fight really is about allowing audiences to see them at all. Streaming films also reflect the rapidly changing priorities of   audiences who are less likely to go   the movies unless it's an event-sized “Avengers: Endgame”-level film.

In the end, this may be what ends the film industry's fight to keep Netflix's movies off the awards circuit. Though arguably this debate should have been about the downsides of Hollywood’s longtime gatekeepers, sometimes practical concerns are more effective. When names like Scorsese are going to Netflix, who is going to be the brave industry soul that blocks his awards-show entrance?


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Perrie Halpern R.A.
1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.    4 months ago

I doubt this will end the movies, but I have to tell you, that I am watching more and better movies and series at home than in the movies. In fact, this was one of the worst summer movie years I can remember a long time.

What do you think?

1.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1    4 months ago

I hardly ever go to the movie theater anymore.  Maybe once or twice a year.  Between the drive to get there, the prices, and dealing with noisy fellow movie-goers, I'd rather just stay home.  The entertainment is just about as good (better in many cases), I can pause it when I need a bathroom or snack break, and I can watch in my pajamas if I want.

Trout Giggles
1.1.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  sandy-2021492 @1.1    4 months ago

LOL! My thoughts exactly! I have friends (and a spouse) who don't understand that I hate going to the movie theater and spending an arm and a leg to fall asleep! I can sleep for free at home.

1.2  JBB  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1    4 months ago

I have been enjoying some surprisingly good Russian and Japanese movies and series on Netflix and Amazon. Last night I watched a  really good 2018 Russian movie, Sobibor, on Amazon Prime. Too many big American movies involve too much CGI action or revolve around super heroes or have juvenile plot lines for my taste. I hear Tarrantino's Three Days In The Valley is worth seeing in a theater. Anymore we usually stay in because D-Dawg is old and blind and HATES being left alone. Plus, our nest is so damn comfortable we do not like being out of it for very long, especially when it is hot or cold or wet or... , well, maybe staying in has become the new good times. 

Buzz of the Orient
2  Buzz of the Orient    4 months ago

I get to see movies here when they're at least 3 years old, and netflix is not available to me anyway.  I assume a lot of the movies being made over the past while are not exactly the kind of blockbusters like the old days because I do get to see a lot of more recent movies that are such junk I can only watch a few minutes of them before switching to something else.  There are lots of "chick flicks" (even Sex in the City), animated movies, teenager movies, Marvel movies with big machines, etc. that I don't bother watching, I keep a record of the movies I HAVE been watching on my movies group - although I've watched even more than I wrote about, I wrote notes about around 130 movies that I've watched over the past 7 months.

2.1  katrix  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2    4 months ago

The most popular movies in theaters all seem to be either superhero movies, or rehashes of old movies. It's as if nobody can bother coming up with decent new plots.

2.1.1  Enoch  replied to  katrix @2.1    4 months ago

Dear Friend Katrix: That is precisely why I favor the classics. 

The story lines of 20th Century Plotz were much more fresh and original.

Well said.

Enoch (With a Stunt Keyboardist).  

3  Kavika     4 months ago

The landscape is changing and the ''old'' movie industry is doing it's best not to let it happen. 

With the movie, ''Roma'' last year by Netflix the walls were breached so to speak.

To paraphrase Sam Cooke, change is coming. 

4  Enoch    4 months ago

My favorite movie is, "Ma and Pa Enoch Keep Kosher". 

Its available on Netflix, Hulu, IFC, and the food channel.

It stars Marjorie Main, Frank Fontaine, Michael Caine, Carol Wayne, and Percy Kilbride as "der Rebbe".

It sports a stellar cast of thousands, including Sally Stellar and Thomas Thousands.

Color by Crayola.

Sales tax by state and local governments.

No politicians were harmed in the filming of this epic. This is verified by the ASPCP (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Partisans).

Getting back to the topic at hand, there is often a lag between where things are heading, and vested interests who like the status quo.

Those fighting change stand still while the train pulls out of the station, leaving them alone and behind.

Enoch (Conveying My Sentiments On an Electronic Papyrus Scroll)           

Buzz of the Orient
4.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Enoch @4    4 months ago
"Those fighting change stand still while the train pulls out of the station, leaving them alone and behind."

The only thing that is constant is change.  But the question remains, when it comes to movies, is it a change for the better? 

5  Kathleen    4 months ago

Once in a while I do enjoy going out to see it on the big screen.  The new lounge chairs are nice to sit in. I only go now as long as I have those chairs. Getting up to use the restroom and having long legs kept me away a lot with the standard chairs.  I do mostly prefer to stay in the comfort of my own home.

Vic Eldred
5.1  Vic Eldred  replied to  Kathleen @5    4 months ago

I haven't yet had a chance to experience the new chairs and maybe I never will. I think my going out to the movies days are over. I'm old enough to remember the drive-ins, being taken to big old style movie theatres in Boston as a child, Saturday afternoons, first dates and most important of all taking my daughters to the cinema in the 80's & 90's. So many of those movies from "Planes Trains & Automobiles to "Groundhog Day" are sacred to them and I. The buttered popcorn, then so essential is now a thing of scorn to my health conscious daughters. Alas, my movie going days are over.

As for Netflix - It is a mixed bag. Like so many things these days movies can be ordered and delivered in an instant. One concern I have is the question of politics:

"President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have entered into a multi-year agreement to potentially produce films and series for Netflix, potentially including scripted series, unscripted series, docuseries, documentaries, and features," the streaming service  tweeted ."

Something we don't need, but we will have to endure.

The last line of the article:

"When names like Scorsese are going to Netflix, who is going to be the brave industry soul that blocks his awards-show entrance?"

Case closed.

5.1.1  Kathleen  replied to  Vic Eldred @5.1    4 months ago

I understand, some things that are brought in should not be....

Vic Eldred
5.1.2  Vic Eldred  replied to  Kathleen @5.1.1    4 months ago

Too much politics in everything.

5.1.3  Kathleen  replied to  Vic Eldred @5.1.2    4 months ago

I agree

Buzz of the Orient
5.1.4  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Vic Eldred @5.1    4 months ago

My movie-going experience started with Saturday afternoon matinees at the local neighbourhood movie theatre.  Here is a photo of it (on the left):


As a neighbourhood second-run theatre, for 10 cents it showed double features, with a serial, movietone news, a cartoon and a preview in between. More for your money.  It was still in operation when I returned to my home town to visit my brother 12 years ago and we went to watch A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy there for old time's sake.  The last Drive-in movie I saw, more than 6 decades ago, was Bill Haley's Rock around the Clock.  Since my brother and I returned to the theatre from our childhoods, the only movie theatre I have been in was to see the final Hobbit movie in 4-D in Zhengzou, about 4 or 5 years ago.  4-D is quite an experience, if you like getting sprayed, blown, bumped and bounced.  Now I have a 4.5 foot wide TV screen and 8 channels that show movies from all over the world free as long as they are at least 3 years old, as explained in my previous comment.  By the way, I watched Groundhog Day a couple of weeks ago.  It's appropriate to watch that movie over and over.  LOL

Vic Eldred
5.1.5  Vic Eldred  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @5.1.4    4 months ago
It's appropriate to watch that movie over and over.  LOL

And it has a great moral message!

Gee, you must be close to my age!

Buzz of the Orient
5.1.6  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Vic Eldred @5.1.5    4 months ago

In the poll I posted a little while ago, I was one of the two people whose votes put us in the very oldest category.

Vic Eldred
5.1.7  Vic Eldred  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @5.1.6    4 months ago

Ya Buzz, that's my category alright. I remember the poll now!

Buzz of the Orient
5.1.8  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @5.1.4    4 months ago

The photo I showed is how I remember it from the past, but I think it must have been improved since I was just there.  In the old photo, that area was the commercial centre of the area I grew up in, and I remember that the store next to the theatre was a gift and flower shop, then across the road the first store was a hardware store and the one next to it was the bakery that baked my favourite cakes.  However, more recently this is what the facade of the theatre and the interior look like.  It has never changed from being a single screen theatre that is about 100 years old.


I think this guy must be the theatre manager or owner.


6  JohnRussell    4 months ago

I have limited expectations for 'The Irishman' , and I have my doubts that it will be an oscar contender,  but I am a fan of all these people and would like to be proven wrong. 

Watching the trailers I am sensing a lack of energy among DeNiro, Pesci and Pacino. These guys are all on the shady side of their 70's and I'm not sure the CGI magic that will make them look younger for large parts of the movie is going to mesh seamlessly into the film. 


Most people have big screen tv's and watching it on Netflix on a 50" screen wont be much different than going to a multiplex box theater.  The ultimate end of movie theaters was foretold when large screen home tv's became affordable. 

Vic Eldred
6.1  Vic Eldred  replied to  JohnRussell @6    4 months ago
but I am a fan of all these people and would like to be proven wrong. 

I agree. I love the director who has made so many movies about people who never got to go to college! jrSmiley_100_smiley_image.jpg


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