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Review: Criterion Does Justice to Scorsese's Masterpiece 'The Irishman'

by Greg Vellante
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Nov 24, 2020
Review: Criterion Does Justice to Scorsese's Masterpiece 'The Irishman'

"It's what it is." The line, spoken by Joe Pesci during the final hour of Martin Scorsese's 2019 masterpiece, "The Irishman," has been nestled in my brain for more than a year now. Context aside, even the words themselves are indicative of the film's raw power, its scrutiny of morality and the human condition, which is what it is because there's so much depth beneath the surface. "The Irishman" is one of Scorsese's most mature and accomplished works, something that has continued to grow within my memory rather than fade away.

Thankfully, The Criterion Collection recognized this work for what it was and gave it a rightful physical release beyond the digital entrapments of being a film released by Netflix. The new 4K digital master, approved by Scorsese himself, is the best the film has ever looked, losing the compression pitfalls you often get with streaming and reliance on an Internet connection for a good picture. All hail physical media, as this Criterion disc is a must for anyone who considers themselves a fan of this film.

Plus, you get plenty of bonus features to go along with the superior picture and sound, including a newly-edited roundtable conversation with Scorsese and actors Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. Also, in "Making 'The Irishman' " we're given an exciting program that dives deep into the film's production and includes insights from Scorsese, the cast, producers, director of photography Rodrigo Prieto and others. For those interested in the film's de-aging technology, the bonus feature "The Evolution of Digital De-aging" is a must. The rest of the Criterion Collection bonus features include:

• Gangsters' Requiem, a new video essay by film critic Farran Smith Nehme about The Irishman's synthesis of Scorsese's singular formal style
• Anatomy of a Scene: "The Irishman," a 2020 program featuring Scorsese's analysis of the Frank Sheeran Appreciation Night scene from the film
• The Evolution of Digital De-aging, a 2019 program on the visual effects created for the film
• Excerpted interviews with Frank "the Irishman" Sheeran and Teamsters trade-union leader Jimmy Hoffa from 1999 and 1963
• An essay by critic Geoffrey O'Brien

"The Irishman" is now available on Criterion Collection Blu-ray for $31.96

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