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Yes No Maybe So: Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman" and NYFF Trivia

by Nathaniel R

As you've undoubtedly heard, The Irishman will be finished in time for a 2019 rollout after all. (We had previously assumed it might not be ready due to the time-consuming visual effects to de-age DeNiro and Pacino for some sequences). The Martin Scorsese mob epic will have its world premiere as the opening night selection* of the New York Film Festival on September 27th. After that premiere it hits some theaters and Netflix streaming though we don't have dates for either one quite yet. It'd be nice if they didn't save it until Christmas for an actual release but awards contenders gonna awards contend, y'know. That said it does say "this fall" at the end so perhaps they'll be merciful to audiences and release it in October?

The drama is based on Charles Brandt's non-fiction book "I Heard You Paint Houses," a line that's included in the trailer and would have made a much less generic title! But generic film titles gonna generic film title, y' know. After the jump, the trailer and a brief Yes No Maybe So breakdown...



  • Joe Pesci plays mob boss Russell Bufalino, Robert De Niro plays his hired thug Frank Sheeran, and Al Pacino plays Teamster president Jimmy Hoffa. All three stars are former Oscar winners, the first two for Martin Scorsese pictures even, so it's quite a murderer's row of a cast... pun intended. Oh and Anna Paquin co-stars and she's also an Oscar winner and Steven Zaillian scripted, and he's also an Oscar winner so practically the whole team is golden.
  • The sound cues and "wooos" 🎵 of the trailer are very effective. The whole thing plays fast and intense.
  • Speaking of intense, slo-mo all too often feels self-parodic in movies when its used to heighten tension but at least within the context of this trailer, the crowd running after Kennedy's assassination, the multiple hands grabbing for a gun, and the car coming out of the wash all play as totally riveting.

  • Al Pacino looks strong in these brief glimpses. Love the darting paranoid eyes and that underlined 'you're really going to go there?' face when Pesci drops the 'failure to show appreciation' warning. It might be big but Pacino used to be genius when he went big. In fact, we're startled to say we're now actually looking forward to this performance.
  • The production team on this film has lots of powerhouses or situations we're intrigued by. Rodrigo Prieto (Brokeback Mountain) is behind the we're trusting the film will look more beautiful than it does in the trailer where it errs on the side of unoriginal in the lighting/color palette. Why is grey so mandatory for "serious" films. Also what was the story behind the costumes? Sandy Powell and Christopher Peterson are both credited... did Sandy not finish the picture? She often works with Christopher Peterson but he's usually credited as her assistant, not a lead costumer. 




  • A mob drama from Scorsese? Starring these men? How original !!! 
  • De-aging visuals have never not been distracting in the movies. There's always something a little uncanny valley. It will help that they haven't de-aged them into "young" men (just less old) but still... 




  • We're intrigued by the lone shot of Anna Paquin staring at her screen father De Niro. Scorsese long ago stopped being interested in female characters but back when he was interested he directed some pretty major performances from women. 
  • Joe Pesci plays mob boss Russell Bufalino, Robert De Niro plays his hired thug Frank Sheeran, and Al Pacino plays Teamster president Jimmy Hoffa. Yup, that's how we started the "yes" section, too. But let's be honest: All three actors haven't been delivering in a big way in a long time. Just putting them all together doesn't guarantee that they'll suddenly get their ol' mojo back. If the movie isn't strong it also runs the risk of feeling extraordinarily lazy in the casting. Like wouldn't we rather have hungrier new actors or a lesser ubiquitous Scorsese actor (Harvey Keitel has a small role and we actually miss him!!!) in one of the lead roles?


Are you a Yes No or a Maybe So? We're in the maybe so realm though we hope for the best. Or, as I recently confessed on twitter.


The opening night selection of the NYFF is a major honor but it doesn't always correlate to awards glory. Here's a list of former openers. The ones in bold ended up as nominees in one of the top "Feature" categories, Best Picture, Best International Film, or Best Documentary. Only one film that opened NYFF has ever won Best Picture (Chariots of Fire, 1981) and two have won Foreign Film (Day for Night, 1973, and All About My Mother, 1999)

2018 The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, Ireland/UK/US)
2017 Last Flag Flying (Richard Linklater, US)
2016 13th (Ava DuVernay, US)
2015 The Walk (Robert Zemeckis, US)
2014 Gone Girl (David Fincher, US)
2013 Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass, US)
2012 Life of Pi (Ang Lee, US)
2011 Carnage (Roman Polanski, France/Poland)
2010 The Social Network (David Fincher, US)
2009 Wild Grass (Alain Resnais, France)
2008 The Class (Laurent Cantet, France)
2007 The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, US)
2006 The Queen (Stephen Frears, UK)
2005 Good Night, and Good Luck. (George Clooney, US)
2004 Look at Me (Agnès Jaoui, France)
2003 Mystic River (Clint Eastwood, US)
2002 About Schmidt (Alexander Payne, US)
2001 Va savoir (Jacques Rivette, France)
2000 Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier, Denmark)
1999 All About My Mother ★ (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain)
1998 Celebrity (Woody Allen, US)
1997 The Ice Storm (Ang Lee, US)
1996 Secrets & Lies (Mike Leigh, UK)
1995 Shanghai Triad (Zhang Yimou, China)
1994 Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, US)
1993 Short Cuts (Robert Altman, US)
1992 Olivier Olivier (Agnieszka Holland, France)
1991 The Double Life of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieslowski, Poland/France)
1990 Miller’s Crossing (Joel Coen, US)
1989 Too Beautiful for You (Bertrand Blier, France)
1988 Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain)
1987 Dark Eyes (Nikita Mikhalkov, Soviet Union)
1986 Down by Law (Jim Jarmusch, US)
1985 Ran (Akira Kurosawa, Japan)
1984 Country (Richard Pearce, US)
1983 The Big Chill (Lawrence Kasdan, US)
1982 Veronika Voss (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, West Germany)
1981 Chariots of Fire ★ (Hugh Hudson, UK)
1980 Melvin and Howard (Jonathan Demme, US)
1979 Luna (Bernardo Bertolucci, Italy/US)
1978 A Wedding (Robert Altman, US)
1977 One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (Agnès Varda, France)
1976 Small Change (François Truffaut, France)
1975 Conversation Piece (Luchino Visconti, Italy)
1974 Don’t Cry with Your Mouth Full (Pascal Thomas, France)
1973 Day for Night ★ (François Truffaut, France)
1972 Chloe in the Afternoon (Eric Rohmer, France)
1971 The Debut (Gleb Panfilov, Soviet Union)
1970 The Wild Child (François Truffaut, France)
1969 Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (Paul Mazursky, US)
1968 Capricious Summer (Jiri Menzel, Czechoslovakia)
1967 The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, Italy/Algeria)
1966 Loves of a Blonde (Milos Forman, Czechoslovakia)
1965 Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard, France)
1964 Hamlet (Grigori Kozintsev, USSR)
1963 The Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel, Mexico)

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Reader Comments (38)

Nothing wrong with The Irishman as the title.

But I Heard You Paint's eery and suggestive and ominous. And sounds like something out of the 70s.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMe

Could it have a bit of colour? I mean besides the blood.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

It's of course a maybe so. I have absolutely no doubt at all the quality of the film - I'm sure it's extremely well-made, but a lot of well-made films are boring or in this case, very been there-done that. I've felt nothing but been there-done that since I first heard about The Irishman. If it's not the best mob movie ever made, I don't see how it stands out enough to win multiple Oscars, or a much less significant prize, my affection.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

I have predicted this would be a disaster for a while, and nothing I have seen is there to convince me otherwise.

When is the last time De Niro was truly great? Wag the Dog? Jackie Brown? That's over two decades. I don't trust him truly anchoring something like this.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBen

I'm cautiously optimistic. His last two criminal movies (Departed and Wolf of Wall Street) were wilder than they'd let anybody but Scorsese get away with in an expensive mainstream movie, so I don't think it'll be as standard-issue as maybe the trailer seems.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

Pacino like you Nat was the only on who popped in the trailer.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

It’s a NO for me .. Scorsese has made this several times before, same actors and same plot. When Scorsese leaves these themes his brilliance shines even more, like The Aviator for me his biggest creative achievement and guess what ? That movie has something that Scorsese usually neglects in his filmography .. FEMALES, and the performances of Blanchett and Beckinsale are brilliant.. Blanchett outshines DiCaprio in all of the scenes they share... So for me giving this MALE DOMINATE a pedestal is pure nonsense, we live in 2019 ! And genders and races are fighting to be out there and to be portrayed and Scorsese is failing to do it and for that’s a big mistake.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLASA

Martin Scorcese has become a bloated bore. When's the last time he made anything truly worth seeing? (For me it was The Aviator.) I suppose if reviews & reactions seem genuinely positive, I'll consider it.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Rob, I very much beg to differ, as Shutter Island, Wolf of Wall Street, Hugo and Silence were all entertaining and interesting films (the only one I'd call great is WOWS but the others are definitely worth seeing). Scorsese still has it, which is why it's so strange that he has to keep coming back to this well. It's as if he enjoys working with DeNiro and Pesci but doesn't know what to do with them other than crime/mafia stories.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

Of course I'm a yes, as is anyone who cares about movies.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne


Scorcese is one of those directors where I can appreciate the skill and talent but for whatever reason his films just don’t appeal to me. This looks completely uninteresting.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

I thought Silence was a beauty of a film and contained the performance for which Garfield should have got his first nomination.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Is a YES for me .... when the film is released on DVD

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCésar Gaytán

@Sawyer: I obviously disagree but I totally get that people dig him. He has made some brilliant films. But I found Shutter Island entirely mechanical (and yet another of far too many Leo DiCaprio Dead Wife movies), while Hugo was entertaining enough but somehow lacking resonance or relevance (hard to put my finger on what I found lacking but I just thought it was ultimately forgettable). Never saw Wolf (protracted length kind of kept me at bay, but as I like to see all films nominated for BP I'm sure I'll catch it sooner or later). Silence fell off my radar. There was a time where I would see every one of his movies upon release, but after the torturous Gangs of New York I decided life is too short.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Rob -- Gangs of New York really broke me too. A terrible Best Picture nominee.

Cesar -- backhanded compliment for the win

August 1, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R



August 1, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

I'm a yes and a no.

- Scorsese is a legend for a reason.
- Pesci has been sorely missed on screen!
- DeNiro almost always gives something good to Marty
- Pacino FINALLY being in a Scorsese is amazing.

- In the last decade or so Marty's only had two good movies (The Departed and Silence), and almost everything he's done since Gangs of New York (which itself is only saved from its boringness by DDL's performance) has been either OK (Wolf, Aviator), disappointing (Hugo), or just not good (Shutter Island)!
- Like you said, he's gone to this well (crime mob drama) MANYtimes and it's a bit stale.
- Paquian having so little in the trailer. Seems like a waste of a really strong actress. HOWEVER, say what you will about Scorsese not writing great female characters anymore, usually if he has one the actress will always elevate it.
- The effect of de-aging looks terrible. That might be because they aren't done yet, but it is concerning that DeNiro looks the same as a 40-something as he does a 70-something.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterChris

It's a yes. But possibly less of a yes than before the trailer. It feels so marketed to the Scorsese mafia fanboys that I can't imagine it being anything new and am I the only one who thinks the de-aging looks so superficial that it probably could be done much easier and cheaper using make up?

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBJT

Is this not the same movie he makes every few years? If not, then I'm still sure I've seen other variations on the theme before, and I didn't like them either. I'll go on record and say that De Niro, Pacino, and Scorsese never have done much for me, but even in light of that I do try to keep my mind open enough to their films as they come (like others, The Aviator remains my favorite Marty jam of the past twenty years). This, however?

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

Florals in Spring? Groundbreaking.

Not exactly re-inventing the wheel here, but Scorcese is rarely boring, so I'm a yes.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

Hmm, why does Pacino look like Andy Garcia? In what world does De Niro pass for Irish? (But I guess he couldn't be any more miscast than Johnny Depp in Black Mass.) 'I Heard You Paint Houses,' though a good title, now sounds awkwardly like 'The House That Jack Built,' does it not? For all of these reasons (and many more), I'm firmly a Maybe So.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

P.S. Isn't it amazing that Pacino has *never* done a Scorsese movie before? That's stunning to me.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Based on The Irishman trailer, I am a no. No offense, but that Scorsese cast is really past their prime, and the fact that's on Netflix makes it look very unappealing. I would watch if it got great reviews, of course, but from what I have heard, it's an expensive and wasteful vanity project.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTom Ford

I'm a YES! Scorsese is hit-or-miss with me, but every film he's done has been at least interesting. It took me a few viewings to warm up to Hugo, but now I adore it, The Wolf of Wall Street is a tough, but fascinating sit and Silence is gorgeous to look at and while a bit of a slog to sit through, is ultimately a study of faith like only Scorsese would dare bring to us (I'm one of the few people who apparently loves The Last Temptation of Christ).

I would also argue that Margot Robbie gives an impressive performance in The Wolf of Wall Street (it's the first film I ever saw her in, before that I had only seen her in the short-lived ABC drama Pan-Am, and she was leagues better in WoWS), and while the character is a little sketchy, I thought Vera Farmiga was terrific in The Departed. So, even though most, if not all Scorsese films are studies in masculinity, I feel he usually finds a place for women to shine (even if he only seems to have room for one major female character per film).

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

Nothing beats Judas from the Bronx

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterkris01

Yes- because Scorsese doing the mob is always a must

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

I'll watch it but that last shot of a "young" De Niro I hope it's cleaned up in time for release because I doubt I can take 3 hours (speculating) of it.

Also, does anyone know anything about the Scorsese movie starring Sharon Stone and Meryl Streep? It's apparently been shot and is in editing but there's been no major updates in quite awhile.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

If it's as good as WOLF OF WALL STREET, and there's no reason to believe it won't be, people will eat it up. It's exactly what people want from Scorsese. I'm guessing that, if anything, it will be overpraised and over-awarded. It could be this year's MILLION DOLLAR BABY: more Oscars for a previous winner who Hollywood has finally decided is absolute royalty, and he's giving them exactly what they want. Or.... It could just be another under performer like CASINO. In other words, "Maybe so."

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDaniella Isaacs

MDA: Hmm. No updates, but we know it's a biographical drama. We know Sharon Stone (61) and Streep (70) are the principals. We know Scorsese leans on OLD Hollywood. Could be the de Havillands, but, dollars to donuts, I'd bet on it being the Gish sisters. Sharon Stone as Lilian, Streep as Dorothy. And before you say "but Lilian was the older sister"? Dorothy Gish died after TWO YEARS of sickness. Can't imagine that not aging a person.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I'm a yes, but more interestingly.....

Can anyone tell me why this is a "teaser" trailer? Seems to have all the elements of an actual full trailer to me? (Is there a definition I am unaware of?)

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTravis C

Is it true that Stone and Streep did s movie together or is that an urban myth. Devastated about being fired again but it was not my fault.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterFaye

if i wanted to see a young pacino or de niro shoot people i'd watch the godfather movies again

but i don't want to - macho posturing bores me to snores

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterpar

Ooh, Oliva DeHavilland and Joan Fontaine would be good for Sharon and Meryl.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJane

Some of the comments here belong on Twitter.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMe

Is the Streep/Stone/Scorsese movie an actual thing?

August 2, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

Count me among those who had no idea that a Streep Stone Scorsese masterpiece (in my mind) existed.

August 2, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

Like Suzanne, I can't imagine how anyone who claims to love cinema would be a No on this movie. Come on. I'm personally not a huge fan of Scorsese or any of the actors, but I am a fan of cinema and the cast and crew have proven themselves enough over time to merit a resounding Yes. So they've had duds. Does that mean they can't surprise us again? The entitled nitpicking here can be really toxic.

August 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRon

I got the feeling Paquin WILL be nominated (by the way, high time they did) and I am still debating with myself if the child version appearing in the trailer is...

a) a child actor that resembles Paquin
b) a child actor with VFX to resemble Paquin
c) a deaged Paquin thanks to VFX

the fact I am unsure of which one it is, after many viewings of the trailer makes me guess this film will be a possible nominee at VFX

August 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

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