First, let's get the bad news out of the way (although this is just one person's opinion): Martin Scorsese's new gangster movie “The Irishman” is a three-and-a-half hour mess.
The technology with which Robert De Niro and the other characters were somehow supposed to be digitally altered in order to look much younger -- by decades, in some instances -- does not work at all.
As a result, you have no idea how old any of them are really supposed to be in the various time periods. Except for the many vintage cars used in the movie, these time periods are indistinguishable from each other anyway.
So are the scenes that are supposed to be in either New York or Philadelphia. The fact is, none of the movie was evidently shot in Philadelphia at all, even though substantial portions of its story have to do with the Philadelphia mob.
News flash: Philadelphia's old neighborhoods look nothing like New York's. For a lesson in telling the difference, please see “Rocky” (1976).
This lack of authenticity in the movie's shooting locations made an already confusing story even more convoluted and challenging to follow (much less care about).
“The Irishman” contains no climactic sequence of the sort that elevated Scorsese’s other mob pictures, “Goodfellas” and “Casino,” to legendary status among the mob-movie faithful.
The “Layla” sequence from “Goodfellas” and the “House of the Rising Sun” climax in “Casino” will both live forever on YouTube. It is difficult to imagine any scenes from “The Irishman” posted with similar reverence.
The best scenes in “The Irishman” were not the murders, but the many conversations held between various pairs of the movie's characters (such as the scene pictured above with Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro).
Many of these conversations, in which the participants talked so secretively that they had difficulty understanding each other, were hugely comical. This may not have been their intention, however.
Having said all that, watching “The Irishman” at home on Netflix cannot be entirely described as a waste of time.
Indeed, the experience of spending three-and-a-half hours watching this movie at home on a Thanksgiving weekend afternoon (as I did) was in many ways much more appropriate than venturing out to a movie theater to see it.
In fact, the one thing we agreed on here about the movie after we watched it was that, for us, it would not have been worth the $17-plus we would have paid for each of our tickets at a movie theater. By contrast, Netflix is only $7.99 a month for everything it offers.
In that context, a subscriber can decide to sit through all of “The Irishman” or not. If not, there is plenty of other content to watch. Seeing this movie in a theater offers none of that flexibility.
In addition, content seen on the streaming services can be paused at any time, and returned to at any time also -- even days later. Obviously, the movie theater experience cannot match that either.
As mentioned in a TV Blog last month about “The Irishman,” the fact that this movie was made primarily for Netflix (which paid for most, if not all, of its estimated $159 million budget) represents a milestone in the evolution of movies and TV.
Like so much else that has been disrupted by new technology in our society, the moviegoing experience -- particularly for a non-action movie such as this one -- is changing.
We recently went to one of our neighborhood AMC multiplexes to see “Parasite” (a great movie, by the way) and we were stunned at how rundown and lifeless the place was.
I would not have been surprised to see a tumbleweed suddenly blow across the stained, worn carpet as we made our way through a dim corridor to the “Parasite” screening room. It felt as if the owners of the theater have given up.
And maybe they have. With flat-screen TVs getting better and better, the home experience is getting close to replicating the theater experience when it comes to watching movies -- minus the tumbleweeds.