FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2019 file photo, Martin Scorsese attends the premiere for "Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band" on day one of the Toronto International Film Festival at the Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. Scorsese’s crime epic “The Irishman” is set to make its premiere at the New York Film Festival. The director’s 209-minute opus, starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, is among the most anticipated films of the year. It will play first for members of the press Friday, Sept. 27, and then have its red-carpet premiere in the evening.(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Scorsese's 'The Irishman' premieres in New York

September 27, 2019 - 3:58 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman" premiered Friday at the New York Film Festival, revealing the director's long-awaited, 209-minute crime drama opus.

Though its genre and cast, including Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, has led to some expecting a gangster movie in the mold of "Goodfellas" or "Casino," ''The Irishman" is a more reflective, less flashy rumination on morality, violence and American power. The movie features performances by De Niro, Pesci and Al Pacino that, through de-aging visual effects, span decades.

"The Irishman" was screened for members of the press Friday morning at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall ahead of its evening red-carpet premiere as the opening night gala for the New York Film Festival. The film's debut has loomed like few other events on the film calendar, and it found a largely enthusiastic response from critics.

The film is also one of Netflix's biggest bets yet. The streaming company plunked down $160 million to make "The Irishman" after other studios passed. Scorsese, speaking in a Q&A alongside cast and producers, said that Netflix was the only one willing to bankroll the movie.

Scorsese called his film "an interesting hybrid" as both something made for theaters and for watching at home.

"All of us now are in an extraordinary time of change," Scorsese said. "But when it comes down to it, I felt — Bob (De Niro) felt — the picture had to be made for ourselves."

Based on Charles Brandt's book "I Heard You Paint Houses," ''The Irishman" has been in development, on and off, for more than a decade. It stars De Niro as Frank Sheeran, a mafia hitman and high-ranking Teamster official. Shortly before his death, he confessed to killing Jimmy Hoffa (played by Pacino). "The Irishman" survey's Sheeran's long life in crime. But where "Goodfellas" was glamorous, "The Irishman" is sober.

It's a big statement for the 76-year-old director. Scorsese and his producers offered some impressive statistics on the movie's scope: 108 days of shooting, 117 locations, 309 scenes.

The ambitious size of "The Irishman" is part of what scared away other studios, as was the expensive de-aging process used to make De Niro, Pesci and Pacino appear years younger in significant sections of the movie. Nine cameras were used to film those scenes.

Scorsese initially did a screen test and compared his digitally altered De Niro to the De Niro of "Goodfellas." When the actor, 76, saw himself de-aged, he joked that he could extend his career another 30 years.

Scorsese described the intensive effects process as much more than making their faces more youthful.

"It isn't just about noses and computer imagery, it's about posture, it's about movement, it's about clouding the eyes," said Scosese, noting that meant giving De Niro directions like reminding him that he had to stand up from a chair "like you're 49."

For many, the biggest excitement about "The Irishman" is seeing Scorsese and De Niro back together for the first time since 1995's "Casino." Pesci has acted only a handful of times in the two decades since "Lethal Weapon 4." And even though many assume they've made films together, this is Scorsese's first movie with Pacino.

"Finally," the director said.

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