I'm really curious as to how this fares on the small screen, because it starts slow and a little confusing. It ultimately morphs into a really great film, but definitely takes its time - given this is a film that has a framing device within a framing device, Marty is in no rush to get to the meat of things.
As soon as Pacino shows up, though, we're into vintage territory. Certainly the opening hours have the feel of the classics... but things are rather slower and more sedate, right down to the music. We see Frank's long induction into the mob and ultimately Jimmy Hoffa's immediate circle. Pacino as Hoffa is a goddamn sensation - he gives the film the kickstart it needs as it enters into its second hour, and the energy propels it throughout, even when it transitions into a deeply melancholic, funereal final act.
Oldfellas... No Country for Goodfellas... whatever you want to call it, this has a deeply autumnal feeling that makes it feel like something that can't be dismissed as Scorsese shutting up and playing the hits. The colour palette, the music cues, even the actors themselves ('cept Pacino, who's firing on all cylinders) - this is a subdued film, and its reflections on mortality are strangely moving even in the context of these murderous goons. There's still some super, pure Scorsese stuff in here
the long journey towards the film's pivotal hit is long and sad and tense in a fresh and unusual way) but the textures are different, and the film's all the richer for it.
So... the de-aging. It's a strange one. It's for the most part fairly seamless in a pure technological sense, but as is often the way with these things there's often strange quirks with the lighting or slightly off angles that lend an uncanny valley effect. The biggest problem IMO is that it's still clear there's a 75-year-old De Niro playing a much younger man. Pesci and Pacino get away with it, but there's one scene in particular - a beating outside a shop - where it's jarringly obvious that Bobby doesn't have the physical presence or posture of a 30-year-old (roughly). It doesn't hurt the film by any stretch and most of the film we're dealing with substantially older characters. But there's a definite disconnect there that made me wonder whether casting an older and younger generation might have worked better. Regardless, it is what it is, and it works well most of the time - and frankly always a pleasure to see such acting powerhouses give it their all. There's one scene late in the film :
that's just De Niro, a telephone and a voice on the other end - it's beautiful, sad and shocking all at once, with some superb acting from a man so rarely given this sort of material these days.
Anyway, overall we're dealing with a strong, thoughtful, reflective beast here - no doubt Scorsese et al (a retired Joe Pesci maybe excluded) have much more to say in the coming years, but this nonetheless has the lovely autumn - even crossing into winter - feeling of old masters reflecting on the passage of time. It's a sweeping epic that's intimate and melancholic, but honestly didn't feel the 3.5 hours go by at all. It's great filmmakers (Scorsese, Schoonmaker etc...) getting together with some of their great actors and friends. It is septuagenarians making the great septuagenarian mob movie.