You Won't Believe What's Holding Up Martin Scorsese's New Mob Flick, The Irishman

By now, we thought we would've watched (and rewatched) Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, the gangster flick we've been hearing, reading, and writing about since 2011, when Robert De Niro accepted the role.

De Niro, Scorsese, Pesci
Triumvirate: De Niro, Scorsese, Pesci

Netflix nabbed the rights to the long-gestating epic in 2017. The film, the acclaimed director's ninth outing with DeNiro, also stars Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, and Bobby Cannavale (who gave a stellar turn as Boardwalk Empire's villainous Gyp Rosetti.)

Based on I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt, the film tells the story of union strong-arm/Jimmy Hoffa confidant Frank (The Irishman) Sheeran.

The film will debut this fall. (Sebastian Maniscalco reportedly confirmed this on the Joe Rogan podcast, saying it'll be out this October.)

The Irishman was expected to be a smash at this year's Cannes film festival, but then Scorsese decided to use the same laborious VFX technology used in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in order to de-age the cast to play their 1970s-era characters in flashbacks.

Scorsese collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker said the VFX process is a pricey, risky endeavor, as per reports in Collider and Indiewire, which also say that Industrial Light & Magic is doing the work.

The film "would have easily been the biggest title at Cannes,” Variety reports.

While VFX is costly and time-consuming, it’s  also stunning. Producer Gastón Pavlovich has said: "You don't use prosthetics, make-up; they have acting, and the technology is able to have them go through different time ages without the prosthetics. So, we've seen some tests and it looks extraordinary."

While the film teaser doesn’t feature any footage (zero), it does offer dialogue (it kinda had to, otherwise there’d be nothing, right?). Pacino speaks the infamous line from which the book's title comes: “I heard you paint houses,” meaning, basically, I heard you shoot people, or something like that. (Though in the teaser it sounds sufficiently uninspired for us to think the recording is maybe from a table read.)

The teaser also displays the names of those involved in the film -- which is reason enough for us to wait another eight years, if needed.

De Niro, 72, plays Sheeran, the labor union official who confessed to killing Jimmy Hoffa shortly before his death in 2003. (He also claimed he killed Crazy Joe Gallo.) While the film takes place in the 1970s, when Sheeran was in his 50s, it includes multiple flashbacks to earlier decades.

Yes, there's many valid reasons not to believe Sheeran was the killer he claimed -- but why let that detract from what will hopefully be one of the greatest mob films in decades?

Netflix reportedly paid $105 million for global rights to the film, slated for a 2019 release on the streaming service.

De Niro, in addition to playing a role, helped Scorsese in developing the film production.

Pesci plays Russell Bufalino, the Sicilian-born former boss of the Northeastern Pennsylvania crime family. He ruled his organization from 1959 to 1989, and even though his crime family was not as powerful as say, the New York families in their glory days, Bufalino was nevertheless a significant force in the national Cosa Nostra.

Harvey Keitel plays Sicilian boss Angelo Bruno, the Philadelphia don blasted to death with a shotgun in 1980.

Bobby Cannavale plays Philly wiseguy Felix (Skinny Razor) DiTullio, "one of the Mafia’s most feared assassins," who taught Little Nicky Scarfo how to kill. The Friendly, the lounge bar DTullio owned, was featured in I Heard You Paint Houses.

The Friendly, the lounge bar DTullio owned,
The Friendly, the lounge bar DTullio owned.

In the book, Skinny Razor is described as the “number two man in Philly." DiTullio's lounge has been described as a veritable mob college, the place where Wiseguy 101 was taught by the consummate professional. (An awful lot of gangland hits allegedly occurred there, too.)

Acclaimed screenwriter Steven Zaillian wrote the script.