In their first feature length collaboration since 1995’s sprawling three-hour gangster drama Casino, director Martin Scorsese will soon be back on set with the actor who’s been one of his most crucial partners: Robert De Niro.
The Irishman: targeting a late 2018 release
De Niro’s performances in Scorsese films such as Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and The King of Comedy remain amongst his best work, and it’s been keenly felt that the pair haven’t made a film together for over two decades, besides 2015's 16-minute short The Audition. Thankfully, they’re finally reuniting for the long-in-gestation gangster film The Irishman, an adaptation of Charles Brandt’s non-fiction book I Heard You Paint Houses.
Film enthusiasts are rightly excited for the project, which is also set to co-star Al Pacino and the little-seen Joe Pesci (Pesci is all but retired from acting). De Niro, Pesci and Scorsese start shooting The Irishman in February, and it’s set to be a highlight of their hardly shabby careers.
Still, there’s no need to wait for big screen Scorsese, as this month alone, two of his films are on release. Pesci memorably won an Academy Award for his supporting role in Goodfellas (if you’ve never had the pleasure of the “funny, how?” sequence, it’s genuine cinema gold; a perfect scene of tension, control and release), and the 1990 classic is heading back to the big screen on 23rd January in a glorious new 4K remaster (get times and tickets here).
Silence: out now
There’s also, of course, Silence (get times and tickets here), which was released on New Year’s Day. This is a film Scorsese has been developing for over two decades. An acclaimed, divisive and patient historical drama, it follows two Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who find their faith tested in a trip across Japan in search of Liam Neeson’s Father Ferreira.
Scorsese’s previous work has hardly shied away from religion – take 1988’s The Last Temptation of Christ – but Silence is arguably his most personal examination of faith, God and sin. It’s unlike any film released in the last year. Beautifully shot and breathtaking on the big screen, it’s a testament to a filmmaker who’s now in his 70s and still pushing the boundaries of what film can do.
But then he’s always done that, right back to his breakthrough in the 1970s. Due for a big screen re-release later this year, Taxi Driver is a still-staggering, still-relevant drama. De Niro plays Travis Bickle, whose journey from a lonely cab driver to someone far more terrifying hasn’t lost a jot of its grip, nor its poignancy. Whenever De Niro unites with Scorsese, his best work emerges. Even something seen (unfairly) as a little more throwaway like their 1991 remake of Cape Fear sees De Niro pitch his character Max Cady at the sinister edge of believability, especially in the chilling scenes he shares with Juliette Lewis. Scorsese lets the moral ambiguity of the characters play out, and there’s – arguably, with the exception of the ending – barely a false note in it.
Most cinephiles are well aware of the Scorsese big hitters, though, and if you haven’t had the pleasure of watching the films mentioned thus far, as well as the likes of Raging Bull, Mean Streets, The Departed and Hugo, then you’ve got a lot of treats ahead of you. So industrious is Scorsese that he’s also the director of some quality documentaries, which he uses to break up his bigger film projects. His 2014 feature The 50 Year Argument is one example, which charts the influence of the New York Review of Books.
Across film and television, Scorsese has amassed nearly 60 credits to date, continues to produce films for filmmakers he wants to help out (most recently with Ben Younger and the film Bleed for This), and has several more films in gestation. His résumé is the envy of every living American director. Silence continues that legacy – and I'm confident The Irishman will follow suit.
Start your big screen Scorsese-fest with Silence, out now (book here), and follow it up with Goodfellas, out 23rd January (book here).