The Irishman Soundtrack

Martin Scorsese’s latest gangster flick, The Irishman, continues the tradition of pairing fantastic needle drops with his storytelling, making for an aural landscape that uses songs to help accentuate jumps in time and location. Working in consultation with longtime collaborator Robbie Robertson, his latest film contains numerous songs both popular and obscure that help tell the story of Frank Sheeran.

Scorsese has had more than his fair share of iconic musical movie moments, from Mean Streets (The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby”) to Goodfellas (the piano outro from Derek and the Domino’s  “Layla”) and Casino (The Rolling Stones’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’”). The Irishman treats its music in slightly different ways, eschewing some of the bigger montage moments for deeper integration and long periods where there’s gentle underscore rather than wall-to-wall pop songs.

Here are some stories about certain key tracks that Scorsese and his team have used in The Irishman, as well as a complete soundtrack listing in case you wish to replicate it for your own playlist.

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midway trailer new

For much of the 1990s, Roland Emmerich was the king of blockbuster cinema. The Stutgart born director found in Hollywood the perfect toolbox for his grand visions, hitting big with sci-fi thrillers like Stargate and Independence Day, the late-90s Godzilla chapter, and old-school disaster films like The Day After Tomorrow and 2012. After 2016’s sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence, he returns to the big screen with his Word War II epic Midway.

The film, with an ensemble including the likes of Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Woody Harrelson, Tadanobu Asano, Etsushi Toyokawa, Mandy Moore and Dennis Quaid, tells the events surrounding the attack on Pearl Harbor and eventual battle in the mid-pacific through the eyes of these characters. Splitting the decision-making of the leadership from quotidian bravery (or cowardice) of the regular soldier, the film’s expansive look at the battle rarely descends into dogma, instead tries through its mix of spectacle and character beats to provide a thrilling film that still feels at its core more than mere escapism.

/Film spoke to Emmerich about this push to provide nuance in the telling of the story, how other productions shaped the long genesis of this production, and what how he feels the creation of these kinds of stories have changed over the last few decades.

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guillermo del toro on the irishman

What makes Martin Scorsese’s films so indelible is the world he creates, populated by dozens of characters that all in their way shape our perception of the environment he creates. The main players in his news movie, The Irishman – played by Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci – capture most of our attention, yet there are dozens of other performers both known and unknown that always bring their own magic to the big screen.

For years the Israeli-born, New York-raised Danny Abeckaser was a “club guy”, shepherding models to various events, planning massive parties, and making sure that his clients were taken care of. He helped open some of the biggest nightclubs around, and hustled in that world for years. In 2010 he followed his passion into filmmaking, helping produce Kevin Asch’s Holy Rollers, which found critical notice following its Sundance debut. Over the years he’s done a number of independent productions and character roles, including several under the direction of Martin Scorsese.

In The Irishman Danny is credited as “Louie the Deadbeat”, one of those relatively simple roles than in a lesser film would be forgettable. In Marty’s world, however, no scene is superfluous, and thanks to Abeckaser’s unique look and some improv with De Niro, he’s immortalized in this truly remarkable film. /Film spoke with Abeckaser about this role, how it affects his own creative pursuits, and just what it’s like to be working with masters of filmmaking craft. 

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jojo rabbit clip

The ads describe Jojo Rabbit as being from the “visionistical” director Taika Waititi, and somehow there’s no better world to describe this iconoclastic auteur. While the world took notice when he was picked to helm Thor: Ragnarock, fans have long sought out his unique blend of comedy and pathos in films like Eagle vs Shark, Boy, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and the gloriously batty What We Do In The Shadows

Jojo is presented as an anti-hate satire, and some loved it – /Film’s Chris Evangelista called it “a workd of strange magic” – while some critics battled against its charms, unable to be swayed by the tonal shifts and mix of whimsy marred by an undercurrent of terror. The audience at TIFF cast the definitive vote, declaring it the best-of-fest People’s Choice winner.

Following the film’s first screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, Taika and his cast took the stage to answer a few questions where they revealed more about the challenges of getting the tone right, of the inspiration for some of the character performances, and how the whole thing came together. The director was joined on stage by Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen, Roman Griffith Davis and Thomasin McKenzie. Now the that film is in theaters, we have compiled the best and most interesting quotes from this Q&A.

These comments have been edited for clarity and concision. 

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joker review

In less than a week, Joker has amassed a fortune despite a decidedly mixed critical reception. The film took the top prize at Venice, but a large number of critics (primarily American) have excoriated the film as being inappropriate if not downright dangerous, with many other commentators spilling buckets of ink on the topic before they even screened the film.

Given the film’s obvious debts to the works of Scorsese (The King of Comedy above all, with a dash of everything from Goodfellas to Bringing Out The Dead thrown in for good measure), it’s no surprise that the film is littered with needle drops that include show tunes, cabaret numbers, stadium hits, and excerpts from film scores. The evocative musical themes by composer Hildur Guðnadóttir are particularly effective in setting the mood, but there are dozens of other musical pieces used to tell the tale of Arthur Fleck.

Here are the tracks from Joker’s soundtrack, as well as some background on how these songs gained fame, how they work in the film and some surprising connections outside the narrative that shape how we hear these pieces in the context of Todd Phillips’ film.

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Deerskin review

Have you ever loved a jacket? I mean really loved a jacket? Ruined your life for a coat? Destroyed your marriage and your finances for cool-looking cool-weather clothing? Have the fringes on your outfit caused you to live a fringe existence, evaporating your sanity, and driving you to a rampage? And was your outfit made out of Deerskin?

Director Quentin Dupieux’s new film will certainly speak to anyone with a dash of fashionphilia, or even a simple desire to rid the world out of outerwear. It’s a completely bonkers exercise in lunacy and cold, calculated obsession, all revolving around a really groovy suede outfit. Read More »

Hope review

Scandinavians know how to draw out operatic misery from quotidian life, and Hope, filmmaker Maria Sødahl’s masterful take on a couple in crisis, illustrates just how effective delving into the misery of brokenness can be. Read More »

parasite us release

In my review from Cannes I described Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite as “a film that unabashedly takes the audience along for a twisty, twisted ride and gets under your skin. With mind-warping shifts in tone and storyline, there’s a feeling that you’re getting more bang from Bong than in a dozen lesser films.” I continue to believe that “it’s a mighty work from a mighty director, and a master who schools the world on how a film like this can be so deftly pulled off.” The jury shared my feelings, awarding the film the prestigious top prize, the Palme d’or.

Months later, my acclaim for the film has grown even higher. I somewhat facetiously wrote for its TIFF premiere that if you really don’t like Parasite it’s incumbent upon you to watch it again. There’s such a purity of vision and precision of craft that it’s easier to find fault in viewer rather than the work itself. It’s that rare movie that truly can, and should, transcend mere discussions of preference. This is a major work, and to argue otherwise seems more than a bit churlish.

It was thus all the more of a pleasure to sit down and speak with Bong during his stay in Toronto. I asked questions in English and he’d reply in a mix of English and Korean (aided by his exceptional translator), and for we discussed the many ingredients that go into making a film like this work. 

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Sea Fever Review

The open ocean has long been the stuff of nightmares, with suspicion and superstition developed over millennia by seafarers. On old maps they would write “there be dragons”, and the oft-quoted fact is that we know more about the surface of the moon than the deepest waters of our planet. Neasa Hardiman’s Sea Fever trades on the fear, fascination and exploitation of the depths, resulting in a film that’s both harrowing and intelligent. A rare mix indeed.

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The Twentieth Century Interview

Matthew Raskin’s film The Twentieth Century is a fever dream of a biopic, using geometric sets and oblique references to historical facts to tell a curiously ahistorical tale about William Lyon Mackenzie King becoming Prime Minister of Canada. Joining a long list of weird and wonderful films to emerge from Winnipeg, Raskin’s film is an audacious and unapologetically odd film. His feature debut follows on a number of shorts that also displayed an oblique view of the past, making for a surreal and engaging work that will likely enthrall and confound in equal measure. 

/Film spoke to Matthew prior to the film’s World Premiere as part of the Midnight Madness slate at TIFF 2019.

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