The Irishman Review — The Two Popes Review — 5.5 Hours of Old Mansplaining

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I know my The Irishman review and my The Two Popes review are going to get me in trouble, but two long Oscar hopefuls from the same studio based on men looking back gets old.

The Irishman Review the Two Popes ReviewThe Irishman Review the Two Popes ReviewI realize these films were created by some the greatest filmmakers of our time, and utilize talent that is practically sacrosanct. But the tired and cliched trope of telling a story with an older narrator revisiting his past is does not say much for their creativity. Perhaps I would have had more patience if one hadn’t been released on the red-slippered heels of the other.

Of the two, I’d say The Irishman is the better film, and it appears my critic colleagues agree, as it was nominated for 14 Critics Choice Awards and had a 96% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes last time I checked. Martin Scorsese’s mastery of filmmaking is undeniable in the rhythm, the magnificently extended shots and the sophisticated attention to even the smallest detail.

But the aging and de-aging process, while adroit, is somewhat distracting. See Robert De Niro as an old man in a rest home, see De Niro in his prime. Joe Pesci, Al Pacino and more get the same treatment. Perhaps casting younger men who didn’t move, or lumber like older men, would have been a better choice. You spend an awful lot of those three and a half hours wondering about the technique. At least it helps hold your interest for the duration.

The Two Popes didn’t indulge in that kind of special effects magic, casting Juan Minujin as a younger version of Jonathan Pryce, both of whom played the faithful and committed Catholic leader who would eventually become Pope Francis. Much of the past is narrated, telling us the story from the perspective of aged men, rather than showing us how things unfold organically. But kudos must be given to Pryce and Anthony Hopkins, as Pope Benedict, as the two wrestle with unprecedented and possibly scandalous circumstances that lead to the transition from one Pope to the other.

Both are big, meaty films well made. But I’m glad most people will have the opportunity to see them in their own homes, where bathrooms and snacks are more easily accessible and plenty of time can be put between one film and the other.

The Irishman is rated R

The Two Popes is rated PG-13

If this The Irishman review and The Two Popes review encourages you to watch in the comfort of your own home, find them on Netflix.

I know my The Irishman review and my The Two Popes review are going to get me in trouble, but two long Oscar hopefuls from the same studio based on men looking back gets old.

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.


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