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It is wonderful news that the end-of-year holiday movie season has begun, because it means that we're going to start getting access to movies for grown-ups. There are two of them I want to recommend toi you this week.

The Irishman, Martin Scorsese's new epic gangster movie, is an extraordinary piece of work. It is completely worth the 3.5 hour run time … I urge you to pour yourself a tall drink, get some take-out, and settle down with Netflix for what easily is one of the best movies of the year.

Robert De Niro, Scorsese's muse since Mean Streets in 1973, plays Frank Sheeran, the real-life Irishman of the title, who finds himself drawn into the mob life in the fifties and sixties, valued by the bosses because he is willing to sublimate whatever ethics he has to their needs and desires. Al Pacino plays Jimmy Hoffa, for whom Sheeran finds himself working, even as the union boss's behavior grows more provocative and erratic; it is only a matter of time before Hoffa has to face his inevitable reality. And Joe Pesci is simply amazing as Russell Buffalino, a Philadelphia mobster who becomes Frank's rabbi; Pesci is known for big, expressive performances, but here he is all understatement and quiet threat.

The Irishman has gotten a lot of attention for the de-aging digital technology that allows De Niro, Pacino and Pesci to play their roles over a period of decades. It is largely successful and not very intrusive. One can't help but be aware from their movements that these actors all are in their mid-to-late seventies, but since the whole thing is presented as a kind of memory play - Frank reminiscing about his life in the mob - it works.

But what really is impressive about The Irishman is the elegiac nature of the movie. Nothing about the mobster life is glamorized here; rather, we have a sense of how much of these men's souls have been eroded by their decisions and predilections.

And yet, The Irishman moves in and out of their lives with confidence and unerring film style. This is Martin Scorsese, one of the best filmmakers of his generation, working in the same genre as his Goodfellas and Casino, exposing people souls and hearts as he makes yet another movie masterpiece.

FYI … The New Yorker had a review suggesting that The Irishman doesn't lose any potency when seen on TV via Netflix instead of on the big screen. I have no idea, because I only watched it at home … but I can tell you that it was compelling for the whole 3.5 hours.

See it.



Knives Out is a hoot, and wonderful. Director Rian Johnson has crafted a Murder On The Orient Express-style mystery that has a big house, a murder victim (Christopher Plummer, delightful as always), a family gathered and loaded with motive-rich suspects (Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Ana de Armas), and an idiosyncratic detective named Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) charged with figuring out whodunnit.

It is all great fun - cleverly scripted, sharply directed, and acted with verve by a bunch of actors who look like they are having the time of their lives. It is the perfect antidote to our grim times, and I hope that we see a lot of Benoit Blanc down the road. He could be our Southern fried version of Hercule Poirot.

See it.



My daughter Allison decided she wanted to find a new craft cocktail for Thanksgiving, and so when my son David and I came home on Thanksgiving afternoon after seeing Knives Out (a movie on Thanksgiving afternoon is one of our traditions), she presented us with a drink made with 2 oz. of apple cider, 2 oz. of ginger beer, 1.5-2 oz. of Tito’s, and a little bit of caramel syrup mixed in.

When she described this concoction to me, to be honest, I was a little dubious … but it was delicious - absolutely perfect for sipping while sitting by the fire. And so, I pass it along to you.



That's it for this week … have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

Slàinte!
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