Episode 596: I Got Him Confused with the Actual Fat Tony

On the Overthinking It, we tackle Martin Scorsese’s Netflix movie “The Irishman,” starring Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino.

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Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather overthink The Irishman, an anti-mob movie mob movie which is also a meditation on death, American history, and the end of cinema.

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3 Comments on “Episode 596: I Got Him Confused with the Actual Fat Tony”

  1. John C Member #

    I’ve never been able to care about mob movies, but there’s definitely something to the comparison to westerns (on some level, at least) in that mobsters are essentially warlords who act like they’re civilizing forces, but are really just criminals. And parallel to the misguided current idea of Silicon Valley companies somehow replacing governments without pesky things like constitutions and civil liberties, I can remember a lot of my parents’ friends thinking that “the mob” should be put in charge of things.
    It’s almost the opposite of the cowboy-types that take the role of criminal (or, more specifically, outlaw, who’s neither bound nor protected by the law) but are forced to civilize the towns they come across.
    Beyond that, the discussion around the decline of the mob movie reminds me a lot of when it was announced that there weren’t plans to recast Indiana Jones to reboot the series, and I had to wonder how much of that is about the distaste for reboots versus how obsolete it feels to cheer on what’s basically a colonial white dude pillaging tombs to stock the museums back home. It’s not to say the movies aren’t fun, but it could be just as fun to have similar writing where his grandkid is fighting to repatriate stolen artifacts. In the same way, as I mentioned, a lot of what people used to feel about the mob, we now see in tech companies, and I wonder if that might fly better than yet another “Joe Pesci flies off the handle” scene.


    • Three Act Destructure #

      “This belongs in an intergovernmental committee-led repatriation effort by UNESCO!” – Chris Pratt (as Indiana Jones Jr.), 2022

      I’d watch that.

      Also, I’m curious in which part of the world people were taking the stance that the mob ought to run things.

      Personally, I could hardly care less for Italian mob pictures, especially ones in the Scorsese mold. I do have an affinity for The Godfather because it’s basically just Arthurian legend stuff dropped in the lap of mid-century New York but that’s about it.

      What I do dig though are Yakuza stories and gang stories, both of which are interesting contrasts to the specifically Italian-American Hollywood version of the mafia.

      The Yakuza are descendants of a feudal legacy and have their hands in a great deal of legitimate businesses. They see themselves as being part of Japan’s culture going back to well before the modern world and the current government. Their shakedowns are both a tradition and a tax, at least from their point of view. This is why you’ll often hear stories about them helping out in communities after disasters. They’re a part of their surroundings. Whether or not they should be is of course questionable but they’re integrated is my point.

      Similarly, there are a lot of gang stories that have to do with the relationship between certain neighborhoods and the violence there and how it is caused by and also affects the conditions of these places.

      The mob picture, on the other hand, is always that immigrant story, which could be pretty interesting. But the Hollywood version is incredibly insular. I don’t know that this is really fair to the reality of how these communities are and how they interact with the rest of the people around them. At least in The Godfather the characters are separated from society by privilege and wealth, which is sadly pretty believable.

      You usually have to at least step outside of the Italian stuff to get something that feels like a more convincing portrayal of a sub-culture. Scarface actually does this pretty well and I still think it’s a better movie than Goodfellas, in large part because of its ability to showcase these ethnic frictions.

      Also, just quickly on the point of Scorsese’s comments about movie-making, I think that the most important piece of his argument, or at least the part that I was laser-focused on, was his raising and immediate exorcising of the specter of socialized film financing. It wasn’t even a well-transitioned thought. It seemed to have just finally occurred to him, mid-paragraph, that, you know, there actually is a solution to all of these problems that he has. A solution that — uh oh — might mean that he would have to personally take a pay cut if he really cared about the “art” of it all so much. Best to squash out that thought before anyone gets any bright ideas.



      • John C Member #

        It’s hard to say precisely which subculture thought of the mob as sort of a libertarian-style government, because while I grew up (and still live) on Long Island (the enormous fish-shaped sandbar to the east of New York City) during the late ’70s and ’80s, my father ran a bar in the South Bronx, was born in the Depression, and spent time in the Navy. So, it could’ve been the area, could’ve been excitement about The Godfather, or could’ve been a racist thing about an Italian-American running a bar in a “scary” predominantly Hispanic neighborhood.

        But yeah, at some point, I was going to make a similar comment that I should have realized that Scorsese’s comments about Marvel not being “art” could only mean that he had a release coming out, like Spielberg’s “streaming shouldn’t be considered a movie” just before he was announced to be working on streaming content.

        I do wonder what the market would be for a “Woke Indy” series would be. Museum heists and fighting (fictionalized versions of) the Sacklers in the service of (a fictionalized) UNESCO sounds like a lot of fun to me, but I have to imagine it’d need to be more exposition-heavy (and maybe courtroom-heavy) than tomb-raiding.


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