Jimmy Hoffa was apparently a man who enjoyed a good ice cream sundae and didn't take kindly to tardiness. The Irishman is out now with a limited run in theaters (shouts to The Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline) before it hits Netflix streaming at the end of the month.
Straight up - I had a blast watching this movie, and like most of Scorsese’s films, it’s the repeat viewing that will tell where it lands in his body of work. Everyone was fantastic, the de-aging (which I was worried about) looked great and Pacino ice grilling while eating a steak is a mood. No spoilers needed, you can read plenty about The Irishman already, just go watch it when it’s on Netflix on the 27th.
Now lets talk about one of Martin Scorsese’s (somewhat) hidden masterpieces The Color of Money...well at least criminally slept on masterpieces. TCOM continues the story of “Fast Eddie” Felson from the 1961 (maybe overly applauded) classic The Hustler.
In all honesty I can’t say I immediately liked The Color of Money when I first saw it. I was also 13 and more interested in Star Wars and Public Enemy than Tom Cruise or the game of pool. The latter still remains the same. Actually, The Firm is a work of art so maybe only part of that latter remains the same.
Sometime in the late 90’s I revisited The Color of Money and just got super into it. I think I saw Rounders first and gained a curiosity for these kind of “sports” movies. Anyone who knows me, knows I have zero interest in sports. Watching a card game is just as fun as seeing a tackle, and I can’t say either are that enjoyable. I watched a full Patriots game the other day (against The Eagles) and it was like watching paint dry. The main thing I took away from the game was that a show called God Friended Me exists, and everyone around me considered that god to be Brady.
So yeah, Color of Money. It’s a sequel where you don’t really need it’s forerunner to understand or enjoy the movie. Paul Newman plays the aged “Fast Eddie” perfectly, he walked away (or was retired by someone) from the game and doesn’t realize until he sees Vincent Lauria (Cruise) just how much he needs it back in his life. It = pool. Sure he’s hung around pool halls, is still staking bets for players but never had the desire to get behind the stick. Or pick up a stick. I don’t play pool, but pick up a stick sounds right.
One of my favorite opening scenes in any of Scorsese’s movies is in TCOM (I don’t think that acronym will stick) where Cruise and Turturro are playing off screen. During this scene Newman is trying the sell bootleg liquor (lmao) to his girlfriend at the bar (she is the manager/owner can’t tell which). Vince (Cruise) breaks up multiple 8 balls before gaining Fast Eddie's (Newman) undivided attention (“that kids got a sledge hammer break”). With one glaring look, as Fast Eddie turns in his chair, he returns to his former self who walked away from the game 25 years earlier.
Everyone talks about The Hustler, and I like it, I get it. I understand that at the time The Hustler was released it was a different kind of movie. There were a lot of interesting shots and yes the story is fantastic. Oh yeah...and Minnesota Fats has chubby hands like a cherub. Fast Eddie's words not mine.
But for me The Color of Money is superior.
Like most of Scorsese’s movies the music cuts hit at the right time and “One More Night” by Phil Collins is forever cemented into to this opening scene. (Just like “Head over Heels” in the school bus scene in Donnie Darko). From this moment it is clear that Newman and Cruise (and to an extent Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) all understand they need one another. Cruise and Mastrantonio are in the minor leagues, hustling for breakfast money, Newman as Fast Eddie (while successful hocking liquor) seemed lost in life, and from this moment they were a trio. Like Run DMC not the Beatles. (Still a v confusing line from the kings of rock). Seek this movie out, it’s not streaming anywhere that I know of, but is available on iTunes.
-George / 7L @dj7l