Martin Scorsese reunites with Robert De Niro in "The Irishman", a 3-1/2 hour long mob drama the acclaimed director said he chose to do with his frequent collaborator to build on their past work together rather than replicate it.
Set over several decades, "The Irishman" looks at a Pennsylvania organised crime family with Oscar winners De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci in the main roles.
The Netflix movie, which closes the BFI London Film Festival on Sunday (October 13), uses digital de-ageing technology to show the characters in their 30s and 40s.
De Niro, Pesci and Pacino are all in their 70s.
The project is Scorsese's and De Niro's latest collaboration following acclaimed works like "Taxi Driver", "Raging Bull", "Goodfellas" and "Casino".
"I was really looking for something with Bob (De Niro) to enrich more or less where we had gone in the '70s and the '80s and the early '90s," Scorsese told a news conference.
"To just replicate what we had been trying to do at the beginning of our careers wouldn't be enriching in any way." De Niro told Reuters on the film's international red carpet that it is the same crime genre as their previous work, but "it's ok if you have a good story and good characters and (you have) got to have a good outcome, story-wise." The film, which runs just short of 3-1/2 hours, begins with elderly narrator Frank Sheeran, played by De Niro, recounting his life.
Told in flashbacks, the audience sees him as a soldier, truck driver and eventually mob hitman after meeting organised crime boss Russell Bufalino, played by Pesci.
The plot, based on Charles Brandt's book "I Heard You Paint Houses", is tied to the disappearance of former U.S. Teamsters union boss Jimmy Hoffa, portrayed by Pacino in his first Scorsese collaboration.
The film, which has won rave reviews from critics touting it an Oscar contender, will have a limited theatrical run before and after its Nov.
27 Netflix release.
76-year-old Scorsese reiterated his comparison of superhero flicks to "theme park" films, where he said "theatres become amusement parks".
Asked about watching a younger version of himself using de-ageing effects as a kind of make-up and prosthetics, and how this will revolutionise filmmaking, De Niro said he was "if it works out, I'm ok with it." "The Irishman" also stars Harvey Keitel, Stephen Graham and Anna Paquin who attended on the night.
Keitel said reuniting with Scorsese and De Niro was a "good laugh" and "always wonderful".
Graham and Paquin said they found joining the Scorsese family "intimidating", but Graham said "there was not an ounce of ego between them".
Paquin said she "sweat out about ten pounds anxiety" after stepping on Pacino's feet during their dance scene, but got reassured by the "Scent of a Woman" actor that he had two left feet: "Jimmy Hoffa doesn't know how to dance." (Production: Will Russell and Lisa Giles-Keddie)