De Niro/Scorsese Paint Houses For the Mob

October 2, 2008

Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro are reuniting as the classic mob-movie making team. Cinematical reports that the duo are going to make an adaptation of Charles Brandt's book, "I Heard You Paint Houses." The phrase is mob code for, "I heard you do contract killings," because these killings produce gory messes that have to be painted over.

Steve Zaillian is set to pen the script. This guys's got a pretty impressive resume; he also wrote Schindler's List, Gangs of New York and American Gangster. Which means the man can evoke pathos, but he also knows his thugs inside and out. That's a very necessary skill to have for a Scorsese movie about the mob, who probably knows it better than any living filmmaker other than maybe Francis Ford Coppola.

The film is based on Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran who, during his tenure in the mob, whacked over 25 people. De Niro will be playing Sheeran in the film. Sheeran claimed to have been the man to kill Jimmy Hoffa on the orders of Russell Bufalino, a mob boss who also had him dismember Hoffa. Of course, Sheeran wasn't the first -- nor will he likely be the last -- to have claimed to be the man hired to take down Hoffa. If he didn't lead the police to a grave with Hoffa's dental records, then I'm not convinced. And he didn't -- the FBI stopped looking for Hoffa in 2006.

Before Sheeran died in 2003 he told his life story to Brandt, who promptly put it down on paper and told what could be the last great mobster story of the 20th century. My only concern, believe it or not, is De Niro. The guy hasn't managed to rouse himself for a fresh performance since...Meet the Fockers. But we're going to need a little more than that for I Heard You Paint Houses, and after both his and Pacino's sleep walk through Righteous Kill... Well, let's just say I'm excited for this film, but very concerned.