Hoffa (1992)

A disappearance, a perfect combination of potential unsolved murder, and unfettered conspiracy theories. A ballet for intrigue and drama, especially if the victim is unassuming. When you got the disappearance of a guy whose fable was established long before his disappearance, a man who danced with saints and sinners, who fought the good fight shoulder-to-shoulder with evil itself. In 1992, Danny DeVito, David Mamet and representation by the great Jack Nicholson to tell the legend of Jimmy Hoffa.

Ciaro features heavily into the story, even in all the places

Following the rise and fall of one of the 20th centuries most perplexing labour union activists. The film chronicles Hoffa from his early rise in the 30s. After costing one Bobby Ciaro his job the two quickly become associates and then friends, as they recount their lives on that fateful day in 1975. Dealing with his defiant efforts to fight for workers, running for president of the union, getting involved with organised crime, and the events of his disappearance.

Hey, look at young John C Reilly here!

Director DeVito puts himself as Bobby Ciaro, a fictional composite that sticks with him throughout the 40 years saga. So we as an audience can see how this guy’s determination and acumen made him such a legendary figure. A guy who can recruit random strangers in need, who can go multiple rounds with Bobby Kennedy. You have, of course, Nicholson himself as Hoffa, who manages to switch seamlessly through charismatic champion of the people and a Machiavellian crime lord, Kind of like if his previous character, Jack Napier, didn’t fell into a chemical vat.

The film skillfully alternates between Hoffa’s struggles with the Teamsters…

Acclaimed writer David Mamet provides the script, so it feels acidly sharp, with the trademark colourful language. Some flashy transitions help condense the passage of time and used as a way to pass through time and back to 1975. Some aspects feel more embellished, especially at the last 10-minute mark when the film offers its interpretation on the end of Hoffa himself. At the time, it was a valid theory, and in a way, it does feel a fitting way to send off the tale that’s marred in adornment.

…and details of his corrupt dealings with the mob.

Though an hour and a half shorter than its successor, The Irishman, Hoffa still manages to tell a tale of heroes, morality, and crime. Focusing on the victim instead of the culprit, yet still marred with underground dealings that honour its crime genre equals. While it doesn’t feel like a documentary, simply retelling the facts, more of a retelling of the fable of Hoffa, told through the eyes of its loyalist lieutenant. Paradoxically being untrue and the truest way the story could be told. As with the whereabouts of Hoffa today, some truths will never be fully known, but it’s still fascinating to speculate.

Hoffa shows the fight between Kennedy and Hoffa as more one-sided than it appears, yet what do you expect from this dramitised take on its central character?

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