Tuesday, January 21, 2014

246 of 1001 Movies: Goodfellas (1990)

Martin Scorsese is known for making some of the most compelling gangster movies there are. With Casino and The Departed, there is also Goodfellas. Goodfellas is set apart somehow with a more Godfather like story. It's filled with as much backstabbing, violence, and crime as any of the others though. The stars though feel like they could be a continuum from another movie. They make these characters just as compelling though as any others they've portrayed.  I'm going to assume that the reason Goodfellas is more popular is because it was made before Casino's release, so it was the start of something good for Scorsese.

Summary: Henry Hill thinks he has fallen into luck when he is accepted into the lifestyle of the neighborhood gangsters. They basically adopt him as one of their one even though he is part-Jewish and part-Sicilian. For a kid who struggled to fit into his own family this gives him a place to call home. Henry continues to climb the ranks of crime and achieves wealth and a family, but eventually crime is going to backfire. As the years pass the crime only gets worse, and the greed is stronger. With the risk of jail, and much worse death the crew continues on. When their livelihood is threatened they will do anything to cut ties though.

Acting: Even though Robert De Niro is front and center on the cover, and portrays an intriguing character, James Conway, he also never was in the movie as much as I had hoped. His parts also amp up the interesting factor of the movie though, and De Niro always makes for a good mobster. Ray Liotta is what I would consider the one that the story centers around though as Henry Hilly. He's the one we follow and grow with, and even though he isn't that likable for some reason you don't want to see the worst happen to him. Joe Pesci feels like what is a familiar character to himself. He is Tommy the guy who is explosive and unpredictable. Pesci plays it well, but not quite anything new. Lorraine Bracco as Karen though is really intriguing, and she brings to life that unique, female to the Scorsese scene that he seems to like involving in his movies. She doesn't mind flaunting her wealth and her want for more of it, but gets mixed up in the wrong things willingly.

Filming: The movie is shot with a way that captures the action and the characters with a lot of personality. This movie also proves that Scorsese's favorite song must be Gimmie Shelter. It's a great song, but he features it in every mob movie so far. Scorsese though is good about making a long movie contain no wasteful element. It's what he excels at. Most directors struggle to make a movie over two hours feel like it is worth spending that many hours with, but Scorsese lets his movies play in a way that you feel you are actually spending time with the characters in his movie. Everything from the shots to the way the music is put with the movie is aligned for perfectly. The attention to detail is very spot on.

Plot: I like the way the plot is paced. I feel that I like the plot of Casino better, but Goodfellas is right behind it. Of course the fact that Goodfellas is based on a non-fiction novel amps the interesting aspect up a lot. Henry Hill was a real guy, and what happens in this movie is real, and that keeps it more intriguing than it would be if it was fiction. It's strange to think that Henry's life wasn't just a movie, but one that he lived out and great in the mob in. If you don't know Henry's story then you might be watching very closely to see what's going to happen to him and his family.

Goodfellas is a mobster classic. Depending on how much you enjoy watching a movie filled with unlikable characters will determine your response. That was the only thing I struggled with, and that was that these people didn't particularly have any redeeming qualities about them. They all just wallow in greed for as long as they can. For some the story is entertaining enough, and it is a look into the corrupt and wrong aspect of being human without trying to sugarcoat it.

Rating 8.5 of 10.

Goodfellas (1990) on IMDb

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