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"As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster."
-- Henry Hill, Brooklyn, N.Y. 1955.
Gangsters are all around us. Everyone knows it, not everyone wants to accept it. "Goodfellas"--based on true events--explores the lives of gangsters, chronicling the events through the eyes of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), who gets involved with the Mafia at a young age and continues his "career" throughout the film.
As he gets older, he marries and has children, but still works for the organized crime family, under mob boss Paulie (Paul Sorvino); and he is friends with Jimmy (Robert De Niro), a calm, steady gangster; and Tommy (Joe Pesci), a wild man with serious mental problems.
Eventually Henry's life goes down the gutter, leading to drug abuse and paranoia, that leads to other unfortunate incidents that will be ruined if I type any more about them.
"Goodfellas" is one of the best films I have ever seen. It's a tour de force of breathtaking images, witty scriptwriting, superb acting and realistic violence.
Robert De Niro gives one of his best performances -- ever -- as Jimmy, even if he's not in the film as much as you might be lead to believe from the front cover.
Joe Pesci is in this movie about as much as De Niro, maybe a bit more or less. But when he's on screen there's no doubting he's on screen--he's very hard to miss. A short, deranged, loud-mouthed man with something wrong in his head. Someone makes an insult toward him and he shoots them, and then laughs. It's quite disturbing. I am a huge fan of Pesci, and I tend to love his characters, but he really makes you feel sick towards his character in "Goodfellas," while at the same time taking a strange liking to him. That just goes to show how good of an actor Pesci is.
Ray Liotta is perfect as Henry Hill. I can't think of a better actor to play him. He captures a sense of innocence yet at the same time a feeling of violence. I love the scene where he walks over to a man's house with a regular expression on his face. "What do you want, f&*^&?" the man asks. Liotta continues walking, takes out a gun, and starts to continually beat the man in the skull with the butt of his gun. As Henry walks back to his car, his face is disturbing and his expression stays with you for a long, long time.
Martin Scorsese is a brilliant director and his work here is fabulous; it's been recreated by other directors (namely Paul Thomas Anderson in "Boogie Nights") and there's a reason: it's great stuff. He totally deserved to receive Best Director in 1990, but of course he didn't. (Rumor has it the Academy frowns on Scorsese's use of racial slurs in his work. Oh boo hoo, get over it.)
The movie is based on the true-crime memoirs of the real-life Henry Hill, whose novel with Nicholas Pileggi -- "Wiseguys" -- was adapted into a screenplay by Pileggi and Scorsese. The book itself was fantastic and insightful; the screenplay is even better. The dialogue is incredible.
Anyway, "Goodfellas" has to be one of the best films I've ever seen--a true modern classic that will be remembered for what it is: One of the greatest tales told on screen. It's an offer you can't refuse!
If there was one word that I could use to describe Martin Scorsese's
"Goodfellas": it'd be priceless.
A surreal and deeply fascinating take on life of Henry Hill who was involved in the Mob for three decades and his rise throughout the time span (and Nicholas Pileggi's book "Wiseguy").
There isn't a single moment in the movie where it doesn't miss a beat, you could only tell by the atmosphere of the time period and it seems so real.
The performances in this film simply make it even more memorable and how the characters are portrayed here especially by Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci (who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor), and Paul Sorvino are believable and easy to understand that they were a family, very close and tightly knit to the core. Also, how director Martin Scorsese lets the movie pace itself and keeps the viewer off guard in what happens deserves a lot of credit.
Amazing is the one and only word to say for this film. I have always
thought that Goodfellas was one of the greatest films ever made and set
a landmark in the 90's or even in movie history. I bought Goodfellas
last week and I got to watch the film a couple days ago. I really just
couldn't lay my eyes off the film and everything about it was just
simply worth watching. The acting was excellent, Ray Liotta, Robert
DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, and other actors did great and
almost all of the characters they portrayed were 100% accurate. The
camera-work also was brilliant and Martin Scorsese does a beautiful job
by putting excellent camera shots in his films and I give him high
credit for that. The soundtrack too is one of the best soundtracks ever
made and the song "Layla," put chills down my spine of how great this
song fitted the film. Overall, Martin Scorsese made his best film in my
opinion and him and Nicholas Pileggi made an excellent and sharp script
that made this, the greatest mob film still today.
Hedeen's Outlook: 10/10!! **** A+
"GoodFellas" may be the most important film of the 1990s in the fact that its incredible success led to some of the other great movies of the decade. Films like "The Silence of the Lambs", "The Crying Game", "Pulp Fiction", "The Usual Suspects", "Fargo", and "L.A. Confidential" would have likely never been made as well as they were without the influence of Scorsese's "GoodFellas". The film is an intense study of a Mafia family over a 30-year stretch. Ray Liotta plays the half-Irish, half-Sicilian kid from Brooklyn whose only dream is to be a gangster. Although Liotta's story is at the heart of "GoodFellas", it is the supporting cast that is the film's calling card. Robert DeNiro gives one of his greatest performances, Paul Sorvino is quietly effective, and Lorraine Bracco (in an Oscar-nominated role) does the best work of her career. However, it is Joe Pesci (in his well-deserved Oscar-winning turn) who steals every scene as the one who does the "dirty work". This is probably the definitive film in a decade that produced many film-noir styled classics. 5 stars out of 5.
Scorcese & Pileggi's masterpiece on the life of Henry Hill as a
Brooklyn NY mob wise-guy.
As much as the true events of Henry's life have more than likely been dramatised and glamourised to a certain extent, the essence of this film IMO is that it is still a brilliantly damning portrayal of the characters and lifestyle of mobsters.
The sham of the mafiosi is exposed - preaching loyalty, respect & principles - but when it comes down to it they are just two-bit criminals that'll stab each other in the back for money or power over others. Each of them has an inflated sense of self-worth and stature that comes with being a "wiseguy", breeding with it paranoia that others are not giving them the respect they deserve.
An example is De Niro's portrayal of Jimmy Conway. His outward persona is that of a calm and reasonable nature. But really he is a paranoid killer who at the drop of a hat would kill even his closest associates for money. I use associates rather than friends, as their relationships are of tolerance rather than kinship. Distrust, hate and jealousy through the forced smiles.
Interesting that given this, certain people envy their life-style and would have loved to have been a wiseguy. I personally couldn't think of anything worse that being tied for life with having to keep the likes of Tommy company, but whatever rocks your boat. Some people have actually paid to see The Dukes of Hazzard film, so I shouldn't be surprised.
This is the gangster film at its finest. Scorsese is on top form as are Pesci and De Niro. Liotta has never bettered the performance he gives here. The film starts as it means to go on - violent, full of profanity, fast paced and very stylish. The story follows Liotta's character from boy to man as he climbs his way up through the ranks of organised crime. We see all the highs and lows of his life and meet a host of very believable and very undesirable characters along the way. It's a film full of memorable scenes whilst remaining much more than the sum of its individual parts at the same time. This is what all movies should be like. It draws you in and won't let you out of its grasp at any point. When it finishes you feel exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. If ever the word 'masterpiece' was meant to be used, it was for this film.
'Goodfellas' is a masterpiece, pure and simple. While not my favourite Martin Scorsese movie it is a stunning achievement, and one of his very best movies. The film is stunning technically. The consistently fine acting by the large ensemble cast (both known and unknown), the cinematography, editing, dialogue, brilliant use of music, it's all breathtaking. But Scorsese and co-writer Mitch Pileggi never lose lose sight of their main goal - to tell a story. And in that it's really hard to beat this movie. As to the actors De Niro is on top form, Ray Liotta is the best he's ever been, and this is Joe Pesci's definitive performance. Plus you have Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino, Michael Imperioli, and lots of well known faces in small but important roles (Debi Mazar, Samuel L. Jackson, Illeana Douglas, Kevin Corrigan), plus dozens of unfamiliar actors (and non-actors) who are all so good it seems unfair just to single out the "stars". (Also keep an eye out for Vincent Gallo in a few scenes. He has no lines, but looks cool!). 'Goodfellas' is (to date) Scorsese's last Great Movie, and one of the very best films of the 1990s. Absolutely essential viewing for any movie fan, this tremendous film is not to be missed! Highly recommended!
Needs to be seen to be believed; in one word: perfection. Every frame,
every voice-over, every song - it all comes together at the exact right
moment to create the perfect film experience. This film makes you
really understand and feel what makes the American mafia so compelling;
in the eyes of a kid, who was unfortunate enough to grow up in a tough
neighborhood, those gangsters are rock stars. Live fast, die young -
but when you die, it ain't gonna be of a glamorous suicide or drug
overdose - the ending will be brutal, ugly and sad. And it may very
well be one of your best friends that will blow your brains out.
I'll never get tired of watching Goodfellas; the entertainment value of this film is just amazing. It doesn't happen very often that every person involved in the process of making a film is at the peak of his/her game. And rarely do art and entertainment come together the way they did here. Storytelling with impeccable pacing, this is what it's like when a master composer conducts his masterpiece. All hail the king; the most versatile and talented filmmaker of his generation: Martin Scorsese.
My vote: 10 out of 10
Favorite films: http://www.IMDb.com/list/mkjOKvqlSBs/
Lesser-known Masterpieces: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls070242495/
Favorite TV-Shows reviewed: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls075552387/
In an ideal world, movies would be made without the aim for a certain rating. This article sums up why this is so important:
This is one hell of a film about the mobsters, based on a true story
and coming from one of the great directors of all time. This is about
Henry Hill, the narrator of the story, an Irish simple person who gets
involved with the Mafia at a very young age and continues his life
through it. There is no major plot in this film, just isolated
incidents one of which was the turning point of Hill's life. Scorsese,
as brilliant as he ever was, shows violence, sex and drugs etc in his
own trademark style. And his actors helps him to make this film one of
Robert DeNiro is not present in much of the film, nor his acting leaves too much impression. The three actors who really did their best job here are Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci and Lorraine Bracco. I hate to say that most youngsters today don't know too much about Liotta or how talented he was. I asked my younger brother about him and he said, "The man who did the voice on GTA: Vice City?". This is partly because Liotta did not get too many big roles after that, especially in recent years. But here he is just brilliant as Hill. It's Pesci's one of the best too. Playing a mad mobster with dark sense of humor wasn't his usual type. And Lorraine Bracco becomes the perfect lead female in such type of films.
The film's got smart screenplay and excellent cinematography. And I don't know how many times Scorsese will be denied his Academy recognition. I hate to see a lifetime achievement award as his first Oscar. But things are going like that.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Goodfellas makes you feel like you are watching guys that you know or knew.
To this day, I have a friend that still talks like Jimmy Two Times. He
always says things like "Nice Nice" and that was just a background piece in
Goodfellas. But that is the point, all that is background is just as
important as the main players and locales. It all paints us a perfect
picture of what mob life must be like. And with all due kudos to The
Godfather, but there is no other film that has ever made mob life look so
real and feel so tangible the way Goodfellas does.
To say that Joe Pesci is the best part of this film would be to discredit the rest of the cast, but at the same time, you have to mention him in some way. His portrayal of Tommy is haunting. Here is a man that is so insecure and wants to be the top dog, the made man so bad that he can't decipher between what is a joke and what is disrespect towards him. Of course the scene in question is when he shoots a common boy for telling Paulie to screw himself after Paulie shot him in the leg. You would think the guy has a right to let off a little steam and vent, but Paulie is always looking for the diss. He is always looking to find some hidden gesture from someone that is putting him down. Even at the beginning when he is getting on Henri in the now famous " You're a funny guy " scene. He is kidding with Henri but deep down inside he is angry with him, you can see it and feel it. Joe Pesci gave the performance of his career and he richly deserved to win best supporting actor that year.
The story and script by Pileggi is sheer inside brilliance. You can feel the inside observations that no one can have except for a guy that spent his whole life on the inside. They ring so true and they get into your blood. From scenes like the fat guy running around delivering messages to the other mob guys because he doesn't like to use the phone to the scene when Henri, Paulie and Tommy have Billy Bats in the trunk but they stop off at Tommy's moms house for a late night dinner of pasta and such. They also have to borrow a sharp knife to finish off the guy in the trunk, but to his mom they have to cut off the hoof of a dear that hit the car. And the scene where Tommy does kill the young kid for joking with him and then Paulie gets mad at him, not for killing the guy but because he doesn't want to dig a hole tonight. There are so many tiny observations in Goodfellas that give it the authenticity it has. And it is a film that stays with you for years to come. I think this is Scorcese's best film and although I understand and accept why the academy awarded Dances With Wolves the accolades it did, if this film would have swept the Oscars that year, no one would have been surprised. It is a landmark film and I think it is one of the best films ever made. And again, taking no credit away from Coppolla's Godfather epics, but this gets inside the mafia on a deeper level. It goes one step beyond what Coppolla gave us, and for that Goodfellas should be remembered as the best film about gangsters ever made.
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