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|Index||934 reviews in total|
This has everything a movie should have. A great story, acting, cinematography, direction, (I will never understand how Scorsese did not win his 1st Oscar!) production values, I can go on and on. There is nothing that isn't done perfectly on this film. If this were to come out in any given year it would be considered a classic. I understand that there are the hardcore devotee's to The 1st two Godfather films, but to me (and many others) this is the quintessential gangster film. I used to watch this film over and over and I usually try and nitpick even some of of the all time great films, but there is nothing I can pick on in this film! I had kind of seen Scorsese films before and really liked most of them, (Taxi Driver, & Raging Bull especially) but ever since "Goodfellas" I would follow everything he did. I didn't follow the Oscars when I was a kid, but was shocked to learn this didn't win Best Picture however the fact that "Dances with Wolves" did was one of the few times I wish the Oscar should could have been shared. As much as I loved "Wolves" "Goodfellas" has held up as the better picture. If you haven't seen this film and consider your self a serious film afectiando you need to see this before you are laughed at by actual filmphiles.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Goodfellas" is championed as a "gangster movie", but like most of
Scorsese's pictures it's also a religious movie concerned about the
destructive aspects of devotion. The film begins with one of its few
moments of authenticity a nightmarish sequence in which several
gangsters knife a man to death in the trunk of their car - before
zooming into the starry eyes of Henry Hill, a low level gangster who
begins the film's narration with a heartfelt, "As far back as I can
remember, I always wanted to be a gangster."
But Henry's recollections are not meant to be trusted. He's so obsessed with "gangsters" that his romantic view of crime eventually becomes akin to Scorsese's own faith in both cinema and Catholicism. We watch as Hill devotes himself to the hoods above him, a criminal clergyman who worships at the altar of the Mafia's glamorous lifestyle. As a kid, he gazes longingly at the neighbourhood gangsters as if they were gods. To Hill, being a gangster is better than being the President. Being a low level mafia "somebody" is better than being a regular "nobody schnook". Of course, the irony is that Hill's Irish ancestry prevents him from ever climbing the Mafia ranks. He rises from alter boy to priest but is unable to climb any higher, stuck in the very "blue collar" life he deplores.
Released by Warner Brothers in 1990, "Goodfellas" follows the same "rise and fall" narrative progression as all the early Warner Brother "machine gun operas" of the 1920s and 30s. Films like "Little Caesar", "The Public Enemy" and "Scarface" all presented fairly simple critiques of crime, their first halves containing "heroes" who climb the ranks of the criminal underworld, crime aestheticized through the power of celluloid, whilst their second halves showed the "hero's" world collapsing inexorably around him. The message: crime is seductive but ultimately doesn't pay.
Scorsese disguises his simple narrative with a frenzied style that might be described as "anecdotal" or "documentarian", but it's the same tale. We, like Hill, are seduced by crime, by the sheer sexiness of Scorsese's technique, before being subjected to a long 30-minute tonguelashing in which Hill's life comes crashing down.
During this sequence, Scorsese revokes every technique he employed during the film's first two acts. Consider the way Scorsese shows us Hill's cocaine fuelled dash through the daily minutia of his life, the director's once lyrical long takes and smooth tunes now choppy, unsettling and paranoid. The point: Henry's life is a dream, a complete fabrication, the audience suckered into accepting the image-lie. Henry articulates this himself when he says he was "living in a fantasy", we the audience finally learning that our perception of mafia life is built upon artifice. Such a postmodern stance - "Goodfellas" is about the falsity of itself - is in many ways deeply pessimistic. The message isn't that "crime isn't seductive" so much as its "crime is seductive only because it has never been truthfully rendered".
The film ends with the image of a gangster firing his gun directly at the audience. This is a homage to "The Great Train Robbery's" final scene, which 90 years ago caused audiences to flinch in their seats with terror. Scorsese's choice of referencing this shot neatly encapsulates how cinema audiences are still captivated by the charisma and violence of the criminal. But the scene also has the unintentional effect of showing how impotent the gangster has become. Devoid of new ideas, the gangster genre requires escalating levels of violence, camera pyrotechnics and swearing to hook audiences. Simply pointing a gun no longer has an effect.
In "Projections 1", director John Boorman criticises "Goodfellas", writing: "Marty's camera caresses them, celebrates them, dances attendance on them like the most sycophantic fan. This sets up an uneasy tension in the audience. When a movie is as well made as this, we are seduced. Our moral judgement collapses."
But seduction is the very point. This is not a film about gangsters, this is a film about gangster films. It is a film about the seductiveness of technique. A TV series like "The Sopranos" would take this further, presenting gangsters who are so seduced by false images of themselves that they consciously act like the image. What this leads to is a continual distancing effect. We move further away from the "truth" of crime, instead getting increasingly hyper-mediated levels of "fake". What's problematic is that "Goodfellas" - which feigns sophistication by being upfront and ironic about its fakeness - always gets touted as a factual and authentic account of crime, when its actually got more in common with something like "Pulp Fiction", in that both films are relatively substanceless joyrides with a surfeit of style.
More interesting are the film's "religious aspects". Henry renounces his ideals and is promptly excommunicated from the mafia for heresy. For his sacrilege, the life he once worshipped so devoutly is taken away. The worship and devotion to something, the constant testing of one's faith and the inevitable disgrace that occurs when one cannot possibly live by an imposed morality any longer, are themes that permeate all of Scorsese's films. Harvey Keitel's "faith in his brother" in Mean Streets - a faith that is tested and then shattered - is very much the genesis of all these ideas.
7.9/10 "Goodfellas" abounds with contradictions. It probes the fraudulent cinematic image of mob glitz whilst relying ("Funny like a clown? I'm here to amuse you?") on the very traits it undermines. But really, the film represents the inability of the maverick directors of the 70s to push cinema any further; most simply sought comfort in nostalgia. Luckily today's new wave of modernist crime films (led by "The Wire") make an effort to map our increasingly complex world, which is why they are so murky and labyrinthine, compared to, say, the easily resolved conflicts of "The Departed".
Quite simply one of the greatest movies of all time, the Deniro Scorcese partnership in full flow Pesci is absolute genius Liota inspired,and Sorvino well it was the role he was born to play. The casting is inspired the editing the best in Film history and the narrating even inspired the Shawshank redemption. Its iconic, slick, cool, over violent and sickening all screwed into one great movie. There's really nothing else that need be said about this film which is perhaps the greatest ever and in my opinion far superior to the great yet overrated godfather. It's just absolutely flawless, and if pushed to find one i'd say its the fact that the budget isn't large enough
One of the best and funniest lines in an excellent movie.
Goodfellas is, in my opinion, one of the best movies Scorsese's ever made. It has such great momentum, both dramatically and visually. Ballhaus and Schoonmaker are really at the top of their game in this movie. Fantastic.
But it's all in the story. If you don't have it on paper, it doesn't matter how many cool camera angles or transitions you can come up with. The movie runs for almost two and a half hours, yet it never gets boring. It always manages to get, and keep, you interested. The script is perfect. I normally have sort of a problem with voice overs. As Brian Cox says in Adaptation: "God help you if you use voice-over in your work, my friends. God help you. That's flaccid, sloppy writing. Any idiot can write a voice-over narration to explain the thoughts of a character."
But here it works wonders, it helps to propel the story along with the excellent soundtrack.
And the characters... The names alone... Jimmy Two Times, Johnny Roastbeef, Joe Buddha... Why don't we see people like Frank Cicero and Frank Vincent in more movies?
Not to mention Ray Liotta. I don't get why he isn't hired more often. Regardless how bad the movie is, he usually is able to make something interesting and/or funny out of his character. Take "Copland" or "Hannibal" or "Heartbreakers" or "Blow" or why not "Narc"? Well, as always, there are exceptions. I wouldn't see "Operation Dumbo Drop" or "Escape from Absolom" again, even if my life depended on it...
Joe Pesci is... ...well, he's Joe Pesci in this movie. But I gotta hand it to him, no one can pull off a Joe Pesci like he can! He IS funny like a clown, and he DOES amuse me!
Robert De Niro's perfect as the laid back gangster Jimmy Conway who just explodes with fits of rage.
As I said, one of Scorsese's best. He's one of my all-time favourite directors, but I just wish he'd stop making cr*p like Gangs of New York. The Special Edition of Goodfellas is coming out on DVD in Europe this fall, and I'll be waiting first in line to replace my old version.
I'd recommend this movie to anyone who wants to see a movie with both a compelling story as well as great characters. Although I have to leave a little caveat, It IS violent.
Goodfellas is the story of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) an ambitious young
Irish-Italian American who becomes surrounded by a gritty world of
crime and violence, set in '60s and '70s New York, while trying to
climb the ladder of success in the Mafia. His two best friends are
Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci). The latter
is one of the most vile and disgusting characters ever captured on
film. His wife is Karen (Lorraine Braaco) and she seems to be the only
one who sees where Henry is truly going if he continues to stay in this
brutal life of crime.
The film is based on the true story of the life of Henry Hill and what a life that must have been. A life of prisons, robberies, drugs, and hijacks is no way to live, but the main characters does all of them to keep his reputation and his fortune. He doesn't count on betrayal and death to turn him against that life of luxury, but he finds out that he must choose between the life of crime that's spiraling downward or a life of a rat that might have a chance to live in peace.
That gritty world of crime ended up being too gritty for my tastes. And all of the characters were much too grotesque to be likable. Even our main character is a scumbag that doesn't know what he's gotten himself into until it might be too late. Since there wasn't one character in my eyes that I could relate to or that redeemed himself, I had to rate this movie like any other Scorsese film that failed to give me what I wanted. Therefore, I didn't like this film and am not surprised since all of the Scorsese films that I've seen up to this point were made in the same fashion.
Somehow, the film went on to win an Academy Award for Joe Pesci as Best Supporting Actor at the 1990 Oscars. It was nominated for five other Oscars that year including Picture, Director, Supporting Actress (Braaco), Adapted Screenplay, and Editing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Overrated in 1990, *Goodfellas* has grown even more overrated with the
passage of 15 years. It's based on the -- I daresay -- untrustworthy
recollections of a half-Irish, half-Sicilian mobster-turned-informant
who recently, I am reliably informed, appears as an addled, half-witted
guest on "The Howard Stern Show". The narrative arc, if one can
accurately term it that, spans 30 years, roughly from 1950 to 1980.
This, of course, gives Martin Scorsese every incentive to soak the
background with dozens of pop-culture tunes ranging from Bobby Vinton
to Derek and the Dominoes. His use of the last 3 lilting minutes of
"Layla" as some sort of ironic counterpoint in the extended montage
that reveals the corpses of a dozen gruesomely executed mobsters in
various places across New York City only underscores his utterly
conventional taste in music. One wonders whether Scorsese would've been
happier as a Top 40 deejay instead of a filmmaker.
His conventionality -- a surprising development, given his success with such Seventies classics as *Mean Streets* and *Taxi Driver*, both infused with his uniquely individual aesthetic -- extends beyond the soundtrack to the actual movie itself. Lovers of this movie will doubtless be distressed to learn that the various stylistic techniques Scorsese uses here -- whip-pans, sudden freezes that supposedly add ironic punctuation to the narrative, even the use of pop music as commentary on a montage -- all derive from French (yes, I said French) auteurs from the New Wave school of the Sixties and Seventies. These same lovers of this movie would probably also consider Orson Welles to be an overrated old fuddy-duddy, but that doesn't stop Scorsese from pointlessly laying on at least two sequences of long tracking-shots through complicated spatial arrangements without cuts, the device Welles perfected if not wholly invented. (An even less impressive feat for Scorsese, who benefits from the technological advance of the Steadicam. Welles did it with old-fashioned cameras on dollies and hydraulic cranes.) I believe that all these borrowings betray Scorsese's fundamental, perhaps unconscious, lack of confidence in the power of his story, here.
For the screenplay, let it be said at once, is poorly constructed. The narrative focuses on trivial events, like a gofer getting shot in the foot during a card game or Paul Sorvino slicing garlic to atomic thinness, and then presents the world-famous Lufthansa heist through hearsay. The movie's main character, Ray Liotta as Henry Hill, hears a news report about the heist while in the shower. One may reasonably ask why we're in the shower with Henry when we should be in the getaway car with Robert De Niro's Jimmy Conway and his henchmen. This, of course, leads one to reasonably ask why we're not watching a movie about Jimmy Conway instead of Henry Hill, the latter being, more often than not, on the periphery of the movie's main events. Having Liotta narrate the exciting stuff for us in voice-over is no substitute. Indeed, the movie is cripplingly dependent on voice-over narration, perhaps because Mr. Hill's own story, in and of itself, isn't interesting enough to really warrant a honest-to-goodness movie in the first place. As the movie drones on with Liotta's loquacious narrator ceaselessly filling in the narrative gaps, one suspiciously wonders -- for example -- why Hill and Conway are NOT whacked for bumping off "made man" Billy Bats, while Joe Pesci's Tommy DOES get whacked. All three men were involved in the killing, yet only Tommy pays the price. Why? Does Conway's and Hill's Irishness serve as a magical force-field? -- I don't get it. Well, I did say at the beginning of this review that Hill was an untrustworthy storyteller. From the evidence, it appears that Hill was quite conversant with his mob boss's cooking techniques (hence all the time wasted on cooking scenes and shots of gorgeously laid-out family feasts) and far less conversant with the important incidents that are the subject of this film. Note too how inconsistently handled Henry's character is throughout the film: one moment he pistol-whips almost to death a sexual predator who messes with his girlfriend, the next he's aghast when some punk kid gets carelessly killed. Hmm -- smells like self-hagiography to me.
After an overly-edited, chaotic, 30-minute final act in which a sweaty-faced, puffy-eyed Liotta drives around the suburbs, peering up through his windshield at police helicopters, dropping off hot guns, going to the grocery store, zipping back home to make meatballs (AGAIN with the cooking!), and so forth, he gets pinched for good. Under the umbrella of the Witness Protection program, he finally rats out his mob bosses . . . and it occurs to us that this should have been the focus of the film all along, i.e., the FBI's successful eroding of the criminal code using Witness Protection. But Scorsese crams it in during the last five minutes of this 3-hour movie. A little less time in the kitchen and in the shower, and a little more time getting down to business, might have made this movie pretty great.
As it is, the performers give *Goodfellas* undeniable energy, almost mitigating all its flaws. Fans of good New York actors will forgive this movie everything: Liotta, De Niro, Pesci, Sorvino, and Lorraine Bracco do THEIR job, at least. And perhaps this is why the movie is so well-loved. Colorful characters limned by great performances are entertaining. But, in my judgment, the virtues of verisimilitude can't overcome what amounts to a 3-hour-long non-story.
3 stars out of 10.
This movie is considered a classic and yes it is certainly of a classic
quality. It has the rhythm and realism missing in many modern movies.
It has actors that fit their roles perfectly. But what is it's point? I
mean, technically you have all the ingredients right here, but nothing
exciting ever happens. Is there a great drama here? Or great action?
Great dialogues? Something to think about later?
Seems like the movie's sole power comes from it being a biography of Henry and the Mafia. like their way of life by itself is supposed to charm with it's glamor and money. Perhaps it really did in the past decades? These are people who steal money, and murder each other mostly over small arguments. They have no grand visions, grand confrontations or dilemmas. Even the big heist is never shown.
The characters are grotesque and very simple-minded so it's very hard to connect with them. They reach no pathos, nor develop. If this story is real, it paints a very miserable reality that is hardly glamorous or amazing.
Im sorry I do not know what i was thinking I give this a 10 Stars. I worked on the original case in the 80's and that clouded my mind. But the Film is a 10. Thanks and sorry about the prior 3 it is a 10. T think the writing was excellent and the acting is exceptional and the story line was real to life and I just want to say that even though Henry Lewis or Martin Todd Lewis and Henry Hill was a smuck the film was exceptional and Jimmy Berks or the man who played him was exceptional. It is a great film about NY history and it was filmed and edited very well and I loved the film. I am sorry that Jimmy Berk had to die in jail for Martin Todd Lewis testimony and Im sorry that no one in this case got justice but the film was great. As the neighbors said before Martin Todd Lewis moved into the neighborhood they had never heard a horse scream. The rating for this movie is a 10, Im Janet Chrsitensen OBrien , producer of the Public Interest Issues TV Show and Filmmaker and I hope to someday interview anyone involved with this film.
Goodfellas is a milestone film in that regard because just as Public
Enemy and Little Caesar defined it in the Thirties, The Godfather
trilogy in the seventies and eighties, Goodfellas set the standard that
all other films including Martin Scorsese similar Casino try to meet.
The interesting thing is that Martin Scorsese is young enough to
redefine it again with another work.
With Ray Liotta narrating his own life in crime in a flashback as real life criminal Henry Hill, Martin Scorsese offers us one fascinating glimpse of the criminal life in the Eisenhower to Reagan era. Henry Hill even as a child got sucked into the criminal life as a kid, as he said all he ever wanted to be was a gangster. Tutored by both Robert DeNiro and Paul Sorvino, Liotta takes part in one of the biggest heists of all time of Lufthansa Airlines at JFK Airport during the seventies. Goodfellas is the story of the events from Henry Hill's perspective leading up to the heist and the aftermath.
For myself I've never seen the gangster mentality better expressed on screen except maybe by Sean Connery in Family Business. Liotta and Connery operate from the same mindset. If you work hard and hope it pays off in success, you're a dope. If you want something, just take it. When you come right down to it, that's how criminals think, it's the rest of us who are fools.
Goodfellas was nominated for several Oscars, but came away with only one winner, Joe Pesci in the role of crazy Tommy DeVito. He's another criminal type, one who's driven by a terrible inferiority complex due to his short stature and does terrible things even to his own peers. And those peers don't forget as you see what happens to Pesci in Goodfellas. This turned out to be a career role for Pesci. He's a multi-talented man who's got an incredible range and can play everything from the Home Alone comedies to stone killers like here in Goodfellas or in Casino.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Henry Hill always wanted to be a gangster and becomes under the wing of
the local mob which contains Paulie, Jimmy and Tommy. He helps these
people pull of a lot of robberies and murders. This film shows how they
rose through the mob hierarchy and how they avoided being brought to
justice until Tommy is murdered and Henry Hill must quickly but
reluctantly get out of the mob business before he is too murdered by
somebody he once trusted and he goes back to being a nobody.
This film starred: Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro & Joe Pesci.
GOODFELLAS was released in 1990. This is a quality mob film in my opinion and it was an early role for Ray Liotta and he still hasn't been able to top his performance. Robert De Niro was fantastic in this film like he usually is in these roles and pretty much every role he does. Joe Pesci was also fantastic in this film. I can't recommend this film enough and if you haven't seen it you must see it as it is one of the best films ever.
****/***** A near-perfect film.
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