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James A. Contner
A perfect example of something being far, far less than the sum of its parts
With an impressive degree of access to Hill, Scorsese, former FBI heads and other impressive contributors, it is a total pain that this documentary failed to be much more than the basic affair that it is. The narrator continually tells us the reality was harder and more shocking than the film Goodfellas showed, but it doesn't engage in any way comparable to the film. Why is this? Why would a real documentary on the subject that says it goes deeper and harder into the story be described as basic or lacking?
Well the main reason is that it covers the same story in 50 minutes as opposed to about 160. Looking at it in an ideal world it should have been great and it could have done it by going two ways. 1 make it all about Hill's interviews a la Fog of War; or 2 have as many contributors but make the film much longer. Because the film does neither it is hard to really get into it. The last 15 minutes of the 50 finally moves past the story told in the movie but even then it isn't that good because it is still done in very broad and basic strokes. It was really frustrating because I couldn't help wondering what the makers were trying to do. I'm sure they had good intentions but just got stuck with too much footage and too little good footage (the Hill sound bites are repeated suggesting it was a pretty short affair). However this is still their failing and it is hard to have sympathy not many people get access to people like they did in this film and it is hard to forgive them for fluffing it.
Overall this offered much but is surprisingly poor. I hate to kick it but I simply cannot understand why the makers failed to deliver. They apparently had great access to people and a solid 50 minute slot but I assume that they weren't able to get what they wanted because all they produced was a basic sweep that tells you very little more than Goodfellas and does it a lot less engagingly.
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