Sunday, January 5, 2014

Goodfellas review

Is it bad if you prefer this to The Godfather? I'm asking for a friend. 
Watching The Wolf of Wall Street reminded me of how much I love Martin Scorsese. Over the summer, I went on a Scorsese kick and watched a lot of his films. Even his lesser known and more obscure stuff like Who's That Knocking at My Door and After Hours. The movie everyone talks about when they talk about Martin Scorsese is Goodfellas. It's a film I saw a while back and loved, but for some strange reason, have never returned to. Well, recently I picked up a copy on DVD. Let's just say I will be returning to it a lot in the future. Goodfellas is about Henry Hill (Ray Liotta). As he says in the beginning, "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster. To me, being a gangster was better than being President of the United States." Hill grew up with the gang. He got an after school job at the cab stand, doing deliveries and occasionally blowing up cars. He loved it. Hill grows up to be a respected figure in the Italian mob. This isn't a Scarface rise-and-fall story though. Henry never gets to be a boss or a big name in organized crime. But he does have a very interesting story to tell. With the help of Martin Scorsese, it is told remarkably well. Back in 1990, when this came out, it lost to Dances with Wolves in the Oscars. Now it's considered a classic and arguably Scorsese's best film to date. And it's considered that for good reason! Goodfellas does so many things right, and is a blast to watch. Citizen Kane may have been important and had some revolutionary camera angles, but is the story all that great? And is it really all that exciting to watch? Didn't think so. Goodfellas is a masterpiece in filmmaking, and also truly entertaining. Scorsese's signature use of the constantly moving camera is not only used very well here, but incredibly appropriate for the movie. The life of a gangster is fast and constantly on the move. Perform a hits, make money, sell drugs, go to jail, repeat. It's a violent and exciting lifestyle, with it's own twists, and turns. The film reflects that well. Scorsese collaborated with Nicholas Pileggi (who wrote the book on which this is based) to write the screenplay. I'm not sure why Scorsese doesn't write his scripts anymore, because they were damn good. The dialog here flows really well, it's a lot harder then you'd think to write dialog that flows as well as this does. The actors certainly help deliver the dialog too. Ray Liotta gives what was probably his best performance as Henry Hill and did quite a good job. He falters occasionally but the rest of the time he's golden. Robert De Niro is playing a part that nowadays would be considered a cliche Robert De Niro role. But he does it so well. It's a shame De Niro has to be in stuff like Little Fockers now when he used to be the Oscar bait star that he was. Lorraine Bracco gives a great (and Oscar nominated) performance as Hill's wife, Karen. She plays her part of head over heels in love in the beginning, and quickly transitions to coke addicted and jealous wife towards the end. Her role here is probably how she got on The Sopranos. The best performance here is obviously Joe Pesci, as the insane gangster, Tommy DeVito. While Pesci never really proved himself in other films, here he's absolutely nuts! And he makes it work beautifully! It's no wonder he was awarded an Oscar for his role. Although this should have won Best Picture before anything else. I don't know if this is my favorite film, but it very well might be. The directing, soundtrack, editing, acting, and everything else about this make it just so great. I doubt my review can do this any justice. If you haven't seen this yet, you are crazy and are missing out! Goodfellas is fantastic and Martin Scorsese is a genius. That's all there is too it. Happy Viewing. If you want to keep up with my reviews and other movie related things, follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at            


  1. I agree with you. I remember enjoying Goodfellas considerably more than the Godfather! Although, It's been a while, so about time I gave it another watch. Have you seen Once Upon a Time in America? I think that one comes a close second to Goodfellas.

    1. Thanks! I haven't seen it, although I love Sergio Leone and Robert De Niro so I'm sure it's awesome.