Friday, December 19, 2014

12 Movies of Christmas: Goodfellas (1990)

                     This Pretty Much Proves Why Scorsese Is A Master At 'Good' Movies

               In my opinion, what makes a film a genuine classic is when it not only has everything that makes a movie great, but potentially inspires other filmmakers to make something like it with their own respective vision. Goodfellas is certainly that kind of film since if Martin Scorsese didn't bring it to the screen, who knows whether we'd successfully see the long-running show The Sopranos brought to life or if we'd see special works of art from the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, and David O. Russell.

          Goodfellas is based on the true story of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) who grew up in New York City and since he was a kid, would go on to become a gangster. He and his fellow associates, James Conway (Robert De Niro) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci), then try to climb their way to the top, only to realize the hard way that eventually, all kings eventually become dethroned.

          First off, I'll discuss the direction my Mr. Marty Scorsese as well as the editing by his longtime collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker. The way they put the film together makes the structure seem like a fast-paced 2-hour drug high, which makes sense because since it is about mobsters, drugs are certain to be involved. So, that whole fast pace represents how the descent that these characters go into comes quickly and is a metaphor for a drug habit. Scorsese even uses his traditional directing techniques like the use of the long tracking shot. One of his more famous uses of this technique in the film is the scene where Henry takes Karen through the Copacabana club.

          Another thing that I really liked was the brilliant acting by the cast. Ray Liotta was just phenomenal as Henry Hill as he undergoes a rather fast-paced and aggressive character arc from mobster on top to one who lets his pride become his downfall. Robert De Niro also delivers solid supporting work as James Conway but the real scene-stealer is hands down Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito. Pesci is like a hurricane in this as he destroys whatever is in his path yet you don't know what he'll hit or whether he'll hit you. After seeing this performance, it shouldn't surprise me that Pesci won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. I also want to give a shout-out to Lorraine Bracco as Henry's wife, Karen. Bracco is so fiery and aggressive as Henry's flustered wife yet I kept waiting for her to appear back on screen. Not only is Goodfellas a director's and editor's movie, but it is also an actor's movie as well. It's very much an everything movie.


         Overall, Goodfellas is a crime saga with an adrenaline rush that makes for unique filmmaking while also giving the film slight entertainment value. The performances all around are fantastic, Martin Scorsese's direction is flawless and Thelma Schoonmaker's editing is stuff to be taught in film school. It is, just, perfect.

          Would I Recommend It?:
          Absolutely. I'd recommend to Scorsese fans (If you like his work, this should be #1 on your watch list), film students, and people who generally love movies.

Grade: A+



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