Sunday, January 3, 2010

Day 297: Goodfellas (1990) - Rank 4.5/5


My friends who view "The Godfather" as the be all and end all of great films also hold Scorsese's "Goodfellas" in high regard. While I contend that "The Godfather" and its first sequel are both masterpieces of cinema, neither are pictures that I can just pop in on any given day. "Goodfellas" would fall into that same category, though I would deem it of greater "repeat watchability" than the Coppola films. My reasoning? It's purely subjective (hell, which of these reviews aren't?), but "Goodfellas" romanticizes organized crime quite well. I don't use the term in the sense that dames left theatres in 1990 swooning at the thought of being married to a coke dealer. But the film succeeded at a very important aspect - making the life of a "wise guy" look really fucking cool (until, as is typically the case in this genre of films, the protagonist's life inexorably turns to shit). Adding further resonance to the film is the fact that it's based on true-life incidents within the mob (or as accurate as any film adaptation of reality can be).

This element of "damn, it feels cool to be a gangster" of the story is imperative if you want the audience to bond with Henry Hill (Ray Liotta in one of the few roles I've ever regarded Liotta as tolerable), and to understand how he goes from a troublemaking urchin in Little Italy to an integral member of organized crime. Though it's hard not to find the idea of being a gangster cool when it means that you get to work with rogues like the wheeling and dealing Jimmy Conway (Robert DeNiro) and the spastic Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci at his most Joe Pesci). Ooh, better yet, having Paul Sorvino cook meals for you on a regular basis. That would be the shit. I'd move stolen merchandise in a heartbeat if I could have that. The problem is, if I had a Paul Sorvino of my very own, I'd have to force him to play alternating 1990 movie roles for me. As Paulie Cicero, he could prepare meals all day long and then as Lips Manlis, he could eat everything he made earlier in the day and make demands of himself for more food. If I was feeling greedy, I would make him argue with himself only in opera. It probably wouldn't work, but watching Sorvino attempt to do it would be so awesome that I would have a stroke from entertainment overload. Oh, if only a life of crime were that cool...

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