Friday, 10 September 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 360

6 - Goodfellas - 4 stars
No Goodfellas, no Sopranos. Fact.
There is a great piece of trivia on Imdb for this film that states "there are 296 fucks in this film, at a rate of 2.04 per minute... around half of which are said by Joe Pesci".
Pesci famously won an Oscar for his portrayal of "funny" Tommy DeVito. It is a scene-stealing, entertaining performance but do you really deserve an Oscar for shouting fuck a lot? I'm not so sure.
Three guys in a car hear a noise in the boot. They pull over and open the truck and finish off killing the guy lying bloodied and beaten in there. Freeze frame on Ray Liotta's face. "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster". Instantly, I'm hooked.
Goodfellas has ten times more swagger than The Godfather. It is bold and brash, like the young upstart in the crew who is desperate to make an impression on the older generation.
You get narration not only from Henry Hill but also from his wife, talking directly to the camera, that magnificent steadicam shot through the Copa, the Layla sequence all gel perfectly together in the skillful hands of Scorsese.
Nobody does gangsters better than Marty. He instinctively knows this world and knows what music to use, when and where to cut, how to get the best out of his actors (Liotta would never be this good again), etc. Plus you get an excellent tip for cooking garlic!
Following Henry on his rise up the ladder of the Mafioso underworld, it does glamourise the lifestyle but that is the point. You need to understand the appeal of the lifestyle to then fully appreciate the downfall. I wouldn't go as far to say that it is anti-gangster in the way that Trainspotting is anti-heroin but it does show both sides of the story.

Days remaining - 5 Films remaining - 5

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