OK, kids, it's that special Day of the week again, When I share my movie experiences with you.
Goodfellas - 5 stars
In this space I have already reviewed 2 Martin Scorsese Films. The Departed(his 2006 film, which rocked) and Taxi Driver (his 1976 film, which stunk). What would I think of Goodfellas, his 1990 film?
"Wow", is what I think, on two levels. Wow, it is a really great film, and one deserving of its place in cinema history. (At the time of this posting, it is #16 on IMDB.com's Top 250, just above Fellowship Of The Ring, and just below Raiders Of The Lost Ark.) But also, Wow, this movie really does glamorize violent, criminal, sleazoid behavior.
Before I finish that line of thought, a few things about the fim for those of you who haven't seen it, or heard too terribly much about it. Goodfellas is based on a Book, which is based on the True Story of the character we know in the movie as Henry Hill. The movie is narrated in the past tense by Henry, and occasionally co-narrated by his wife. From this, we can tell two things if we really think about it. One: neither Henry nor his wife is gonna get "Whacked" in this movie, or else they wouldn't be able to write a book. Two: Henry is gonna have to give up the life of crime and get some kind of immunity from prosecution, or else he wouldn't be publishing a book full of details of his heinous crimes. (And the crimes of a lot of other, powerful people that could have him "Whacked")
So, knowing that, you can watch Goodfellas secure in the knowledge that even though some really rough stuff might happen along the way, and even though you don't like the direction his life is going, morally, that he's gonna clean up his act, and "go straight" in the end. But there's a twist, and if you don't want to know what it is stop reading now, go watch the movie, and come back. ...Go on, I 'll wait.... The twist is, when he does change his ways, when he finally "rats out" the murderous thugs who would have killed him, he hates it. He despises "Going Straight". The movie makes clear that he did it only to save his life, and even though he has gone legally straight, and avoided actual criminal acts, morally he is still as crooked as Lombard Street.
The "No Regrets Whatsoever" theme is woven throughout the film. The Narrator's first line in the movie, while we see a bound victim in a car trunk murdered, is "As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a Gangster". As an Animaniacs fan, I have trouble not substituting "Goodfeather" for that last word. Even the title, "Goodfellas", tells you who the "heroes" are in this film.
All that said, it is an awesome movie, wonderfully written, edited, acted and directed, and a real piece of art. This movie defined Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci for my generation, and Pesci's "Funny how? Am I a Clown, I'm Here to amuse, you, What? How am I funny?" routine has become a staple of pop culture. Here is the movie's synopsis in limerick form.
A Filmerick™ by Frank Gibson
Henry Wanted To Be In The Mob,
To Help Score on Some Really Big Job,
But He Changed his Direction,
Got Witness Protection,
And Is Now Just A Regular Slob
RIYL: Casino, The Departed, Blow