I recently saw this movie. I… wasn’t that impressed. It’s a good movie, but fundamentally I thought it overblown and too impressed with itself. It’s not great, and generally I found better in the comic moments than the serious ones. In fact, the most serious-seeming moments usually came out as comedy to me.
Now, whether it’s better than Dances With Wolves I don’t know or care. However, by the second half, I would have turned it off had it not been a swift-moving flick. Yes, that’s a virtue, but The Fifth Element did that better and nobody calls it a great movie. As far as gangster movies go, it has the few virtues of taking place in the modern day. It seemed like a particularly good genre movie, but not even remotely a classic.
First of all the acting is top notch, especially from De Niro and Pesci. Secondly, Scorsese is a master at re-creating the look and feel of whatever time period he’s portraying. The use of lighting, costumes, music…every detail is perfect.
I encourage you to watch the scene again where Henry takes Karen into the back door of the Copacabana, through the kitchen and into the club where waiters are setting up a table for them directly in front of the stage. It’s a beautiful continuous shot, perfectly conveying Karen’s amazement and wonder at the “glamorous” world into which Henry was leading her. The gangster life seduces the viewer in the same way it seduces her. Of course it’s all an illusion, and that’s what the film is ultimately about.
YMMV of course, but it’s one of my favorite movies.
Beautifully shot, excellently acted and a story that kept me so engaged that I had no idea what a long movie it was until it was over. Heck, even my wife who has zero interest in the genre, watched it with continual interest when she saw it. Not because she things the mob is cool or whatever but just because it’s a really well told and well-acted story.
Friend of mine saw Scorsese talk a few years ago. The scene where they visit Tommy’s mother late at night to pick up the shovel to bury Billy Batts was almost all ad libbed. The only part that was scripted was the painting with the guy who looked like Batts. That’s one of my favorite scenes.
Another ad lib was the scene where Paulie slaps Henry while warning him not to deal drugs - the slap was not in the script.
It’s one of my favorite movies, particularly the second half. What with the music and the coke and the paranoia and the helicopter.
Also, not sure if it adds anything to it for you, but it’s very much based on a true story. I believe a lot of the people in the movie are actually still alive today, some in jail, some down in Florida, I have no idea about Kansas city and while there are still relatives here, I think most of the Balistreri mob has dissipated out of Milwaukee.
Goodfellas is made of awesome. Great bits of comedy amidst all the drama; great acting; sets, costumes and props all spot-on; great combination of the truly pedestrian and the horrific, in the best Godfather tradition of “Leave the gun, take the cannoli”. You can watch it a million times and still be picking stuff up.
The other amazing thing about Goodfellas is the way the music is incorporated into the movie. The pop songs of the day change as the decades pass, from the feel-good crooners of the 60s to the flashy coke-rock of the 70s and 80s, in a profound way, as the tone of the movie becomes more and more bleak. The only other movie I have seen that used the music, specifically the music of the time period, in such an effective way, was Boogie Nights.
Great camera work, funny, violent, indulgent and very well cast. Doesn’t hurt, either, that it’s based on a true story. And yet, while I love to catch it when it’s on TV, I don’t exactly feel richer for the experience. It’s an excellent film, but I’m not sure if it has anything to offer beyond entertainment (unless you’re a film student – then it’s a great lesson in editing).