Goodfellas ****


Is there a more pure cinematic movie than “Goodfellas”. Sure there are some great films, especially in the mob genre, but “Goodfellas” is a film that transcends all genres. It is Martin Scorsese’s best picture in my opinion and that is saying something considering he has directed films like “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull”. Here every moment leaps of the screen. Every scene is exhilarating. The story moves along perfectly. The film is over two and a half hours but flies by in an instant. It is that good.

How this film did not win best picture in 1990 or win Martin Scorsese a best director award at the Academy Awards is a complete mystery. This was not only the best film of that particular year but it is also the best film of that decade. This is one of the reasons that I have no faith in awards ceremonies. I realize that it is just my opinion but I defy you to find me people who disagree.

Never has a movie about the mob looked so intimately at the culture and the people who inhabit that world. Ray Liotta is the main character. We follow him from his childhood when he used to watch the local Wise Guys from his bedroom window. He comes up through the ranks, learns the ropes and soon becomes one of them. His mentor is played by Robert De Niro and his closest friend, if you want to call him that, is played by Joe Pesci. All three performances are probably the best word these actors have ever done.

I’m not going to go in to the details of the story. I just want to talk about some of my favorite sequences. The first is a detailed look at one particular day in the life of Ray Liotta’s character. We follow him as he prepares dinner, runs errands, visits different people, and sees his mistress. It is interesting to see such seemingly normal events intercut with random crimes and misdemeanors. Adding tension to the day is a helicopter that seems to be following them around. The end result is not too unexpected.

Another sequence I love is when Liotta takes his future wife out on their first official date. They enter the hottest club in town, are escorted through the back door, through the kitchen, past the crowds, where a table is literally assembled right in front of the stage. It is an unbroken camera shot that starts out on the street and ends up inside the club in front of the singer.

I could go on and on. There is just too much to love here. This is one of those movies where everything came together perfectly.

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