GoodFellas (R) 1990
Reviewer’s Tilt (10)
Special DVD Features worth a look-None
“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” Outwardly, this is mobster Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) voice. Inwardly, it is director Martin Scorcese’s. There have been many mob films before and since Godfellas, but none create such a connection with the viewer. Goodfellas delves into the problems that plague gangsters—not the blood and the guts and the lying and the cheating--but the much more pedestrian problems of infidelity, broken friendships and the daily grind. Believe it or not, mobsters have the same problems everyone else has. The only difference is that when wiseguy problems get out of hand, someone gets dead. This film revels in its gore and violence, but also focuses on the petty problems behind the cruelty. Rather than repulse, this tactic actually garners empathy with viewers, and even serves as the basis for the wildly successful series The Sopranos.
Goodfellas underscores that the bad guys are not one-dimensional monsters, but are individuals, programmed through circumstance to rationalize the ugliness of their actions. Macrocosmically, it is wrong to kill. To a wiseguy, however, the key is to preserve order and authority. In a world where mercy is weakness, self-preservation mandates participation in heinous acts. Part of what makes this film so watchable is that Nicholas Pileggi and Scorcese developed the screenplay from “Wiseguy,” Pileggi’s book based upon the real life adventures of mafia badguy Henry Hill. Goodfellas does not justify the mafia lifestyle. It merely provides objective insight into the lives of these criminals and their myoptic drive to garner respect. Be sure to catch Joe Pesci in his Oscar winning performance as the psychopathic Tommy DeVito and Lorraine Bracco as Hill’s wife, following Hill along his downward spiral of drugs and betrayal.
Format: Color, Widescreen anamorphic, Closed captioned.
Sound: (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
Extras: Trailer, production notes.