Wednesday, 25 February 2015
February Blindspot: GoodFellas
GoodFellas is a complete classic. It's one of those movies you hear a lot about, you hear people referencing and saying that it was "influential". I remember a lot of people mentioning GoodFellas when American Hustle came out last year, saying that Hustle was trying to emanate GoodFellas. And now that I've watched it, I feel like that's true. There definitely were some similarities (mainly the voiceovers). But, obviously, GoodFellas is the better film, and is a classic for a reason.
Putting it out there, gangster films are not really my thing. I appreciate films like The Godfather, but they aren't movies that I really get into. And GoodFellas was kind of the same for me. The excessive language, the violence, those just aren't really my things. The excessiveness of Scorsese in general is not usually my thing. But I'm not trying to say I didn't like GoodFellas. GoodFellas is a really good film. It's well made and really interesting. It's based on a true story, so the true-look into gangster life is really interesting.
It starts with Ray Liotta as Henry Hill. Henry wanted to be a gangster all his life. And growing up in an Italian neighbourhood, he joins up pretty early in life. The gang is his family. When grown up, he commits a robbery with fellow gangsters, Jimmy and Tommy. Jimmy and Tommy are notorious and determined. They start killing off most others involved in this robbery and start ascending the mob ranks. But Henry feels at a loss. He always seems uncomfortable with killing. At least the way Jimmy and Tommy kill, with seemingly no cares.
GoodFellas is a movie that doesn't exactly have a plot. Or at least it didn't feel like it did. It's about the daily life in the mob and the pros/cons and perks/consequences of everything. It spans a few decades in time and focuses on Henry and how he finds himself getting deeper and deeper and then finding himself at a loss when he realizes who exactly wants him killed. In a way, this film kind of meandered. It was about Henry's life in the mob more than about a specific few events. I mean, it was interesting and well done but at times it felt a little laggy to me.
I was kind of disappointed that Robert De Niro wasn't in this more. I'm slowly working my way through some of De Niro's work and I know he's the front and centre guy on the poster so I assumed he was going to be playing a bigger role. I mean, his role is big, but I had wrongly assumed he was the star. So that was a little disappointing. De Niro is fantastic as always, but the funnest to watch was Joe Pesci. Can I just note that GoodFellas came out just a few weeks before Home Alone? So it was kind of really fun watching Harry from Home Alone play a smarter and more exaggerated and violent version of Harry for GoodFellas. Pesci as Tommy was really fantastic. He was completely unsympathic and was completely irredeemable. He is terribly ruthless and is so gun happy. Most of the film he spent just killing people. But he was fantastic in the part. The Oscar he won was definitely well-deserved, in my opinion.
Honestly, I can see why people are kind of pissed that Dances With Wolves won over this. I mean, I know people are just upset that Dances With Wolves won in general (a film that definitely didn't age too well). But yeah, it just sort of seems like the salt in the wounds of people who are mad this didn't win Best Picture. I understand the frustration and I'm kind of there with you on that one.
I'm glad I've finally gotten around to this film. It has definitely been influential, and it is definitely better than the other two Scorsese films I watched (which are Hugo and the Departed. Though The Departed had more focus which I did like). But it's more that I'm glad I got around to this classic and can finally say that I have in fact seen it!
Posted by Heather Martin