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Goodfellas
1990 - R - 120 Mins.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Producer: Irwin Winkler
Written By: Martin Scorsese, Nicholas Pileggi
Starring: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino, Samuel L. Jackson
Review by: John Ulmer
   

You talkin' to me?
"As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster." -- Henry Hill, Brooklyn, N.Y. 1955.

Gangsters are all around us. Everyone knows it, not everyone wants to accept it. "Goodfellas"--based on true events--exploits the life of gangsters, chronicling the events through the eyes of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), who gets involved with the mafia at a young age and continues his "career" throughout the film.

As he gets older, he marries and has children, but still works for the organized crime family, under mafia boss Paul Sorvino; and he is friends with Jimmy (Robert De Niro), a calm, steady gangster, and Tommy (Joe Pesci), a wild man with serious mental problems.

Eventually Henry's life goes down the gutter, leading to Henry starting to take and deal drugs, that leads to other unfortunate incidents that will be ruined if I type any more about them.

"Goodfellas" is one of the best films I have ever seen. There really is no plot per say, as you can see above, other than following the true life story of a gangster. But what makes the film is a witty script, intelligent, deep, and for the most part likable characters; a great director, great actors; the list goes on.

Robert De Niro isn't in this movie a whole lot--I'd estimate an hour and a half out of the three or so hours the film is. But when he's on screen he gives a terrific performance.

Joe Pesci is in this movie about as much as De Niro, maybe a bit more or less. But when he's on screen there's no doubting he's on screen--he's very hard to miss. A short, deranged, loud-mouthed man with something wrong in his head. Someone makes an insult toward him and he shoots them, and then laughs. It's quite disturbing. I am a huge fan of Pesci, and I tend to love his characters, but he really makes you feel sick towards his character in "Goodfellas," while at the same time taking a strange liking to him. That just goes to show how good of an actor Pesci is.

Ray Liotta is perfect as Henry Hill. I can't think of a better actor to play him. He captures a sense of innocence yet at the same time a feeling of violence. I love the scene where he walks over to a man's house with a regular expression on his face. "What do you want, f&*^&?" the man asks. Liotta continues walking, takes out a gun, and starts to continually beat the man in the skull with the butt of his gun. As Henry walks back to his car, his face is disturbing and his expression stays with you for a long, long time.

Martin Scorsese, one of the most overlooked directors when it comes to Oscars and other such awards, beautifully directs this gangster epic; with some of his latest films being slight flops ("Gangs of New York"--I haven't seen it yet, but I heard it's average), I think another gangster film is in store for the future.

"Goodfellas" has got everything you go to the movies for: Witty dialogue, great, three-dimensional characters; excellent directing style, and some great actors. "Goodfellas" is an offer you can't refuse.

By the way, I think it is appropriate to put a bit of a disclaimer on this review: I would not recommend "Goodfellas" to those that have a problem with violence and/or language, and "Goodfellas" is definitely not one for your kids to watch--it contains extremely strong, pervasive language, and a great deal of strong, realistic violence. I only put this because I am sick of parents taking children to see R-rated films that are not appropriate for children. And this is definitely one of them.

Anyway, "Goodfellas" has to be one of the best films I've ever seen--a true modern classic that will be remembered for what it is: One of the greatest tales told on screen.
 
Movie Guru Rating
A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic.
  5 out of 5 stars

 
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