I have a weird track record with Martin Scorsese films. I know he’s a huge director but I’m still trying to figure him out. Maybe it’s that I’m a LA kid watching New York films I just don't understand. Sometimes I like them. Sometimes I tolerate them. Sometimes I even hate them.
I loved Goodfellas. Like, way more than I thought it I would. I mean, it wasn’t The Godfather but that was clearly by design. The Godfather is a gangster opera, a white-collar affair. Goodfellas was self-referentially a blue-collar gangster film. It was messy, and unromantic, and fun as ——.
The film covers so much ground that it’s hard to summarize. In essence, the film is a classic rise-and-fall story—a portrait of Henry Hill, an American gangster, who associated with the Lucchese crime family. It begins by explaining Hill’s seduction to the Mob and times when his connections were good to him. It drifts into poor choices and the moments in which his actions began to grow costly. After a stint in jail, Hill gets involved deep in the drug trade and this sends him down a criminal path that eventually pits him against his old Mob associates.
Again, against all expectations, I loved this film. I loved the characters. I love that they’re quick and witty and just playful enough to fool you into liking them before reminding you that they’re genuinely bad people. Especially Joe Pesci’s Tommy DeVito, a remarkably likable and unlikeable character. I love how precarious that balance is. I love the film’s frenetic style. I love the way the plot bounces around from middle to beginning to end. I love that the narrative point of view seems to “float” between two main characters in a way that was organic and gave me chills. I loved the juxtaposition of crime in the 50’s against crime the 80’s. And of Hills first court case and last court case. And the use of laughter as symbolism. And did I mention I loved Joe Pesci?
Seriously, this was a good one. It's probably as dense, and dark, and grimy as Scorsese's other film's, but this one manages to hit its mark and stays entertaining.