It’s hard to believe that Martin Scorsese only won his first Oscar in 2007 for ‘The Departed’. He has now received his seventh nomination for best director for new film ‘Hugo’ and when you consider his portfolio of work it is right up there with the best in the business.
Gangster flick ‘GoodFellas‘ is no exception to this and is arguably his finest work as a director. Based on the true story and non-fiction book ‘Wiseguy‘ by Nicholas Pileggi who also co-wrote the screenplay, detailing the life of gangster Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) and his experiences in the mob between 1955 and 1980 in New York.
We follow the rise and fall of the Luchesse family and Henry’s involvement in crime with his Italian-American gangster friends Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci). From young boy to married man, the film shows how Henry’s life reached the peak and then fell down.
As far as acting goes, this is top-notch with Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci giving exceptional performances, Pesci deservedly won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as the foul-mouthed Tommy. Lorraine Bracco plays Henry’s wife Karen who has to deal with Tommy as he juggles family life and crime whilst reaping the rewards.
There are numerous memorable scenes including the “You think I’m funny?” scene and when paranoid Henry rushes around to cook dinner with his brother whilst trying to arrange a drug deal. ‘GoodFellas‘ succeeds in drawing you in and keeping you engrossed throughout the entire 146 minutes, you won’t want to blink.
The film also features one of the most famous unbroken shots in cinema history, when Henry enters the Copacabana nightclub from the back with Karen on one of their first dates. This only came about due to a practical problem when filmmakers were denied permission to film in the front entrance to the club so had to use the back.
With laugh out loud moments as well as the kind of violence you would expect with the Mafia ‘GoodFellas‘ has it all and with each passing minute you find yourself more and more engaged with the world of crime.
There are not too many films that linger in your mind days after watching them, but there aren’t too many movies like ‘GoodFellas‘. Scorsese deserves all the praise he gets for his contribution to cinema and this quite rightfully is one of his most celebrated films.
Personally I find it very difficult to find a fault with this film and there are very few (if any) better gangster films out there.
Year Released: 1990
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco