Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Top Ten Movie Countdown #5 - Goodfellas

Martin Scorceses Goodfellas, to me, stands as one of the pinnacles of American film making. This is without a doubt one of the best motion pictures ever made; there is literally no weak spot here. A stellar cast including Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci and Robert de Niro, a brilliant soundtrack, absolutely superb story and dialogue combine for what I believe to be the peak of Scorceses movie making career.

It's hard for me to actually describe why I love this movie so much. The easiest way is to say that everything simply works, and works beautifully. The cinematography is superb, with lots of trademark Scorcese shots and sudden stops to allow for narration. The music, comprised mostly of Sinatra or Sinatra-eque crooning compliments the movie perfectly and adds a real happy go lucky, fun feel to what could have been a very bleak film. The picture moves along at a good clip and never gets bogged down, which is quite a feat for such a long and dialogue-centered movie.

The actors here are all in top form and clearly having a good time playing blue-collar mafia men, and the chemistry is almost tangible; it really feels like everyone in the film has spent their whole lives being gangsters together. Not a whole lot more to be said on the acting, its nothing more than perfect and some of the best out there.

Being a crime movie (and more specifically a Scorcese crime movie), there is a enormous amount of bloody and brutal violence (shootings are the norm, as are beatings and stabbings) and an even more enormous amount of harsh language, but honestly, somehow, the atmosphere is kept light throughout it all, mostly due to the music accompanying each sequence. Hearing Sinatra belting his top hits while hitmen go about their business turns out to be quite a combination.

This is Martin Scorcese at what I believe to be his best, and in my opinion certainly hasn't made anything since Goodfellas that's quite on the same level. Rarely do all the above factors combine to produce something so profoundly good as Goodfellas, and when they do, as I've spent most of this review expounding on, its pretty darn awesome. While not for the faint of heart at all, I highly recommend Goodfellas as one of the top American films ever made.

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