In another of our series "Bullet-Proof Movies", we look at one of the most popular movies of all time, Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas.
To those who have not seen this, for each negative factor, a movie guts a "Bullet" and for each positive factor, it gets a "Bandage". A bit like The Crystal Maze, if your bandages are more than you bullets, you are "Bulletproof" - yeah? However, in tribute to the subject matter and the genre, we are gonna reverse the roles. Today a bullet means it is a plus and a bandage means its a mistake.
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So here we go with the mighty Goodfellas.
That Script! Good lord! What perfection. He includes such subtle day-to-day speech patters, it is stupendous. "Stop feeding the dog from the table from the table from the plate on top of it....stop it"
Cliche to say it, but that restaurant shot: "there was Jimmy, and Tommy, and me, and there was..." intro to the way it is done
The voice-over. That smooth deep voice with its NYC twang somewhere in the back. In Narcos, the main character said he cited that as his inspiration and it made the series. Exposition never done so well. Ray Liotta: A career high.
The Soundtrack. Layla (Piano Exit) Still best use of music in any movie. Cream? Inspired. The jukebox scene, DeNiro -liquid cool. The Leader of the Pack, used like a backing score. It all just ripped and fitted. Plus Aretha. Unimpeachable.
After narrating the whole movie, the 4th wall break in the courthouse. so natural, like it was happening. I am no fan of that stuff normally because it is usually contrived. this proves that, because it can be done right, and it sure was here.
The move-in close-ups. Joe Buddha playing skeeball, Henry playing cards, the cocaine snort. Using the camera and turning up Muddy Waters. Of course the true soundtrack of this movie would be the universe clicking into place.
Can we just take a minute to appreciate that opening line: "As far back as I could remember I always wanted to be a gangster" I did not mention it above as it merits its own place. Listen to it in your head. Remember it, it is beauty on film.
The sound editing, using the sounds of one scene in the opening of the next, or the music from a following scene at the end of the previous one. It is old hat now, but it is like overlapping a stitch. Works a treat
The killing of Stacks. the return to see the execution in slow-mo afterwards. I do not know where that came from but it was amazing. That is why I love this movie. Little non-linear treats like that
I know it sounds obvious but there are hardly any films I can say this about, if any others at all, but there is literally no fast-forward parts. It has no lull. It is a sensory thrill and that is not something any other director has done for me.
Maybe it is just me but that prison scene where they are discussing the meal and Henry reels of the list of what Karen bought in ALWAYS makes me hungry!
It is a mesmerising and unbettered piece of film-making bravado. It is undated, unmatched, unstoppable, and undeniable. It's influence and its entertainment value has been in an ascendance since 1989 and long may it carry on. I have heard people say it is pessimistic to say it will never be bettered. Of course it isn't, you could never see fantastic movies for the rest of your life and not come close to seeing one as marvelous as this. It is not a sully on filmmakers to say it won't be beaten, it is a challenge that they will, and do, rise to. However to me, perfection has already been met and you cannot get better than perfect.
Ummmm...Tommy only shoots Stacks three times but in the follow-up shot they show he shot five times...umm nope. Fuck it, there is nothing wrong with this film. It is sensational.
So is Goodfellas Bulletproof? Despite the unorthodox role reversal, with a resounding 100% success rate of twelve plus (only twelve because I had to end somewhere) and zero against Goodfellas in absolutely and immeasurably BULLETPROOF.