For a film fan, Goodfellas seems gentically engineered to make you ecstatic. Whether or not you like gangster movies is beside the point (Although it is a damn fine example of the genre to say the least). If you love film, love what it does to you, and how it makes you feel, then Goodfellas is going to get you higher then a space shuttle.
Goodfellas feels like a guitar solo by Jimmy Page in his prime, a joyous blast made by a talented artist at the peak of his skill for no other reason then the joy he takes in his own ability, head over heels in love with what he can do. Simply put, the joyous blast of darkness that Scorsese created here is one hell of a rush.
Goodfellas is the story of Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta at his reptillian best. It follows his journey through four decades of mob life, from 50's errand boy to coked out mid level boss in the 80's. He's followed in his journey by partners in crime Jimmy (Robert DeNiro), an older gangster whose style and grace almost are able to mask a deep madness, and Tommy (Joe Pesci), a man so gleefully sociopathic that if he moved into Hannibal Lecter's neighborhood the good doctor would probably start taking a good look at the "For Rent" section of the classifieds each morning. Both Pesci and DeNiro put up world class unforgettable performances that are arguably the highlights of their careers.
What makes Goodfellas so damn great is that it is the ultimate mesh between style and substance. Every camera move is dizzingly cooler, every scene more intense, every song choice more inspired then the one that came before it. But at the same time, true character work and drama are never sacrificed for the easy thrill of technique. By the end of the film you have truly invested deeply in the characters, even if their intense amorality makes it a bit uncomfortable.
So in the end Goodfellas is a classic, a truly great film so chockful of great moments that a simple list of them would be longer then this review. Simply put, it's a blast.
Starting off the disc are a pair of commentaries. The first is specific only to selected scenes and includes comments by director Scorsese, stars Ray Liotta, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino, and Frank Vincent, co-screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi, producers Irwin Winkler and Barbara De Fina, cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, and editor Thelma Schoomaker. This is unfortunate because it means that Scorsese must stop speaking. What I wouldn't have given for a solo commentary track just for him. The second commentary is with the actual Henry Hill and former FBI agent Edward McDonald. Their commentary is so informative that it is often chilling, and is certaintly one of the best commentaries you are likely to find.
Four featurettes follow - The first, "Getting Made", is the average smug talking heads documentary, and lasts about 30 minutes. "The Workaday Gangster", is more or less the same thing, but features more Henry Hill. It lasts about 10 minutes. "The Goodfellas Legacy" is a fifteen minute ode to the film by others, and is nearly worth the price of the DVD alone just to watch Joesph Carnahan nearly blow the film. Finally there is "Paper is Cheaper then Film", which is more or less a simple storyboard to film comparison. Topping off the package is the trailer. Quite a nice disk all in all.
Reviewed By: Bryce Wilson
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