And the only reason that I believe this film to be one step above the awesome GODFATHER flicks in my humble book of opinions (I speak of the first two only, of course) is because of its relatability factor. The GODFATHER flicks were marvelous sculptures of the mafia underworld, but this movie makes it all seem much more real, closer to my home, closer to my own life…the “down and dirty” basics of the cosa nostra, if you will. I love the movie because these people live in similar neighborhoods as I do, they seem to have the same basic issues as I do…with the only difference being…well, they kill people, steal money and pretty much don’t have the same moral standards as I do (but nobody’s perfect, right?) The film also works on every other level that you’d want. It’s got an amazing cast filled with the best of the genre, it’s packed with cool tunes all fit to ideally spruce up their particular scenarios, it features some of the best quotable “mafia” one-liners around (“What am I, a schmuck on wheels?”, “What the fuck is so funny about me?” and “What do you do for a living? I’m in construction.”), and keeps you glued to the screen with an insightful tale of a young boy’s dreams of “becoming a gangster” coming to fruition with engaging narration, memorable sequences, a cute romance, violence and the mix of friends, family, loyalty and you bet…Italian food!
And that’s just another small detail about this movie that makes it that much better. It seems as though no matter what kind of shit these folks are into, the stirring of the tomato sauce for that evening’s pasta, is always at the top of their list of priorities as well. The movie is also packed with scenes that you will always remember once seen. The opening sequence of the boys opening their car trunk to find a bloody mess muttering for help, the scene in which Tommy fools everyone into believing that he is not as “funny” as everyone thought he was, the now-infamous hand-held camera shot of Henry and Karen going into the Coppacabana nightclub through various backways, as well as the amazing montage of all the dead mobsters set to Eric Clapton’s “Lela”, amongst many, many others. I could seriously sit here and talk about every other scene in this movie ‘til the cows come home because I truly believe that every single detail about this film works to make it that much stronger. The acting is also solid across the board with Ray Liotta actually holding his own against the awesome talent of Robert DeNiro, as well as Joe Pesci, who portrays one of the scariest mobsters you’d ever not want to meet, and who deservedly, received an Oscar for his psycho role. Lorraine Bracco also anchors the film with a little bit of that “outsider” feel and really gives you the sense of her initial “turn-on” about the whole scene, but also, her ultimate surrendering to the vices that came along with the gig. Paul Sorvino also shines as the leader of the pack, as well as all of the smaller bit mafia dudes, all of whom looked, acted and sounded as legit as they come. It’s a great American story of someone who starts with nothing and makes something of himself.
There’s also a surprisingly potent love story between Liotta and Bracco, which brings the plotline even closer to home as Bracco provides us with her own “outside” narration of the world in which she is suddenly a part. This is basically an intoxicating mob tale of loyalty, trust and betrayal amongst friends. There’s sex, there’s drugs, there’s rock ‘n roll, there’s violence…heck, the film even features an inspired final 20 minutes, in which Henry Hill’s last day is illustrated in great detail, and we are taken for yet another ride inside the world of a man whose life is crumbling all around him. You might have already seen various mob movies but you’re never gonna see one as original, well-directed, tight and entertaining as GOODFELLAS. Martin Scorsese has created one of the best movies of all time here, and if you’re anything like me, or even if you don’t like to dress in women’s undergarments every once and again, this flick is sure to give you your money’s worth and more. “Now go home and get your fucking shine box!!”
The second track is a lot more interesting and also "forwards itself" to scenes featuring commentary. The good thing about this one is that the two men actually discuss the scenes that you are watching. Despite the real Hill constantly repeating lines like "Wow, that takes me back" or "Unbelievable", it's nuts to hear about some of his confirmations about everything that's in the film (although the Tommy in real life -- played by Pesci in the film -- was apparently 6'2" and great looking, but Hill did confirm that he was a "sick fuck") and other sidebar stories, including how they used to all really hang out at the Coppacabana like it was their own personal "playground" with each mob family having their own section and throwing Scotch bottles over to each others' tables, while folks like Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr and the Supremes would perform on stage. Sounds like a great life! The two men also discuss how that sort of lifetime is no longer possible in America and how the film essentially portrays the final "good ol' days" of the mob's control over certain New York industries. PS: Hill also confirms that he was always afraid of Tommy in real life as well...never knowing when he might "snap" on him.
The second disc features 3 documentaries on the film, the first of which is a 30-minute "making of" featurette called "Getting Made" (easily one of the best puns of all-time) featuring both old and new interviews with pretty much everyone from the cast, along with plenty of behind-the-scenes footage from the actual filming (fascinating!) One downer about this piece was the absence of new interviews with Scorsese, DeNiro and Pesci (they didn't show up for the "Goodfellas" get-together dinner either) The threesome are included in the piece via old interviews (circa 1990), but I would have liked to have heard from them now (especially Pesci...is he still alive?) Nonetheless, the featurette was an amazing thing for a huge fan of GOODFELLAS like myself to watch after all these years. They discussed everything from how the project got started to the casting, the shoot, the writing, the rehearsals, the collaborations, the soundtrack, editing and much more. I'm not sure that I needed to hear so much from the great Billy Batts (Frank Vincent), but it's all good (I know, I know...I'm getting my shine-box, Billy!)
"Made Men" is a 13-minute featurette which includes snippets of interviews with contemporary filmmakers about the film's influence on their lives, their movies and society, in general. The directors include Antoine Fuqua (TRAINING DAY), Jon Favreau (SWINGERS), Frank Darabont (SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION), Richard Linklater (DAZED AND CONFUSED), the Hughes Brothers (MENACE 2 SOCIETY) and Joe Carnahan (NARC). This is pretty interesting, if only to hear other directors talk about how great and important this movie was to their lives, and to the filmmaking community in general. Darabont even claims to have watched the film every Sunday during his entire shoot of SHAWSHANK for "inspiration". Nice!
The third piece of the pie is an 8-minute featurette entitled "The Workaday Gangster" centered around the actual, real-life (still breathing) Henry Hill (played by Liotta in the movie) and his thoughts on his former lifestyle and the film which portrays it. All I needed to hear from him was that the film was about "99% accurate" in terms of what really happened, and that was enough for me. Some other folk stop by to discuss real-life mobsters as well. A 4-minute finale called "Paper is Cheaper than Film" was one of the more interesting bits for me, as it featured director Martin Scorsese's actual notes and scribbles/drawings/direction from the film's screenplay, superimposed over the actual scenes later filmed by the man. It's always nice to see how a genius works. Great stuff. A trailer for the movie is also included.