Tuesday, April 10, 2012

#70 AFI's Top 100 Movie List: #94 Goodfellas

"Goodfellas" is, predictably, about a group of guys who think of themselves as "good fellas," which, the main character explains in the movie means a "good fella to know."  Personally, after watching the movie I'm not sure why anyone would want to know any of them. While they have their own moral code, which is strictly followed, and lead fantastic lives of wealth and privilige (for a time, anyway), they also live in constant danger from both law enforcement and each other.  
There were a lot of great things about this movie.  Most interesting to me is that it was based on a true story, as told by a mobster turned Protected Witness, who was still alive and in the Witness Protection Program when the movie came out. Normally I'm not a big fan of mobster movies, but I really enjoyed this one. Part of it was the acting, which was fantastic, and part of it was the storyline. It was fascinating even before the end of the movie when I found out it was based on a real man's life.

The movie begins with a lot of class and glamorization... 
Henry Hill is the main character and he narrates the majority of the film (occasionally parts are narrated by the voice of his wife, Karen).  
We hear from the beginning how Henry always wanted to be a gangster, dreamed of it even. He was impressed by their clothes, their lifestyle and their power. He started by running errands for the local mob and was taken under the wing of the mob boss, Paulie, by the time he was in high school - not that he was going to school.
 Although he eventually rose to be a respected and well-liked mobster, he could never be officially "made" (which I guess is kinda like being inducted into a leadership position) because he wasn't Italian. But he made enough money and had enough power that he never seemed to mind.
I don't want to give away too much of the story. Suffice to say that the acting is fantastic, I really enjoyed watching all of the characters (even Joe Pesci's, and he tends to seriously get on my nerves). I thought the way the movie went from glamorizing the lifestyle and the power of these men to showing Henry's decline into drugs and the gritty reality of violence and death within the mob was great.  The plot was smooth and seamless, transitioning to a kind of fairy tale into something almost nightmarish. With friends like his, who needs enemies? 
Mostly I appreciated that it wasn't the kind of in-your-face graphic violence that I see so much of today in the movie theaters. Violence is one thing, but it shouldn't be the main point of the movie and the plot should never play second banjo to the graphic effects. In Goodfellas you get an intriguing and exciting story, just the right amount of violence, and some seriously good acting.  I'm really glad this movie was on the AFI's Top 100 list and that I got to watch it for my blog! Even though it wasn't one I was really interested in, it drew me in and kept me there anyway.

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