Tag Archives: crime

Goodfellas (1990)

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Goodfellas

Time: 146 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence
Cast:
Ray Liotta as Henry Hill
Robert De Niro as Jimmy Conway
Joe Pesci as Tommy Devito
Lorraine Bracco as Karen Hill
Paul Sorvino as Paul Cicero
Director: Martin Scorsese

This film views the mob lives of three pivotal figures in the 1960’s and 70’s New York. Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) is a local boy turned gangster in a neighbourhood full of the roughest and toughest. Tommy Devito (Joe Pesci) is a pure bred gangster, who turns out to be Henry’s best friend. Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) puts the two of them together, and runs some of the biggest hijacks and burglaries the town has ever seen. As he makes his way from strapping young petty criminal, to big-time thief, to middle-aged cocaine addict and dealer, the film explores in detail the rules and traditions of organized crime.

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Goodfellas is one of Martin Scorsese’s masterpieces; from beginning to end, Goodfellas is compelling as it displays Henry Hill’s 3 decades in the life of the mob. Entertaining, interesting and fascinating, Goodfellas is a classic that draws the audience into watching the lives that these people lived.

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The narration in Goodfellas adds a lot to the movie, some movies use it as a gimmick but this is not the case here; we can almost understand Henry with these narrations. With the narrations that he gives throughout, it really feels like you are following Henry on his adventure as a gangster. The film is often compared with The Godfather but they have some differences, one being that this film doesn’t have many likable characters; despite the lifestyles that these gangsters lived, the film doesn’t condone them. Also while The Godfather seems to be about a dysfunctional family who happen to be in crime, Goodfellas presents the gangster characters more realistically and more raw. Despite there being brutal violence here, Martin Scorsese doesn’t glorify it; he puts it on screen and shows it in its’ true form. The differences between the two films are why I like Goodfellas more than The Godfather; the more realistic look on the characters made me more interested in the movie.

Henry Hill

Ray Liotta is really good in this movie; because he narrates throughout the movie, you really feel like you know him as you hear the details of how the mob works. The film mostly is around him and Liotta masterfully embodies Henry as we follow this man through his life as a gangster. Robert De Niro also brings a presence to this movie; Jimmy is someone who has been in the mob a while and you can really get that from De Niro’s performance. Stealing the show however is Joe Pesci, representing a hot tempered person who manages to be funny and intimating at the same time.

Tommy Devito

This film is very stylistic, especially with the narration; sometimes the camera freezes and Hill explains something happening or maybe the background of a certain person. The cinematography is also excellent and fits in with the style; an example is the tracking shot from the outside to the inside of a club. (This is now often called the Copacabana shot). The shot lasted for around 3 minutes and is a very good example of the great cinematography that the film has. The soundtrack picked is excellent, especially the piano part of Derek and the Dominoes’ Layla, which is played over a montage. A lot of the style in this movie is used in a lot of great movies like Boogie Nights and American Hustle.

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Goodfellas is so many things; it compelling, engaging, interesting and results in it being one of the best movies of all time, one of the best gangster movies and is one of Martin Scorsese’s best movies. Even though I prefer Casino over Goodfellas, this movie is still undeniably a film for the ages. It’s one that you shouldn’t miss and you should see as soon as possible if you haven’t already.

The Godfather (1972)

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The Godfather

Time: 175 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence
Cast:
Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone
Al Pacino as Michael Corleone
James Caan as Sonny Corleone
Richard Castellano as Clemenza
Robert Duvall as Tom Hagan
Sterling Hayden as Capt. McCluskey
John Marley as Jack Woltz
Richard Conte as Barzini
Diane Keaton as Kay Adams
Director: Francis Ford Coppola

“Don” Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is the head of the Corleone Mafia Family. His younger son Michael (Al Pacino) has returned from the war and is the only family member not involved with the mafia. Things however change when the family is threatened by a rival. The film is based on the bestselling novel by Mario Puzo.

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The Godfather is one of cinemas all time classics but you’ve probably heard this many times before. It is a brilliant crime drama that doesn’t just focus on the crime business but also on the characters occupying it. It has great acting, well written dialogue, developed characters and an atmosphere that really invested me in the story.

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Pacing-wise, this movie does take its time, it took a second viewing for me to really like this movie because of how uninterested and slightly bored I was the first time I watched it – especially in the middle section. On the second viewing I noticed how the pacing is actually well set up; it starts out slow as the events unravel over time. Also great is the fact that the characters are contrasted and are really well developed. Interestingly, some of the characters are sympathetic and relatable, despite this technically being a gangster movie. There are so many characters that it is kind of hard keeping track of everyone; fortunately for most people including myself, I managed to keep track of the main characters.

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The best thing about the movie is the acting. Marlon Brando manages to personify Vito Corleone strongly and turns in one of those rare performances where they are a presence, even when they aren’t on screen. He is very subtle in his role as well as making him feel genuine and realistic. He also manages to act older than he does, which is helped with the great makeup. Al Pacino is also worth mentioning as he is the character that arguably goes through the most change throughout the story; his character’s transformation is so great because Pacino manages to make the changes very subtle. Other performances from actors like James Caan, and Robert Duvall are also great.

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The cinematography is also well done; it is beautifully photographed and is well suited to the era; a great example is the opening which is about a few minutes of a man – over those minutes the shot is being zoomed out. The lighting is also great; the opening again is a good example of this. The movie was also well edited, the best example of the scene is the baptism scene; while a baptism is happening a lot of events are happening at the same time and are fit in well – in my opinion it is the best scene in the movie. Another thing worth mentioning is the score by Nino Rota. Every time one of the songs from that core was playing I felt the presence of the godfather – that’s how the score is to me.

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If I was advising someone to watch the movie, the first thing I’d suggest that they should walk into the movie without the ‘greatest movie of all time’ hype as it may affect your first viewing – that happened with me. Just go into the movie expecting it to be good without expectations that would possibly end up disappointing the movie for you. For me, although it is a gangster movie I don’t usually view it as that – I view it as a complex family drama. Even as a gangster movie, I still prefer Goodfellas or Casino but there is no denying how much of an impact The Godfather has made on cinema. Overall the movie is a masterpiece and a great example of how great movies can be.