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In one word: perfection
gogoschka-117 December 2013
Needs to be seen to be believed; in one word: perfection. Every frame, every voice-over, every song - it all comes together at the exact right moment to create the perfect film experience. This film makes you really understand and feel what makes the American mafia so compelling; in the eyes of a kid, who was unfortunate enough to grow up in a tough neighborhood, those gangsters are rock stars. Live fast, die young - but when you die, it ain't gonna be of a glamorous suicide or drug overdose - the ending will be brutal, ugly and sad. And it may very well be one of your best friends that will blow your brains out.

I'll never get tired of watching Goodfellas; the entertainment value of this film is just amazing. It doesn't happen very often that every person involved in the process of making a film is at the peak of his/her game. And rarely do art and entertainment come together the way they did here. Storytelling with impeccable pacing, this is what it's like when a master composer conducts his masterpiece. All hail the king; the most versatile and talented filmmaker of his generation: Martin Scorsese.

My vote: 10 out of 10

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An Offer You Can't Refuse...
MovieAddict201631 March 2003
"As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster." -- Henry Hill, Brooklyn, N.Y. 1955.

Gangsters are all around us. Everyone knows it, not everyone wants to accept it. "Goodfellas"--based on true events--explores the lives of gangsters, chronicling the events through the eyes of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), who gets involved with the Mafia at a young age and continues his "career" throughout the film.

As he gets older, he marries and has children, but still works for the organized crime family, under mob boss Paulie (Paul Sorvino); and he is friends with Jimmy (Robert De Niro), a calm, steady gangster; and Tommy (Joe Pesci), a wild man with serious mental problems.

Eventually Henry's life goes down the gutter, leading to drug abuse and paranoia, that leads to other unfortunate incidents that will be ruined if I type any more about them.

"Goodfellas" is one of the best films I have ever seen. It's a tour de force of breathtaking images, witty scriptwriting, superb acting and realistic violence.

Robert De Niro gives one of his best performances -- ever -- as Jimmy, even if he's not in the film as much as you might be lead to believe from the front cover.

Joe Pesci is in this movie about as much as De Niro, maybe a bit more or less. But when he's on screen there's no doubting he's on screen--he's very hard to miss. A short, deranged, loud-mouthed man with something wrong in his head. Someone makes an insult toward him and he shoots them, and then laughs. It's quite disturbing. I am a huge fan of Pesci, and I tend to love his characters, but he really makes you feel sick towards his character in "Goodfellas," while at the same time taking a strange liking to him. That just goes to show how good of an actor Pesci is.

Ray Liotta is perfect as Henry Hill. I can't think of a better actor to play him. He captures a sense of innocence yet at the same time a feeling of violence. I love the scene where he walks over to a man's house with a regular expression on his face. "What do you want, f&*^&?" the man asks. Liotta continues walking, takes out a gun, and starts to continually beat the man in the skull with the butt of his gun. As Henry walks back to his car, his face is disturbing and his expression stays with you for a long, long time.

Martin Scorsese is a brilliant director and his work here is fabulous; it's been recreated by other directors (namely Paul Thomas Anderson in "Boogie Nights") and there's a reason: it's great stuff. He totally deserved to receive Best Director in 1990, but of course he didn't. (Rumor has it the Academy frowns on Scorsese's use of racial slurs in his work. Oh boo hoo, get over it.)

The movie is based on the true-crime memoirs of the real-life Henry Hill, whose novel with Nicholas Pileggi -- "Wiseguys" -- was adapted into a screenplay by Pileggi and Scorsese. The book itself was fantastic and insightful; the screenplay is even better. The dialogue is incredible.

Anyway, "Goodfellas" has to be one of the best films I've ever seen--a true modern classic that will be remembered for what it is: One of the greatest tales told on screen. It's an offer you can't refuse!
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One word: priceless
mhasheider6 November 2004
If there was one word that I could use to describe Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas": it'd be priceless.

A surreal and deeply fascinating take on life of Henry Hill who was involved in the Mob for three decades and his rise throughout the time span (and Nicholas Pileggi's book "Wiseguy").

There isn't a single moment in the movie where it doesn't miss a beat, you could only tell by the atmosphere of the time period and it seems so real.

The performances in this film simply make it even more memorable and how the characters are portrayed here especially by Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci (who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor), and Paul Sorvino are believable and easy to understand that they were a family, very close and tightly knit to the core. Also, how director Martin Scorsese lets the movie pace itself and keeps the viewer off guard in what happens deserves a lot of credit.
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The greatest mob film still today
OriginalMovieBuff2111 April 2005
Amazing is the one and only word to say for this film. I have always thought that Goodfellas was one of the greatest films ever made and set a landmark in the 90's or even in movie history. I bought Goodfellas last week and I got to watch the film a couple days ago. I really just couldn't lay my eyes off the film and everything about it was just simply worth watching. The acting was excellent, Ray Liotta, Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, and other actors did great and almost all of the characters they portrayed were 100% accurate. The camera-work also was brilliant and Martin Scorsese does a beautiful job by putting excellent camera shots in his films and I give him high credit for that. The soundtrack too is one of the best soundtracks ever made and the song "Layla," put chills down my spine of how great this song fitted the film. Overall, Martin Scorsese made his best film in my opinion and him and Nicholas Pileggi made an excellent and sharp script that made this, the greatest mob film still today.

Hedeen's Outlook: 10/10!! **** A+
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A masterpiece exposing misguided loyalties and greed
SmilingRon5 September 2005
Scorcese & Pileggi's masterpiece on the life of Henry Hill as a Brooklyn NY mob wise-guy.

As much as the true events of Henry's life have more than likely been dramatised and glamourised to a certain extent, the essence of this film IMO is that it is still a brilliantly damning portrayal of the characters and lifestyle of mobsters.

The sham of the mafiosi is exposed - preaching loyalty, respect & principles - but when it comes down to it they are just two-bit criminals that'll stab each other in the back for money or power over others. Each of them has an inflated sense of self-worth and stature that comes with being a "wiseguy", breeding with it paranoia that others are not giving them the respect they deserve.

An example is De Niro's portrayal of Jimmy Conway. His outward persona is that of a calm and reasonable nature. But really he is a paranoid killer who at the drop of a hat would kill even his closest associates for money. I use associates rather than friends, as their relationships are of tolerance rather than kinship. Distrust, hate and jealousy through the forced smiles.

Interesting that given this, certain people envy their life-style and would have loved to have been a wiseguy. I personally couldn't think of anything worse that being tied for life with having to keep the likes of Tommy company, but whatever rocks your boat. Some people have actually paid to see The Dukes of Hazzard film, so I shouldn't be surprised.
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A true classic
thomashamps13 September 2000
This is the gangster film at its finest. Scorsese is on top form as are Pesci and De Niro. Liotta has never bettered the performance he gives here. The film starts as it means to go on - violent, full of profanity, fast paced and very stylish. The story follows Liotta's character from boy to man as he climbs his way up through the ranks of organised crime. We see all the highs and lows of his life and meet a host of very believable and very undesirable characters along the way. It's a film full of memorable scenes whilst remaining much more than the sum of its individual parts at the same time. This is what all movies should be like. It draws you in and won't let you out of its grasp at any point. When it finishes you feel exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. If ever the word 'masterpiece' was meant to be used, it was for this film.
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The Definitive Film of the 1990s
tfrizzell21 July 2000
"GoodFellas" may be the most important film of the 1990s in the fact that its incredible success led to some of the other great movies of the decade. Films like "The Silence of the Lambs", "The Crying Game", "Pulp Fiction", "The Usual Suspects", "Fargo", and "L.A. Confidential" would have likely never been made as well as they were without the influence of Scorsese's "GoodFellas". The film is an intense study of a Mafia family over a 30-year stretch. Ray Liotta plays the half-Irish, half-Sicilian kid from Brooklyn whose only dream is to be a gangster. Although Liotta's story is at the heart of "GoodFellas", it is the supporting cast that is the film's calling card. Robert DeNiro gives one of his greatest performances, Paul Sorvino is quietly effective, and Lorraine Bracco (in an Oscar-nominated role) does the best work of her career. However, it is Joe Pesci (in his well-deserved Oscar-winning turn) who steals every scene as the one who does the "dirty work". This is probably the definitive film in a decade that produced many film-noir styled classics. 5 stars out of 5.
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The best mobster film ever made
AlsExGal18 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
After you see this movie, all other mobster movies you see or ever have seen will seem like garbage. They and their cast of characters will all appear cartoonish in comparison. Of course, this is a movie about the mafia from the working man/gangster point of view, where "The Godfather" was a mafia movie filmed from the viewpoint of the executive suite, so there really is no valid comparison there. "Goodfellas" really does seem ahead of its time when you realize that the only artistic work about the mafia that compares to it in quality is the HBO series "The Sopranos", which debuted nine years after this movie was made.

"Goodfellas" tells the real-life story of mobster Henry Hill, and it is largely true, although there are individual scenes that are out of sequence and others that were added for dramatic effect, such as Karen Hill flushing the cocaine down the toilet during the drug bust. Also, Tommy, the character that Joe Pesci played and the part for which he won an Oscar, was actually a composite of two separate gangsters. Other details are omitted completely, probably because they would have spun the movie off in too many different directions. For example, crime boss "Big Paulie" actually was having an affair with Henry Hill's wife, Karen. When Tommy tried to rape her and Paulie found out, that was when he alerted the Gambinos to the fact that Tommy had killed their missing crew member, "made man" Billy Batts, nine years earlier. This is the true reason that it took so long for Tommy to be killed over that incident. Thus, masterful direction of the story by Martin Scorsese in what was probably his finest film is why the audience has a more cohesive view of the mobsters portrayed in this movie than if we had been told every last detail.

What really makes this movie great is all of the personal details that enable you to see these mobsters living a largely suburban life, concerned about kids' birthday parties and getting the sauce just right for dinner, and all the while completely immersed in a completely amoral lifestyle in which murder and bribes solve everything- a lifestyle to which they would never voluntarily choose an alternative.
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Simply a masterpiece. Scorsese's last truly great movie (to date).
Infofreak17 March 2003
'Goodfellas' is a masterpiece, pure and simple. While not my favourite Martin Scorsese movie it is a stunning achievement, and one of his very best movies. The film is stunning technically. The consistently fine acting by the large ensemble cast (both known and unknown), the cinematography, editing, dialogue, brilliant use of music, it's all breathtaking. But Scorsese and co-writer Mitch Pileggi never lose lose sight of their main goal - to tell a story. And in that it's really hard to beat this movie. As to the actors De Niro is on top form, Ray Liotta is the best he's ever been, and this is Joe Pesci's definitive performance. Plus you have Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino, Michael Imperioli, and lots of well known faces in small but important roles (Debi Mazar, Samuel L. Jackson, Illeana Douglas, Kevin Corrigan), plus dozens of unfamiliar actors (and non-actors) who are all so good it seems unfair just to single out the "stars". (Also keep an eye out for Vincent Gallo in a few scenes. He has no lines, but looks cool!). 'Goodfellas' is (to date) Scorsese's last Great Movie, and one of the very best films of the 1990s. Absolutely essential viewing for any movie fan, this tremendous film is not to be missed! Highly recommended!
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A classic mobster film.
shanfloyd29 March 2005
This is one hell of a film about the mobsters, based on a true story and coming from one of the great directors of all time. This is about Henry Hill, the narrator of the story, an Irish simple person who gets involved with the Mafia at a very young age and continues his life through it. There is no major plot in this film, just isolated incidents one of which was the turning point of Hill's life. Scorsese, as brilliant as he ever was, shows violence, sex and drugs etc in his own trademark style. And his actors helps him to make this film one of the classics.

Robert DeNiro is not present in much of the film, nor his acting leaves too much impression. The three actors who really did their best job here are Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci and Lorraine Bracco. I hate to say that most youngsters today don't know too much about Liotta or how talented he was. I asked my younger brother about him and he said, "The man who did the voice on GTA: Vice City?". This is partly because Liotta did not get too many big roles after that, especially in recent years. But here he is just brilliant as Hill. It's Pesci's one of the best too. Playing a mad mobster with dark sense of humor wasn't his usual type. And Lorraine Bracco becomes the perfect lead female in such type of films.

The film's got smart screenplay and excellent cinematography. And I don't know how many times Scorsese will be denied his Academy recognition. I hate to see a lifetime achievement award as his first Oscar. But things are going like that.
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Wanna Be a Wise guy?
Guitarboi61512 April 2005
One of the best Mafia movies I've ever seen. This and The Godfather are movies I must recommend if you like gangsters, wise guys, etc. This movie is actually based on a true story. The real Henry Hill, who is the main star of this movie, actually said it was at least 90% true. He than said it was probably 98% accurate. This movie expresses a lot of the gangster ways and how they really did things.

Summary: This is pretty much a biography on Henry Hill, who as a kid always wanted to be a gangster, and he actually worked for them. It shows how a young kid grew up helping the mafia and becoming a mobster himself. This is a true story and really shows what being a wise guy is all about.

Overall: Definitely a 10/10 movie. Really makes me want to be a wiseguy.
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Scorsese's best
baumer16 September 1999
Warning: Spoilers
Goodfellas makes you feel like you are watching guys that you know or knew. To this day, I have a friend that still talks like Jimmy Two Times. He always says things like "Nice Nice" and that was just a background piece in Goodfellas. But that is the point, all that is background is just as important as the main players and locales. It all paints us a perfect picture of what mob life must be like. And with all due kudos to The Godfather, but there is no other film that has ever made mob life look so real and feel so tangible the way Goodfellas does.

To say that Joe Pesci is the best part of this film would be to discredit the rest of the cast, but at the same time, you have to mention him in some way. His portrayal of Tommy is haunting. Here is a man that is so insecure and wants to be the top dog, the made man so bad that he can't decipher between what is a joke and what is disrespect towards him. Of course the scene in question is when he shoots a common boy for telling Tommy to screw himself after he shot him in the leg. You would think the guy has a right to let off a little steam and vent, but Tommy is always looking for the diss. He is always looking to find some hidden gesture from someone that is putting him down. Even at the beginning when he is getting on Henri in the now famous " You're a funny guy " scene. He is kidding with Henri but deep down inside he is angry with him, you can see it and feel it. Joe Pesci gave the performance of his career and he richly deserved to win best supporting actor that year.

The story and script by Pileggi is sheer inside brilliance. You can feel the inside observations that no one can have except for a guy that spent his whole life on the inside. They ring so true and they get into your blood. From scenes like the fat guy running around delivering messages to the other mob guys because he doesn't like to use the phone to the scene when Henri, Jimmy and Tommy have Billy Bats in the trunk but they stop off at Tommy's moms house for a late night dinner of pasta and such. They also have to borrow a sharp knife to finish off the guy in the trunk, but to his mom they have to cut off the hoof of a dear that hit the car. And the scene where Tommy does kill the young kid for joking with him and then Jimmy gets mad at him, not for killing the guy but because he doesn't want to dig a hole tonight. There are so many tiny observations in Goodfellas that give it the authenticity it has. And it is a film that stays with you for years to come. I think this is Scorcese's best film and although I understand and accept why the academy awarded Dances With Wolves the accolades it did, if this film would have swept the Oscars that year, no one would have been surprised. It is a landmark film and I think it is one of the best films ever made. And again, taking no credit away from Coppolla's Godfather epics, but this gets inside the mafia on a deeper level. It goes one step beyond what Coppolla gave us, and for that Goodfellas should be remembered as the best film about gangsters ever made.
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not so good as it's imdb ranking
dcousquer9 July 2003
Watching this good movie, you feel like watching the Sopranos,moving from one casual killing to another, with an italian family meal or two. Scorsese is so clever you're not bored any minute : situations are funny, suspense is there, both characters and actors are good. But you cannot go as far as liking the "hero" or feeling anything for him except a mild sympathy. so, all in all I give this movie a 7 mark but do not really understand its ranking, except if some have mistaken it for the godfather...
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Italian Storytelling
tedg22 May 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Competent filmmakers are rare -- there is no doubt that Scorsese is competent and should be celebrated on that score alone.

But his films are empty. They take you into a gangsterland (even `Temptation,' even `Innocence') and snap along until they end and then you leave. But you leave with nothing, and I expect more from a competent filmmaker.

The problem -- I speculate -- is the degree to which Scorsese is locked in the Italian tradition of storytelling and its 60's incarnation in neo-realistic films. This is a matter of performance, where the force of the story is all in the force of the storyteller. The performer here is Scorsese. His screen persona is epitomized in the Pesci character: driving, driving the group by pressing on. By speaking over others. By showing the threat of violence.

There's power here. It grabs your attention like Pesci grabs that of the fellas. I can see Scorsese constantly saying to himself that he'd be nuts to live any other way. But aside from some storytelling mechanics, there are no ideas here, no ambiguities, no interesting characters, no plot maturity, no symmetries, nothing to wonder about and discuss on your way home.

But we should salute some of the decisions. Scorsese chooses to frame the film as a story told by the Liotta character. (He plays an Irishman, but looks and acts Italian.) Narrative voiceovers. A clever framing device with us locked in the car at midway through and mirrored in the beginning. The end with Liotta looking directly and speaking into the camera and shooting us.

And the camera. Much has been said of the camera. The long, tracking shots, especially the much-copied entrance through the kitchen. The pullback-zoom toward the end when Liotta and DeNiro meet. The occasional corner ceiling shot. Normally I would love this, especially since it is in the framework of a consistent notion of the eye. What bothers me is what that eye is: it is dependent on the characters.

The characters drive this movie and pull the camera. Consider the kitchen entry scene: the camera is on a string behind Liotta. We follow, always follow, just as the fellas at Pesci's table have to follow his prattling. Compare that to dePalma's similar long tracking shot of Bruce Willis at the start of `Bonfire of the Vanities.' DePalma's camera isn't dragged along behind by the force of Willis. It floats to the front, the side, swooping around, independently curious. We the viewers are masters of the story. It's the difference between the northern and southern European storytelling traditions.

Seeing how little deference the camera gives us really grates when the payoff is so slight. It makes DeNiro pretty hard to take. Yes, we all get impressed by the power of his performance. But it is always clear that it is a performance: we are not seeing a character but a `serious actor,' employed as a tractor to pull us along.

Is this a great film? Well, it did not change my life, give my dreams new form, or provide the basis for any meaningful discussion with my wife. It didn't help me define myself or my world. It provided no new perspectives on the things I struggle with. (And many, many films do one or more of these things.) So for me no.

What a waste.
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Rightfully hailed as one of the greatest gangster epics of all time
davideo-212 February 2006
STAR RATING: ***** The Works **** Just Misses the Mark *** That Little Bit In Between ** Lagging Behind * The Pits

A film (one I'm sure you're all familiar with) charting the rise of Henry Hill, a young man growing up in a neighbourhood in 1950s New Jersey, who is in awe of the wise guys who lurk in his neighbourhood and the respect and power they command. With low prospects and an abusive father, Henry can see no other way to go than to become one of them and we follow him on his journey as he becomes ingratiated in them, the crimes he carries out for them, his marriage that starts well before going disasterously off the rails, a spell in jail after a job gone wrong and finally where he goes wildly off the rails when he starts taking/dealing drugs and him finally ending up having to testify against his former friends when he becomes a liability to them and they put out a contract on his head, which is still in force today.

Robert De Niro. Ray Liotta. Joe Pesci. Three men with faces you wouldn't want to mess with and all perfectly cast in the leading roles in Martin Scorsese's legendary crime epic. All men are on fine form but, in ironically the lesser role, special mention to Pesci who steals the show as the wildly psychotic Tommy.

Scorsese's masterpiece was one of the first films to really make use of the camera in new ways, from the long, lingering shot to the still shot, used excellently at various points in the movie. These are usually complimented by a fine 50s soundtrack playing over them, with some real lingering melodies from that era.

The story works on two levels, both enlighteningly as an expose of how the gangster world and the gangsters themselves actually have very similar philosophies and worries as normal 9-5 people (with regards to families and staying on top of the competition) as well as showing just why the attraction to that life is so great (hitting home most forcefully at the end when Henry is forced to acknowledge that he'll have to lead the rest of his life like a 'shnuck!') and also engagingly as we watch a man rise from nothing to great heights only to lose it all again through his own bad choices and misguided loyalties. Indeed, as the film spans four decades, we do leave the film feeling as though we've known these characters for years.

Coppola's The Godfather will remain the most accomplished crime epic of all time, but Scorsese's effort can never be scoffed at and will rightly remain one of the most well remembered films of it's sort, if you've got the stomach to sit through it in certain parts. *****
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So what's all the fuss about then?
richard_peers21 February 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I bought this film on DVD on the strength of two things - one, de Niro's excellent track record, and two, the very high rating on IMDB (in the Top 50). Having watched it, I have to ask what all the fuss is about? This is a very ordinary film which explores at extreme length the intimate details of the lives of the most childish individuals ever committed to celluloid. Whether or not people like these really exist, I found it completely uninteresting. I have no idea why so many people are fascinated by the mafia - maybe it's envy of the power - but they should not hold a fascination for civilised human beings. People who deal out death as a punishment for the slightest reverse in their lives deserve to be ignored or reprimanded, not lauded and celebrated as in this film. For every Henry Hill, there are a thousand or more kept in poverty because of the crime which supports his odious lifestyle. It would be nice to think there was some kind of a moral ending, but even then, we see Henry selling out his colleagues just to keep himself somewhere nearer the feeding trough.

How anyone can rate this film so highly is beyond me; how so many of you IMDB browsers can and do, just beggars belief!
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The Ultimate Gangster Film
seventhsamurai19544 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Goodfellas is the type of movie that has it all. Action, thriller, suspense and even some comedy thrown in makes this epic film the best of it's kind. The pace of this film is brilliant. There is no dull scene, no fillers and it leaves you completely entertained from start to finish. Joe Pesci is absolutely amazing and deserved the Oscar no question. You don't even have to be a person that likes gangster films to appreciate Goodfellas. If you were one of the people that found The Godfather to be a little slow or boring at times, I highly recommend this film as a substitute "mafia" film. You will definitely get your money's worth if you rent this one. Best film of the 90's without a doubt.
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One Of The Best Movies EVER
norbi_nw18 March 2008
Most of the time when i see a good movie I come to IMDb, and read some user comments. I like to read the negative ones, to see how STUPID people are. Well today after i saw this movie (i'm 20 years old, but never saw this movie before - shame) i wanted to see what do other people say about it. This movie deserves 11/10 stars. I really REALLY don't know why didn't it got an Oscar, but it's pity. Now 1 IDIOT user wrote "why do people rate movies like this so high?" The only thing i can say is: Dude, life is not only pink and furry, you have to look at the other side of life, the dark side. In this movie you will find a superb story of how was life back then, when the mobs ruled all. Violence is this guys problem... Dude, take a look around, and see for yourself. There is MUCH MUCH more violence nowadays then there was back then, sad but true. And at the end of the movie Ray really broke my heart: he ordered spaghetti and sauce, and he got ketchup with cheap noodles - NOTHING is like it was back then.. EVERYTHING is falling apart, we eat junk food, have to "wait in line", quality of products drop, no good music... (just compare the Mercedes cobra to a new E class.. cobra's simply wouldn't break down - Mercedes almost got bankrupted - new cars, in 5-8 years u have to change em) but lets get back to the movie. Another user wrote "WHY IS THIS BETTER THAN THE MATRIX? MATRIX IS THE BEST MOVIE EVER.." well i don't know what to say.. simply no comment. How old are you kid? 13? Matrix.. good movie, but Goodfellas is 1000x better. You will find action, good story, betray, love and all in this movie. Tommy would kill you if he would read that matrix is better lol. and the most important thing is, that it is TRUE STORY. Geee... i wish i could live in the 50-60's. real life, true friends. Watch this movie, and feel it. I just love the old mafia. So brutal, yet so catching. always together.. in good and bad..
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May I differ?
FilmSnobby25 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Overrated in 1990, *Goodfellas* has grown even more overrated with the passage of 15 years. It's based on the -- I daresay -- untrustworthy recollections of a half-Irish, half-Sicilian mobster-turned-informant who recently, I am reliably informed, appears as an addled, half-witted guest on "The Howard Stern Show". The narrative arc, if one can accurately term it that, spans 30 years, roughly from 1950 to 1980. This, of course, gives Martin Scorsese every incentive to soak the background with dozens of pop-culture tunes ranging from Bobby Vinton to Derek and the Dominoes. His use of the last 3 lilting minutes of "Layla" as some sort of ironic counterpoint in the extended montage that reveals the corpses of a dozen gruesomely executed mobsters in various places across New York City only underscores his utterly conventional taste in music. One wonders whether Scorsese would've been happier as a Top 40 deejay instead of a filmmaker.

His conventionality -- a surprising development, given his success with such Seventies classics as *Mean Streets* and *Taxi Driver*, both infused with his uniquely individual aesthetic -- extends beyond the soundtrack to the actual movie itself. Lovers of this movie will doubtless be distressed to learn that the various stylistic techniques Scorsese uses here -- whip-pans, sudden freezes that supposedly add ironic punctuation to the narrative, even the use of pop music as commentary on a montage -- all derive from French (yes, I said French) auteurs from the New Wave school of the Sixties and Seventies. These same lovers of this movie would probably also consider Orson Welles to be an overrated old fuddy-duddy, but that doesn't stop Scorsese from pointlessly laying on at least two sequences of long tracking-shots through complicated spatial arrangements without cuts, the device Welles perfected if not wholly invented. (An even less impressive feat for Scorsese, who benefits from the technological advance of the Steadicam. Welles did it with old-fashioned cameras on dollies and hydraulic cranes.) I believe that all these borrowings betray Scorsese's fundamental, perhaps unconscious, lack of confidence in the power of his story, here.

For the screenplay, let it be said at once, is poorly constructed. The narrative focuses on trivial events, like a gofer getting shot in the foot during a card game or Paul Sorvino slicing garlic to atomic thinness, and then presents the world-famous Lufthansa heist through hearsay. The movie's main character, Ray Liotta as Henry Hill, hears a news report about the heist while in the shower. One may reasonably ask why we're in the shower with Henry when we should be in the getaway car with Robert De Niro's Jimmy Conway and his henchmen. This, of course, leads one to reasonably ask why we're not watching a movie about Jimmy Conway instead of Henry Hill, the latter being, more often than not, on the periphery of the movie's main events. Having Liotta narrate the exciting stuff for us in voice-over is no substitute. Indeed, the movie is cripplingly dependent on voice-over narration, perhaps because Mr. Hill's own story, in and of itself, isn't interesting enough to really warrant a honest-to-goodness movie in the first place. As the movie drones on with Liotta's loquacious narrator ceaselessly filling in the narrative gaps, one suspiciously wonders -- for example -- why Hill and Conway are NOT whacked for bumping off "made man" Billy Bats, while Joe Pesci's Tommy DOES get whacked. All three men were involved in the killing, yet only Tommy pays the price. Why? Does Conway's and Hill's Irishness serve as a magical force-field? -- I don't get it. Well, I did say at the beginning of this review that Hill was an untrustworthy storyteller. From the evidence, it appears that Hill was quite conversant with his mob boss's cooking techniques (hence all the time wasted on cooking scenes and shots of gorgeously laid-out family feasts) and far less conversant with the important incidents that are the subject of this film. Note too how inconsistently handled Henry's character is throughout the film: one moment he pistol-whips almost to death a sexual predator who messes with his girlfriend, the next he's aghast when some punk kid gets carelessly killed. Hmm -- smells like self-hagiography to me.

After an overly-edited, chaotic, 30-minute final act in which a sweaty-faced, puffy-eyed Liotta drives around the suburbs, peering up through his windshield at police helicopters, dropping off hot guns, going to the grocery store, zipping back home to make meatballs (AGAIN with the cooking!), and so forth, he gets pinched for good. Under the umbrella of the Witness Protection program, he finally rats out his mob bosses . . . and it occurs to us that this should have been the focus of the film all along, i.e., the FBI's successful eroding of the criminal code using Witness Protection. But Scorsese crams it in during the last five minutes of this 3-hour movie. A little less time in the kitchen and in the shower, and a little more time getting down to business, might have made this movie pretty great.

As it is, the performers give *Goodfellas* undeniable energy, almost mitigating all its flaws. Fans of good New York actors will forgive this movie everything: Liotta, De Niro, Pesci, Sorvino, and Lorraine Bracco do THEIR job, at least. And perhaps this is why the movie is so well-loved. Colorful characters limned by great performances are entertaining. But, in my judgment, the virtues of verisimilitude can't overcome what amounts to a 3-hour-long non-story.

3 stars out of 10.
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Not a bad movie, but not that great either
KubricksRube27 February 2007
Typical Scorsese effort: average crime movie script dressed up with great acting and pretentious, way overly stylish camera-work.

I'm amazed this movie holds anyone's attention, let alone earns the "best movie ever!" praise you hear about this one. As I said, I didn't think it was bad, it was just wasn't that good. I had to force myself to keep watching, trying once again to see what other people see in Scorsese. I get the feeling all the praise and accolades heaped on him are just a big prank being played on me.

At least the Godfather was an actual good movie, although certainly no masterpiece.

A far, far better movie than this that came out around the same time would be Miller's Crossing. It's actually entertaining--you don't feel like killing yourself after watching it for just a few minutes, which is another thing about Scorsese I don't like. His slickness, bleak subject matter, unredeeming violence all combine to create an effect like a low-frequency earthquake hum or day-old shellfish--it's nauseating and depressing. I honestly spend the rest of the day depressed and joyless after watching a Scorsese film. You may say that's the power of the film maker, but I say that's simply the power of the subject matter. Manos: the Hands of Fate is pretty depressing for much the same reason.

Art shouldn't always be uplifting (I love Bicycle Thief and the Year of Living Dangerously) but if it's going to put such misery on the screen then it should have a good reason for doing it and it should teach me something.

A good example of how hollow the praise for Scorsese and his works rings is the famous Copacabana scene, a two or three minute steadicam shot following two characters from the outside of a nightclub as they wind through the kitchens and so forth and end up at their table. Scorsese's fans call this "the best shot ever." As I said, it's a long shot of a fellow getting a table. Kubrick did great tracking shots too, but the key to a great tracking shot, like any shot, is that it communicates something significant to us, puts us in the state of mind of the characters, etc. But this was just some people walking to their table. The difference is contextual and often subtle, but it's there.
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Trash. Utter trash.
mr_tambourine_man729 August 2004
Goodfellas makes a strong case for itself as the most overrated movie of the 80s or any decade. Never in my life have I encountered a film less deserving of its critical and popular accolades. After watching it for the second time recently (to make sure my impression from a viewing years earlier was accurate), I feel every person involved in the picture, and particularly Martin Scorsese, deserves to be punished severely for inflicting Goodfellas upon me.

Goodfellas has absolutely nothing to offer. It has neither the wisdom nor the compassion to say or reveal anything about life or human beings. Anyway, Goodfellas is not interested in that. It just wants to be smart, hip, and funny. With such lofty goals, it's a wonder this entire star-studded cast of actors and filmmakers fell so very, very short.

Goodfellas is not smart. It is not intelligent enough to understand what it think it portrays on an individual or larger basis. It does not somehow explain or explore the mob psyche, the existence of organized crime in America, or anything else for that matter. Despite the fact that it is taken from actual events and people, it seems to desire no contact with reality.

Goodfellas is not hip. Apparently Martin Scorsese was not aware that there is nothing less cool than trying hard to be cool. Goodfellas is full of flashy camera moves, tough looking guys in swank suits, and more fast, colloquial dialogue than you could beat out of Dashiell Hammett, but none of it adds up to anything but slime. Yes, that's right: slime. Goodfellas is so obnoxious you want to take a magical eraser and scrub each of its characters back into the pure white on the page from which they sprang. Is this an honorable aim for a film? To make you hate its characters, to make you hate its voice? Let me be the one to say that cynicism is generally a good cover for laziness, and as an approach to life it is one step above nihilism. Real cynicism has no place in art.

Goodfellas is not funny. A complete lack of respect for human life is not a secret recipe for brilliant ironic comedy. It is disgusting, really, and those who laugh reserve a spot for themselves in the grime between the cracks under the bottom of the barrel of good humor.

The performances in Goodfellas, much lauded, are ridiculously one-sided. How wonderful they managed to span the chasm between looking tough and looking smug - all except for Ray Liotta who has to do the balancing act between being paranoid and annoyed. Bravo.

Of note is Scorsese's choice to play pop music over 95 percent of the film, presumably so that we have something to listen to while we are busy ignoring his movie.

Goodfellas is trash. Utter trash. The only thing I took out of it is that it is unwise to let a gangster stand behind you.
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Classic modern day gangster film
bob the moo30 January 2002
Starting with the 1950's, we follow Henry Hill from a teen who tries to realise his dream of `always wanting to be a gangster'. He goes from running errands for Paulie Cicero to become a trusted man within his organisation. Working with James Conway and Tommy De Vito, Henry navigates his violent lifestyle where death is never more than a few steps away.

For my generation this was one of our first introductions to Scorsese doing a real tour-de-force of a film - I was too young to appreciate Raging Bull and his 70's work when it first came out and the eighties were a quiet period (except the brilliant king of comedy). So here was a great introduction to a fanatastic director. The plot is spread over such a long time (in terms of story years) that it's hard to get beneath the surface events, but this is a very minor problem given that it's such a great ride. The focus is on events and the culture rather than a deep story and as such Scorsese works with set pieces and events rather than too much characterisation. However the story moves so effectively through the action - Scorsese uses long tracking shots, pumping soundtracks and scenes of building tension and sudden violence to create a masterful experience.

The weakness with lack of depth is really put to the back of your mind by the action, the direction and the performances. The story is well held together by Hill's narrative and the shallowness is easily over looked. Liotta is excellent as the aspiring gangster and is full of self seeking menace. De Niro does what he does best in terms of the Irish gangster role but the standout is Pesci. Pesci gives a strong role as the vicious Tommy and deserved his Oscar. The rest of the cast are all excellent whether it's major roles (Paul Sorvino, Lorraine Bracco) or minor characters (Frank Vincent, Sivero).

The real star here is Scorsese - he uses the camera and the soundtrack to great effect and gets great performances from his cast. A modern gangster feast.
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Ugly Movie
maybe432 June 2003
Warning: Spoilers

On a personal note...this movie was filmed, in part, in front of my family's home (the red house across from Bracco's "home" in the know the scene...Ray Liotta runs across the street and pistol whips the neighbor's son, who is polishing his red Corvette - since I was, in reality, the son who lived across the street, I suppose, that was me taking all that punishment). Anyway, I was home visiting when they filmed for over a month on my street. It was interesting to watch the care (bordering on fanaticism) that Scorcese took in endlessly rehearsing minor scenes and then finally filming them. Which leads me to my point.

So much time, money, and effort spent to produce such an unpleasant film. Lord knows, it's not that everybody needs to be Pollyanna...we all are aware how truly wretched life can be...but why spend time watching loathsome, worthless characters act out pointless violence? There just has to be some better way of spending our time. Yep, we are base Scorcese incessantly likes to remind us in this and his other films...Thank you! We get the idea! However, why not take all that talent and time and produce something the uplifts the human spirit rather than denigrates it? "A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?" Glorify gangsters, not me!

OK...Goodfellas lovers...come on and pistol whip me...I'm waiting.
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Cinematic perfection (minor spoilers)
ill_behavior7 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This film shows us a life lived to the excess. The tone of the film suggests more a study of social behavior than outright gangster film, I have even heard it being classed as a modern day noir, whatever, it's brilliant.

The acting is amazing, the cinematography is top bracket, the music is heavenly (in it's depiction of Hell). Scorcese was born to make this movie, it's impossible to study it the first few times you watch because it sweeps you up and dumps you down at the end. It leaves you breathless. There is brutal violence, drug use, and colourful language, but there's no use complaining because this is the mafia, these are bad people, what do you expect?

Told in flashback it is based on the story of Henry Hill, a boy who grows up dreaming of making it in the Mafia, he works his way into the higher ranks of the organised crime syndicate and through a stunning series of set pieces his coke-addled paranoia shows us his downfall and eventual fate. There are various voice-overs to give the action a sense of perspective, but there are so many things going on it's best just to let it flow.

De Niro and Pesci are at the top of their game, and the supporting cast give this film a weight unmatched by many. As examples of perfection of the art of film-making go, not many texts can match Goodfellas, it's utterly enthralling.
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Can A Sick Film Be A Good One, too? I Guess So.
ccthemovieman-112 January 2007
Sad to say, almost everyone I know - at least, the males - who has seen this movie likes it very much. I enjoy it, too. I say "sad" because it's a sick film in many ways. Also, when you have 240-plus f-words in a movie, I mean, come on! In that respect alone, I'm embarrassed to say this movie is part of my collection. That's simply because it's a fascinating story, for the full 145 minutes.

This is a rough film, to say the least. It's not just the language; there are some brutally- violent parts. Joe Pesci's "Tommy DeVito" seems to be involved with some of the worst of that violence Supposedly, the movie is a based on a true story but how much of this is true, who knows? It certainly provides a vivid portrait of Mafia life in New York City. I really loved the narration by Ray Liotta - who doesn't? - and enjoyed the music in here. Most people comment about the music; it's a good soundtrack. Pesci, Liotta, Robert De Niro and Paul Sorvino all make for extremely interesting gangster characters.

With all the language, which includes at least 15 usages of the Lord's name in vain and some subtle religious cheap shots (not surprising considering who directed the film), the gory spots this film gets a little too rough-edged at times. I've watched thousands of crime movies, and this gets to be a little much here and there but if none of the above offends you, you're in for a treat with an intense crime story that is very watchable.
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