Film Review: GoodFellas (1990)

Release Date: September 9th, 1990 (Venice Film Festival)
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: Nicholas Pileggi, Martin Scorsese
Based on: Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi
Music by: various
Cast: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino, Frank Sivero, Tony Darrow, Mike Starr, Frank Vincent, Chuck Low, Frank DiLeo, Henny Youngman, Gina Mastrogiacomo, Catherine Scorsese, Charles Scorsese, Suzanne Shepard, Debi Mazar, Kevin Corrigan, Michael Imperioli, Illeana Douglas, Tony Sirico, Samuel L. Jackson, Vincent Pastore, Tobin Bell, Vincent Gallo

Warner Bros., 146 Minutes

Review:

“[narrating] I know there are women, like my best friends, who would have gotten out of there the minute their boyfriend gave them a gun to hide. But I didn’t. I got to admit the truth. It turned me on.” – Karen

This is a perfect movie in every way.

Motion pictures like this are hard to review because it’s just going to sound like glowing praise and lack actual objectivity. But man, this is a perfect movie and arguably Martin Scorsese’s best.

Revisiting it now, I’d have to say that it is, indeed, my personal favorite. Considering how great of a director that Scorsese is, this is a film that is in good company but still sits on the mountaintop of the auteur’s stupendous and legendary work.

The film is perfectly cast, top-to-bottom, and features a slew of iconic characters with dozens of memorable lines, which have transcended pop culture and for good reason.

The pacing of this film is perfect, as is the story structure. While I haven’t read the book it was based on and can’t compare the two, this just flows tremendously well from the early backstory part all the way to the end, which sees the main character, Henry Hill, rat out his friend and mentor, Jimmy Conway.

I love that this movie is also full of guys that would go on to star in one of the greatest television series ever made, The Sopranos. You’ve also got really small roles for other actors who would carve out nice careers for themselves like Samuel Jackson, Kevin Corrigan, Debi Mazar, Vincent Gallo, Tobin Bell and Illeana Douglas.

Additionally, one thing that really does wonders for this film is that it doesn’t have a traditional score. Instead, Scorsese filled the movie with the pop tunes of the time in which the scenes take place. The music added a lot to the movie and really made it feel more authentic and genuine.

This is also perfectly edited, never wasting a moment while also allowing you to get to know and like some of the more minor mobster characters… and there are many.

In the end, this is a fascinating crime story about a rat. It’s incredible seeing him go from being so loyal, to hitting the drugs hard and then selling out those closest to him over the course of his entire life. It’s also a true story, which just adds to the weight of it.

Goodfellas is a masterpiece, plain and simple.

Rating: 10/10

TV Review: Lilyhammer (2012-2014)

Release Date: January 25th, 2012 – December 17th, 2014
Directed by: various
Written by: Anne Bjørnstad, Eilif Skodvin, Steven Van Zandt
Music by: Frans Bak, Steven Van Zandt
Cast: Steven Van Zandt, Trond Fausa Aurvåg, Steinar Sagen, Marian Saastad Ottesen, Sven Nordin, Kyrre Hellum, Anne Krigsvoll, Tony Sirico (cameos), Michael Badalucco

Rubicon TV, Renegade TV, NRK, Netflix, 24 Episodes, 43-58 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

*Written in 2014.

I’ve loved Steven Van Zandt since I first saw him on The Sopranos, as the character Silvio Dante. On Lilyhammer, he plays an almost identical character. I’m not complaining, I actually quite enjoy it. In fact, this feels like it could be a sequel to The Sopranos and in a spiritual sense, it is.

The plot, in a nutshell, is about a top mob guy giving up his new boss in exchange for witness protection. He requests to be sent to Lilyhammer in Norway because he loved the ’94 Winter Olympics and he feels that it is the last place anyone will look for him. What happens is an awesome series of events that makes this show one of the best new shows of the last few years.

The cast of characters in Lilyhammer are unique and thoroughly entertaining. There is the sidekick and partner Torgeir, who thinks his new life is a Tarantino movie, his brother Roar, who is stupidly hilarious, Jan, the king of bad luck, and several others who round this thing out.

At first glance, this show doesn’t tread on new territory but once you get into it and see this Sopranos-like world unfold in Norway, the situations that follow are great. In fact, out of all the Netflix shows that are streaming now, I’d have to put this in the top three. It is a perfect balance of drama and comedy and Van Zandt shines as the focal point of this series: no longer being one of many secondary actors like he was on The Sopranos.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: The Sopranos