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Reel Look: GoodFellas

So I mostly been posting about comic books on here. I love comics but this is called Starman Cinema. As much as comic books are a love of mine, there was something I loved first and is one my absolute passions in life, film.

As a filmmaker, there are those films that inspire you and truly make you wanna do what you just saw. Films that make you just passionate about film and instills the drive to create a story and art from within. That’s what I feel like discussing with this new series: Reel Look. So the first film I choose to discuss? GoodFellas.


Cliche right to start with what I would personally call my favorite film ever? Well my blog so…yeah. A masterpiece of cinema storytelling, GoodFellas tells the story of Henry Hill who as far back as he can remember, always wanted to be a gangster. Having worked as a kid for the Lucchese crime family across the street from his overcrowded house. He becomes enamored by the life, the cars, women, money, and most importantly, the power. The power that comes with being one, getting whatever you want, its hard for someone to not be taken by it. We follow Henry’s life from being errand boy to a fully realized gangster.

Based on the experience of Henry Hill from the book Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family by Nicholas Pileggi, who co-wrote the screenplay with director Martin Scorsese, its a fascinating tale to witness, thanks to the writing but more so from the brilliant performance of Ray Liotta as Henry himself. His rise and fall is what I think, yes even better than Charles Foster Kane, the best is ever been seen on film. Scorsese has seemed to perfectly capture the way to do the rise and fall story of truly scumbag people like Henry here and Ace Rosenthal in Casino and recently with Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street. The film captures it perfectly in two amazing scenes. The first being when Henry goes to take his girlfriend, later wife, then ex-wife, Karen to the Copacbana, the restaurant Henry and gang frequent in an uninterrupted steadicam shot that is so well crafted and executed that you truly feel you’re following them as well. Showing that this is as good as life gets for Henry and the people in his position. Its the life that we dream of.

Money, booze, power, drugs, being feared, getting away with murder, women. These are things we all see in mafia films and as usual Scorsese here shows everything about the life, professionally and personally but isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. Why this isn’t a life one might really want as expertly shown before in The Godfather, (Which I’m debating of doing as a segment here as well what the fuck else could I add to those films?) and done perfectly here. Sure we all want success and anything we want but do we really want it to come with the worry of being killed anywhere at anytime everyday? Not really. The other scene that perfectly depicts this is Henry’s last day as a wiseguy. That just is so well put together its a feat of great direction and editing but also conveying wonderfully, how far Henry has fallen due to his own ego and wanting of it all. Just great stuff here.

(Sadly the only video of it I can find with the song used at the beginning of it used throughout it. Bare with me.)

This is a huge part in me wanting to do any form of storytelling. To tell a story so compelling in such an engrossing way because this film just sucks you in, invites you into be apart of its family, this huge, loving, caring, murderous family is simply amzing. You get so truly involved and I felt that as a five-year-old child watching this for the first time and it still does as a 24-year-old film school graduate. Its a movie that I hold up as the best possible way to tell a story. It was used often at my film school, University of Central Arkansas digital filmmaking program (represent!), most notably for this little neat camera trick of pulling the camera back on a dolly while zooming in, brilliant! Seeing someone do that made me want to do something similar, to make neat, cool shots and camera trick like that.  Its this film and Thunderball (A future installment) as a child that just made me so happy to be watching something. Next to Batman: The Animated Series and Animanicas of course.

Seeing tricks like that were and are still neat to me in several ways. I’m absolutely floored when I see something very cool I like technique wise in film and TV.

The acting is also what of course helps draw me in with Joe Pesci deservedly so got award recognition for his amazing supporting performance as basically the hotheaded, out-there wild card. But there is some sincerity to how much he really loves what he does. He and Henry are best friends. Robert DeNiro well he’s in a Scorsese movie so you’re getting an amazing performance out of him. Lorraine Bracco is phenomenal here as Henry’s wife and man she owns it. I could go over how amazing everyone is but then this would be a very long post and you don’t have the time. Easy to say, acting is incredible in this film. Everyone hired for a Scorsese film brings there A-game.

The film looks incredible as well with cinematography from Michael Ballhaus. You just get sucked in from that opening scene and many more memorable ones like Henry blowing up all those cars as a kid, Lorraine standing over Henry with a gun, how the goodfellas are in jail, and many more. There was passion in every aspect here in all the sequences and it shines through on camera. The film is simply breathtaking.

I’m not gonna go on a rant about how fucking Dances With Wolves wasn’t deserving of Best Picture. I could, but we all know how the Academy is at this point so its useless to bitch about it. But instead, I’m gonna get me some pasta and enjoy what might as well be the 1,000th viewing of GoodFellas for me. Hope you enjoyed reading this.

NEXT TIME: Thunderball.


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