Thursday, 16 June 2016

Sydney Film Festival: Goodfellas (1990)

Sydney Film Festival: (My) Day Three

Goodfellas (1990)

Director: Martin Scorsese

My attempts to watch this classic film are almost farcical. When it was at the library, I didn't borrow it, choosing something else instead. Then, it wasn't there. So I tried the DVD service I subscribe to; both the ordinary DVD and the Bluray copy were marked in the dreaded 'Reserve' section, meaning the company is waiting to purchase a new copy (which usually takes months). Was I ever going to see Scorsese's movie?

When I saw this year's festival was having a Scorsese retrospective, and that Goodfellas was at a great time at the Art Gallery, I knew I'd be there. I am so glad I went. For one thing, the film was an actual film projection, with all the scratches and dots that add lovely texture to the experience, and reminded me of going to the movies in the 90s (I miss the dots in the corner, telling the projectionist to change the reel!). This is also a great film, though you probably didn't need me to tell you that.

While gangster films are one of my least favourite genres, it was easy to get swept up in this world and with its characters. Joe Pesci's DeVito steals every scene his is in, being both hilarious and terrifying at the same time. De Niro plays Jimmy the Gent at a quiet level which disguises his real menace, and Ray Liotta is suitably baby faced as Henry Hill, the guy brings us into this world. Lorraine Bracco is also great as Henry's wife, who finds herself entranced by the money, power and familial ties of Henry's friends.

The film has many of Scorsese's traits, with pop music being used to place us in time and provide energy to the scenes; the freeze frames and voice overs giving the audience a god-like view of the story; and, of course, the film references.

Goodfellas has not knocked Taxi Driver or Raging Bull off the top spot of my favourite Scorsese's films, but it is darn close to these two. Though clocking at around two-and-a-half hours, it doesn't ever drag, and manages to inject a lot of humour into the story, even if the laugh is a nervous one. See it anyway you can, but if possible, do so on a big screen from a film print.

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