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When Martin Scorsese, one of the world's most skillful and respected directors, reunited with two-time Oscar-winner Robert De Niro in GoodFellas, the result was one of the most powerful films of the year. Based on the true-life best seller Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi and backed by a dynamic pop/rock oldies soundtrack, critics and filmgoers alike declared GoodFellas great. It was named 1990's best film by the New York, Los Angeles and National Society of Film Critics. And it earned six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Robert De Niro received wide recognition for his performance as veteran criminal Jimmy "The Gent" Conway. And as the volatile Tommy DeVito, Joe Pesci walked off with the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Academy Award nominee Lorraine Bracco, Ray Liotta and Paul Sorvino also turned in electrifying performances. You have to see it to believe it - then watch it again. GoodFellas explores the criminal life like no other movie.
Theatrical Trailer:Two theatrical trailers
Martin Scorsese's 1990 masterpiece GoodFellasimmortalizes the hilarious, horrifying life of actual gangster Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), from his teen years on the streets of New York to his anonymous exile under the Witness Protection Program. The director's kinetic style is perfect for recounting Hill's ruthless rise to power in the 1950s as well as his drugged-out fall in the late 1970s; in fact, no one has ever rendered the mental dislocation of cocaine better than Scorsese. Scorsese uses period music perfectly, not just to summon a particular time but to set a precise mood. GoodFellas is at least as good as The Godfather without being in the least derivative of it. Joe Pesci's psycho improvisation of Mobster Tommy DeVito ignited Pesci as a star, Lorraine Bracco scores the performance of her life as the love of Hill's life, and every supporting role, from Paul Sorvino to Robert De Niro, is a miracle.
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But now comes the 25th anniversary edition of "GoodFellas", in which the movie has been given a 4K resolution from the original camera negative. The results? "GoodFellas" doesn't look great; it looks absolutely phenomenal! The image has a fine, naturally grain quality that gives the movie a documentary feel (which is appropriate since that was the filmmakers' intentions), there is greater detail in even the extreme long shots that weren't noticed in the previous versions (just watch Karen's wedding scene and the famous Copacabana long take in both this version and the 2007 one and the difference in quality is staggering), there are various shades of blackness and color that give the picture more depth (the burial and subsequent digging of Billy Batts, for example, looks even more detailed than before) and contrast, unbalanced in the previous version, is excellent. At long last, "GoodFellas" has come out in a presentation that would make the even stoic Paul Cicero crack a smile.
"GoodFellas" is a film that needs no explanation or even a sentence of exultation, but I'll do it anyway. It is a film that changed the way we look at gangster movies. "The Godfather", as brilliant of a film it is, was pure gangster mythology. "GoodFellas", however, went the opposite direction by depicting the life of organized crime as if it was real. These were people you could have met in the street; seemingly nice, likable people that just happen to be criminals.
Scorsese's dramatization of Henry Hill's life as a gangster shows us the seduction, the allure and ultimately the sickness and fatalistic consequences of living the life as a somebody in a world of nobodies. By revealing the skulls behind the smiles, Scorsese shows us the dark side of corruption under such facile smiles. Rarely has violence been portrayed less glamorously, with more moral effectiveness and absolute repulsion. Rather it's the brutal murder of an innocent waiter, the slaying of a made man in the trunk of a car, the strangulation of a whiny but harmless hair wig owner or the senseless murder of all involved in a heist out of fear of being caught, these are senseless killings by senseless people - the work of scared, inadequate men.
And yet, and what makes this film great, is that Scorsese makes us care for these characters. As demonic of a psychopath that Joe Pesci is, we are still shocked to see him gunned down. We sense Liotta's paranoia when he rightly feels that he is being chased around by a surveillance helicopter during his drug hubris. We feel De Niro and Sorvino's sense of betrayal when Liotta testifies in court. All this is a testament to the magnificent acting and Scorsese's flawless direction that shows us a group of human beings who become intoxicated in the glamour of gangsterism, only to be destroyed by it.
Gangster movies make us admire such vile people because they go against the norm of what society dictates, functioning like outlaws who rebel against authority and do things their own way. The triumph of Scorsese's "GoodFellas", and the horrific irony, is that as much as we don't want to admit, we want to live that lifestyle too. We want to go to airports and make off with a couple of hundred thousands of dollars without taking hostages. We want to park in front of fire hydrant and not get tickets. We want to hijack trucks and use them for personal goods. We want go to restaurants without having to wait on line. We want to beat people up and make them stop complaining. In short, we want to rule. Maybe that's why some people prefer "GoodFellas" over "The Godfather".
But is the life of a criminal worth taking? Scorsese clearly doesn't, but he shows us that criminality is a temptation for ordinary people. Lorraine Bracco's performance as the naive Karen is a perfect example of how anyone could be enticed into criminality. Karen doesn't understand the world she is getting herself into and only looks at the surface. It's only by the movie's third act when everything falls apart for her and her husband that she realizes the consequences of this deadly lifestyle.
Having watched "GoodFellas" hundreds of times, I continue to marvel at the film's superb direction, outstanding performances, rich visuals and themes, moral ambiguity and its seamless blend of horror, drama and black humor. It's a film that 25 years after its release in 1990 continues to affect me as much as it does to everyone in my generation. Most movies grow dated after numerous viewings; not "GoodFellas". Now on a spellbinding 25th anniversary Blu-Ray set that restores the film to its original form, the movie's power has been enriched. You don't know "GoodFellas" until you've watched this set. Get it now while you stand can.
If you are interested in mob or mafia movies, I don't think you'll find one more engaging and in-your-face as this one. Of course, movies like this can only be so truthful about the material and people they are covering but at no point did I find that scenes and situations in this movie were overblown or so highly fictionalized as to defy belief.
The fact that this movie covers a very limited portion of a mafia gang and neighborhood and that it is covered from the viewpoint of one person that experienced it makes it a very easy story to follow and doesn't give you an avalanche of characters you have trouble remembering from scene to scene. The narration provided by the main character also helps you stay in the story and also helps you see inside their mindset while various events are happening.
I believe that because this movie follows a person from the time they were a kid with an eventual wish to be like the mobsters that were in his neighborhood gives you the best insight as to why someone would want to live this kind of lifestyle and how they justify it morally. You live this person's story as if you were them.
When I watched “Goodfellas” last week, there was one major difference: for the first time ever, I watched the 25th Anniversary edition on Blu-ray. This is an all-new 4K restoration of the film, and the difference between it and all previous versions was so dramatic that it seemed like I was watching the movie for the very first time.
There’s not really much I can add to the plethora of reviews written about the quality of “Goodfellas” itself, so I won’t even try. Across the board, the rave reviews and high ratings for “Goodfellas” speak more eloquently about the sheer brilliance of this film than I ever could. The late, great Roger Ebert gave the film a rave review, calling it perhaps the best mob movie ever made.
It was immediately evident that Martin Scorsese and his production team spared no expense and cut no corners in remastering “Goodfellas” for this 25th Anniversary edition. I found the video detail simply astounding from the very first frame! I saw colors that are perfect, images that are sharp and detailed (but with no edge enhancement) and film grain that’s natural but unobtrusive. I didn’t see any banding, crushing, dirt, speckles, or other anomalies anywhere throughout the film’s runtime. This Blu-ray version uses a lossless DTS 5.1 Master Audio sound track that completely filled my viewing space with 5.1 surround audio that’s completely immersive and life-like.
The 25th Anniversary edition of “Goodfellas” is a two-disc “combo-pack” that contains the 4K restoration of the film on one Blu-ray disc, and nearly three hours’ worth of bonus features on the other. All of the special features that accompanied “Goodfellas” on prior Blu-ray versions have been retained; an all new feature-length documentary that includes interviews with Scorsese, Robert DiNiro, Ray Liotta, Lorraine Bracco, and several others appears on the bonus features disc.
If you’ve never seen “Goodfellas” in true high definition/surround sound, or if you’re simply looking to upgrade to the 4K restored version, this 25th Anniversary edition is the one to get. Highly recommended.
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