Reacquainting with the classics and Quarantining with Goodfellas


OnDemand? Netflix? Whatever your pleasure, there are plenty of movie throwbacks out there to revisit during these quarantine times

Quarantine can lead to many days where you’re sitting around, bored out of your mind, trying desperately to think of something fun to do.  Well, why not watch a good movie? With the copious amounts of streaming services available to us, it shouldn’t be difficult to get your hands on an endless catalog of films.  But that’s where the next problem lies. There’s so many movies out there, how could you possibly pick just one of them to watch?

Well, maybe I can help with that decision.  I’ve decided to spend my quarantine catching up on the movies that I have been meaning to watch, but haven’t had the time to do so.  I also figured that it would be a good idea to use the wonderful platform I’ve been given, The Knight Crier, to share my thoughts about each movie after seeing them for the first time.  My goal in doing this is to expose not only myself to classic, popular films, but also anyone else that happens to read these reviews.  Oh, and don’t worry about spoilers, because I intend to make these reviews as spoiler-free as I possibly can.

With that being said,  I started my quarantine movie binge with the classic, Goodfellas, directed by Martin Scorsese and released in 1990.  Now, I feel obligated to warn you that this film does contain some heavy, bloody violence and also an obscene amount of swearing.  We’re talking around 300 f-bombs. Fun fact, that was actually a record up until The Wolf of Wall Street dropped a whopping 569 f-bombs in 2013.  Anyway, if you aren’t a fan of blood or swearing, then this may not be the movie for you.  I can assure you, however, that this review contains no such obscenities.

I would also like to briefly mention that everything in this review is my initial opinion on the movie.  While much of what I think of Goodfellas are likely popular opinions, I do want to make it very clear that it is only that.  An opinion. Please do not witch hunt me if you disagree with anything I say.

So, what makes Goodfellas so special?  What puts it in the conversation as one of the all time greatest movies?  Well for starters, it does a phenomenal job of portraying the life of a gangster.  The film’s introduction gives us a glimpse of how Henry, played by Ray Liotta, got involved with the mafia in the first place.  Upon seeing this scene, I couldn’t help but feel like it would be incredibly fun to be a gangster like Henry. From beating up a mailman for Henry to celebrating his first time getting “pinched” for illegally selling cigarettes, Scorsese masterfully makes Henry and the mafia feel like one big second family.

Of course, life in the mafia isn’t always so great.  A time goes on, Henry eventually shifts his focus as a gangster from heists to selling drugs, specifically cocaine.  Henry soon develops an addiction for the same drug he sells, causing him to embark on a downward spiral. There was a particular scene that was so hectic due to Henry’s addiction that even I started to get a bit lightheaded from trying to follow every chaotic bit that was going on.

The last thing I’ll mention about how Scorsese accurately portrays the mob life is that he shows us just how unpredictable things are.  One minute you could be having a great time conversing with a fellow gangster, and the next… you’re dead. If a member of the mob is causing trouble, they may need to be “taken care of”.  If the order is given, it is expected that whoever is given the order follows through. Otherwise, there are punishments. In my effort to remain as spoiler-free as possible with this review, I won’t explain how this exactly ties into Goodfellas.  But trust me when I say that it does come up eventually.

Along with its storytelling, the acting in Goodfellas is just about as perfect as it could have possibly been.  Lorainne Bracco does a great job as Karen Hill, and Paul Sorvino plays the role of high-ranking mobster Paul Cicero tremendously.  But of course, Ray Liotta, Robert DeNiro, and Joe Pesci all steal the show as their respective lead roles, with Liotta giving the best performance out of the three in my opinion.  The way Liotta portay’s Henry’s various emotions, from sadness, to anger, to paranoia, to happiness is all phenomenal. Henry was a much different gangster than the others, given his emotions and empathy, and Ray Liotta ensures that this point is crystal clear.

Additionally, the action in Goodfellas, while there may not be much, is very entertaining.  It’s also very bloody, but that just makes it more realistic.  I mean, if you think the mob life doesn’t have any blood involved, then you clearly don’t know anything about the mob life.  The cinematography is also worth noting, with plenty of incredible shots, great use of freeze-frames, and multiple continuous, chaotic shots that go well over a minute without a cut.

Finally, I’d like to briefly touch on the prominent themes woven into this film.  Among themes like violence, loyalty, superiority, money, and the normalcy of boring lives, the theme of power stood out to me the most.  Henry’s entire reason for joining the mafia was because of how much power they held, and how they could get seemingly whatever they wanted.  The theme of power in Goodfellas ties into some of its other themes, such as how power prevents you from living a boring, normal life, how power makes you superior, and how power influences those around you to be loyal to you.  Given that I’m writing this review having only seen Goodfellas once, it’s difficult for me to go any further in depth about these themes, but that just means that you get to discover them all for yourself if you decide to watch this movie.

With that, I will leave you with my final thoughts.  Goodfellas is a fantastic movie that has without a doubt earned its title as one of the greatest movies of all time.  It’s storytelling, acting, worldbuilding, action, themes, and every other minute detail included in this masterpiece is just about perfect.  I would recommend this movie to just about anyone, so long as they don’t mind dealing with the blood and constant swearing.